China to Trudeau: 'Don't Become a Laughing Stock' Over Detained Canadian

"No matter how you look at it, Michael Kovrig does not have diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention," said China's Foreign Ministry.

Former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig, being held in China on suspicion of endangering national security, is not entitled to diplomatic immunity, China's foreign ministry said Monday.

RELATED: Huawei Arrest: Canada Faces ‘Serious Consequences’ Says China

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Friday appealed to China over the detention of two Canadians and accused the country of "not respecting the principles of diplomatic immunity" in one of the cases.

Asked about Trudeau's comments, China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that the "relevant Canadian person" should "earnestly study" the Vienna Convention before speaking, so as to "not become a laughing stock."

"No matter how you look at it, Michael Kovrig does not have diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention," she said.

Kovrig is not serving as a diplomat at the moment and had entered China on his most recent trip on a regular passport and business visa, she said.

Kovrig was one of two Canadians detained in China days after the Dec. 1 arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co, in Vancouver, at the request of the United States.

On Monday,  China urged countries to end "fabrications" about Huawei, after an official in Poland said his country could limit the use of the company's products by public entities following the arrest of a Huawei employee there on spying allegations.

Huawei, the world's biggest producer of telecommunications equipment, faces intense scrutiny in the West over its relationship with China's government and U.S.-led allegations that its devices could be used by Beijing for espionage. No evidence has been produced publicly and Huawei has repeatedly denied the accusations, but several Western countries have restricted Huawei's access to their markets.

The other Canadian held in China is businessman Michael Spavor.

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"Big Step For Chinese People" As Rover Drives On Far Side Of The Moon

Beijing: A Chinese lunar rover has driven on the far side of the moon, the national space agency announced on Friday, hailing the development as a "big step for the Chinese people".

The Yutu-2 (Jade Rabbit-2) rover drove onto the moon's surface from the lander at 10:22pm Thursday, about 12 hours after the groundbreaking touchdown of the Chang'e-4 probe, the agency said.

The China National Space Administration released a photo taken by the lander showing tracks left by the rover as it departed the spacecraft, though it did not specify how far the rover travelled.

Beijing is pouring billions into its military-run space programme, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022, and of eventually sending humans to the moon.

Chang'e-4 lunar probe mission -- named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology -- was the second Chinese probe to land on the moon following the Yutu rover mission in 2013.

The separation of the rover -- which is named after the moon goddess' pet white rabbit -- went smoothly, said Wu Weiren, chief designer of the lunar project.

"Although this was one small step for the rover, I think it is one big step for the Chinese people," he said in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV, echoing the famous quote by US astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the Moon in 1969. 

No lander or rover has ever previously touched the surface of the far side of the moon, and it is no easy technological feat. Challenges include communicating with the robotic lander as there is no direct "line of sight" for signals.

The photo of the rover was sent via the Queqiao (Magpie Bridge) satellite, which was blasted into the moon's orbit in May to relay data and commands between the lander and Earth.

Chang'e-4 is carrying six experiments from China and four from abroad, including low-frequency radio astronomical studies -- aiming to take advantage of the lack of interference on the moons' far side.

The rover will also conduct mineral and radiation tests, the China National Space Administration has said.

Beijing is planning to send another lunar lander, Chang'e-5, later this year to collect samples and bring them back to Earth.

It is among a slew of ambitious Chinese targets, which include a reusable launcher by 2021, a super-powerful rocket capable of delivering payloads heavier than those NASA and private rocket firm SpaceX can handle, a moon base, a permanently crewed space station, and a Mars rover.

China Lands Probe On "Dark Side" Of Moon In Global First: State Media

Beijing, China: A Chinese lunar rover landed on the far side of the moon on Thursday, in a global first that boosts Beijing's ambitions to become a space superpower.

The Chang'e-4 probe touched down and sent a photo of the so-called "dark side" of the moon to the Queqiao satellite, which will relay communications to controllers on Earth, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Beijing is pouring billions into its military-run space programme, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022, and of eventually sending humans to the moon.

The Chang'e-4 lunar probe mission -- named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology -- launched in December from the southwestern Xichang launch centre.

It is the second Chinese probe to land on the moon, following the Yutu (Jade Rabbit) rover mission in 2013.

Unlike the near side of the moon that offers many flat areas to touch down on, the far side is mountainous and rugged.

The moon is "tidally locked" to Earth in its rotation so the same side is always facing Earth.

Chang'e-4 is carrying six experiments from China and four from abroad, including low-frequency radio astronomical studies -- aiming to take advantage of the lack of interference on the far side.

The rover will also conduct mineral and radiation tests, the China National Space Administration has said, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Extreme challenges 

It was not until 1959 that the Soviet Union captured the first images of the moon's mysterious and heavily cratered "dark side".

No lander or rover has ever previously touched the surface there, and it is no easy technological feat -- China has been preparing for this moment for years.

A major challenge for such a mission was communicating with the robotic lander: as there is no direct "line of sight" for signals to the far side of the moon.

