Iran’s Supreme ‘Liar’ Ali Khamenei Criticizes Officials’ Fears from ‘Enemy Warnings’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

World

Khamenei Criticizes Officials’ Fears from ‘Enemy Warnings’

London- Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei indirectly criticized some political parties for reiterating slogans to distance the country from war.

Khamenei addressed a gathering of top military and army staff, telling them a country would be in its worst situation if its officials fear the slightest of enemy’s threats.

“If they fear them, they have actually opened up a way for the enemy’s invasion and aggression.”

Khamenei went on to note, “if one wishes to be scared, it is alright, as long as the fear is not extended to be on behalf of the nation, because the Iranian people are courageously standing against all threats.”

“Tasks should be done with wisdom, logic and prudence — there is no doubt about that — but they should also be done courageously,” Khamenei said.

“Fearing or worrying, or becoming affected by the threats, frowns, and mistreatment that arise from the world’s superpowers, is just the beginning of a country’s misery.”

“Those who follow western media see how the enemies are trying to disrupt the elections in some way, but the Iranian nation will remain vigilant and wise to these hostile moves and the election will hopefully be held with a high turnout in a secure, passionate and lively atmosphere,” he said.

Khamenei further stressed that an election held with such parameters in mind will bring great immunity to the country.

“I place stress on the people’s living conditions; I put stress on the living conditions of the employees of various sectors; and the living conditions of the staff belonging to the armed forces: These issues should seriously be followed up. This is a duty of the officials,” he said.

He also warned that Iran’s adversaries target weak points of the Iranian economy and stressed the need to strengthen the country’s “resistance economy.”

Khamenei further stated: “The enemies–whether the United States or greater than the United States–cannot do a single thing against the Iranian regime that is linked to its people, a regime that has admiration for its people and the people admire it back.”

Egypt frees U.S. charity worker held for three years in pretrial detention

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK POST)

Egypt frees U.S. charity worker held for three years in pretrial detention

April 16 at 11:19 AM
An Egyptian court on Saturday acquitted a U.S. charity worker who had spent almost three years in pretrial detention for her work with a charity helping street children.Police arrested Aya Hijazi, her husband and six others in May 2014 on charges of abusing children in her care and engaging in human trafficking, kidnapping, sexual exploitation and torture.

Human rights groups said the charges were fabricated. Her detention came as part of a broader crackdown that has neutered independent civil society in Egypt.

The acquittal comes about two weeks after President Trump met Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi in Washington, the strongman’s first visit to the United States since he came to power in a 2013 military coup.

On Saturday, the Cairo Criminal Court dropped all charges against Hijazi and her co-defendants and ordered their release. As Judge Mohamed el-Feqqi read his verdict aloud, the courtroom erupted. Dressed in white prison uniforms, Hijazi and her husband, Mohammed Hassanein, embraced inside the defendants’ cage as friends and family cried, cheered and chanted for joy.

“They were singing, ‘The sun of freedom has risen,’ ” said Tarek Hussein, an activist who attended the hearing.

Hijazi, an Egyptian American, and Hassanein, an Egyptian citizen, are co-founders of the Belady Foundation, which provided services for Cairo street children. Police raided the organization’s premises in May 2014, also detaining a cook, an artist who shared the premises and the children present at the time.

A forensic report by the public prosecutor later found no evidence that any of the foundation’s children had been sexually abused.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and several U.S. lawmakers have spoked out about the case.

Lawyers said Saturday that the state’s witnesses had offered contradictory and inadequate evidence against the defendants. “Even the child and his mother testified at court in defense of Aya and the others,” said Taher Abol Nasr, Hijazi’s attorney.

Tens of thousands of Egyptians have been detained or forcibly disappeared by security forces since Sissi led a putsch against Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in summer 2013.

State officials depict the crackdown as part of a war against Islamist extremists who threaten to destroy the country. Human rights groups and activists say the dragnet has extended to dissidents of all political persuasions.

The Trump administration has proposed massive cuts to U.S. foreign aid, but the White House has said it expects that the $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid to Egypt will continue.

