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China urges Canada to release Huawei official

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Xi Jinping

Ottawa, Dec 6: The Chinese embassy here has asked Canada to release Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei, who has been arrested in Vancouver at the request of US authorities.

Huawei on Thursday denied any wrongdoing by its corporate, Xinhua news agency reported.

Meng was provisionally detained by the Canadian authorities on behalf of the US, when she was transferring flight in Canada, according to a statement.

“The Chinese side firmly opposes and strongly protests over such kind of actions which seriously harms the human rights of the victim,” said a Chinese embassy statement.

“The Chinese side has lodged stern representations with the US and Canadian side, and urged them to immediately correct the wrongdoing and restore the personal freedom of Meng Wanzhou.

“We will closely follow the development of the issue and take all measures to resolutely protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens,” it added.

Huawei said the company has been provided very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Meng.

Its statement said it complies with all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations of the UN, US and EU.

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May to join EU summit after surviving no-confidence vote

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London, Dec 13: UK Prime Minister Theresa May was on Thursday heading to Brussels for an EU summit after surviving a vote of no confidence triggered by members of her own ruling Conservative Party over her handling of Brexit.

May will be seeking legally binding pledges from EU leaders on the “backstop” — the plan to avoid a return to a manned Northern Ireland border, the BBC reported.

The EU says it will not renegotiate the backstop but may agree to greater assurances on its temporary nature. At Thursday’s summit, May will have an opportunity to spell out face-to-face the problems to leaders of all the other 27 member states.

After winning 200 votes to 117 or 63 per cent of the total ballots on Wednesday night, May is now immune from a leadership challenge for a year. But in a last-minute pre-vote move, she offered a promise to her MPs that she would step down before the next election in 2022.

The result was met with cheers from MPs as it was announced by Graham Brady, an MP who leads the 1922 Committee which represents Conservative Party backbench lawmakers in the House of Commons.

Speaking in Downing Street after the vote, May vowed to deliver the Brexit “people voted for” but said she had heard the concerns of MPs who voted against her. “I have listened to what they said… We now need to get on with the job of delivering Brexit.”

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said that “her government is in chaos” and that the “vote makes no difference to the lives of our people”. He asked May to “bring her dismal deal back to the House of Commons next week so Parliament can take back control”.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said, despite the “high drama” of Wednesday, “nothing has really changed”.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said it was now up to May to listen to her party and “push the EU… to resolve the backstop”.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, meanwhile, tweeted “huge congrats to Theresa May whose stamina, resilience and decency has again won the day and given her the chance to deliver Brexit for our country.”

Chancellor Philip Hammond called the result “the right one”.

While May did win a majority, it does reveal that more than a third of Conservative MPs voted against her as Prime Minister.

The biggest challenge that May faces now is that she is stuck between a UK Parliament that will not vote through her Brexit deal and the EU, which will not reopen negotiations on that deal.

The confidence vote coincided with May’s tour of Europe where she met key EU leaders, asking them for help passing her Brexit deal through Parliament.

May was forced to postpone a vote on the deal on Monday when it became clear her bill would face a humiliating defeat.

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4-year-old gets trapped in washing machine, dies

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The boy's uncle broke the washing-machine door and pulled the boy out. (Image Credit: Gulf News)

Dubai, Dec 13: A four-year-old boy drowned after he got trapped in a washing machine filled with hot water at his home in Ajman, the police said.

The boy was with his grandmother and uncle at their family villa in Al Rawda when he sneaked his way into the laundry room.

He got inside the front-load washing machine and closed its door, prompting the washer to run, the Khaleej Times reported on Thursday, citing police officials.

The boy may have climbed into the washing machine out of curiosity and got trapped inside, the police said, adding that the machine soon started spinning, drowning him.

The boy was found by his mother when she came to pick him up from his grandmother’s house. His uncle had to break the door of the machine to retrieve the child’s body.

The body was sent for autopsy and an investigation into the case was ongoing.

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US bill over reciprocity of access to Tibet awaits Trump’s signature

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Chicago, Dec 13 : The unanimous passage of a bill that insists on reciprocity between the US and China over travel access to Tibet is seen as a clear message that the US Congress is sending to Beijing about the situation in Tibet.

The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, which deals with “the level of access Chinese authorities granted US diplomats, journalists, and tourists to Tibetan areas in China”, seeks to deny admission to Chinese officials who prevent Americans from visiting Tibet.

It says, “The State Department shall report to Congress annually, identifying individuals who were blocked from US entry during the preceding year and a list of Chinese officials who were substantially involved in the formulation or execution of policies to restrict the access of US diplomats, journalists, and citizens to Tibetan areas.”

The bill now awaits signature by President Donald Trump to become law. Its passage was a result of a nearly four years of efforts by the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) and other Tibetan groups under the leadership of ICT chair and Hollywood star Richard Gere, a passionate activist and a committed Buddhist, as well as its president Matteo Mecacci.

Asked how optimistic he is about Trump signing the bill into law, especially at a time when his administration is engaged in a tense trade war with Beijing, Mecacci told IANS in an interview via email, “The overwhelming support shown by the US Congress for this bill, which passed unanimously both in the House and the Senate, is sending a very clear message to the Chinese government that the American people care deeply about the situation inside Tibet, and are concerned about the isolation that China has imposed.”

He said this bill is about the “principle of reciprocity that complements the Trump Administration’s policy”. “The State Department has also conveyed, during a hearing in the Senate, that it shares the goals of the bill and will implement it. We are confident that President Trump will take all these elements into account, when it comes to signing the bill into law,” Mecacci said.

On how, once it becomes law, it might impact US-China relations in the specific context of Tibet, he said, “The State Department, which on December 4 expressed official support for the goals of the legislation and plans to implement it, will have to assess the level of access to Tibet for American citizens and identify the Chinese officials who are responsible for blocking access, and eventually denying them visas to the United States.

“This is about reciprocity and fairness, and it is very important that the United States challenges China’s policy not only on trade or economic issues, but also on civil and human rights, such us freedom of movement, freedom of information and the rule of law,” he said.

President Trump has not been known to pay particular attention to Tibet. It is questionable whether he is aware of the historic complexities of the problem. Given that, it has not been clear how he might approach the bill waiting for his signature.

However, Mecacci is optimistic. “As I mentioned, the US Administration has been following this bill very closely and supports its goals. In general, the Trump Administration has already issued a report on the status of Tibet negotiations in May 2018 in which it has outlined its position on the Tibetan issue.”

On whether the bill may become a sort of political football in the trade dispute, he said, “This legislation was introduced in Congress well before the beginning of the Trump Administration and of the trade dispute with China. For decades, the US Congress and US Administrations have supported the aspiration of the Tibetan people to a better life. This will continue beyond a trade dispute. Since it is about American interest, we do not see how this can be impacted by the trade dispute.”

(Mayank Chhaya is a senior journalist of Indian origin based in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected])

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