SHANGHAI: China had 12 new coronavirus cases on the mainland on Jun 23, down from 22 during the previous day, the country’s health authority said on Wednesday (Jun 24).
Seven of the total were located in the capital Beijing, down from nine on the previous day. The capital has seen a new outbreak linked to a wholesale food market, with more than 250 people infected since Jun 11.
China also reported three new imported cases, down from nine a day earlier, and three new asymptomatic cases, down from seven.
Asian stocks were expected to come under pressure on Wednesday, as a spike in new coronavirus infections weighed on sentiment, although U.S. assurances that the China trade deal was intact and upbeat economic data provided some reasons for optimism.
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NEW YORK: Asian stocks were expected to come under pressure on Wednesday, as a spike in new coronavirus infections weighed on sentiment, although U.S. assurances that the China trade deal was intact and upbeat economic data provided some reasons for optimism.
Kyle Rodda, market analyst at IG Markets, said late selling seen in Wall Street suggested a “soggy start” for Asian markets.
“We expect something of a positive start for Asian trade, but we will have overhanging concern about the virus itself and a second wave unfolding,” said Kyle Rodda, market analyst at IG Markets. “The market is clinging on to a recovery as much as it can.”
Australian S&P/ASX 200 futures rose 0.15per cent in early trading.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 futures fell 0.02per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index futures lost 0.01per cent.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 0.5per cent higher, the S&P 500 gained 0.43per cent and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.74per cent.
However, the three major indexes pared gains from highs of more than 1per cent earlier in the session on Tuesday.
Coronavirus cases in the U.S. surged 25per cent in the week ended June 21 compared from the week before, according to a Reuters analysis.
U.S. states including Texas and Arizona set records in their outbreaks. The European Union is prepared to bar U.S. travellers because of the surge of cases in the country, putting it in the same category as Brazil and Russia, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.
“For now markets are having trouble with the implications given the high bar to re-imposing restrictions,” according to a research note from the National Australia Bank.
Remarks from U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin helped boost the mood on Wall Street. He said the next U.S. stimulus bill will focus on getting people back to work quickly and that he would consider a further delay of the tax filing deadline.
MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.90per cent.
The euro jumped to one week highs after positive economic data on Tuesday, and other high-risk currencies strengthened.
The dollar index fell 0.228per cent, with the euro up 0.01per cent to US$1.1307.
Oil prices pulled back after hitting their highest since early March, on expectations that U.S inventories will hit a record high for a third week in a row.
U.S. crude recently fell 0.89per cent to US$40.01 per barrel and Brent was flat on the day.
(Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli in New York; Editing by Sam Holmes)
SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has chaired a meeting of the ruling party’s Central Military Commission and decided to suspend military action plans against South Korea, official KCNA news agency reported on Wednesday (Jun 24).
The meeting also discussed documents outlining measures for “further bolstering the war deterrent of the country,” KCNA reported.
Political tensions between the rival Koreas have been rising over plans by groups in the South to fly propaganda leaflets over to the North, which Pyongyang claims violates an agreement between the two aimed at preventing military confrontation.
In recent weeks the North blew up a joint liaison office on its side of the border, declared an end to dialogue with the South, and threatened military action.
Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, warned last week of retaliatory measures against South Korea that could involve the military, without elaborating.
The General Staff of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) later said it has been studying an “action plan” to re-enter zones that had been demilitarised under an inter-Korean pact and “turn the front line into a fortress.”
North Korea’s military was seen putting up loudspeakers near the demilitarised zone (DMZ), a military source told Reuters on Tuesday. Such systems were taken down after the two Koreas signed an accord in 2018 to cease “all hostile acts.”
LONDON: The Sino-Soviet split was a critical moment in the cold war. A Sino-Indian split could be just as crucial to the “second cold war” that seems to be developing between the US and China.
Until now, the Indian government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has tried to avoid choosing sides in the fast-developing antagonism between Washington and Beijing.
But a parting of the ways between India and China now seems inevitable following last week’s border clashes between the two nations’ armies, which left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead and an unknown number of Chinese casualties.
