- Trump Takes on China in a Twitter Outburst
Weeks before taking office, the incoming American president is riling Beijing with confrontation and online statements that appear to foreshadow a tougher foreign policy toward China.
China woke up this morning to sharp criticism posted by Trump on Twitter, days after Beijing responded to his telephone conversation with Taiwan’s president by accusing the Taiwanese of playing a “small trick” on Trump.
Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into their country (the U.S. doesn’t tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don’t think so!
That was apparently prompted by China’s response to Trump’s talk Friday with Tsai Ing-wen, the first time an American president or president-elect is known to have spoken to a Taiwanese leader since the US broke off formal diplomatic relations in 1979.
So far, China has avoided responding with open hostility. Today, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China would have “no comment on what motivated the Trump team” to make the tweets, but said he believed both sides would continue to support a “sound and a stable bilateral relationship.”
“For us, for China, we do not comment on his personality,” Lu said.
We focus on his policies, especially his policies toward China.
China’s reaction to Trump’s call with Tsai was relatively low-key given the sensitivity China places on Taiwan.
The US and Taiwan retain strong unofficial ties, and the US sells weapons to the self-governing island. But American leaders have for decades avoided any official recognition in deference to China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory, to be captured by force if necessary.
Trump’s reference in another tweet to Tsai as “the President of Taiwan” was sure to inflame China, which considers any reference to Taiwan having a president as a grave insult.
But China only said it would make a “solemn representation” in Washington, and Lu declined to expand on that statement today.
Instead, China seemed to offer Trump a face-saving way out of an apparent blunder by blaming the Taiwanese.
English-language commentaries then appeared in two state-run newspapers known to be used by China’s ruling Communist Party leadership to send messages abroad.
“Trump might be looking for some opportunities by making waves,” the Global Times said in an editorial today headlined, “Talk to Trump, punish Tsai administration.”
“However, he has zero diplomatic experience and is unaware of the repercussions of shaking up Sino-US relations,” the newspaper said.
“It is certain that Trump doesn’t want a showdown with China, because it is not his ambition, and neither was it included in his promise to the electorate.”
“He puts out feelers to sound China out and chalk up some petty benefits.”
China’s response was characteristically coded. But it now faces an incoming president who deals in outspoken tweets, not communiques.
Trump used a platform banned by censors in mainland China to renew several of his criticisms during the US presidential campaign. Some of his arguments aren’t true.
Taiwan’s official Central News Agency, citing anonymous sources on Saturday, said Edwin Feulner, founder of the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, was a “crucial figure” in setting up communication channels between the sides.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence yesterday said that the phone call shouldn’t necessarily be interpreted as a shift in US policy. He shrugged off the attention to the incident as media hype.
“It was a courtesy call,” Pence told NBC’s Meet the Press.
Ned Price, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said Trump’s conversation does not signal any change to long-standing US policy — although some in Taiwan expressed hopes for strong US support from the incoming administration.
In terms of Trump’s criticisms, Chinese imports are taxed at standard US rates, while Washington has recently slapped painful punitive tariffs on Chinese steel, solar panels and other goods.
And while China once kept a tight grip on the value of the yuan, also known as the renminbi, it now allows it to trade within a bandwidth 2% above or below a daily target set by the People’s Bank of China.
The yuan is currently trading at around a six-year low against the dollar. But economists now conclude that the currency is more or less properly valued in relation to the dollar and other foreign currencies.
And with economic growth slowing considerably and more Chinese trying to move money out of the country, the government is now spending massively to hold up the yuan’s value rather than depressing it as Trump and other critics accuse it of doing.
It has also imposed strict controls on Chinese moving money out of the country.
China has built up its military and constructed man-made islands in the South China Sea, and made sweeping territorial claims over almost the entire critical waterway. Those claims were broadly rejected in June by an international tribunal in The Hague.
Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at People’s University in Beijing, predicted China would not lash out immediately, but calibrate its response over the next several months after Trump enters the White House.
“Trump’s remarks will certainly raise the concerns of Chinese leaders,” Shi said. “But at the moment, they will be restrained and watch his moves closely.”
Meanwhile, Taiwan has urged China to stay calm after the Taiwanese leader’s unprecedented phone call to US President-elect Donald Trump angered Beijing, as residents and analysts in Taipei expressed fears at the possible fallout.
Ties between Taipei and Beijing have grown increasingly frosty since China-sceptic Tsai Ing-wen took power in Taiwan in May, ending eight years of cross-strait rapprochement.
Beijing has since cut off all official communication with the self-ruled island, which it still views as part of its territory.
Today Taiwan’s China affairs minister Chang Hsiao-yueh urged Beijing to consider the matter with a “calm attitude”. She told reporters:
“The government values ties with [China] and the president has reiterated time and again that Taiwan will not go back to the old way of confrontation… I don’t think there is an act of provocation.”