“You have a great friend and ally in the United States and in me,” Trump told Sissi during their meeting at the Oval Office.

Non-governmental organizations in Egypt have faced growing pressure since late 2011, when authorities raided 17 pro-democracy and rights groups, accusing them of joining an international conspiracy against Egypt.

During Sissi’s presidency, that pressure has accelerated, and representatives of many of the country’s leading human rights groups have been arrested, subjected to travel bans or had their assets frozen.

“Aya Hijazi, her husband, and their colleagues are finally free, but the system that subjected them to a travesty of justice for nearly three years remains unchanged,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

Shouting above the din from his courtroom cage Saturday, Hassanein vowed to continue their charity work. “We promised the children they won’t return to the streets again, and this promise was hindered for three years. We will return and meet that promise,” he said.

Loveluck reported from Beirut.

South Korea Actively Considering Filing A Complaint With The WTO Against China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS) 

South Korea’s government will consider filing a complaint to the World Trade Organization against what they described as China’s trade retaliation after Seoul agreed to deploy a U.S. anti-missile system, the ruling party said on Tuesday.

Beijing is widely believed in South Korea to be retaliating against some of its companies and cancelling performances by Korean artists after South Korea’s decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.

“We will actively consider whether China’s action is in violation of the South Korea-China free trade deal, while stepping up efforts to minimize damage on South Korean industries,” Lee Hyun-jae, chairman of the Liberty Korea Party’s policy committee, said after meeting senior government officials.

China rejected applications by some Korean carriers, including Jeju Air (089590.KS), to add charter flights between the two countries in March, Yonhap News Agency said on Tuesday, in what is seen as China’s latest retaliation against South Korean firms. Their applications for charter flights to China were rejected for January and February, with no reason given, Yonhap said.

The Chinese government last week ordered tour operators in China to stop selling trips to South Korea, days after the Seoul government secured land for the THAAD system from Lotte Group.

Lee said on Tuesday the government had since agreed to provide an additional 50 billion won ($43.3 million) worth of “special loans” to tourism companies that are experiencing business difficulties.

Chinese authorities have also closed nearly two dozen of Lotte Group’s retail stores following inspections, Lotte said on Monday.

China objects to the THAAD deployment, saying its territory is the target of the system’s far-reaching radar. South Korea and the United States have said the missile system is aimed only at curbing North Korean provocations.

(Reporting by Daewoung Kim and Hyunjoo Jin, Additional reporting by Joyce Lee; Writing by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Paul Tait)

Iran Is Allowing Russian Bombers To Use Their Airspace And Military Base For Refueling

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

Iran allowing Syria-bound Russian planes to use airspace-report

Iran has again allowed Russian planes to use its airspace during recent operations in Syria, a senior Iranian security official was quoted as saying on Saturday.

In August, Russian aircraft for the first time used an Iranian air base to conduct strikes in Syria. The Russian military said its fighters had completed their tasks, but left open the possibility of using the Hamadan base again if circumstances warranted.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said then that Russia had stopped using the base for strikes in Syria, bringing an abrupt halt to the deployment that was criticized both by the United States and some Iranian lawmakers.

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s National Security Council, on Saturday told the semi-official news agency Fars: “Their (Russians’) use of Iran’s air space has continued because we have a fully strategic cooperation with Russia.”

“In the recent cases, Russian fighter planes have only used Iran’s airspace and have not had refueling operations,” Shamkhani added.

The agency said Shamkhani was commenting on media reports that Russia’s Tupolev-22M long-range bombers had used Iranian airspace and a base in the country on their missions in Syria, where both Tehran and Moscow back President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

It was not immediately clear if the recent missions were linked to Russian air strikes on Thursday that accidentally killed three Turkish soldiers during an operation against Islamic State in Syria, according to the Turkish military.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

Syrian Army, Opposition Confirm Nationwide Truce

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY AND THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWSPAPER)

Syria army, opposition confirm nationwide truce

WORLD Updated: Dec 29, 2016 21:19 IST

AFP
AFP
AFP, Damascus

Highlight Story

A boy walks his bike near stacked sandbags in al-Rai town, northern Aleppo province, Syria. (Reuters)

Syria’s army said Thursday it would halt all military operations from midnight under a truce deal brokered by Russia and Turkey and supported by a leading Syrian opposition body.The agreement was announced earlier by Russian President Vladimir Putin who said the Syrian regime and “main forces of the armed opposition” had signed on.“The general command of the armed forces announces a complete halt to all hostilities on Syrian territory from the zero hour of December 30th,” Syria’s army said in a statement carried on state television.

