Chinese imports rise for the first time since April

China trade data was released on the weekend

China imports
  • Imports +0.3% y/y vs -1.4% expected (prior -6.2%)
  • Exports -1.1% y/y vs +0.8% expected (prior -0.8%)
  • Trade balance +$ 38.73B vs +$ 44.50B expected

Exports were down for the fourth consecutive month in year-over-year terms but imports rose for the first time since April.

I believe Chinese imports are one of the world’s best leading indicators because they’re often tied to raw materials that are finished and then exported abroad. Purchasing managers only ramp up imports when they see demand globally.

This is a tiny rise in imports, so it’s way too early to draw any conclusions but but the Caixin and official China PMIs both beat expectations in the latest month.

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Top Chinese diplomat says US has become world’s biggest destabilizing factor

Chinese state councillor Wang Yi rails against US at G20 meeting

The US is destabilizing the world and smearing China, the top Chinese diplomat said Saturday in surprisingly strong language.

“The United States is broadly engaged in unilateralism and protectionism, and is damaging multilateralism and the multilateral trading system. It has already become the world’s biggest destabilising factor,” China’s Foreign Ministry cited Wang as saying at the G20 foreign minister’s meeting in Japan.

He accused the US of suppressing legitimate Chinese businesses with groundless claims as well.

“Certain US politicians have smeared China everywhere in the world, but have not produced any evidence,” he said.

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Ex-U.K. consulate staffer says Chinese police tortured him

UK Consulate Worker In Hong Kong Detained By China
A woman holds a poster showing a portrait of British consulate worker Simon Cheng, who was detained by Chinese officials, during a gathering to petition the British government to assist in securing his release, outside the British Consulate on August 21, 2019 in Hong Kong, China. Getty

Beijing — A former employee of the British Consulate in Hong Kong says he was detained and tortured by Chinese secret police trying to extract information about massive anti-government protests in the territory.

Simon Cheng said in an online statement and media interviews that he was hooded, beaten, deprived of sleep and chained to an X-shaped frame by plainclothes and uniformed agents as they sought information on activists involved in the protests and the role they believed Britain played in the demonstrations.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab summoned the Chinese ambassador in London to demand Beijing investigate.

“I summoned the Chinese Ambassador to express our outrage at the brutal and disgraceful treatment of Simon in violation of China’s international obligations,” Raab said in a statement. “I have made clear we expect the Chinese authorities to investigate and hold those responsible to account.”

Chinese police in August announced Cheng’s release after 15 days of administrative detention but gave no details of the reasons behind his detention.

China reacts with anger

China’s foreign ministry responded angrily to the allegations and the summoning of the ambassador at a daily briefing on Wednesday.

Ambassador Liu Xiaoming will “by no means accept the so-called concerns or complaints raised by the British side,” ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.

“The Chinese ambassador to the U.K. will lodge the complaints with the U.K. to express our strong opposition and indignation to the U.K.’s wrong words and deeds on Hong Kong in these days,” Geng said.

Geng did not address Cheng’s allegations directly, but cited a statement by Shenzhen police from August saying his lawful rights had been protected and that he had “admitted his offense completely,” an apparent reference to a confession of soliciting prostitution that Cheng says was coerced. Cheng has strongly denied the charge.

Police in Shenzhen did not immediately respond to faxed questions about Cheng’s allegations.

Cheng worked for the consulate as a trade and investment officer with a focus on attracting Chinese investment in Scotland. That required him to travel frequently to mainland China and he was detained at the border with Hong Kong after returning from a one-day business trip.

Protesters and police locked in tense standoff at Hong Kong university

Hong Kong’s nearly six months of pro-democracy protests began in opposition to proposed legislation that would have allowed criminal suspects in the semi-autonomous city to be extradited to face trial in mainland China, where critics say their legal rights would be threatened. While Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has since withdrawn the bill, demonstrations have continued unabated as strong anti-government sentiment continues.

China says it doesn’t allow suspects to be tortured or make false confessions, although both practices are believed to be common.

In his account on Facebook, Cheng wrote that he had been asked about the supposed British role in the protests, his own involvement in them and mainland Chinese who joined in demonstrations.

China has long accused “anti-China foreign forces” of fomenting the protests, which have grown increasingly violent, without providing direct evidence.

“Torture and interrogations”  

Cheng wrote that while being held he was shuttled between detention and interrogation centers while hooded and handcuffed. In addition to being shackled to the frame, he wrote he was ordered to assume stress positions for “countless hours,” and was beaten with what felt like “sharpened batons” and poked in the knee if he faltered. He was also punished for dozing off during the sessions by being forced to sing the Chinese national anthem, he wrote.