As a solution, China in May blasted the Queqiao ("Magpie Bridge") satellite into the moon's orbit, positioning it so that it can relay data and commands between the lander and Earth.

In another extreme hurdle, during the lunar night -- which lasts 14 Earth days -- temperatures drop to as low as minus 173 degrees Celsius (minus 279 Fahrenheit).

During the lunar day, also lasting 14 Earth days, temperatures soar as high as 127 C (261 F).

The rover's instruments have to withstand those fluctuations and it has to generate enough energy to sustain it during the long night.

Adding to the difficulties, Chang'e-4 was sent to the Aitken Basin in the lunar south pole region -- known for its craggy and complex terrain -- state media has said.

Yutu also conquered those challenges and, after initial setbacks, ultimately surveyed the moon's surface for 31 months. Its success provided a major boost to China's space programme.

Beijing is planning to send another lunar lander, Chang'e-5, next year to collect samples and bring them back to Earth.

It is among a slew of ambitious Chinese targets, which include a reusable launcher by 2021, a super-powerful rocket capable of delivering payloads heavier than those NASA and private rocket firm SpaceX can handle, a moon base, a permanently crewed space station, and a Mars rover.

China: Targeted, Efficient Anti-Pollution Measures to Come

China wants to make long-term environmental improvements while juggling long-term economic growth.

China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) announced that more efficient and targeted measures against pollution will be adopted in 2019.

RELATED: China Gets Ready to Boost Consumption, Economic Reform in 2019

“We will coordinate environmental protection with economic development,” the MEE said in a statement and added that such an approach "will not relax the [protection] targets or ease the crackdown on violators."

The push for new environmental measures comes in a moment when the Chinese economy is facing downward pressures due to the United States trade war against China.

Despite this adverse external factor, Chinese planners have promised to put an end to a "growth at all costs" economic model which has blackened its skies and contaminated large stretches of its water and soil.

China's government just embarked on a winter campaign against polluters in a dozen smog-prone provinces and regions. Environmental compliance has become thus a key test of political loyalty among local officials.

However, at the same time, these officials must also keep the economy on track, which is a difficult task to achieve since China's third-quarter growth is at its lowest since the 2008 global financial crisis.

"Local governments in the polluting regions are working hard to reduce air pollution but also are exhausted," said Zhu Shu, the regional director of the East Asia Secretariat of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), an NGO that helps local governments tackle pollution.

To achieve a balance between economic growth and environmental protection could be a contradictory task.

While China’s Government abandoned production cuts in heavy industry as part of its campaign against pollution and allowed local authorities to adopt measures based on regional emission levels, declining air quality in northern China has stirred concerns that authorities are easing up on violations.

In Beijing, the average concentration of lung-damaging particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) jumped upwards 61 percent in November compared with the same month last year. In a group of smog-prone 26 northern cities, PM2.5 readings rose 33 percent in the same period.

For the first 11 months of the year, air quality in Linfen which has become China's main coal mining center, was the worst among the 169 cities nationwide.

“China’s environmental protection campaign is facing multiple pressures...Some regions have weakened their cognition of the significance of the environment amid economic downstream pressure and we have seen imbalanced work progress in different places,” said the MEE.

The MEE has scheduled a second round of national environmental inspections in 2019 and vowed to win the war against air pollution.

Up to the end of November, the MEE said it has issued 166,210 notices of penalty decisions to environmental regulation violators, with fines totaling US$1.98 billion.

built a tower that acts like 'the world's biggest air purifier,' and it actually works

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Beijing warns against ‘bullying’ its citizens amid ongoing US-Huawei saga

In an apparent message to Washington, China has warned against “bullying” its citizens and “creating new opponents,” after the Huawei CFO was arrested in Canada on a US warrant.

“China will never sit idly by and ignore any bullying that violates the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday, just before the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei was granted bail in Canada.

 
People stand outside the B.C. Supreme Court bail hearing of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou © Reuters / Lindsey Wasson

Meng Wanzhou was detained by Canadian authorities on December 1, almost immediately after presidents Trump and Xi Jinping agreed to a 90-day ceasefire in the ongoing trade conflict dispute. Meng was apprehended, on Washington’s request, for allegedly violating US sanctions on Iran.

While the foreign minister did not mention the Huawei CFO in his speech, he did warn the US that “there is no need to artificially create new opponents” at a time when both countries are trying to strike a trade deal.

“The US should abandon its zero-sum game mindset, take a positive view of China’s development and continuously expand the mutually beneficial space and prospects,” Wang said.

Trump apparently took notice of this advice on Tuesday, suggesting he may personally intervene to save Meng from prosecution if it helps accomplish an agreement with China.

“If I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made — which is a very important thing — what’s good for national security — I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary,” Trump told Reuters shortly after the CFO was granted a $7.5 million bail by a judge in Vancouver.

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Huawei Arrest: Canada Faces ‘Serious Consequences’ Says China

The Chinese vice foreign minister has summoned the Canadian ambassador and warned of the repercussions of not releasing Huawei's CFO.