It said that the ceasefire excluded the Islamic State group and the former Al-Qaeda affiliate previously known as Al-Nusra Front, now rebranded the Fateh al-Sham Front.

The National Coalition, a leading Syrian political opposition group based in Turkey, confirmed its backing for the truce.

“The National Coalition expresses support for the agreement and urges all parties to abide by it,” spokesman Ahmed Ramadan told AFP.

He said key rebel groups including the powerful Ahrar al-Sham and Army of Islam factions had signed the ceasefire deal, though there was no immediate confirmation from rebel representatives.

“The agreement includes a ceasefire in all areas held by the moderate opposition, or by the moderate opposition and elements from Fateh al-Sham, such as Idlib province,” he told AFP.

Idlib, in northwest Syria, is controlled by an alliance of rebel groups led by Fateh al-Sham.

Read| Turkey, Russia to implement Syria ceasefire before New Year: Turkish minister

The group, in its previous incarnation as Al-Nusra, was designated a “terrorist” organisation by countries including the United States, as well as the United Nations.

The ceasefire agreement follows the recapture by Syria’s government of the country’s second city Aleppo from rebels, in the worst blow to opposition forces since the war began.

It will be the first nationwide halt in fighting since a week-long truce from September 12-19 that collapsed after several incidents of violence.

A previous truce was implemented in February. Both of those deals were organised by Russia and the United States.

The latest agreement is the first nationwide ceasefire brokered with the involvement of Turkey, a backer of the Syrian opposition.

Russia is a key supporter of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and began a military intervention in support of his government in September 2015.

Despite backing opposing sides in the conflict, and a souring of relations after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane last year, Ankara and Moscow have worked increasingly closely on Syria.

They jointly brokered a ceasefire for Aleppo this month that allowed the last remaining rebels and civilians in the city’s east to leave to opposition territory elsewhere.

More than 310,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with protests against Assad’s government.

Successive bids to reach a peace deal to end the conflict have failed, but Moscow has said it is planning to convene new negotiations in Kazakhstan.

And the army statement said the ceasefire was intended to “create conditions to support the political track” in resolving the conflict.

‘The Crescent Must be Above the Cross’: Muslim Persecution of Christians 2016

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CREEPING SHARIA’S WEBSITE)

‘The Crescent Must be Above the Cross’: Muslim Persecution of Christians 2016

Source: ‘The Crescent Must be Above the Cross’: Muslim Persecution of Christians: September, 2016 – Raymond Ibrahim

by Raymond Ibrahim

In September 2016, a group of escaped ISIS sex slaves finally revealed the true fate of Kayla Mueller  — the 26-year-old American aid worker in Syria whom ISIS had reported dead more than a year ago. Her former fellow captives said Mueller had “refused to deny Jesus Christ despite being repeatedly raped and tortured.” In February 2015, ISIS claimed their captive had been killed during a Jordanian airstrike and sent photos of her dead body in a white burial shroud, apparently as a sign of respect. One former sex slave said that Mueller “put others before herself,” and once even refused a chance to escape with the other girls because she thought her American appearance would stand out and endanger the others.

An ISIS-related plot to butcher Christians with chainsaws in a Belgian shopping center was exposed in September after authorities interrogated a Muslim youth. The teen—and son of a man being described as a “radical imam”—was arrested for calling for the execution of Christians while walking down a street.  Theo Francken, a Belgian official, said, “I already signed the order to remove the Imam from Belgian soil. But he appealed the decision, so I can only hope for a quick sentence. Clearly radicalism runs in the family.”

