Chinese President Xi Jinping celebrates 66th birthday with cake and Russian ice cream from Putin

Chinese President Xi Jinping celebrated his 66th birthday on Saturday (June 15) with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who Xi considers a close friend and who gave Xi ice cream as a present, Chinese state media reported.

The discussion of senior leaders' private lives is extremely rare in China, and the exact birth dates of most of them are not revealed publicly, as they are considered a state secret.

State television showed pictures of Xi and Putin holding up champagne glasses to toast Xi's birthday at the hotel he is staying at in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, where they are both attending a regional summit.

While Putin gave Xi Russian ice cream - the flavour was not mentioned - Xi gave Putin back some Chinese tea, the report said.

Xi thanked Putin and said that in China Putin was extremely popular, it added.

Pictures on Chinese state television's website showed the two men inspecting a white cake decorated with red and blue confectionery flowers with the words written on it, in somewhat shaky red-coloured Chinese characters, "good fortune double six".

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Third win in a row for Cuba

On the third day of the competition, Cuba won a third time in a row, beating Colombia 31:24. Colombians now have one win out of three games. At the end of the first half, the Colombians had a chance to catch the rivals when they reduce the difference to 10:12.

At the 37 minute the the score was even 16:15 in favour of Cuba but exactly here islanders scored four times and decided the outcome of the match.

The man of the match from Colombia was Wiliiam Romero Diaz, the scorer og 6 goals. As for goalkeeper of Cuba Magnol Suares, he saved 15 shots and became the best for the second time.

On day four, June 12, Cuba plays against Azerbaijan and Colombia against India.

William Romero Diaz, Colombia: I’m satisfied with my game today, the coach didn’t let me play a lot in the previous game, so I proved that I am able to do good for the team, however I’m not satisfied with the team play. I hope that we’ll be able to show that Columbia truly has a great team and very good players of handball.

Magnol Suares Fiss, Cuba: This game was the best for us. The teams game was very good in defence and attack, we were really concentrated for this game.

Cuba beat China 30-24 on day 2

Cuba earned a shock 30-24 win over Group A top seeds China on the second day of the International Handball Federation (IHF) Emerging Nations Championship in Georgia.

China started with impressive intensity but a 19th-minute breakaway goal from Omar Toledano turned the momentum and by halftime Cuba led by three.

China fought back but were hampered again when Zhaopeng Li – who made the score 18-18 with his seventh goal of the game – was given a suspension that allowed Cuba to retake the lead with an extra man.

Although the Central Americans were set back by a red card for Adonys Jesus Garcia, they earned an impressive win, thanks in no small part to goalkeeper Magnol Suarez Fiss, who made three penalty saves.

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Bulgaria maintained their 100 per cent record with a 38-35 victory over the United States.

It looked as if wild cards the United States would be overwhelmed when Bulgaria, top seeds in Group B, raced into a commanding lead with seven goals without reply.

But the Americans slowly closed the gap and by halftime they led 17-16.

The favourites reasserted their dominance, though, and with Kristian Vasilev scoring 11 of their goals, they eventually took victory.

Hosts Georgia also made it two from two as they inflicted another heavy defeat on Malta, 39-13.

The home players filled their boots against a weak Maltese side – Giorgi Arvelodi Dikhaminjia scored eight, Giorgi Tskhovrebadze six and Nikoloz Kalandadze six.

South American champions Colombia got their first win on the board with a 35-30 victory over Azerbaijan.

They roared into a 6-1 advantage after seven minutes but Azerbaijan rallied and trailed 17-15 at the interval.

In an ill-tempered match which saw four red cards handed out – two for either side – Azerbaijan took the lead in the second half but were stopped from pulling too far ahead due to good saves by keeper Julian Alberto Villa Arango.

Powered by the goals of Sebastian Restrepo, Colombia regained control late on to earn their first Emerging Nations Championship victory.

Britain also earned their first win in Tbilisi, beating India 38-28.

After a tight first half, which Britain shaded 16-13, the European side took full control in the second 30 minutes as Sebastian Edgar scored an impressive 14 goals.

The final game of the day between Nigeria and Ireland was an entertaining affair which ended in the tournament's first draw – 31-31.

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Huawei launches pilot 5G project with major Russian telecom firm amid US trade row

Blacklisted in the US and a number of Western countries, Chinese tech giant Huawei has announced an agreement with one of Russia’s leading internet and mobile providers to develop 5G networks in Russia.

