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China urges US to withdraw sanctions against its companies over N. Korea

Beijing has urged the US to drop the new batch of sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals, saying that the restrictions do not contribute to defusing the Korean standoff.

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Foreign Ministry headquarters in Beijing

Beijing has urged the US to drop the new batch of sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals, saying that the restrictions do not contribute to defusing the Korean standoff.

The sanctions were imposed by the US Treasury on Tuesday. They affect 16 mainly Chinese and Russian individuals and companies over alleged “support of the North Korean regime” and assisting Pyongyang in its nuclear and ballistic missile programs in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

“China opposes the imposition of unilateral sanctions outside the framework of the UN Security Council, especially the ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ imposed on Chinese entities or individuals by other countries in accordance with their domestic laws. Our position is clear and consistent,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters at a regular press briefing.

Beijing has always conducted a “comprehensive and earnest implementation” of the UNSC resolutions, the spokeswoman stated, adding that China would punish anyone caught violating the sanctions under Chinese law.

The unilateral US actions contribute neither to solving problems on the Korean Peninsula, nor to Sino-US trust, the spokeswoman said, adding that Beijing has urged Washington to drop the sanctions.

One of the Chinese companies hit by the new US sanctions, Dandong Rich Earth Trading Co., has firmly rejected the allegations of violating the UNSC resolutions. The US Treasury accused the company of purchasing vanadium ore from North Korea.

“We did not import vanadium ore from North Korea. We imported products based on vanadium and refined from coal impurities. This product was not under sanctions. That’s why we’ve been able to register respective import with the Chinese customs services,” Li Xiaoguang, a manager at the company, told RIA Novosti, dismissing the accusations that the company’s business helped Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

He said the company “would have never been able to import sanctioned materials from North Korea, since they would not have passed through the Chinese customs,” the company representative added.

Earlier, reacting to the same round of sanctions targeting a Russian company and four individuals, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov expressed disappointment and warned Washington of “retaliatory measures that are inevitable in this situation.”

“Against this deplorable backdrop, statements by US representatives about a desire to stabilize bilateral ties sound highly unconvincing,” Ryabkov said in a statement on Tuesday. “We have always advocated and will continue to advocate efforts to resolve our existing differences through dialogue. Over the past few years, Washington should have grasped the idea that we consider the language of sanctions to be unacceptable, and that such actions only hamper the resolution of real problems. So far, however, it appears that they have failed to comprehend these obvious truths.”

Senior Russian Senator Andrey Klimov said that the sanctions lack legitimacy.

“These sanctions are illegal in themselves, because the only thing recognized by international law is the sanctions of the UN Security Council,” Klimov told Interfax. “We must react in principle to this insane and confrontational policy. The toolbox is rich, let’s hope that we will act consistently, reasonably, professionally and effectively.”

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United States Employment Rate will fall further: Fed

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Washington, April 16 (IANS) Economic activity “contracted sharply and abruptly” across all regions in the US as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday.

“The hardest-hit industries – because of social distancing measures and mandated closures – were leisure and hospitality, and retail aside from essential goods,” the Fed said in its latest survey on economic conditions, known as the Beige Book, based on information collected from its 12 regional reserve banks before April 6, Xinhua reported.

“All Districts reported highly uncertain outlooks among business contacts, with most expecting conditions to worsen in the next several months,” the Fed said.

The survey showed that employment declined in all districts as the COVID-19 pandemic affected firms in many sectors.

“Employment cuts were most severe in the retail and leisure and hospitality sectors, where most Districts reported widespread mandatory closures and steep falloffs in demand,” the survey said, adding severe job cuts were also widespread in the manufacturing and energy sectors.

“Contacts in several Districts noted they were cutting employment via temporary layoffs and furloughs that they hoped to reverse once business activity resumes. The near-term outlook was for more job cuts in coming months,” the survey said.

The survey noted that no district reported upward wage pressures, with most citing “general wage softening and salary cuts” except for high-demand sectors such as grocery stores.

“These trends were seen as reflecting weaker demand for many goods and services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the survey said.

The survey came after the Commerce Department reported earlier on Wednesday that US retail sales plunged in March by the most on record as the COVID-19 pandemic is starting to take a big toll on the US economy.

The US economy is expected to contract by 5.9 per cent this year, according to the World Economic Outlook (WEO) report released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday.

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New York statewide COVID-19 deaths surpass 10,000

Meanwhile, indicators including the rates of ICU admissions and intubations have gone down and the three-day-average rate of hospitalization basically reached a plateau, according to the governor.

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New York Coronavirus Case

New York, April 14 : Governor of the US state of New York Andrew Cuomo said statewide deaths from COVID-19 rose to 10,056, adding “the worst is over if we continue to be smart” in coping with the novel coronavirus.

Cuomo on Monday said at his daily briefing that a total of 671 people passed away on Sunday due to the disease, a number much lower than in the past few days, Xinhua news agency reported.

Meanwhile, indicators including the rates of ICU admissions and intubations have gone down and the three-day-average rate of hospitalization basically reached a plateau, according to the governor.

“We are controlling the spread,” said Cuomo. “I believe the worst is over if we continue to be smart. I believe we can start on the path to normalcy,” he said.

He said he would be joined by several other governors of neighbouring states later on Monday to discuss how to reopening the economy in a coordinated way.

On Twitter, the governor said that any plan to reopen society must be driven by data and experts, not opinion and politics.

He said the objective is to ease isolation and increase economic activity without increasing the infection rate.

“We will learn from the warning signs from other countries. We will take every precaution. We will work together as a region,” he added.

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US now has highest COVID-19 deaths, surpasses Italy: Johns Hopkins

A total of 20,071 people have died of the disease among 519,453 confirmed cases in the country as of 4 p.m. local time (2000 GMT) on Saturday

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Coronavirus Death US

Washington, April 12 : The UnS has surpassed Italy as the country with the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world as the fatalities as of Sunday reached 20,604, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

As of Sunday morning, Italy has reported 19,648 coronavirus deaths, placing it in the second position after the US, the data published by the university’s enter for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed.

The US also accounts for the highest number of confirmed cases with 529,887. Spain, where the number of confirmed infections stands at 163,027, is a distant second, followed by Italy with 152,271 cases.

New York state, the epicentre of the pandemic in the US, has recorded the most deaths in the country, 8,627, which is followed by New Jersey and Michigan with 2,183 and 1,276, respectively, the CSSE data showed.

A total of 32,001 patients in the country have recovered, it added.

US President Donald Trump’s administration, which earlier estimated that the pandemic would cause anywhere from 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the US, revised its projection downward this week to 60,000, reports Efe news.

Members of the White House coronavirus task force credit the more optimistic forecast to the success of the stay-at-home orders issued by 42 of the 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, covering around 316 million people.

Trump, who has repeatedly decried the economic cost of closing schools and businesses to contain the virus, said late last month that he hoped to re-open the country by Easter Sunday.

During Friday’s news briefing by the task force, Trump sought to reassure Americans that he would guided by medical experts as well as by recommendations from the “Opening Our Country Council” he plans to install next week.

“I want to get it open as soon as possible. The facts are going to determine what I do,” the president said.

“I’m going to have to make a decision, and I only hope to God that it’s the right decision. But I would say, without question, it’s the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make,” Trump said.

As of Sunday, the number of global coronavirus cases stood at 1,777,517, with 108,862 deaths, while 404,236 people have recovered.

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