Floating nuclear power plant to light up China

Construction of the first Chinese floating nuclear power plant will begin within 2019, according to Luo Qi, head of the Nuclear Power Institute (NPI) of China.

It will be a marine platform equipped with scaled-down nuclear reactors, which can provide electricity and heat to areas with difficult access, such as remote areas, islands, and offshore oil and gas platforms, Luo told the Global Times.

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He noted that the floating nuclear platform, which does not take up a lot of space, will not be affected by earthquakes and will create no pollution. The platform will be built by China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).

Gu Jun, the general manager of CNNC, said earlier the corporation is in preparation for a floating nuclear power plant off the coast of East China’s Shandong Province. He did not reveal further details of the project, saying that information including the volume of investment is still unknown.

Media reported in November that the platform will cost 14 billion yuan (US$2.1 billion), and will be put into use in 2021.

Also on rt.com China & India to drive the world’s nuclear power production growth – experts...

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China Denounces Human Rights Violations in US

China on Thursday denounced the constant violations and lack of protection of human rights in the United States in 2018, in response to a document published by Washington that criticizes Beijing for alleged abuses in that matter. The document, published by the Information Office of the Council of State (Cabinet), mentioned the threats against women in terms of sexual harassment and assault, as well as the lack of personal security.

It referred to the increase in women's discontent about their positions in society, labor discrimination and the wide wage gap regarding men, because they earn only 80.5 percent of what their male colleagues make.

On the other hand, the so-called 'Human Rights Record of the US in 2018' said that the country has the highest rate of income inequality in the West and nearly half of the households are affected by financial difficulties.

It added that the low-income population lacks medical insurance and there is a high number of homeless people, deaths due to drug overdose and suicides. The report made emphasis on the uncontrolled use of weapons, the situation of abuse of power by public officials and the frequent cases of criminal violence, which rose to 1.24 million with a high number of deaths.

Regarding the freedom of the press, the document noted that it was dealt an unprecedented blow, and the reporters' legitimate rights to interview were violated.

'According to a report from the non-lucrative international organization Article 19, published on May 2, 2018, the atmosphere for the press in the United States has further deteriorated and journalists were victims of attacks, search, arrests, interceptions on the border and restrictions to publish public information,' the Chinese government said in its report.

The 'Human Rights Record of the US in 2018' also referred to an increase in intolerable opinions on religion and that online surveillance by the US government violated individual privacy.

Among other matters, it pointed out that unjust judicial sentences resulted in erroneous convictions and public officials used violence abusively.

China responded in those terms to a report published by the United States a few hours ago, and criticized Washington's double standard, because as it self-proclaims a human rights champion, it has a domestic record of deficiencies and violations in that matter.

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China Is Concerned and Ready to Support Venezuela after Blackout

China on Wednesday expressed concerned about the blackout that has affected Venezuela over the past few days, and assured that it is ready to supply technical assistance for the recovery of the South American country''s power grid.

At a press conference, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang expressed confidence in the government of Constitutional President Nicolas Maduro to discover the causes of the incident so that the entire power system resumes operations normally as soon as possible.

'China is willing to provide support and the necessary technical assistance to Venezuela to reestablish electricity completely,' Lu said when expressing the great concern generated by the event.

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Beijing calls on Chinese firms not to be ‘silent lambs,’ vows protection amid Huawei row

Beijing has promised to take “all necessary measures” to defend Chinese companies and citizens who are under “deliberate political suppression” abroad amid legal clashes between tech giant Huawei and Washington.

“We support the company and individual in question in seeking legal redress to protect their own interests and refusing to be victimized like silent lambs,” China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated on Friday. He referred to the ongoing Huawei row in the US and Canada’s arrest of a Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.

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The statement comes one day after the company filed a lawsuit against the US government in a bid to challenge the decision to ban federal agencies from using its equipment.

The top Chinese diplomat also said that the country is to use “all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard” the rights and interests of its enterprises and citizens.