Speaking for the first time about the slaughter of the 86-year-old French priest Jacques Hamel, eyewitness Guy Coponet—who was himself stabbed several times, including in the neck, and was not expected to survive—revealed how the jihadi murderers also forced him to hold a camera and record them slitting the throat of the elderly priest: “They even checked the quality of the image and that I wasn’t trembling too much. I had to film the assassination of my friend Father Jacques!” He said the assailants planned on using the video as propaganda, “which would allow them to earn their fame as a ‘martyr’ of Allah.”

Meanwhile, Hungary became the first government in Europe to open an office specifically to address the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and Europe. Zoltan Balog, Hungary’s Minister for Human Resources, said, “Today, Christianity has become the most persecuted religion, where out of five people killed [for] religious reasons, four… are Christians. In 81 countries around the world, Christians are persecuted, and 200 million Christians live in areas where they are discriminated against. Millions of Christian lives are threatened by followers of radical religious ideologies.” This move came weeks after Prime Minister Victor Orban drew criticism in the EU by saying, “If we really want to help, we should help where the real problem is…. We should first help the Christian people before Islamic people.”

Around the same time—and despite the many instances of Muslim migrants raping, murdering, and terrorizing Europeans—Pope Francis urged Europeans to take in more Muslim refugees, including into their homes. He explained that the best way to combat terrorism is by warmly welcoming migrants and helping them integrate into the “European context.”

The rest of the bloody month of September’s worldwide Muslim persecution of Christians includes, but is not limited to, the following:

Violence, Prison, and Death for Christian “Blasphemers” and “Apostates”

Jordan: Nahed Hattar, a Christian writer and activist, was killed on September 25 outside of a courthouse in Amman. The 56-year-old man was earlier arrested for sharing a “blasphemous” cartoon about the prophet Muhammad. As he was walking into court to stand trial for “contempt of religion” and “inciting sectarian strife,” a man dressed in traditional Muslim garb shot him dead.  The report adds: “Approximately 70 percent of Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa have blasphemy laws that make it illegal to criticize or dishonor religious symbols and teachings. In practice, many of these laws apply exclusively to Islam.”

Uganda: One Muslim convert to Christianity was killed and two others beaten in three separate incidents:

  • The blood-stained body of 32-year-old Enoch Shaban—a Muslim convert to Christianity and member of the Church of Uganda—was found hanging from a tree. A local resident of the village said he heard Shaban shouting for help after another man said, “We have warned you several times of being a disgrace to our religion, and you have not taken seriously our warnings.” The witness added: “Two weeks before meeting his death, he had mentioned several messages on his phone warning him to recant the Christian faith and return to Islam.” The slain apostate appeared to have been struck on the head with a metallic object. The morning before his death, Muslims were reportedly seen conspicuously loitering around his workshop, a mile away from the murder scene. Although Uganda is majority Christian, the area where Enoch was killed is predominantly Muslim.
  • On the same day Shaban was killed, Aisha Twanza, 25—another Muslim convert to Christianity in Uganda—was poisoned by Muslim family members who put insecticide in her food. After their conversion last January, Aisha and her husband were forced to flee their village because relatives threatened to kill them. On August 10, family members informed Aisha that her mother was dying; she rushed to the village only to find that it was a lie to lure her back. Questioned about her conversion to Christianity, she refused to deny her new faith. “They were very disappointed with me for deserting Islam.” Her family then served her food and allowed her to return home: “Reaching home, I started feeling stomach upset that continued….Soon the pain intensified, and my husband rushed me to Mbale hospital, then I was taken to Pallisa, where poisoning was discovered after several tests. I never expected my parents to do such a thing to me, but I thank God for saving me.”
  • A Muslim husband savagely beat his wife after she attended church. Neighbors found Fatuma Baluka, 21, unconscious and rushed her to a hospital: “When I arrived home [from church that day], my husband shouted at me as an ‘infidel,’ and then and there started hitting me with a metallic object. I fell down, only to find myself in a hospital bed.” She has since been abandoned by her husband and extended Muslim family.