“I was blindfolded and hooded during the whole torture and interrogations, I sweated a lot, and felt exhausted, dizzy and suffocated,” Cheng wrote.

One interrogator speaking Hong Kong’s native Cantonese dialect cursed him, saying, “How dare you work for the British to supervise Chinese,” while another speaking in a northern Mandarin accent told him they were from China’s secret intelligence service and that he had “no human rights in this place,” Cheng wrote.

He said the interrogators expected him to confess that Britain had instigated the protests by donating money and materials, that he personally led that effort and paid the bail of mainland participants. At the detention center, he witnessed police questioning other young inmates who appeared to be Chinese mainland nationals being punished for participation in the protests.

Cheng said he refused but confessed to the minor offense of “soliciting prostitution” in order to avoid harsher treatment and a heavy sentence on national security charges. Some of the officers holding him said they could “abduct” him back to the mainland if he didn’t “behave,” he said.

Cheng no longer works at the consulate and has fled to a third country. Raab, the foreign minister, said the U.K. is working to support Cheng, including a possible move to Britain.

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World – CBSNews.com

The Chinese suicides prevented by AI from afar

Li Fan, a 21-year-old student, attempted suicide after posting a brief message on the Chinese Twitter-like platform Weibo just after Valentine’s Day.

“I can’t go on anymore. I’m going to give up,” he wrote.

Soon after, he lost consciousness.

He was in debt, had fallen out with his mother and was suffering from severe depression.

Some 8,000km (5,000 miles) away from his university in Nanjing, his post was detected by a program running on a computer in Amsterdam.

It flagged the message, prompting volunteers from different parts of China into action.

When they were unable to rouse Mr Li from afar, they reported their concerns to local police, who eventually saved him.

It might sound extraordinary but this was just one of many such success for the Tree Hole Rescue team.

The initiative’s founder is Huang Zhisheng, a senior artificial intelligence (AI) researcher at the Free University Amsterdam.

In the past 18 months, his program has been used by 600 volunteers across China, who in turn say they have rescued nearly 700 people.

“If you hesitate for a second, a lot of life will be lost,” Mr Huang told BBC News.

“Every week, we can save around 10 people.”

The first rescue operation was on 29 April 2018.

A 22-year-old college student, Tao Yue, in northern China’s Shandong province, wrote on Weibo she planned to kill herself two days later.

Peng Ling, a volunteer from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and several others reacted.

Ms Peng told BBC News they had found a phone number for one of student’s friends via an earlier post and passed the information to the college.

“I tried to message her before sleep and told her that I could pick her up,” she said.

“She added me as a friend on [Chinese app] WeChat and gradually calmed down.

“Since then, I have kept check on her to see if she is eating. We also buy her a bunch of flowers through the internet once a week.”

After this success, the team rescued a man who had tried to jump off a bridge and saved a woman who had tried to kill herself after being sexually abused.

“Rescues need both luck and experience,” said Li Hong, a Beijing psychologist who has been involved for about a year.

She recalled how she and her colleagues had visited eight hotels in Chengdu, in order to locate a suicidal woman they had known had booked a room in the city.

“All the receptionists said they didn’t know the woman,” Ms Li said.

“But one of them hesitated for a moment. We assumed it must be that hotel – and it was.”

So how does the system work?

The Java-based program monitors several “tree holes” on Weibo and analyses the messages posted there.

A “tree hole” is the Chinese name for places on the net where people post secrets for others to read.

The name is inspired by an Irish tale about a man who confided his secrets to a tree.

One example is a post by Zou Fan, a 23-year old Chinese student who wrote a message on Weibo before killing herself, in 2012.

After her death, tens of thousands of other users added comments to her post, writing about their own troubles, thus turning the original message into a “tree hole”.

The AI program automatically ranks the posts it finds from one to 10.

A nine means there is a strong belief a suicide attempt will be made shortly. A 10 means it is likely to be already under way.

In these cases, volunteers try to call the police directly and/or contact the person involved’s relatives and friends.

But if the ranking is below six – meaning only negative words have been detected – the volunteers normally do not intervene.

One of the issues commonly encountered by the team is a belief among older relatives that depression is not a “big deal.”

“I knew I had depression when I was in high school but my mother told me that it was ‘absolutely impossible – don’t think about it anymore’,” Mr Li told BBC News.

The AI program also found a post from a young woman, saying: “I will kill myself when New Year comes.”

But when the volunteers contacted her mother, they said she had sneered and said: “My daughter was very happy just now. How dare you say she is planning suicide.”