Tsai herself has made no comment but the presidential office has insisted there is “no conflict” between Taiwan maintaining relations with the US and with China.
In Taipei some said they now fear a Beijing backlash.
“I doubt that a short phone call will help Taiwan that much in the long-term, but it will infuriate China and they will likely take vengeful moves against Taiwan,” said receptionist Hu Chi-hui, 38.
Saleswoman Ho Li-chin, 43, told AFP she fears China will try to isolate Taiwan even more in the international community.
More harm than good
Political analysts said Tsai was gambling that the call would increase her bargaining power with Beijing.
Fan Shih-ping of the National Taiwan Normal University, said Tsai wanted to show Beijing that “giving Taiwan the cold shoulder would drive it further towards the US”.
But as she battles falling approval ratings at home over domestic issues, observers agreed the move was unlikely to significantly improve her popularity – and could damage it further.
“Beijing will not leave the matter at that and this could do Tsai more harm than good, such as prompting Beijing to get Taiwan’s diplomatic allies to switch recognition,” said Tang Shao-cheng, a political scientist at the National Chengchi University.
However, some residents voiced support for Tsai.
“Taiwan has the right to maintain relations with other countries and we shouldn’t look to China before taking our moves,” said pensioner Lin Ji-chen in Taipei. ”Taiwan should walk its own path.”
COVID-19: Indian Travellers Regains Entry Into Nigeria
The federal government of Nigeria on Monday said travellers from India will no longer be denied entry into Nigeria as the country has been removed from the list of flagged countries.
In May, in an effort to curb the spread of the global health pandemic, the federal government had banned travellers from Brazil, India and Turkey from visiting the country.
Speaking on Monday during the national briefing of the presidential steering committee (PSC) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), said the situation in the Asian county has improved.
“The Global cases recorded continues to decline to about 4m cases weekly, although it is less, compared to last year and the situation calls for caution because we are not out of the woods yet. Africa and Nigeria in particular, continue to record rising cases and lots of fatalities,” Mustapha said.
“This can really be curtailed and reduced minimally if we adhere strictly to the NPIs. I recognize the fact that people are fatigued and tired but let me encourage all Nigerians not to give up. We all need to come together to defeat this dreaded disease so we can return to our normal life.
“The most potent way of getting out of this situation is through vaccines, which science and research has presented to us. I call on every eligible person to come out and be vaccinated. There are various choices now. We have AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson and we expect Pfizer to be delivered very soon. There will be enough vaccines to go around soon. By the second quarter of 2022, we would have received about 52 million doses of the vaccines.
“To ease travels for fully vaccinated Nigerians, we are exploring the principles of reciprocity between Nigeria and other nations. For the time being, Nigerians are advised to always carry their vaccination card details or barcode on their electronic devices for easy access especially for those travelling outside the country.
“Compliance with protocols laid down for quarantine to ensure control remains a source of worry to the PSC. The need to review the protocol has become expedient to align with existing global protocols and realities. On this note, the PSC will adopt a sustainable model and policy that will be unveiled soon. To begin with, India has been removed from the list of flagged countries in view of improved situation in that country.”
“On this note, the PSC will adopt a sustainable model and policy that will be unveiled soon”, he said.
Osagie Ehanire, minister of health said evidence has so far shown that the Delta strain is already dominant in Nigeria.
He warned that though the third wave of the pandemic may appear to be leveling out because there have been no catastrophic increases in infections and fatalities, it is not wise to assume that the threat is gone, especially as cases are fluctuating and have to be identified by genomic sequencing.
The minister assured that even though there is a 25 percent shortfall in CICAX supply, Nigeria will not run low on vaccines.
Ehanire further noted that there were reports of new coronavirus mutations circulating in other countries, and assured that government will monitor with all tools available to respond appropriately.
Also speaking, Faisal Shuaib, executive director of, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency noted that vaccine cards were becoming a requirement across the country.
He, therefore, warned against any attempt to produce/procure and sell fake COVID-19 vaccination cards.
“Anyone who ventures into this would be apprehended and made to face the law. This is a criminal offense, in which both the buyer and seller would be prosecuted.
“We, therefore, urge all Nigerians to report any suspected attempt by any person or group of persons to buy or sell a COVID-19 vaccination card to us via our call centre line on 0700 220 1122, any of our social media handles (Facebook and Instagram), at the nearest police station or any other law enforcement agency. No one needs to cut corners on COVID-19 vaccination.
“The vaccines are free, and the vaccination cards are given free of charge at any of our designated health facilities after your vaccination,” Shuaib said.
South Africa Plans To Introduce Covid Passport
South Africa has announced plans to introduce a vaccine passport amid widespread mistrust of the Covid-19 vaccine in the continent’s most affected country.
President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement in a televised address to the nation and assured that the immunization of the adult population was a necessary prerequisite to fully reopen the economy and avoid a fourth wave of infections, while the number of cases has dropped sharply in the country.