Ethiopia: Six weeks after a Muslim man discovered that his wife and mother of his three children had converted to Christianity, he locked her in the house and beat her with sticks; during her ordeal, neighbors heard him shouting—including that she “should die for forsaking Islam.” Neighbors found her soaked in blood from a deep gash in her forehead and rushed her to the hospital.

Pakistan: A 16-year-old Christian youth was arrested and could be executed for the crime of “blasphemy.” He allegedly posted or liked a picture of the Kaaba, Islam’s sacred temple in Mecca, with a pig on top of it on Facebook. Infuriated Muslims who saw the image immediately reported it to authorities which led to his arrest. Authorities also removed the image in an effort to calm local Muslims and prevent them from rioting. The arrested youth’s family fled their home in fear of reprisals. Accusations of blasphemy against Pakistan’s minorities are common and often false. Religious hatred, personal score settling, and economic gain are just a few of the motives behind false accusations of blasphemy.

Malaysia: Three Muslims who sought to legally convert to Christianity were denied conversion by the court system due to the implementation of Sharia, or Islamic law, which maintains that anyone born into Islam—i.e., whose father was Muslim—must remain Muslim. According to a source discussing this report, those trying to convert are often sent to a “purification center,” where they are made to recite different Islamic creeds so they are again considered Muslim. “This purification center utilizes torture, beatings, and psychological attacks to terrify new believers into recanting their faith in Jesus Christ.”

Muslim Slaughter of Christians in Nigeria

The ongoing jihad on Christians by both Boko Haram, an Islamic jihad group, and allied Muslim herdsmen, left many dead in its wake:

  • At least eight Christians were randomly shot dead by militants on motorbikes as they were exiting Sunday church service. A couple of weeks earlier Boko Haram had said it would begin “booby-trapping and blowing up every church that we are able to reach, and killing all of those who we find from the citizens of the cross.”
  • Another senior priest was kidnapped after his car was ambushed by Muslim herdsmen; during the attack they violently beat and tried to kill two other clergy in the car, including by shooting one in the head. On the same day a Vincentian priest was kidnapped along with his brother. Discussing these and other attacks on Christian clergy in recent weeks and months, several fatal, the communications director of the local diocese said: “One begins to wonder if Catholic priests have become an endangered species.”
  • Boko Haram insurgents killed at least two people during raids on Christian villages. They tied up one man with a rope and slaughtered him in front of his wife and children. They also burned homes and set the market square of one village ablaze.
  • A group of Fulani Muslim tribesmen attacked a 60-year-old Christian farmer while he was working his land and hacked him to death with machetes. He is “the latest victim of attacks by Muslim Fulani herdsmen in Nasarawa state who have burned church buildings and homes and destroyed crops in the past four years,” said the report.
  • According to a separate report, Muslim Fulani tribesmen also killed another Christian pastor; raided Ningon village—murdering two Christians as they slept in their homes, and seriously wounding a girl with gunshots; and raided the Christian village of Ungwar Mada, forcing their way into a married couple’s home and slaughtering them.

Dhimmitude: Muslim Contempt for and Abuse of Christians

Saudi Arabia: Officials arrested 27 Christians—including several women and children—for the crime of “conducting Christian prayers” and being “in possession of Bibles.” The group of Christians, most if not all of whom were Lebanese nationals, were celebrating a feast day for the Virgin Mary when authorities stormed their residence and arrested them. Authorities, the dreaded “religious police,” proceeded to strip them of their visas and deport them back to Lebanon. Ironically, this is a much better fate than that suffered by other Christians caught engaging in “acts of Christianity” in the Islamic kingdom. In 2012, 35 Christian Ethiopians were arrested and abused in prison for almost a year, simply for holding a private house prayer. One of them reported after being released: “They [Saudis] are full of hatred towards non-Muslims.”

Iran: At least 25 Christians were arrested in Kerman for unknown reasons. Security forces broke into the Christians’ homes, searched them, seized various objects, and then took the Christians in.  Officials did not reveal the reason for the arrest nor where the Christians were taken, leaving family and friends in distress.

