China calls US repeat abuser of world trade rules

Above, workers at a steel mill of Dongbei Special Steel in Dalian, Liaoning province. US President Donald Trump earlier announced hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, aimed at hitting Chinese overproduction. (Reuters)
Updated 22 March 2018
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China calls US repeat abuser of world trade rules

SHANGHAI: China accused the US of “repeatedly abusing” international trade rules, as Beijing braced on Thursday for an imminent announcement from President Donald Trump slapping more tariffs on Chinese imports.
A World Trade Organization ruling against Obama-era anti-subsidy tariffs on Wednesday handed China’s commerce ministry ammunition to criticize Washington’s conduct in trade affairs.
The ruling “proves that the US side has violated WTO rules, repeatedly abused trade remedy measures, which has seriously damaged the fair and just nature of the international trade environment and weakened the stability of the multilateral trading system,” the ministry said.
There are growing fears that the world’s two largest economies could be sliding toward a trade war as Trump seeks to fulfill election campaign promises to get tough with China over its huge surplus with the US.
Trump is expected to announce by Friday tariffs on Chinese imports worth up to $60 billion, and Beijing, according to the Wall Street Journal, has prepared retaliatory measures.
In the statement posted on its website late on Wednesday, the commerce ministry urged the US to provide Chinese companies with a “fair and stable international trade environment.”
The WTO ruled the US had not fully complied with a 2014 ruling against its anti-subsidy tariffs on a range of Chinese products. However, it also supported the US claim that Chinese exporters were getting subsidies from “public bodies,” despite Beijing’s assertions to the contrary.
China went to the WTO in 2012 to challenge US anti-subsidy tariffs on Chinese exports including solar panels, wind turbines, steel cylinders and aluminum extrusions.
The tariffs that Trump is expected to announce will aim at curbing theft of US technology by China.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Wednesday they would target China’s high technology sector and there could also be restrictions on Chinese investments in the US. Other sectors like apparel could also be hit.
An editorial in the state-run China Daily newspaper said the world should stand together to prevent a trade war, warning that China would not be the Trump administration’s only target.
“Since the US seems unlikely to mend its ways, other countries should stop hoping they will be spared its protectionist shots and become more resolute in standing firm against them,” the newspaper said.
“History shows the pinpricks of protectionism can ultimately lead to the shots of war somewhere down the line.”
The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that China was preparing to hit back with tariffs aimed at Trump’s support base, including levies targeting US agricultural exports, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.
Analysts said US companies like Boeing Co, which sell billions of dollars’ worth of planes to Chinese airlines, as well as deals which require Chinese approval could also become caught in the cross fire should a trade war break out.
Boeing this week announced a $3.6 billion order from China Southern Airlines Co.’s subsidiary Xiamen Airlines. Chip giant Qualcomm is still waiting for Chinese approval of its proposed $44 billion acquisition of NXP Semiconductors.
US electric carmaker Tesla Inc. is in long-running talks with Shanghai authorities to build a local manufacturing plant in the city, while Chinese state media have called for measures against US soybean imports to China.
“China has a lot of options on the table with respect to potential retaliation,” said William Marshall, a Hong Kong-based lawyer who advises both US and Chinese clients on investments and disputes.
“Day to day business could become more difficult.”


Google puts up $1B to ease housing headaches it helped cause

In this May 1, 2019, file photo, a woman walks past a Google sign in San Francisco. Google is making a $1 billion commitment to address the soaring price of housing in the San Francisco Bay Area, a problem that the internet company and its Silicon Valley peers helped create as the technology industry hired tens of thousands of high-paid workers. (AP)
Updated 19 June 2019
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Google puts up $1B to ease housing headaches it helped cause

  • A report by Working Partnerships called upon Google to build more than 17,000 homes in the area to help offset the anticipated price increases caused by the new campus

SAN FRANCISCO: Google is pouring $1 billion into easing the high-priced housing headaches that it and its Silicon Valley peers helped give the San Francisco Bay Area.
The pledge announced Tuesday by Google CEO Sundar Pichai consists of a $250 million investment fund and $750 million of company-owned land. It will be used to build at least 15,000 homes that will include low- and mid-income housing.
Google’s commitment eclipsed a recent $500 million pledge made by Microsoft to combat housing shortages in the Seattle area and a $500 million housing fund created by a consortium including Facebook.
Google is extending a helping hand as it draws up plans to expand into sprawling offices beyond its headquarters in Mountain View, California. That suburban city of roughly 80,000 people has been swamped with affluent tech workers since Google moved there shortly after its 1998 inception.
Since then, Google’s payroll has swelled from a few dozen workers to the more than 103,000 people now working for it and its corporate parent, Alphabet Inc. Nearly half of those workers are based in the Bay Area.
While Google has been expanding, so have a wide variety of other technology companies, including Apple, Facebook, Oracle, Salesforce and Netflix — all of whom also lavish their workers with six-figure salaries and stock options that can yield multimillion-dollar windfalls.
The high incomes have resulted in bidding wars for the limited supply of homes in the Bay Area that can only be afforded by the affluent, a group increasingly dominated by tech workers, while people employed in other lines of work struggle to make ends meet on more modest incomes.
That is making it impossible for people on the lower end of the economic spectrum to buy a home in the Bay Area, where a mid-priced house sold for $990,000 in April, according to the California Association of Realtors, a trade group. In 1999, a mid-priced home sold for $308,000.
It’s even worse in San Francisco, a city from which many tech workers ride company buses to the Silicon Valley suburbs. A mid-priced house in San Francisco sold for nearly $1.7 million in April, according to the realtors’ group, quadruple the price of 20 years ago.
Google’s next big project will be in the Bay Area’s most populous city, San Jose, where it plans to build a corporate campus consisting of offices and housing where 15,000 to 20,000 of its employees will work and live.
The project faced resistance from community activists worried about its effect on housing prices. Last week, a report by Working Partnerships called upon Google to build more than 17,000 homes in the area to help offset the anticipated price increases caused by the new campus. The report by the labor-union backed labor group envisions apartment rent increases of $235 million by 2030 if action isn’t taken.
“For several months, we have encouraged Google to make a bold commitment to address our region’s affordable housing challenge,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement applauding the company’s $1 billion pledge.