There is now near-consensus in the Indian policymaking elite that China is a hostile power and that India’s only feasible response is to move closer to the US and to Asian democracies, such as Japan and Australia.
Despite Mr Modi’s efforts to build a close relationship with Mr Xi, Indian anxiety about the rise of China has been growing for years. Indians have watched nervously as China has built up a special relationship with Pakistan – a country India has fought multiple wars with.
The expansion of Chinese influence in neighbouring states such as Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal has also gone down badly in New Delhi. India signalled its displeasure by refusing to send a top-level delegation to China’s Belt and Road forums in 2017 and 2019.
But while the China hawks in New Delhi have been gaining in influence, there remains a dovish school that has long argued it is not in India’s interests to get sucked into an American effort to “contain” China.
In part, this reflects the legacy of history. During the original cold war, India pursued a policy of non-alignment and was, in reality, often closer to Moscow than Washington.
As a country of nearly 1.4 billion people, India is understandably determined to forge its own path and maintain strategic autonomy. There are also sound economic arguments for trying to maintain a good relationship with China, which is India’s second largest trading partner.
Any thought of trying to maintain equidistance between the US and China, is now likely to be abandoned by India. There are even hints that India may consider a formal alliance with the US.
One Indian intellectual, close to the Modi government, observed pointedly last week that one reason China might feel free to kill Indian soldiers – but not Japanese or Taiwanese troops – is that Japan and Taiwan are sheltering under a US security umbrella.
Donald Trump’s hostility to the American alliance system makes it highly unlikely that the US president would consider extending a security guarantee to India, at least, not without considerable financial inducement.
But an administration led by Joe Biden, his Democratic rival in November’s presidential elections, might well jump at the idea of a formal alliance.
In recent years the US has become more overt in its efforts to woo India, as a balancing force to a rising China. In 2018, the US military renamed its Pacific command, the Indo-Pacific command and India’s increasingly close military ties with the US has been reflected in arms purchases, port visits and joint military exercises.
An intensification of that co-operation, in co-ordination with Japan and Australia, looks inevitable.
Indians are wary of further direct confrontations with China in the Himalayas. But they may try to challenge Beijing on other fronts by working with allies in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.
India is also likely to make more concerted moves to lessen its economic dependence on China. The chances of Chinese telecoms company Huawei being awarded contracts to build a 5G network in India now seem vanishingly small.
Should China care? Beijing’s confrontational posture suggests the Chinese have discounted the dangers of any Indian retaliation. China knows that its economy is nearly five times the size of India’s and that its military has more firepower.
The Chinese may even have judged that now is a good time to put India in its place when the country is stricken by the coronavirus and the US is distracted.
In the aftermath of last week’s border clashes, the Global Times, a nationalist newspaper in Beijing, wrote, in an editorial, that India should learn from this incident and cannot rely on Washington for support and succour.
In the short-term, that might well be right. Over the long-run, China should be worried.
The four largest economies in the world, ranked by purchasing power, are China, the US, Japan and India. All four nations are intensely concerned by the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific region.
It is folly for China to drive India into America’s arms.
Electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc wants to start building a new and large vehicle assembly plant in the southwestern United States as early as the third quarter of this year, the company told Texas officials in documents made public this week.
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DETROIT: Electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc wants to start building a large vehicle assembly plant in the southwestern United States as early as the third quarter of this year, the company told Texas officials in documents made public this week.
But the company is still pitting Texas and Oklahoma against each other in an effort to secure tax breaks, the documents show. The plant would build Tesla’s electric pickup truck and Model Y SUV, according to reports.
Tesla told officials in Travis County, Texas, the automaker wants to invest about US$1 billion to build a 4 million to 5 million square foot vehicle assembly plant employing 5,000 people on the grounds of what is now a cement operation near Austin. But it needs tax breaks to make the site competitive with an alternative location in Oklahoma, according to documents filed with Texas officials.
The Austin-American Statesman reported details of the company’s filings.
Tesla officials could not immediately be reached for comment, but Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk previously hinted about a Texas plant, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott has spoken with Musk about the possibility.
Tesla’s sole U.S. vehicle assembly plant in Fremont, California, covers 5.3 million square feet – a large plant, but not large enough for the growing company. Tesla has had to build cars under a tent adjacent to the plant.