In another incident, authorities raided a family garden party after they noticed it wasn’t closely observing conservative Islamic norms; without a warrant they arrested five men, former Muslims who had converted to Christianity. Then they searched the premises and confiscated several items, including three Bibles. The arrested men were taken to an unknown location, though later reports suggest they were sent to Evin prison, where Iran’s worst criminals are caged.

Uzbekistan: Eight Christians were arrested and fined for possessing Christian literature, which is illegal in the Muslim majority nation. One Baptist, Stanislav Kim, was sentenced to two years in a corrective labor camp for being caught with Christian literature a second time in one year. The Christian literature was ordered to be handed over to the state-backed Muslim Board.

Malaysia: After Ben-Hur, originally a novel, was readapted into a 2016 movie and hit the big screen, movie goers were left disappointed and confused, as authorities cut out all scenes that portrayed Christ or had anything to do with Christianity, making the movie unintelligible. “I felt cheated,” said one viewer: “The novel from which this movie is adapted is Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ. It means Jesus is central to the plot. It was censored so much the storyline made no sense! How did Judah’s mother and sister get cured from leprosy? They just appeared at the end of the movie healed.” Such anti-Christian edits are consisted with the government’s ban on and confiscation of Bibles in the majority Muslim nation.

Egypt: After weeks of more frequent than usual attacks on the Christian minority in Minya, Upper Egypt, the government responded by appointing a Muslim cleric, Mahmoud Gomaa, to investigate the situation. Gomaa then appeared in a televised interview insisting that “Everything was good…. No one has been killed. No one has even been wounded. There’s no conflict. The problem is really with the journalists writing about it.” Bishop Makarios of Minya responded by saying, “I have nothing to do with Mahmoud Gomaa. We are at a breaking point. People can’t put up with any more of this.” He explained how in recent weeks Christians have indeed been killed—including a priest who was gunned down at the entrance of his church and a man who was stabbed to death by an angry mob—as well as numerous incidents of mob violence on Christians which left many injured and their properties looted and/or burned.

United States: In September, when Coptic Christians were suffering abuses “every two or three days” in Egypt, an Egyptian Muslim woman living in America made a video calling for more Muslim hostility against Egypt’s Christian minority, in the guise of an economic boycott. In a video, Ayat Oraby—a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer who has nearly 1.5 million followers on Facebook—called the Coptic Church a “bunch of gangsters,” a “total mafia” that “rules [Egypt] behind the curtains.” The Copts are reportedly “stockpiling weapons in churches” and “striving to create a Coptic statelet” in order to continue waging “a war against Islam.” That Oraby hates Copts simply because they are Christian came out clearly towards the end of her tirade, when she said: “They [Copts] must learn very well that the Crescent [Islam] must be above the Cross [Christianity.]” In fact, Copts pose no danger to Egypt’s Muslims — but they dare to want equal rights, when they should be content with second-class status.


Read it all and thousands more examples over the last five years in Raymond Ibrahim’s archives.

China: Says Stability Is Needed For Stronger Global Economy As They Beat The War Drums In The South China Sea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

Stability needed next year for stronger global economy

FOR China and the world to witness stronger economic growth next year, one thing is needed: stability.

For an international market trapped in fluctuations during a year of surprising events, a new direction in 2017 is a must, something discussed at a recently ended annual economic policy meeting in Beijing.

“Seeking progress while maintaining stability” was the main theme of this year’s Central Economic Work Conference, according to a statement released by the conference on Friday. Economic priorities for 2017 were also be hammered out.

With a gross domestic product (GDP) accounting for over 15 percent of the global total, China’s growth at 6.7 percent in the third quarter, or between 6.5 percent and 7 percent annually, represents a natural and significant contribution to global economic stability.

That is true more than ever since the International Monetary Fund in October revised down global growth to 3.1 percent for 2016 and 3.4 percent for 2017.

Moreover, the spillover of China’s new economic policies will be strongly felt in the ongoing joint construction of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, which will see development of countries along its route.

STABILITY WITH CONTINUED SUPPLY-SIDE STRUCTURAL REFORM

In combination with the growth trend in the second half of 2016, the important messages Chinese policymakers convey at the key annual economic conference will highlight a clear reform course for the world’s second largest economy.