Huawei will assist Russian telecom company MTS in “the pilot launch of fifth-generation networks in 2019 and 2020,” MTS said in a statement. The parties signed an agreement at the Kremlin on Wednesday. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, also attended the ceremony, as the latter is in Russia on an official three-day visit.

Huawei’s deputy chairman, Guo Ping, said the company was “very happy” to seal a deal “in such a strategically important area like 5G.”

Also on Chinese tech titan Huawei buys Russian facial recognition technology...

The road map for the upcoming year indicates that Huawei will implement 5G and IoT technology on the basis of the existing MTS infrastructure and enhance the company’s LTE network.

Huawei launches pilot 5G project with major Russian telecom firm amid US trade row

Huawei is stepping into the emerging Russian 5G market after the company was barred from building fifth-generation networks by the US, UK, Canada, and New Zealand.

In May, another large Russian mobile provider, Beeline, revealed it will use Huawei equipment to modernize Moscow’s telecom networks.

Huawei, the world’s biggest telecom equipment supplier and second largest smartphone manufacturer, is facing backlash from the US and other Western states since the trade war unfolded between Washington and Beijing back in 2018. Trump administration accuses the tech giant of building backdoors for spying into its products and working in concert with the Chinese government, a claim which the company strongly denies.

Also on Tit-for-tat: Beijing to draft ‘blacklist’ of foreign companies harming interests of Chinese firms...

In May, the US put Huawei on an “entity list,” severely restricting American companies from trading with the Chinese tech firm. In response, Beijing threatened to issue its own blacklist of companies which damage the interests of Chinese business.



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US heavily investing in Asia to counter China: Pentagon chief

Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has accused China of undermining the sovereignty of other countries, warning that the administration of President Donald Trump is investing "significantly" in programs needed to ensuring stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

The acting Pentagon chief told Asia’s premier defense forum, Shangri-La Dialogue, in Singapore that the region remained a priority for Washington amid threats from China and North Korea.

"The Indo-Pacific is our priority theater. We are where we belong. We are investing in the region," he said on Saturday.

"We want to ensure no adversary believes it can successfully achieve political objectives through military force," he said, noting that
the Pentagon has requested an all-time high of $104 billion  for research and development in the next fiscal year plus $125 billion in operational readiness.

"When we talk about preparedness, we mean having the right capabilities in the right places to respond to crises, and to compete with and deter high-end adversaries," said the Pentagon chief on Saturday.

Shanahan then went on a an extensive anti-China rant by accusing "actors" of violating international rules in the region.

“Perhaps the greatest long-term threat to the vital interests of states across this region comes from actors who seek to undermine, rather than uphold, the rules-based international order," he said, without naming China.

“We’re not going to ignore Chinese behavior and I think in the past people have kind of tiptoed around that,” the acting pentagon chief added.

Shanahan then called for an end to Beijing's conduct, which he claimed "erodes other nations' sovereignty and sows distrust of China's intentions.”

"If the trends in these behaviors continue, artificial features in the global commons could become tollbooths; sovereignty could become the purview of the powerful," he said, in what seemed to be a carefully-worded version of the longtime US claim that China has been militarizing reefs and artificial islands in the South China Sea.

Washington has long challenged China's sovereignty claims over most of the strategic waters, which act as gateway to trillions of dollars in annual maritime trade. This is while the sea's other littoral states such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia also claim parts of the sea.

Washington regularly dispatches its warships and warplanes to the waters to protect what it calls “freedom of navigation,” a move which Beijing denounces as provocative.

During his first major speech since taking over as acting defense secretary in January, Shanahan said that his main priority would be “China, China, China.”

Shanahan made the remarks a day after holding talks with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, during a meeting both sides called "constructive.”

The South China Sea is not the only source of contention between the two countries. The Trump administration has also launched an escalated trade war against Beijing while accusing it of espionage and posing threats to America's space assets.

Shanahan renews US accusations against Huawei

Earlier this month, Trump took the escalating tensions with China to another level by adding Huawei Technologies to a list of firms with which US companies cannot engage in trade unless they get a license from authorities.

Washington charges that Huawei uses its leading position in developing sophisticated 5G technology to spy for the Chinese government, an allegation strongly denied by both the firm and Beijing.