In two weeks, we will “provide more information on a system of ‘vaccine passports’ that can be used as proof of vaccination for various purposes and events,” he said without providing further details.
He added that the “sustained decline in infections (…) over the past few weeks” would, however, allow for a relaxation of the restrictive measures starting Monday.
The nightly curfew will be extended by one hour, to 11 p.m., and the limits on gatherings will be raised.
Restrictions on the sale of alcohol will also be eased, although protective masks will still be required in places open to the public.
The peak of a third stubborn wave due to the Delta variant is now over. Over the past seven days, the average number of new daily infections has dropped 29 percent from the previous week and 48 percent from the week before, Ramaphosa said.
“Our most urgent task is to vaccinate our population,” he said, noting that vaccine supply “is no longer a constraint.”
“If many people are not vaccinated (…) the risk of new and more dangerous variants emerging is much greater,” he warned.
After delays in the supply and distribution of doses, the vaccination campaign is now struggling to take off because of skepticism about the vaccine, especially among men.
To date, just over seven million people have been fully vaccinated in South Africa, with more than a quarter of adults have received at least one dose.
The country’s goal is to vaccinate 40 million South Africans, or about two-thirds of the population, by next March.
Authorities have recorded more than 2.8 million cases of the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, and 84,877 deaths, making it the worst affected country in Africa by the pandemic.
South African scientists are monitoring a new local variant with an unusually high mutation rate, dubbed C.1.2, although its presence is so far marginal among new cases detected in the country.
FG Launches GEEP 2.0 Plans To Lift 100M Nigerians Out Of Poverty
The Federal Government of Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja inaugurated the restructured Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) now known as GEEP 2.0. to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.
Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, speaking during the inauguration said the programme was a veritable tool designed to end poverty in many ways.
She said that GEEP was one of the components of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP).
According to her, the initial GEEP targets the unbanked poor and vulnerable but skilled population that has always been left out on credit delivery programmes and is directed at providing soft and affordable loans to finance their businesses.
“The GEEP is innovatively targeted and delivered under three unique products – the TraderMoni for marginalised youths, The MarketMoni targets vulnerable women, and the FarmerMoni specifically focuses on rural farmers.
“With President Muhammdu Buhari’s gracious approval of expansion to provide loans to an additional one million beneficiaries with emphasis to targeting smallholder farmers in the year 2020/2021, the GEEP has been restructured and is being flagged-off today as GEEP 2.0.
“The GEEP 2.0 is structured to effectively deliver soft loans and skills to a wide range of unemployed citizens including persons living with disability, marginalised women and unemployed youths amongst other vulnerable groups in our society.
“I wish to state here that the GEEP 2.0 is well-coordinated and has an implementation model that accommodates representation at the Federal, State and Local Government levels,” Farouq said.
Farouq said that part of the new strategies include an increase in the loan portfolio of TraderMon/ and Market Moni loans from N10, 000 to N50,000, while the FarmerMoni is now N300,000.
“There is also the provision of the value chain and creation of digital marketplace (E-platform) for beneficiaries to sell their products.
“In addition, there is a digital integration and coordination platform along with a strong and centralised monitoring and evaluation system aimed at enhancing loans recovery.’’
Speaking, the Minister of Youths and Sports, Mr Sunday Dare who also represented the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha said he was delighted at the inauguration of the GEEP 2.0.
Dare said whenever he saw other ministries that helped in reducing the burden of youths unemployment from his ministry, he was happy, adding that youths were the biggest beneficiaries of NSIP.
Similarly, Mr Clem Agba, the State Minister of Financial, Budget and National Planning said his ministry had been at the forefront of ensuring human dignity and protecting households from poverty.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen said women and youths were always affected by humanitarian crisis and poverty.
Tallen said that the GEEP 2.0 would now help the poor and marginalised women and youths who did not have collateral to secure loans.
Also, the Minister of State for Education, Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba said that the inauguration of the GEEP 2.0 was an indication to show that President Buhari meant it when he said he wanted to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
“It is evident that as we collaborate and corporate with all hands on deck, we shall achieve the ultimate objectives of the programme.”
Dr Garba Abari, the Director-General, National Orientation Agency (NOA) said the agency would work with state programme managers and focal persons toward the success of the NSIP.
Meanwhile, the Team Lead of the GEEP 2.0, Ms Zainab Musawa said that intended beneficiaries would be effectively supervised and monitored by desk officers in all 774 local government areas, state programme managers and the ministry in partnership with NOA.
“Essentially, GEEP 2.0 is a continuation of the Buhari administration’s laudable empowerment drive committed to the upliftment of oppressed Nigerians and we hope the programme will engender job creation.”
Ms Hadiza Hambuza, a representative of Access Bank Plc said the bank would work with the beneficiaries to achieve the objectives of the programme.
The event attracted officials from Presidency, National Assembly, NEMA, EFCC, FCTA Disability Commission among others.
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