Stability is a prerequisite for reforms, commented Margit Molnar, head of the China Desk of the Economics Department of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Having dealt with such flashpoints like the asset bubble and local government debt, China will help prevent systematic risks, creating conditions for continuing the supply-side structural reform, he told Xinhua.

The economic work conference has maintained supply-side structural reform as necessary for stable growth, with a continued focus on upgrading the country’s economic structure.

Reforms which focus on expanding effective supply in a dynamic supply-demand equilibrium, will promote stability, said Zhao Yao, professor with the business school of Rutgers University in the United States.

LONG-TERM MOVES TO COOL DOWN REAL ESTATE

Homes are for living in rather than speculation, the conference stressed, proposing to use financial, land, taxation, investment and other instruments to establish a fundamental and long-term system to curb real estate bubbles and market volatilities.

Guo Shengxiang, dean of the Australian think tank Academy of APEC Creative Finance, described the idea as “forward-looking”.

“It will be a good news, to stabilize the market, improve people’s well-being and facilitate the development of the real economy,” he said.

The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp. (HKSB) believes measures to cool down real estate will not thwart China’s economic recovery.

Without a complete tightening of monetary policy, the impact of government regulations could be neutralized by infrastructure investment with financail support, it said.

PRUDENT AND NEUTRAL MONETARY POLICY AGAINST RISKS

The conference defines China’s monetary policies for 2017 as “prudent and neutral”, promising better adjustments to ensure stable liquidity.

Monetary policymaking should adapt to changes in the use of money supply tools, and further efforts are needed for smoother policy transmission, it said.

China will keep the yuan basically stable, while improving the flexibility of exchange rates.

“The stance shows the government is trying to find a subtle balance between stabilizing growth and controlling asset bubbles,” noted Hong Hao, chief China strategist at BOCOM International.

Earlier, a Standard Chartered Bank report predicted financial and monetary policy instruments available to the Chinese government would suffice to support China’s growth in the coming years.

Britain’s top court hears case that could delay European Union exit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

Britain’s top court hears case that could delay European Union exit

BRITAIN’S Supreme Court yesterday began a historic hearing to decide whether parliament has to approve the government’s Brexit negotiations, in a highly charged case that could delay the country’s EU exit.

For the first time, all 11 Supreme Court judges convened to hear a challenge by the government against a ruling that Prime Minister Theresa May must seek lawmakers’ approval before starting the process to leave the European Union.

The High Court ruled last month that the government did not have the executive power alone to invoke Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, formally starting exit talks which could take two years.

The decision enraged Brexit supporters and some newspapers who accused judges of thwarting the will of the 52 percent who voted “Leave” in the June 23 referendum.

The vote for Britain to become the first country to leave the 28-nation bloc sent shockwaves across the world and emboldened populists in Europe and the United States.

Supreme Court President David Neuberger said people involved in the case had received threats and abuse and stressed that the judges would rule without any political bias after criticism from Brexit backers.

A parliamentary vote on Article 50 could open the door to pro-EU lawmakers delaying or softening Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc.

Neuberger said the judges were “aware of the strong feelings” surrounding Brexit but “those wider political questions are not the subject of this appeal.”

He told the court: “This appeal is concerned with legal issues, and, as judges, our duty is to consider those issues impartially, and to decide the case according to the law. That is what we shall do.”

He said some parties involved in the case had received threats of “serious violence and unpleasant abuse,” warning that there were “legal powers” to deal with such threats.

Attorney General Jeremy Wright, the government’s chief legal adviser, outlined the government’s case at the start of the four-day, live-broadcast hearing, with a judgment expected in January.

In his opening statement, he said there was a “universal expectation” that the government would implement the referendum result.

He argued that the government had constitutional authority over foreign affairs, including the right to withdraw from treaties, under so-called “royal prerogative powers.”

The royal prerogative is “not an ancient relic but a contemporary necessity,” he said.