“Recent actions against specific Chinese enterprises and individuals are not simply judicial cases, but deliberate political suppression,” Wang stressed.

Also on rt.com Huawei may pull out of markets where it is not ‘welcome’...

The crackdown on Huawei-made equipment has been ongoing for several months as Washington claims that the Chinese government might use Huawei’s technology for spying, and has already barred US government agencies from using the firm’s products. The US has also been trying to press its allies to impose restrictions on the world’s leading telecommunication equipment supplier, citing cybersecurity risks.

In December, Canadian authorities arrested Huawei’s chief financial officer at the request of the US. The woman is accused of circumventing sanctions against Iran, and Canada has recently announced that it formally started an extradition process to the US. Meanwhile, the CFO filed a lawsuit against the country’s border agents and police, accusing them of an unlawful search and interrogation.

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Cold War is good for business: US contractors rejoice at the new Red Scare

US politicians and media peddling scary stories about Russia and China may have a more pedestrian motive than defending 'American values and way of life' – a return to the halcyon days of the Cold War and the Pentagon gravy train.

If there's one thing mainstream Democrats and Republicans agree upon, it's that Russia and China are the new global threat, ready to pounce at the first sign of a week spot in American defenses to topple the benevolent US dominance of the globe.

If there's another – never on the record, of course – it's that war is good for business. Not actual war, what the Pentagon calls 'kinetic military action', as that would be destructive. The ideal conditions for the political class in Washington is the bygone Cold War, when it could funnel billions of dollars in taxpayer money to defense contractors, with these corporations repaying the largesse with hefty contributions to politicians.

 
War hawks mourn ‘underfunded’ US military that could ‘lose next war’ against Russia or China

With a military budget of $717 billion in 2019 – which is about four times that of China and 15 times that of Russia – Washington war hawks are still lamenting how the "underfunded" US military could lose the next war against either. There's only one way to avoid that – spend more.

 

F-35: Pie in the Sky

As the US aggressively asserted the right to intervene anywhere around the world, Russia and China began rebuilding their air forces and augmenting them with new-generation warplanes. For the US Air Force and the aerospace industry, this was like the answer to three decades of prayer.

Lockheed finally had the justification for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, which produced the first prototype in 2006. There were only two tiny little problems with the F-35: nobody could get the plane to actually work as intended, and it was incredibly expensive. The total lifetime program cost was estimated at $1.5 trillion in 2015 dollars, the bulk of which would be for "operations and sustainment."

The most expensive Pentagon project to date is plagued by some of the most expensive problems – but while Lockheed Martin could not make the F-35 actually work as advertised, it did manage to spread its production over 45 US states, ensuring the program is almost impossible to kill politically. Powerful Republican senators have thrown their weight behind the F-35, warning the Pentagon against taking funding away from it in favor of a simpler F15X update proposed by Boeing.

Also on rt.com US military grounds its entire fleet of F-35 fighter jets in the wake of South Carolina crash...

Lucrative digital battlegrounds

The looming shadow of the 'Russian hacker', infiltrating (not really) American political parties and power grids, has spurred the push for cyber security – and the contracts to go with it.

Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), a program that seeks to provide the US military with secure cloud services, has attracted big tech with its $10 billion contract – which Amazon now seems increasingly likely to win, thanks to its reported inroads with the US administration. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was unapologetic, saying the US is a "great country" that "needs to be defended." Executives at the other two big-name contenders – Microsoft and Google – were equally enthusiastic, with the Microsoft president vowing to give all the tech the company creates to the "ethical and honorable" US military.

Rank-and-file employees, however, were up in arms. Those at Microsoft penned an open letter saying they had joined the company hoping the tech they create would not "cause harm or human suffering." Employee outcry at Google caused it to drop JEDI altogether, despite company leadership's enthusiastic support.

Artificial Intelligence

The for-profit patriotism at Amazon and Microsoft is bound to be rewarded with even more contracts in the coming years, because the Pentagon believes it has some catching up to do with Russia and China when it comes to artificial intelligence. The DoD's first AI strategy, while loose on wording, clearly outlines who the main adversaries are.