Musk clashed with California officials after Alameda county officials ordered the Fremont factory to halt production and comply with coronavirus stay-at-home orders that took effect in March. He threatened to move future operations to Texas or Nevada. The California plant has since reopened.
(Reporting By Joe White, additional reporting by Andrea Shalal in Washington and Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Tom Brown)
NEW DELHI: In the days leading up to the most violent border clash between India and China in decades, China brought in pieces of machinery, cut a trail into a Himalayan mountainside and may have even dammed a river, satellite pictures suggest.
The images, shot on Tuesday, a day after soldiers engaged in hand-to-hand combat in the freezing Galwan Valley, show an increase in activity from a week earlier.
India said 20 soldiers were killed in a premeditated attack by Chinese troops on Monday night at a time when top commanders had agreed to defuse tensions on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), or the disputed and poorly defined border between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
China rejected the allegations and blamed frontline Indian soldiers for provoking the conflict which took place at the freezing height of 4,300 metres in the western Himalayas.
The 4,056-kilometre border between India and China runs through glaciers, snow deserts and rivers in the west to thickly forested mountains in the east.
The Galwan Valley is an arid, inhospitable area, where some soldiers are deployed on steep ridges. It is considered important because it leads to the Aksai Chin, a disputed plateau claimed by India but controlled by China.
The satellite pictures, taken by Earth-imaging company Planet Labs and obtained by Reuters, show signs of altering the landscape of the valley through widening tracks, moving earth and making river crossings, one expert said.
The images shows machinery along the bald mountains and in the Galwan River.
“Looking at it in Planet, it looks like China is constructing roads in the valley and possibly damming the river,” Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at California’s Middlebury Institute of International Studies.
“There are a ton of vehicles on both sides (of the LAC) – although there appear to be vastly more on the Chinese side. I count 30-40 Indian vehicles and well over 100 vehicles on the Chinese side.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said he was unaware of the specifics on the ground but reiterated that the Indian army had crossed into Chinese territory in several places in recent days and that they should withdraw.
The clash was the most serious since 1967. Since early May, soldiers have faced off on the border where India says Chinese troops had intruded and set up temporary structures. The confrontation turned into a deadly brawl on Monday.
The fighting was triggered by a row over two Chinese tents and observation towers that India said had been built on its side of the LAC, Indian government sources in New Delhi and on the Indian side of the border in the Ladakh region said.
China had sought to erect a “structure” in the Galwan Valley on India’s side of the LAC even after military officials had reached an agreement on Jun 6 to de-escalate, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told China’s senior diplomat, Wang Yi, in a phone call on Wednesday, the Indian Foreign Ministry said. It was not immediately clear to what structure he was referring.
The problem arose when an Indian patrol visited the area near a ridge to verify a Chinese assertion that its troops had moved back from the LAC, the two government sources aware of the military situation said.
The Chinese troops had thinned out and left behind the two tents and small observation posts. The Indian party demolished the towers and burnt the tents, the sources said.
The satellite images show possible debris from the observation posts on Tuesday morning on a ridge on India’s side of the LAC. There was no such structure in the image taken a week earlier.
A large group of Chinese soldiers arrived and confronted the Indian troops, led by Colonel Santosh Babu. They were lightly armed in line with the rules of engagement at the LAC, one of the sources said.
India and China have not exchanged gunfire at the border since 1967, despite occasional flare-ups. Soldiers are under instructions to keep their rifles slung at their backs.
It was not clear what happened next, but the two sides soon clashed, with the Chinese using iron rods and batons with spikes, one of the sources said.
Colonel Babu was one of the 20 victims, they said. More Indian troops were rushed in and the confrontation turned into an hours-long brawl eventually involving up to 900 soldiers, the source said. Still no shots were fired on either side.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao rejected the Indian version of the events. “The rights and wrongs of this incident are very clear. The responsibility does not lie with China.”
Lufthansa’s biggest shareholder, German billionaire Heinz Hermann Thiele, has reached out to Berlin politicians for talks, Handelsblatt said, the latest step in a standoff over the airline’s 9 billion euro (US$10.1 billion) bailout.