If it loses, the government is expected to introduce a short bill — reportedly comprising just three lines of text — which it will then seek to push rapidly through parliament to authorize the triggering of Article 50.

May, who became prime minister after the Brexit vote, has insisted a parliamentary vote on the legislation would not disrupt her plans to trigger Article 50 by the end of March.

However, the opposition Labour Party delivered a blow to the government on Saturday when it announced it would seek to amend any bill, potentially delaying the process.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the amendment would ensure Britain retains access to the European single market and protect workers’ and environmental rights.

May faces a further potential complication from representatives of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who will argue Article 50 also needs to be approved by the UK’s devolved parliaments.

China slams US over Aixtron takeover row

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

China slams US over Aixtron takeover row

 (I HAVE ONE QUESTION FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF CHINA, HOW MANY COMPANIES IN CHINA ARE BEING BOUGHT AND TAKEN OVER BY COMPANIES FROM OTHER COUNTRIES LIKE GERMANY AND THE U.S.? CHINA’S GOVERNMENT HAS MADE IT VERY PLAIN FOR EVER THAT THEY DO NOT ALLOW THIS SO IT IS VERY FAIR FOR OTHER COUNTRIES GOVERNMENTS TO SAY NO TO CHINA, ISN’T IT?)(TRS)

CHINA yesterday urged the United States to stop making groundless accusations against Chinese companies and politicizing normal acquisition cases.

Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang made the remarks in response to US President Barack Obama’s block of a Chinese company’s purchase of Aixtron US, the German chip equipment maker’s division in California where nearly a fifth of its 713 workforce is based.

Obama issued an order directing China’s Fujian Grand Chip Investment Fund to “fully and permanently abandon” the proposed acquisition of Aixtron’s US business, the US Department of Treasury said in a statement on Friday.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, which reviews foreign purchases of US companies, and Obama assess that “the transaction poses a risk to the national security of the United States that cannot be resolved through mitigation,” the statement said.

Lu told a regular press briefing yesterday: “The Chinese company’s acquisition is purely market behavior.”

China is opposed to politicization of and political intervention in normal acquisitions, he said.

Lu urged the US to offer a fair environment and convenience for investment by Chinese companies.

The Chinese government always encourages Chinese companies to carry out overseas investment and cooperation in accordance with market and international rules as well as local laws, he added.

Aixtron said, however, the US order “was limited to the US business and did not prohibit the acquisition of Aixtron shares,” sparking hopes among analysts that a deal could be revived, albeit under revised terms.

“Chinese investors might be willing to take over Aixtron without its US business including US patents and patent applications,” DZ Bank analyst Harald Schnitzer said in a client note.

While the 670-million-euro (US$717 million) deal is small, US opposition is seen as a sign of growing concern in the West about the acquisition of cutting-edge technology by Chinese players and comes after Washington blocked the sale by Philips of its US lighting business to Asian buyers.

The crux of the issue for Aixtron is that it makes devices which produce crystalline layers based on gallium nitride that are used as semiconductors in weapons systems.

Gallium nitride is a powdery yellow compound used in light-emitting diodes (LED), radar, antennas and lasers.

Gallium nitride technology can boost the power of weapons systems while making them cheaper because it needs less electricity.

The German firm’s technology is being used to upgrade both US and foreign-owned Patriot missile defence systems.

Analysts have said Aixtron has a bleak future as a standalone company as it struggles in an overcrowded market where Chinese companies call the shots.

Aixtron has also said it needs to cut costs and jobs if the deal falls through, while analysts said a white knight bidder for Aixtron such as US chip equipment maker Applied Materials could emerge.

Another obstacle for the deal is that the German Economy Ministry withdrew its approval for the Chinese acquisition in October and is doing its own review of the transaction.

It said yesterday that the process was independent of the US review and would continue, without giving a timeline for presenting its conclusions.

“There is still a quite low probability of the deal going through as planned,” a Frankfurt-based trader said.

“But the ball is back in German court as the German Economy Ministry’s review of the Chinese takeover bid is ongoing.”

China’s President Xi Jinping Welcomes His Honored Guest: Henry Kissinger

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

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