Even after the volunteers showed evidence of her daughter’s depression, the mother did not take the matter seriously.

It was only after an incident in which the police had to stop the youngster jumping off a rooftop that the mother changed her mind.

Long journey

Despite its successes, Mr Huang acknowledges the limits of his project.

“Because Weibo limits the use of web crawlers, we can only gather around 3,000 entries every day,” he said.

“So we can only save one or two a day on average and we choose to focus on the most urgent cases.”

Another issue is that some of those rescued require a long-term commitment.

“Most of my life now is occupied by these rescued people,” Ms Li said.

“Sometimes I get very tired.”

She said she was currently in contact with eight people who had been rescued.

“I have to reply [to] them soon after they send me a message,” she said.

Some team members also try to provide help offline.

For example, one AI professor is said to have found a data-labelling job for one person found to have a social-anxiety disorder.

There is also the issue that suicidal thoughts can return.

Ms Peng gave the example of one youngster who had “looked better each day” after being rescued but then killed herself.

“She was talking to me about getting a new photo portrait on Friday,” Ms Peng said, adding that two days later the woman was dead.

“It’s a big shock to me that a person you got along with over a long time suddenly isn’t there.”

By contrast, Mr Li remains healthy and now works at a hotel.

“I like this job because I can communicate with many different people,” he said.

He added while he was very appreciative of the rescue team’s efforts, ultimately it was up to each individual to achieve a long-term solution.

“Different people’s joys and sorrows are not completely interlinked,” he said.

“You must redeem yourself.”

Illustration designed by Davies Surya

At the request of the interviewees, the names of the rescued people involved have been changed.

If you have been affected by self-harm, mental health issues or emotional distress, help and support is available via the BBC Action Line.

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BBC News – Technology

U.S. charges New York company with illegal Chinese equipment sales

© Reuters. U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue announces the filing of criminal charges accusing a New York company of exposing the U.S. government and private customers to security risks by illegally importing and selling surveillance and security equipment from Chin © Reuters. U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue announces the filing of criminal charges accusing a New York company of exposing the U.S. government and private customers to security risks by illegally importing and selling surveillance and security equipment from Chin

By Brendan Pierson and Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Federal prosecutors have filed criminal charges accusing a New York company of exposing the U.S. government and private customers to security risks by illegally importing and selling surveillance and security equipment from China.

The charges against Aventura Technologies Inc, which is based in Commack, New York, and seven current and former employees were made public on Thursday in the federal court in Brooklyn. Six of the people have been arrested, including Jack Cabasso, the man accused of leading the scheme.

Cabasso was ordered jailed without bail following a brief court appearance, while the other five, including Cabasso’s wife, Frances Cabasso, were released. Aventura and lawyers for the Cabassos could not immediately be reached for comment.

Prosecutors said the defendants falsely told customers that Aventura’s products were made in the United States rather than imported, mainly from China, in a scheme that ran from 2006 until this month. Some of those products carried known cybersecurity risks, according to prosecutors.

The company’s largest customers are U.S. government agencies including the Army, Navy and Air Force, though it also sold to private companies, making about $ 88 million since 2010, prosecutors said.

Founded in 1999, Aventura describes itself on its website as a “true ‘single-source’ manufacturer” providing security hardware, software and peripheral products to government, military and enterprise customers.

According to the complaint, Aventura sometimes sold Chinese imports with false “Made in the U.S.A.” labels already affixed or displayed on packaging.

U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said the government began investigating the alleged scheme after a member of an Air Force security unit saw an image of a Chinese security service badge in software for one device.

Prosecutors said Aventura reported having sold $ 20.7 million of security equipment to the U.S. government through the end of 2018 via U.S. General Services Administration contracts.

They also accused Aventura of misrepresenting itself as a “woman-owned small business” in order to win government contracts set aside for such businesses, falsely listing Cabasso’s wife, Frances, as the company’s owner and chief executive.

The complaint included communications that, according to prosecutors, show the defendants knew about the illegal imports.

It quoted an instant message from the defendant Eduard Matulik, a director of international sales, to a colleague saying ‘im going to china because I need to know what we are selling and have to source a bunch of stuff,” and that “jack doesn’t have time and we don’t know what we are selling anymore.”

Prosecutors said in court papers that Jack Cabasso should not be released on bail because his wealth, foreign connections and “lengthy criminal history,” including a conviction for tampering with a jury in an earlier fraud case against him, point to a high risk that he will flee the country.

They said they had seized $ 3 million and a luxury yacht from him, but believed he has other assets offshore.