The known investment figures are relatively minor so far – as far as Washington's gargantuan defense budgets go. For example, in July 2018, IT consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton was awarded an $885 million to work on AI programs over the next five years, and the Pentagon requested $93 million in 2019 for Project Maven – which aims to develop algorithms for automatic analysis of drone footage. Google was working on that one, but now says it won't renew the contract due to disastrous employee backlash – even though backing out means losing on potentially bigger IT-related defense contracts to come.

With Trump just recently ordering a boost in AI development for the sake of American dominance, those contracts are certain to keep rolling in in the foreseeable future.

Naval friction

The US answer to Russia venturing into the Arctic was to reestablish the 2nd Fleet – created in 1950 as a Cold War-era check on Soviet activity in the Atlantic and disbanded by the Obama administration in 2011 to cut expenses. Apparently, no expense is too much when the threat of Russian submarines is – according to 2nd Fleet chief Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis – "real," and Russians seek to tap the resources the US wanted for itself and its allies.

The US Navy also needs to keep up its "freedom of navigation operation" at the Chinese shores, and "rebuilding" the fleet is one of Trump's staple defense promises. As an example of the accelerated – and rewarding – build-up, the Navy signed a contract worth a whopping $14.9 billion with shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls for two Ford-class aircraft carriers. In another throwback to the good old days, this is the first time since the 1980s more than one of these has been commissioned simultaneously.

The two ships will replace aging ones, keeping the number of active dedicated carriers in the US service at 11 – while China has two, and Russia one.

The final frontier

Another Trump staple, the Space Force, is shaping up to be a fount of profit for the enterprising contractor, though the new branch of the US military is still in the early stages of its creation.

While no deals have been made with the Space Force specifically in mind, there is profit to be had in it for companies like Lockheed Martin. In 2018, Lockheed was contracted to create three satellites that can survive counter-space weaponry, for $2.9 billion – and as America's "adversaries are training forces and developing technology to undermine our security in space," as Trump put it, more of that is bound to come.

Also on rt.com Trump signs directive to create not-so-‘equal’ Space Force as part of Air Force...

Way back in 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower – who commanded US forces in Europe during WWII – warned in his farewell speech about the dangers of a "military-industrial complex" dictating government priorities and foreign policy. He spoke from experience: the 'Red Scare' of the 1950s had already driven the US into an arms race based on the 'bomber gap' and 'missile gap' favoring the USSR – both of which turned out to be entirely imaginary.

"We were doing things we didn't need to do. We were building things we didn't need to build. We were harboring fears we didn't need to harbor," President Lyndon Johnson told a gathering in 1967.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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‘Space is not your property!’ Beijing blasts US report on China & Russia ‘weaponizing’ space

A new US intelligence report portraying Moscow and Beijing as trying to bring warfare into the heavens has drawn the ire of China, which insists that space is not Washington’s “private property.”

Read more Pentagon’s 1st AI strategy vows to keep pace with Russia & China, wants help from tech

“I want to make it clear that outer space belongs to all mankind. It is not exclusively owned by any one country and especially not the private property of the US,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, referring to the latest paper by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). 

Hua slammed the “unwarranted and utterly baseless comments” in the DIA report, saying China stands for the peaceful use of space and opposes its militarization.

“For many years,” the spokeswoman stated, “China, Russia and other countries have been working hard and trying to reach an international legal instrument to fundamentally prevent the weaponization of or an arms race in outer space.”

The DIA report – which comes amid Donald Trump’s cosmic endeavors such as the establishment of the Space Command – fans fears of US dominance being challenged everywhere, including space. Russia and China “view space as important to modern warfare and view counterspace capabilities as a means to reduce US and allied military effectiveness,” it claims, noting that both countries have done much to boost their capabilities.

“These capabilities provide their militaries… with enhanced situational awareness, enabling them to monitor, track, and target US and allied forces,” the DIA says.