During his speech in Singapore, Shanahan became the latest senior US official to call out the Chinese telecoms giant, saying Huawei was too close to the Chinese government.

The remarks were expected to draw response from his Chinese counterpart, who was due to address the summit later in the day.

Standoff over Taiwan

Wei was also expected to bring up the issue of Taiwan, the self-ruled island which has been caught in the middle of the tensions.

Washington maintains extensive military ties with Taiwan, selling advanced military hardware to the island despite having no formal diplomatic relations with Taipei.

Shanahan said in his speech that Washington would continue to meet its military obligations to Taiwan.

Beijing has constantly warned that it would not tolerate any activity, in any form or name, which attempts to separate Taiwan from the mainland.

The Trump administration has drawn fire from Beijing for continuing its arms deals with Taipei and sending warships through the Taiwan Strait.

China's defense ministry recently warned Washington against escalating tensions after Taiwanese national security chief David Lee met with his US counterpart, John Bolton, during his 13-21 May visit to the US.

"With these actions the United States is playing with fire and undermining the continued development of Chinese-American relations, as well as peace and stability in the region", Wu Qian said during a briefing on Thursday.

Since taking office three years ago, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, has refused to embrace the position that Taiwan and China are part of a single country.

This has cost her several diplomatic allies, who cut ties with Taipei in favor of mainland China. El Salvador became the fifth nation, who decided to sever ties with Taipei and turn to Beijing last year. 

China endorses ties with El Salvador

Also on Friday, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Qin Gang hailed the establishment of diplomatic relations with El Salvador, saying that “exchanges and cooperation between the two sides in various fields have developed rapidly and presented broad prospects for development.”

"The facts prove that China and El Salvador establishing ties accords with the trend of the times, has enjoyed popular support and is the right decision" the ministry on Saturday cited Qin as saying.

The statement also cited El Salvador’s new president Nayib Bukele as saying that the new government in San Salvador was committed to continuing development of ties with Beijing and would "correctly handle Taiwan-related issues.”

Bukele, who takes office on Saturday, has formerly been critical of the benefits his country received after establishing ties with Beijing, a decision former president Salvador Sanchez Ceren had strongly defended.

The US which is increasing unnerved by China’s growing influence around the world, particularly by its Belt and Road Initiative, accused Beijing in August of luring countries with incentives that "facilitate economic dependence and domination, not partnership.”

US should accept China's continued growth: Singapore

The US stance toward Beijing’s has drawn reaction from Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who ruled out the possibility of preventing Chin’s global growth.

"Countries have to accept that China will continue to grow and strengthen, and that it is neither possible nor wise for them to prevent this from happening,” he said during the security forum.

“New international rules need to be made in many areas" in which China should have a bigger say, he added.

“China will expect a say in this process, because it sees the present rules as having been created in the past without its participation. And this is an entirely reasonable expectation,” he added.

Singapore and China have recently announced plans to move forward on stepping up defense ties by the end of the year.

  • Published in World

China Restricting Number of Visitors to Great Wall

Chinese authorities are reportedly limiting the number of daily visitors to a section of the Great Wall in Beijing to 65,000 a day, a measure adopted in other tourist sites as well following conservation measures.

The limit on visitors to the Badaling section will be enforced from Saturday, June 1, and will also impose a digital registration system for reservations and ticket purchases.

Tourists can book tickets seven days in advance via its website and WeChat accounts, the most popular in Beijing.

In this way, Beijing authorities seek to prevent the deterioration of the site, which received more than 9.9 million visitors last year.

Like other tourist attractions in China, the population flocks in crowds during holidays or vacations and their safety and preservation is put at risk.

Spaces such as the Forbidden City or the National Museum of China have implemented similar measures in recent years for the same purposes.

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China To Create Blacklist Of "Unreliable" Foreign Firms Amid Huawei Row

Beijing: China on Friday said it would create a blacklist of "unreliable" foreign firms and individuals in a new escalation of its trade war with the United States.

The move comes two weeks after Chinese tech giant Huawei was added to the US Commerce Department's "entity list", cutting it off from critical American-made components for its products, though a 90-day reprieve was issued.

After being added to the list, a series of US companies said they would cut off their business with Huawei, while foreign companies have also been left to analyse if the order applies to their business with Huawei.

The Chinese move to create its own "entity list" appears to be a way to pressure foreign companies to maintain commercial relations with Huawei.