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FRANKFURT: Lufthansa’s biggest shareholder, German billionaire Heinz Hermann Thiele, has reached out to Berlin politicians for talks, Handelsblatt said, the latest step in a standoff over the airline’s 9 billion euro (US$10.1 billion) bailout.
Lufthansa shareholders need to approve the rescue package but Thiele, who has ammassed a 15per cent Lufthansa stake, has criticised bailout terms and is raising more cash by selling down 760 million euros worth of shares in rail and commercial vehicle supplier Knorr-Bremse .
Thiele and Knorr-Bremse declined to comment.
The entrepreneur is against Germany taking a stake of up to 20per cent in the airline, terms which Lufthansa and the German government have agreed to as part of the planned rescue of the company.
Lufthansa fears that Thiele’s lack of approval for a bailout deal could bring down the rescue package at next week’s Annual General Meeting on June 25.
(Reporting by Holger Hansen in Berlin and Joern Poltz in Munich; Writing by Edward Taylor, editing by Thomas Escritt)
Ford Motor Co next week will show the next generation of its brawny F-150 pickup truck that offers a new sleeper-seat feature and over-the-air software updates in a machine Ford is counting on to help pay off coronavirus-related debts.
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DETROIT: Ford Motor Co next week will show the next generation of its brawny F-150 pickup truck that offers a new sleeper-seat feature and over-the-air software updates in a machine Ford is counting on to help pay off coronavirus-related debts.
The new F-150, part of the best-selling vehicle line in the United States, accounts for US$50 billion in annual revenue, and a significant share of Ford’s annual profit. While Tesla Inc and General Motors Co have moved faster on over-the-air software upgrades and high-speed in-vehicle data networks, the new F-150 will bring such technology squarely into the mainstream.
The new truck, expected to launch later this year, is a critical plank in Chief Operating Officer Jim Farley’s plan to slash US$5 billion in warranty costs, speed Ford’s push into vehicle connectivity and add to the No. 2 U.S. automaker’s already-strong position in the North American commercial vehicle market.
Ford has borrowed more than US$20 billion to ride out the economic shock from the coronavirus pandemic. Profit from the new F-150 will be key to paying that money back.
Ford is not taking big risks with the exterior look of the new truck given its sales dominance, instead focusing on improving the interior, according to those who have seen it. Ford is scheduled to publicly show for the first time the new F-150 online on June 25.
“It’s really about technology and productivity,” Farley said at a Deutsche Bank conference on June 10.
One prominent feature will be the lay-flat passenger seat like those seen in first-class cabins on some planes, said a person familiar with the plans who asked not to be identified. “You can basically live in the truck,” the person said.
Ford’s nicer interior, including a larger display screen, follows a similar move by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV with its new Ram truck, which received enthusiastic reviews for its stylish interior and optional 12-inch display screen.
“Ram taught everybody a little bit of a lesson,” said Rhett Ricart, owner of Ricart Ford in Columbus, Ohio. “The old 5-inch screen for your navigation and radio controls is gone. They’re all going to be 10-, 12-, 15-inch screens. That was started by Tesla.”
The F-150’s new electrical architecture will allow Ford to provide over-the-air updates to key modules controlling the vehicle, replacing trips to the dealership.
The new truck’s connectivity also will help Ford boost sales to commercial customers, and reduce warranty costs, Farley told investors.
The F-Series truck has been around since 1948, while the F-150 debuted in 1975. Sales of the current version have remained strong despite its age, and the new model could help Ford hold or even build its position in the segment, said Sandy Munro, chief executive of Michigan-based consulting firm Munro & Associates.
“If they add the same stuff as what Ram did and if they can add more stuff like Tesla’s doing, there’ll be a gigantic gap between Ford, and Ram and Chevy,” he said.
The key for Ford will be to avoid the kinds of costly production problems that hobbled the launch of the new Explorer SUV last year. Ford acknowledged it erred in trying to launch the Explorer and Lincoln Aviator simultaneously while breaking in a new assembly line at its 95-year-old plant in Chicago.