The Chinese vice foreign minister, Le Yucheng, issued a fresh warning to Canadian authorities demanding the release of Huawei’s CFO, saying there would be “serious consequences” for failing to do so.

RELATED: Huawei CEO Meng Wanzhou Faces Iran Fraud Charges, Court Hears

“China strongly urges the Canadian side to immediately release the detained person...otherwise Canada must accept full responsibility for the serious consequences caused,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry has summoned John McCallum, the Canadian ambassador, to lodge a “strong protest” and voiced its concern and reproach to the western nation for what it called “an act committed by Canada.”   

Ms. Meng Wanzhou is currently under arrest by Canadian authorities at the request of the United States, which alleges she covered up aspects of her family company ties to a firm which soled equipment to Iran, violating sanctions.

On Friday, the CFO attended a Canadian court which adjourned the decision of whether or not to allow bail until Monday.

The Court of British Columbia said Ms Meng used a company subsidiary called skycom to bypass sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States, between 2099 and 2014. The charges are “conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions,” according to a Canadian prosecutor.

If Meng is extradited to the United States, she could be tried and face up to 30 in jail, if found guilty.

The arrest was a serious breach of Ms. Meng's rights, according to the Chinese vice foreign minister. Mr. Le Yucheng, the act “ignored the law, was unreasonable” and it amounted to an “extremely nasty” type of foreign policy.

The arrest of the Chinese business leader comes a time when China and the United States have declared a 'cease-fire' on the tariff war which has put a lot of strain on the relations between the two countries. 

 
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"China Has Agreed To Reduce, Remove Tariffs On US Cars": Donald Trump

Washington: China has agreed to scale back tariffs on imported US cars, President Donald Trump said Sunday, one day after agreeing with Xi Jinping to a ceasefire in the trade war between the world's top two economies.

Asia stocks had rallied on the news that Washington and Beijing would not impose any new tariffs during a three-month grace period, during which the two sides are meant to finalize a more detailed agreement.

"China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S. Currently the tariff is 40 percent," Trump said on Twitter.

On Saturday, Trump and Xi agreed to put a stop to their tit-for-tat tariffs row, which had roiled world markets for months.

The Republican president called their agreement -- which Washington hopes will help close a yawning trade gap with the Asian giant and help protect US intellectual property -- an "incredible" deal.

Trump agreed to hold off on his threat to slap 25 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from January 1, leaving them at the current 10 percent rate.

In return, China is to purchase "very substantial" amount of agricultural, energy, industrial and other product from the US

The US president did not send any subsequent tweets Sunday explaining which auto tariffs would be removed, and which would be reduced.

In July, China reduced auto import duties from 25 percent to 15 percent, a boon for international carmakers keen to grow sales in the world's largest auto market.

But as trade tensions ratcheted up with the US this summer, Beijing retaliated by slapping vehicles imported from the US with an extra 25 percent tariff, bringing the total tariff rate to 40 percent.

Many US automakers build their cars in China, but for some the tariff hikes have hit sales.

US company Tesla saw its sales drop with the higher prices this fall and recently said it would absorb some of the higher tariff costs and no longer pass them on to consumers.

German carmaker BMW and Ford's Lincoln brand have also been hit hard by the tariffs with some of their cars made in the US for the Chinese market.

The news comes as Trump mulls a tariff hike on vehicles imported from the European Union.

Top executives from German carmakers Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW are to meet Tuesday with senior US officials at the White House to discuss the situation, the German news agency DPA reported, citing unnamed sources.

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Xi Jinping to Visit Europe and Latin America

The President of China, Xi Jinping, will start a new international tour and this time with official visits to Spain, Panama, Portugal and Argentina, where he will also attend the G-20 summit, confirmed Friday the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the trip will extend from November 27 to December 5.

The first stop will be Spain, coinciding with the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between both countries.

There he will hold meetings with King Felipe VI, the Head of Government, the Social Democrat Pedro Sanchez, and the top representatives of the two legislative chambers (Congress of Representatives and Senate).

He will then continue to Argentina to, besides fulfilling an official agenda, attend the G-20 leaders' summit from November 30 to December 1.

As part of the conclave, a meeting is scheduled between Xi and the president of the United States, Donald Trump, where it is expected that both leaders will address the bilateral relations, seriously irritated by the mutual application of aranceral tariffs to domestic imports and even demands at the World Trade Organization.

The third stop in the tour will be Panama on December 2 and 3, the first visit in the history of a Chinese Head of State to that Central American nation.

Formal activities are scheduled for Dec 3 and include a private meeting with host President Juan Carlos Varela, followed by an extended meeting attended by other leading figures from the two countries, the signing of agreements in various socioeconomic sectors and the issuance of a joint statement.

Both dignitaries are also expected to attend a business forum and visit the Panama Canal.

Xi Jinping will close his international trip in Portugal with a similar agenda.

Senior officials from the Foreign Ministry indicated the President will take advantage of this visit to strengthen bilateral cooperation ties, but also alliances in international affairs with the European Union and Latin America.

A common point in each visit will be to expand exchanges as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, through which China aims to link land and sea with different continents by means of a large infrastructure network and commercial operations.

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