BEIJING: China’s rubber-stamp parliament approved a foreign investment law on Friday that was fast-tracked and may serve as an olive branch in trade talks with the United States.
The legislation aims to address long-running grievances from foreign businesses, but the US and European chambers of commerce have voiced concerns that they were not given enough time to give their input.
The National People’s Congress voted 2,929 in favour of the law — with eight against and eight abstentions – barely three months after a first draft was debated, an unusually quick turnaround for the legislature, which meets once a year.
The move comes as US and Chinese negotiators have held complex talks aimed at resolving a months-long trade war that has pounded businesses with tariffs on $360 billion in two-way commerce.
US President Donald Trump said Thursday the negotiations should wrap up within four weeks, adding: “We are getting what we have to get.”
China’s top trade negotiator, Liu He, held phone talks with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, with the official Xinhua news agency saying they made “substantial progress”.
The bill will eliminate the requirement for foreign enterprises to transfer proprietary technology to Chinese joint-venture partners and protect against “illegal government interference” — major sticking points in the trade negotiations.
It also promises to abolish the “case-by-case approvals” process for foreign investments, officials say.
The changes will ensure that foreign investors will enjoy the same privileges as Chinese companies in most sectors, except those placed on a “negative list”.
Beijing uses negative lists to identify areas that are either off-limits to non-state businesses or that require them to go through an application and approval process.
The American Chamber of Commerce in China said in a statement this week that it “welcomes and appreciates this legislative effort to improve the foreign investment climate”.
But it added that it was concerned that “such an important and potentially far-reaching piece of legislation will be enacted without extensive consultation and input from industry stakeholders”.
The provisions in the legislation were “quite general” and failed to address a number of concerns from foreign firms, including “the potential for unequal treatment” of businesses and the “broad scope” of national security reviews, the chamber said.
Rakhine leader incarcerated for 20 years
SITTWE (MYANMAR): A Myanmar court today sentenced a prominent ethnic Rakhine leader to 20 years in jail for treason, a verdict likely to intensify anger amid fighting between the ethnic group and the army.
Security forces tried to calm hundreds of supporters outside the court in Rakhine state capital Sittwe as Aye Maung was escorted to a waiting police van following the verdict. Aye Maung, the former chairman of the Arakan National Party – which is renowned for hardline views against the Rohingya Muslim minority – was sentenced for treason and defamation over an allegedly inflammatory speech in January 2018, a day before deadly riots. State-backed media at the time said he railed against the central government for treating the ethnic Rakhine as “slaves” and said it was the “right time” for the community to launch an armed struggle.
The following evening, Rakhine protesters briefly seized a government building and police opened fire, killing seven people. Aye Maung and a fellow detainee – writer Wai Hin Aung, who also gave a speech at the same rally – were detained days later. “Both Dr. Aye Maung and writer Wai Hin Aung were sentenced to 20 years each… for the charge of high treason and two years each for defamation of the state,” Wai Hin Aung’s defense lawyer Aye Nu Sein told the Media. Myanmar’s Rakhine state is cut by violence and hatred.
A brutal military crackdown in 2017 forced some 740,000 Rohingya Muslims over the border into Bangladesh. Yet the ethnic Rakhine Buddhist population, some of whom are accused of aiding soldiers in the anti-Rohingya campaign, also feels marginalized by the state. The lawyer said they were discussing whether to appeal. Treason can carry the death sentence. Supporters of the pair were enraged by the perceived persecution of two prominent Rakhine figures.
“This is not fair. This is oppression and bullying of ethnic Rakhine people,” one woman shouted in front of the court, as the protesters spread to the center of the town. In recent weeks, the military has waged war on the Arakan Army (AA), an armed group claiming to represent the ethnic Rakhine. The group launched a brazen attack on police posts in early January that killed 13 officers and killed nine more policemen earlier this month.
The violence has spread to the ancient temple city of Mrauk U, the former capital of the Rakhine kingdom and a popular tourist site – the same town where Aye Maung gave his controversial speech last year. Support for the AA has grown with the fighting, even though several thousand Rakhine have been forced from their homes by the violence. A further 600,000 Rohingya remain in Rakhine without citizenship, restricted to either camps or their villages, many unable to access medical care. Much of northern Rakhine is in lockdown and information is difficult to verify independently.
Tokyo stocks open higher!
TOKYO: Stocks opened here higher today, tracking gains on Wall Street due to optimism over US-China trade talks, with investors closely eyeing the US Federal Reserve’s meeting later this week.
The Nikkei 225 index added 0.65 percent, or 139.64 points, to 21,590.49 in early trade, while the broader Topix index climbed 0.43 percent, or 6.82 points, to 1,609.45.
Indian troops launch CASOs in Pulwama
ISLAMABAD: Indian troops launched cordon and search operations (CASOs) in different areas of Pulwama district in occupied Kashmir on Monday.
According to Kashmir Media Service, Indian troops launched door-to-door searches in Drabgam and Beighpora and Aripal areas of the district.
The troops comprising Rashtriya Rifles, Central Reserve Police Force and Special Operation Group cordoned off Beighpora early in the morning and conducted searches.
Door-to-door searches were carried out many times in the village after all the entry and exit routes were blocked with heavy deployment of Indian soldiers.
“People from many adjoining villages could not move out due to heavy deployment of Indian forces present in the area,” a resident said.