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Economy News

US Treasury to consider delay of further tariffs on Chinese imports

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Chinese vice foreign minister says progress made in trade talks with U.S.

By Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters) – China and the United States have achieved some progress in their trade talks, Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said on Tuesday, and any problem could be resolved as long as both sides respected each other.

No country can prosper without working with other nations, Le said at the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing, which China styles as its answer to the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in Singapore.

The world wants China and the United States to end their trade war, he said. That required openness rather than a “de-coupling” of countries or a new Cold War.

China has been nervous that the United States is seeking to sever, or at least severely curb, economic ties in what has been called a “de-coupling”. Beijing fears that the Trump administration wants a complete separation with China.

The two countries have been working to resolve their trade dispute, with the United States announcing a “phase 1” deal with China on trade matters and suspending a scheduled tariff hike for October.

“As long as we respect each other and seek equal cooperation, there are no disagreements that cannot be resolved between China and the United States,” Le said.

“What China wants is to deliver a better life for the Chinese people. We don’t want to take anything from anyone else. There’s no such thing as China replacing anyone or threatening anyone,” he said.

China and the United States have accomplished much through cooperation over the years, Le said. “Why would we toss away the achievements of such cooperation?”

However, Le also warned that China would never trade away its core interests or allow other countries to undermine its security.

“No one should expect China to swallow the bitter consequences of undermining its interests, whether on the land or at sea, whether it’s Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang or Tibet,” he said.

‘SINISTER INTENTIONS’

China’s foreign ministry accused U.S. lawmakers last week of “sinister intentions” to undermine Hong Kong’s stability after they passed measures related to the anti-government protests that have rocked the city for months.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, one of the measures passed by the U.S House of Representatives, would require the U.S. secretary of state to certify each year that Hong Kong retained its autonomy in order to receive special treatment as a major financial centre.

China would continue to safeguard its national security, Le said. The world had become safer and more peaceful because of China’s development, he said.

The trade war and uptick in China-U.S. tensions have unnerved countries around the region, who fear both the impact on their own economies and being forced to take sides.

“For small countries like Singapore, we watch with deep concern as larger powers position themselves more aggressively against each other,” Singapore’s Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said at the forum.

The world needed both China and the United States to ensure stability and deal with challenges such as climate change, nuclear threats and terrorism, Ng said.

“Singapore will maintain its strong friendships with both and avoid choosing sides. But it is also acutely aware that the farther the U.S. and China pull apart, the harder it would be for all countries to keep to this principled and neutral position,” he said.

In comments to French news agency AFP in Paris, the Chinese government’s top diplomat State Councillor Wang Yi said the China-U.S. trade talks would not affect third parties nor come at the expense of China-Europe relations.

“As the world’s largest potential market, China is open to all countries,” Wang said, according to a transcript carried by China’s foreign ministry on Tuesday.

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Economy News

Chinese Vice premier Liu He leaves trade talks at the end of the first day

HIGH RISK WARNING: Foreign exchange trading carries a high level of risk that may not be suitable for all investors. Leverage creates additional risk and loss exposure. Before you decide to trade foreign exchange, carefully consider your investment objectives, experience level, and risk tolerance. You could lose some or all of your initial investment; do not invest money that you cannot afford to lose. Educate yourself on the risks associated with foreign exchange trading, and seek advice from an independent financial or tax advisor if you have any questions.

ADVISORY WARNING: FOREXLIVE™ provides references and links to selected blogs and other sources of economic and market information as an educational service to its clients and prospects and does not endorse the opinions or recommendations of the blogs or other sources of information. Clients and prospects are advised to carefully consider the opinions and analysis offered in the blogs or other information sources in the context of the client or prospect’s individual analysis and decision making. None of the blogs or other sources of information is to be considered as constituting a track record. Past performance is no guarantee of future results and FOREXLIVE™ specifically advises clients and prospects to carefully review all claims and representations made by advisors, bloggers, money managers and system vendors before investing any funds or opening an account with any Forex dealer. Any news, opinions, research, data, or other information contained within this website is provided as general market commentary and does not constitute investment or trading advice. FOREXLIVE™ expressly disclaims any liability for any lost principal or profits without limitation which may arise directly or indirectly from the use of or reliance on such information. As with all such advisory services, past results are never a guarantee of future results.

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China MOFCOM urges US to remove Chinese entities from blacklist

The US added Chinese companies to blacklist yesterday

The timing of the US announcement has contributed to the negative tone in markets today. They warned about retaliation earlier today in a press conference.

The statement also urged the US to stop making irresponsible remarks on the Xinjiang issue and to stop interfering in China’s internal affairs.

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