Trump and Xi to set out competing trade visions at APEC

China’s President Xi Jinping, left, and US President Donald Trump attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People on November 9 during Trump’s visit to Beijing. (AFP)
Updated 10 November 2017
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Trump and Xi to set out competing trade visions at APEC

DANANG, Vietnam: The leaders of the US and China, the world’s two largest economies, are expected to lay out competing visions for the future of global trade Friday in closely watched speeches to Asia-Pacific leaders gathered in Vietnam.
President Donald Trump is likely to wield his “America First” doctrine when he addresses CEOs ahead of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum at the Vietnamese resort of Danang.
In a day mixing big hitters of politics and business, Trump will share the venue with world leaders including Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Japan’s Shinzo Abe and China’s Xi Jinping, who is casting his country as the new architect of global free trade.
Trump arrives fresh from trips to Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing, where he sought to build a consensus against North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and repeated his disquiet with “unfair” trade conditions that he says are siphoning off American jobs.
In China he was gushing in his praise of Xi, calling his a host “a very special man” in a trip rich with photo ops but lacking concrete outcomes on tackling both North Korea and the trade imbalance that vexes the US leader.
Xi touches down in Danang on Friday afternoon carrying a divergent message.
He is likely to double down on his commitment, delivered at the recent Communist Party Congress, that China is ready and able to step into the role of global free trade leader vacated by America.
As the US retreats behind “economic nationalism,” China will take a stride forward, said Ian Bremmer of the political consultancy Eurasia.
“It’s very clear that the comparative vacuum that you experience in the world, especially in China’s back yard right here with APEC, is something that Xi Jinping sees as an opportunity,” he said.
Trump’s ascent to the White House risks unpicking decades of US-led economic diplomacy that webbed global economies together with free trade and low tariff pacts.
He has pledged to wring a better deal from countries the US has large trade deficits with — including China — and bring jobs back to the hollowed out industrial heartland that voted for him.
But proponents of free trade, including many allies, have looked on aghast as Trump tears up the rule book and anti-globalization arguments ricochet through the US and Europe.
Trump has already pulled Washington’s support from the sprawling 12 nation Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact and vowed to renegotiate NAFTA, a trade deal between the US, Canada and Mexico.
On Friday, Asia-Pacific ministers were struggling to salvage the sprawling TPP deal, with Canada refuting reports an agreement had been struck among the remaining 11 members to press ahead without the US.
The annual APEC summit is one of the largest gatherings on the annual diplomatic calendar, bringing together scores of world leaders and more than 2,000 CEOs.
APEC represents 21 Pacific Rim economies, the equivalent of 60 percent of global GDP and covering nearly three billion people, and has pushed for freer trade since its inception in 1989.
Any meeting between Trump and Putin will be a box office event with Russia accused of interfering in the US election last year that brought the billionaire one-time reality TV star to power.
Mystery cloaked the question of a meeting between the pair, with top diplomat Rex Tillerson knocking down a Russian report on Thursday that talks have been scheduled.
Trump election campaign aides are under intense legal scrutiny in the US over possible links to the Kremlin.
Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg is also among those speaking at APEC.
Facebook and its fellow social media giants Google and Twitter are under intense pressure after Russian-paid content spread discord and fake news ahead of last year’s presidential election in the US.


Own up to mass Muslim detentions, Amnesty tells China

Updated 19 min 27 sec ago
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Own up to mass Muslim detentions, Amnesty tells China

  • Beijing has tightened restrictions on Muslim minorities to combat what it calls Islamic extremism and separatist elements in Xinjiang
  • Critics say the drive risks fueling resentment toward Beijing and further inflaming separatist sentiment

BEIJING: China must come clean about the fate of an estimated one million minority Muslims swept up in a “massive crackdown” in its far western region of Xinjiang, Amnesty International said Monday.
Beijing has tightened restrictions on Muslim minorities to combat what it calls Islamic extremism and separatist elements in Xinjiang.
Critics say the drive risks fueling resentment toward Beijing and further inflaming separatist sentiment.
In a new report, which included testimony from people held in the camps, the international rights group said Beijing had rolled out “an intensifying government campaign of mass internment, intrusive surveillance, political indoctrination and forced cultural assimilation.”
Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are punished for violating regulations banning beards and burqas, and for the possession of unauthorized Qur’ans, it added.
Up to a million people are detained in internment camps, a United Nations panel on racial discrimination reported last month, with many detained for offenses as minor as making contact with family members outside the country or sharing Islamic holiday greetings on social media.
“Hundreds of thousands of families have been torn apart by this massive crackdown,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s East Asia director, in a statement.
“They are desperate to know what has happened to their loved ones and it is time the Chinese authorities give them answers.”
Beijing has denied reports of the camps but evidence is mounting in the form of government documents and escapee testimony.
These suggest that Chinese authorities are detaining large groups of people in a network of extrajudicial camps for political and cultural indoctrination on a scale unseen since the Maoist era.
Amnesty’s report interviewed several former detainees who said they were put in shackles, tortured, and made to sing political songs and learn about the Communist Party.
The testimony tallies with evidence gathered by foreign reporters and rights groups in the past year.
Amnesty also called on governments around the world to hold Beijing to account for “the nightmare” unfolding in Xinjiang.
Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced “awful abuses” of Uighur Muslims detained in re-education camps.
“Hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of Uighurs are held against their will in so-called re-education camps where they’re forced to endure severe political indoctrination and other awful abuses,” Pompeo said in a speech.
However Pakistan, China’s biggest Muslim ally, quickly denied reports last week that it had criticized Beijing — which is pouring billions in infrastructure investment into the country — over the issue.
Religious affairs minister Noorul Haq Qadri told AFP China has agreed to exchange delegations of religious students to help promote “harmony” between Muslims and Chinese authorities.
China’s top leaders recently called for religious practices to be brought in line with “traditional” Chinese values and culture, sparking concern among rights groups.
Earlier this month draft regulations suggested Beijing was considering restrictions on religious content online, such as images of people praying or chanting.
State supervision of religion has increased in a bid to “block extremism,” and authorities have removed Islamic symbols such as crescents from public spaces in areas with significant Muslim populations.
Christians have also been targeted in crackdowns, with a prominent Beijing “underground” church shuttered by authorities earlier this month. Churches in central Henan province have seen their crosses torn down and followers harassed.