Farley has been visiting the plants in Dearborn, Michigan, and Kansas City, Missouri, that will build the new F-150. Despite delays related to the virus, he said the launch is in “really good shape.”
(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Matthew Lewis)
WASHINGTON, DC: North Korea remains an acute threat to the Indo-Pacific region, a senior Pentagon official said on Thursday (Jun 18) after Pyongyang blew up its liaison office with South Korea.
“As we’ve been starkly reminded in recent days, North Korea continues to present an extraordinary threat to the region and which demands our continued vigilance,” said David Helvey, the acting assistant secretary of defence for Indo-Pacific security affairs.
“It’s hard to tell what’s going to unfold over the next few days and weeks. But I do think that it’s important to say that we remain vigilant against any types of threats and provocations,” said Helvey.
The demolition on Tuesday of the liaison office in the Kaesong Industrial Zone – just across the border in Northern territory – came after Pyongyang vehemently condemned Seoul for anti-Pyongyang leaflets sent by defectors into the North and raised tensions on the Peninsula.
The destruction of the office made good on a threat by Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. She had threatened last week to reduce to ruins an institution she called useless.
Helvey was cautious when asked about calls for strengthening the US military presence in South Korea and resuming military exercises that had been suspended to encourage US talks with the North on its nuclear program. The discussions have gone nowhere.
“I don’t want to get ahead of any decisions that would be made,” he said.
“But this is one of the things that we are constantly talking to our South Korean allies about,” he said.
“And quite frankly, it’s something that helps to preserve our interests and preserve peace and stability across the Indo-Pacific region,” said Helvey.
PEKAN, Pahang: Pekan United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) division committee member Mohd Sharim Md Zain has been named as Barisan Nasional’s (BN) candidate for the Chini state by-election.
Pahang BN chief Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail announced this at the Pekan UMNO hall on Thursday (Jun 18).
He said Mohd Sharim, 41, a second-generation Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) settler, was selected mainly because he was a local and was well acquainted with the leadership of the late Chini assemblyman Abu Bakar Harun.
The Chini by-election was called after Abu Bakar died on May 6 from a heart attack.
Wan Rosdy said Pahang BN had been thorough in its selection process to pick someone who fulfilled the criteria set by the top leadership.
“Besides having worked closely with the late Abu Bakar, Mohd Sharim is a local who knows the community in the Chini constituency and is suitable to be the people’s choice,” he added.
Mohd Sharim thanked the BN leadership for placing its trust in him.
INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE FROM BERSATU
The deputy chief of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) Pekan division, Tengku Zainul Hisham Tengku Hussin also announced his intention to contest the Chini state by-election as an independent candidate.
Tengku Zainul Hisham, 64, will be using the manifesto “Becoming the Voice of the People of Chini”, and described his decision to contest after taking into account feedback from Chini residents.
“The decision was taken after careful consideration and I am prepared to face any risk that the party may have in my decision to contest, taking into account the collaboration of Perikatan Nasional between Bersatu and UMNO.
“As an independent candidate, I cannot promise the moon and the stars to the people, but I have my own support and as a native of Pekan, I have listened to the problems of the local residents for a long time,” he told a press conference at Felda Chini 2 on Thursday.
Tengku Zainul Hisham promised to be the voice of the people of Chini if they dared to “change the tradition” by accepting an independent representative, besides believing that voters have the will to bring change to what is known as an UMNO stronghold.
Tengku Zainul Hisham, a businessman and retired policeman, also appealed to voters to give him a chance to serve in the short period left before the 15th general election.
The Election Commission set Jun 20 for nominations and Jul 4 for polling.
The by-election will be the first to be held since the imposition of the MCO on Mar 18 to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The Chini seat is one of the four state constituencies under the Pekan parliamentary constituency.
In the 14th general election, Abu Bakar retained the Chini seat with a 4,622-vote majority, beating Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) candidate Mohd Fadhil Noor Abdul Karim, who received 5,405 votes, and Mohamad Razali Ithnain from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), who obtained only 1,065 votes.
Chini has 20,900 registered voters, comprising 20,972 regular voters and 18 early voters.
Those aged 40 and below make up 56 per cent of the voters.