"Foreign enterprises, organisations or individuals that do not comply with market rules, deviate from a contract's spirit or impose blockades or stop supplies to Chinese enterprises for non-commercial purposes, and seriously damage the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises, will be included on a list of 'unreliable entities'," said commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng.

Gao said the detailed measures of China's list will be announced in the near future.

"Some foreign entities have violated normal market rules and the spirit of their contracts for non-commercial purposes, blockading and cutting off supplies and taking other discriminatory actions against Chinese companies damaging their legitimate rights and interests, and endangering China's national security and national interests," Gao said, according to state-owned Global Times.

Washington is also reportedly considering adding several Chinese video surveillance companies to its entity list.

The announcement of the list comes a day before China will increase tariffs on $60 billion in US goods in retaliation to Trump's decision to hike punitive duties on $200 billion in Chinese products earlier this month.

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China ‘seriously considering’ restricting rare earth exports to US – Global Times chief

Beijing is considering a ban on exports of rare earth metals to the US, editor-in-chief of Chinese state-linked outlet Global Times has tweeted, warning it may not be the last retaliatory move by China as the trade war escalates.

Reports that China may resort to the embargo have been circulating for weeks. If implemented, the move could be really harmful to Washington as there are almost no alternative sources for the elements that are used in a wide range of industries from high-tech to the military.

“Based on what I know, China is seriously considering restricting rare earth exports to the US. China may also take other countermeasures in the future,” Hu Xijin tweeted on Tuesday.

Based on what I know, China is seriously considering restricting rare earth exports to the US. China may also take other countermeasures in the future.

The US has recently increased tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, triggering retaliation from China. Beijing raised levies on $60 billion of American products. However, the vital rare earth minerals have not been subjected to restrictions so far.

A routine visit by President Xi Jinping to a Chinese rare earths facility last week came amid rising tensions between the two countries and shortly after the US turned up the heat on Chinese tech giant Huawei. Despite the lack of any official announcement from Beijing, the visit has triggered fears that China is ready to use the materials, specifically a ban on their export, as an advantage against the US.

Also on China's other nuclear option in trade war with US – Rare earth materials

Xi’s visit to one of the major rare earth processing plants sent an “unequivocal statement” to the US, according to independent political analyst Alessandro Bruno. The analyst believes that rare earth metals, essential for the military, aerospace and electronics industries, are “certainly weapons that China can use in its trade negotiation arsenal against Trump.”

“China controls anywhere from 85-95% of all production and supply,” Bruno told RT. He stressed that US companies are highly dependent on rare earth materials and the ban “could cripple global industry, especially emerging technologies.”

“China has many more options than the US when it comes to rare earths and rare earth chess games,” the analyst concluded.

The US used to be leading rare earth producer in 1990, but the situation has changed long ago. In 2018, Beijing increased rare earths mining by 15,000 tons to 120,000 tons, while the US produced just 15,000 tons in total. China holds 44 million tons of the elements if its reserves, while the US just 1.4 million tons.

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China Hopeful over Trade Pact with US, but Condemns Military Action

China has assured on Monday it is still waiting for a trade agreement with the United States despite Donald Trump's tariff threats, but warned it to stop military provocations in its waters because it will undermine regional peace and stability.

Geng Shuang, Foreign Ministry spokesman, said at a press conference his government is analyzing the announcement made Sunday by US President Donald Trump who threatened to raise tariffs, and is preparing the trip of the negotiating team this week to Washington for another round-table of bilateral consultations.

Since Friday, according to Trump, the tariffs imposed on Chinese goods valued at 200 billion dollars will climb from 10 to 25 percent, because he considers very slow the Washington - Beijing negotiations on the trade agreement.

He also threatened to apply early tariffs of 25 percent to Chinese products for 325 billion dollars that have so far remained tax-free.

However, the spokesman reiterated Beijing's rejection and demand of an end to the entry of US military vessels into the South China Sea, describing them as provocative acts which violate sovereignty, peace and security in that territory.

He even emphasized that China will take the necessary measures to safeguard its territorial integrity against the continuation of these illegal operations.

Two other warships entered Chinese waters on Monday without Beijing's permission.

The potential increase in hostilities and the uncertainty over a stalemate in trade talks put an end on Monday to optimism and knocked down Asian stock markets as the situation raises fears of an economic recession.

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