READ MORE: Trump orders US agencies to turbocharge AI research and ensure American dominance

What it did not say, however, is that a host of senior US military leaders have openly discussed the prospect of offensive weapons being delivered into Earth’s orbit. Former Pentagon chief James Mattis, for instance, said in 2017 that the US needs to have offensive weapons in space “should someone decide to militarize it and go on the offensive.”

In fact, Moscow warned in early January that it’s Washington which is eying space as a potential battlefield. In particular, the Russian Foreign Ministry cited US plans to develop space-based interceptors.

The US, China, Russia, and dozens of other countries are parties to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty that bars weapons of mass destruction from being placed in space and installing them on the Moon or any other celestial body.

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China Denies Talks With Venezuela Opposition, Slams Western Media "Fake News" Ethic

Regarding the Venezuelan political situation, Hua stressed that his country advocates dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the opposition.

A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry condemned Western media for its coverage of the situation in Venezuela.

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The Foreign Ministry of China rejected Wednesday information disseminated by The Wall Street Journal about Venezuela, describing it as "fake news".

The U.S. newspaper in a report Tuesday quoted alleged sources saying that Chinese diplomats held talks in Washington with the representatives of the self-proclaimed "interim President" of Venezuela, Juan Guaido regarding a debt of US$20 billion to Beijing and on oil projects.

China refutes report of contact with Venezuelan opposition

"The Wall Street Journal newspaper published yesterday that material (...) that is really a false news," said the spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying.

Hua noted that these types of stories published by the U.S. press highlights their lack of professionalism and ethics.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry official also added that the Western media is immersed in a fake news competition.

"I do not know what objectives they are pursuing, but we hope that the media will prepare their publications in accordance with the principles of objectivity and impartiality," he stressed.

Regarding the Venezuelan political situation, Hua stressed that his country advocates dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the opposition.

Venezuela's “issues” must be resolved through dialogue, Hua added, reiterating China's previous stance.

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We must be ready to use ‘hard power’ against Moscow and Beijing – UK defense chief

The UK must be ready to use ‘hard power’ against Russia and China, defense chief Gavin Williamson has said. The remark has raised eyebrows in Moscow, which calls it “irrelevant” to reality and aimed at securing a larger budget.

The UK needs to strengthen its "lethality" and must be ready to "use hard power" to uphold it interests against nations like Russia and China, Secretary of State for Defense Gavin Williamson said on Monday.

Delivering a speech at the Royal United Services Institute in London, he accused "resurgent" Moscow of boosting its "military arsenal" to bring former Soviet states like Georgia and Ukraine "back into its orbit."

Also on rt.com Britain’s ‘backyard’? UK wants to deploy 800 troops to defend ‘interests’ in the Arctic...

The UK defense chief lashed out at Beijing as well, warning the audience that China is "developing its modern capability and commercial power."

We have to be ready to show the high price of aggressive behavior, ready to strengthen our resilience.

The politician made the remarks as London prepares to send its largest warship, the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, to the South China Sea on a mission to enforce freedom of navigation rights.

Williamson’s statement was met with a mixed reaction in Russia, with the nation’s embassy in the UK calling it “completely irrelevant” to reality, yet “worrying” in its militaristic spirit.

“Certainly, it’s convenient to threaten society with the so-called ‘Russian threat’, distracting it from the relevant internal and external problems that Great Britain faces today,” the embassy said in a statement.

“Apart from that, the British minister is pursuing a very particular goal with such statements: painting our country as an ‘aggressor’, he is trying to steadily expand the state funding of the UK’s military-industrial complex.”

Williamson, 42, is known for pushing Britain to reassert its role as an influential military power. He also often makes headline-grabbing bombastic statements. In September, commenting on plans to send British troops to the Arctic, he called the region the nation’s "backyard."

At the end of last year, he unveiled plans to build military bases in the Far East and the Caribbean, suggesting that it will help the UK to become a "true global player" after leaving the EU.

During the tensions over the Skripal poisoning case, Williamson went on a fiery tirade against Moscow, saying that Russia should "go away and shut up."

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