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Trump to Declare China ‘Strategic Competitor’ in Security Speech

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  • Trump to Declare China ‘Strategic Competitor’ in Security Speech

President Donald Trump will declare China a “strategic competitor’’ to the U.S. in a speech that lays out an official national security strategy heavily influenced by his views on trade and economic relations, senior administration officials said.

The language, as described by the officials, appears softer than the label used by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, who last week accused China of “economic aggression.” Still, Monday’s announcement will outline potential economic actions that could target China, officials said, signaling a shift from the more conciliatory approach Trump has taken with Chinese President Xi Jinping since being elected a year ago.

“We are in economic competition with China,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on the “Fox News Sunday” program. “This isn’t about trade wars. This is about reciprocal fair trade. And if we have to protect American workers and put on tariffs or other things, where they don’t have fair trade with us, the president will do that.”

The national security strategy, a document mandated by Congress, will describe the Trump administration’s approach to a range of global challenges including North Korea’s nuclear program, international terrorism, Russian aggression and China’s rising influence.

International Reaction

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Monday that government officials there haven’t seen the U.S. report yet so it’s not possible to comment directly. As a matter of principle, she said Beijing hopes that, given the importance of the U.S., its national-security strategy will encourage peace and stability, as well as mutual trust in U.S.-China relations. She added that U.S.-China trade ties are win-win and that China will continue to liberalize its trade and investment policies.

“Strategic competitor” is the phrase former President George W. Bush used to describe China before when he initially took office. The Chinese found the term deeply offensive and lobbied Washington to drop the phrase, which it eventually did.

Climate change will not be listed in the document as a security threat — a departure from the policy of former President Barack Obama, officials said. Defense Secretary James Mattis has previously referred to climate change as a threat to national security.

Economic Security

Trump will focus heavily on trade and economic issues as central to U.S. national security, reiterating his belief that the U.S. ceded ground under existing trade deals, according to senior administration officials who briefed reporters Sunday on the condition that their names not be used. That returns the president to “America First” theme he used in his winning 2016 campaign, which tapped into economic worries by many voters.

“Look for an emphasis on the competitive global environment, including with respect to China — rather than holding out hope for China’s emergence as a more-or-less responsible stakeholder,” Richard Fontaine, president of the Center For a New American Security, a nonprofit think tank in Washington, said in in an email before the release of the Trump administration’s document.

Trade Imbalances

Trump will outline several potential actions for combating trade imbalances, including actions to protect U.S. technology and research from foreign actors, and more closely scrutinizing international companies seeking to invest in the U.S., officials said.

The president has had to balance his propensity for taking on China over its trade practices with his need for Xi’s support in combating the nuclear threat from North Korea.

The document will identify China and Russia as a “revisionist powers” that seek to upend the status quo, posing a threat to U.S. interests, the officials said. In previewing Trump’s speech last week, McMaster said Russia and China “are undermining the international order and stability” and ignoring the rule of law.

“Geopolitics are back, and are back with a vengeance after this holiday from history we took in the so-called post-Cold War period,” McMaster said on Dec. 12 at an event hosted by Policy Exchange, a U.K. research group.

‘Rogue Nations’

On North Korea, the document will not make specific reference to preemptive military action, officials said. But it will make clear that the U.S. has the right to protect itself from “rogue nations” that pursue weapons of mass destruction. Iran would presumably fall into that category as well.

Russia, McMaster said, has pioneered “new generation warfare” that employs “subversion and disinformation and propaganda using cyber tools, operating across multiple domains, that attempt to divide our communities within our nations and pit them against each other, and try to create crises of confidence.”

Trump has sought a cordial relationship with Russia and cast doubt about assessments showing the Russian government worked to interfere with the U.S. presidential election.

The president has regularly praised his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, even as a special counsel investigates possible links between Trump’s campaign and the Russian influence operation during the 2016 election.

Trump said during a summit in Vietnam in November that Putin had assured him his country hadn’t tried to interfere in the election — an assertion contrary to the conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community.

Putin Praise

Trump and Putin spoke Sunday for the second time in the past week, discussing a terrorism plot in St. Petersburg thwarted with the help of the Central Intelligence Agency.

“Both leaders agreed that this serves as an example of the positive things that can occur when our countries work together,” the White House said in a readout of the call.

U.S. National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton said on Fox News on Monday that Trump in the security strategy “identifies Russia the same way he has been talking about Russia all year.”

“We still have areas of cooperation possible with Russia in Syria, in fighting ISIS,” Anton said, using an acronym for Islamic State terrorists. “There’s areas where we’re still competing with Russia and this is a strategy that sees that clearly, prioritizes our interests and will continue the president’s policy about looking for areas of cooperation.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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