Macron must unify France as unrest is hurting economy: Le Maire

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire attends a session of the National Assembly in Paris, November 27, 2018. (File/Reuters)
Updated 10 December 2018
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Macron must unify France as unrest is hurting economy: Le Maire

  • Le Maire would not be drawn on a figure for annual economic growth in 2018 but said the wave of unrest was hurting France’s image among foreign investors
  • Le Maire reiterated his desire to accelerate tax cuts but suggested he was not in favor of reinstating a tax on wealth

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron needs to unify a country divided by the forces of globalization in a national addresses on Monday and end anti-government protests that will cut economic growth by about 0.1 percentage points, France’s finance minister said.
Protesters rioted in Paris and cities across France on Saturday in a fourth weekend of unrest that first erupted over high living costs but has morphed into a broader anti-Macron rebellion.
“Our country is deeply divided, between those who see that globalization has benefited them and others who can’t make ends meet, who say ... globalization is not an opportunity but a threat,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told RTL.
“It is the president’s role to unify the country.”
Le Maire would not be drawn on a figure for annual economic growth in 2018 but said the wave of unrest was hurting France’s image among foreign investors and would knock 0.1 percentage points off output in the final quarter.
Macron will make a televised address at 20:00 local Paris time (1900 GMT) as he seeks to placate “yellow vest” protesters, whose revolt poses the most formidable challenge yet to the 40-year-old leader’s 18-month presidency.
Le Maire reiterated his desire to accelerate tax cuts but suggested he was not in favor of reinstating a tax on wealth — known as the ‘ISF’ — that Macron narrowed when he came into office, and which earned him the tag ‘president of the rich.
“Does the ISF help reduce poverty, reduce our debts, reduce public spending? No. If you want to hunt for money, go knocking on the doors of digital tech companies,” Le Maire said.
Le Maire said last Thursday that France would tax digital giants at a national level from 2019 if European Union states could not reach an agreement on a tax on digital revenues for the bloc.
“It is time they paid a fair level of tax,” he told RTL on Monday.


Australia asks for answers on dissident missing in China

Updated 31 min 12 sec ago
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Australia asks for answers on dissident missing in China

  • Yang Hengjun went missing shortly after he returned to the southern city of Guangzhou last week
  • His disappearance prompted fears that he may be the latest victim of an increasingly broad dragnet by Chinese security services

SYDNEY: Australia is investigating reports a Chinese-Australian dissident is missing and may have been detained in his native country, officials said Wednesday.
Yang Hengjun — a novelist, former Chinese diplomat and democracy activist — went missing shortly after he returned to the southern city of Guangzhou last week, friends said.
When asked about Yang’s case, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was “seeking information about an Australian citizen who has been reported missing in China.”
“Owing to our privacy obligations we will not provide further comment,” a spokesman told AFP.
The Australian government is believed to be in contact with Yang’s friends and family, as well as Chinese authorities.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Yang had returned to China with his wife and son on January 18, but never made a planned internal flight to Shanghai.
His disappearance prompted fears that he may be the latest victim of an increasingly broad dragnet by Chinese security services.
Australia recently expressed concern about China’s detention of two Canadians in apparent retaliation for the arrest in Canada of a senior Huawei executive.
Yang’s friend and journalist John Garnaut described him as “brilliant” and “a courageous and committed democrat.”
“This will reverberate globally if authorities do not quickly find an off-ramp,” he warned.
Yang had worked in the ministry of foreign affairs in Hainan province, but later left for Hong Kong in 1992 and the US in 1997 where he worked for the Atlantic Council think tank.
He later took up Australian citizenship — although Beijing does not recognize dual nationality — and wrote a series of spy novels and a popular Chinese-language blog.
Once described as China’s “most influential political blogger,” Yang went missing once before in 2011, describing his disappearance as a “misunderstanding” when he resurfaced days later.