Erdogan slams Western media over negative economy coverage

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan singled out The Financial Times in his remarks. (File/AFP)
Updated 18 April 2019

Erdogan slams Western media over negative economy coverage

  • Turkey’s economy has slipped into its first recession in a decade after a currency crisis last year battered the lira
  • The Turkish leader has in the past attacked Western media coverage on the country’s economy

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday criticized Western media coverage of the country’s economy after a Financial Times report questioned the central bank’s management of foreign currency reserves.
Turkey’s economy has slipped into its first recession in a decade after a currency crisis last year battered the lira, leaving foreign investors jittery over the government’s policies to manage growth.
The Financial Times on Wednesday reported that the central bank had bolstered its foreign reserves with short-term lending in what analysts worried was a way to overstate its buffer against any new lira crisis.
Last month, the lira fell nearly six percent in one day because of investor concerns over foreign reserves as well as worries the government had turned to unorthodox ways to shore up the currency before March 31 elections.
“Unfortunately, some quarters in the West, using all their media tools, are trying to say our economy has collapsed,” Erdogan told a business forum.
“Let them write what they want, write the headlines they want. The Financial Times writes some things. But the situation in my country is clear.”
The Turkish leader has in the past attacked Western media coverage on the country’s economy. Last month, he blamed currency fluctuations on a Western plot led by the United States to weaken Turkey.
The lira was down almost 1.5 percent against the dollar in Thursday afternoon trading.
The Financial Times story said it had calculated Turkey’s foreign reserves were much lower than the $28.1 billion officially reported in April if the short-term borrowing was stripped out of the calculation.
In a response to the FT, the central bank acknowledged short-term operations may impact reserve figures, though it said its accounting was in compliance with international standards.
But some analysts told the FT they were worried about unorthodox methods and transparency.
The weakening economy was part of the reason Erdogan’s AKP lost Ankara and Istanbul in last month’s local election, in what was a stinging rebuke to the ruling party after more than a decade and a half in power.
After a trade dispute with the US last year, Washington imposed sanctions on Turkey and tariffs on some Turkish goods, leading to a 30 percent slide in the lira’s value.


US judge blocks Commerce Department order to remove WeChat from app stores

Updated 21 September 2020

US judge blocks Commerce Department order to remove WeChat from app stores

  • WeChat has had an average of 19 million daily active users in the United States, analytics firms Apptopia says

WASHINGTON: A US judge on Sunday blocked the Commerce Department from requiring Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google to remove Chinese-owned messaging app WeChat for downloads by late Sunday.

US Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler in San Francisco said in an order that WeChat users who filed a lawsuit “have shown serious questions going to the merits of the First Amendment claim, the balance of hardships tips in the plaintiffs’ favor.”

On Friday, the Commerce Department had issued a order citing national security grounds to block the app from US app stores owned by Tencent Holding’s and the Justice Department had urged Beeler not to block the order.

Beeler’s preliminary injunction also blocked the Commerce order that would have barred other transactions with WeChat in the United States that could have degraded the site’s usability for current US users. The US Commerce Department did not immediately comment.

WeChat has had an average of 19 million daily active users in the United States, analytics firms Apptopia said in early August. It is popular among Chinese students, Americans living in China and some Americans who have personal or business relationships in China.

The Justice Department said blocking the order would “frustrate and displace the president’s determination of how best to address threats to national security.” But Beeler said “while the general evidence about the threat to national security related to China (regarding technology and mobile technology) is considerable, the specific evidence about WeChat is modest.”

She added “The regulation — which eliminates a channel of communication without any apparent substitutes — burdens substantially more speech than is necessary to further the government’s significant interest.”

WeChat is an all-in-one mobile app that combines services similar to Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Venmo. The app is an essential part of daily life for many in China and boasts more than 1 billion users.

The WeChat Users Alliance that had sued praised the ruling “as an important and hard-fought victory” for “millions of WeChat users in the US.”

Michael Bien, a lawyer for the users, said “the United States has never shut down a major platform for communications, not even during war times. There are serious First Amendment problems with the WeChat ban, which targets the Chinese American community.”