Trump Tack on China Likely to Shift from Sweet to Sour After Asia Trip

Fresh off his first visit to Asia, included a two-day stop in China that some argue was heavy on flattery and lacking in substance, analysts say President Donald Trump is now poised to do what he’s long promised: get tough on Beijing over its unfair trade practices.

While in China, Trump said he gives Beijing “great credit” for taking advantage of the United States, which left some perplexed.

Speaking at signing ceremony for deals that totaled some $250 billion he said: “I don’t blame China … who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the sake of its citizens?”

But that was only the first half of a key message of his trip.

The rest came in his speech at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation and was echoed again at the White House on Wednesday.

“We can no longer tolerate unfair trading practices that steal American jobs, wealth and intellectual property. The days of the United States being taken advantage of are over,” Trump said.

 

WATCH: Leaders of US and China Offer Asia Business Leaders Divergent Paths

​Sweet and sour

Douglas Paal, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said he sees a domestic political strategy in the broader message that Trump conveyed during his trip.

By saying that China is not to blame and that it is doing what any country should do to protect its interests, Trump has given himself license to do for America what other leaders have not done.

Paal notes that early next month two key trade investigation reports are due and, unless something knocks them off course, they are going to lead to high tariffs on some products and maybe even outright bans.

And the Chinese will retaliate as they feel appropriate, he said.

“So we will go from the good feeling, high emotions of this state visit, which we’d call the sweet, to sour in December on trade. And that would be more suitable to the way Trump thinks about his political constituency and the debt he owes that constituency for his election,” Paal said.

Paal added the outcome of such an approach and impact on America is widely uncertain, but what is clear is that Trump will stick to his domestic political calculation until it proves to be wrong.

​Trade investigations

In addition to a section 301 investigation into China’s use of policies to force foreign companies to hand over intellectual property in exchange for market access, the Trump administration has also launched a section 232 investigation to determine whether cheap Chinese aluminum and steel imports threaten national security.

Both would allow the administration to levy tariffs on Chinese goods. Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 was a popular trade tool that was used in the 1980s against Japan, and it allows the president to impose tariffs or other restrictions to counter unfair trade practices.

China has called the launch of the investigation “irresponsible” because it is based on a domestic U.S. law that could be applied outside of the framework of the World Trade Organization.

Some have warned that the use of such measures could trigger a trade war between the two countries. Others, however, argue that the trade war began a long time ago and that the difference is that previous administrations did not do enough about it.

“I think there are very few people who would say that the previous administrations, whether it was the Obama administration or the Bush administration, were overly aggressive in enforcing trade law. Many people would say that they were insufficiently aggressive in enforcing U.S. law when it comes to unfair trade practices of U.S. trading partners,” said Ross Feingold, senior adviser with the American political risk manager DC International Advisory.

Economic bullets

In addition to the investigations, there is a bipartisan push by lawmakers in both the Senate and House of Representatives to bolster the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS.

If the draft legislation is approved, it would not only broaden the scope of the interagency body’s review of foreign investments in the United States, but expand it to include joint venture investments overseas as well.

CFIUS evaluates investments in the United States for potential threats to national security. Some lawmakers have proposed expanding the review domestically and to include investments overseas as well. A proposal that is likely to not sit well with big American multinational corporations.

Ethan Cramer-Flood, associate director of The Conference Board’s China Center and Asia Programs, said that over the past year there has been an enormous amount of tactical preparation and economic bullets for eventual economic confrontation.

And while that is no guarantee that will happen, the trade investigations and proposed CFIUS legislation are all part of that effort.

“The Trump trade team and their allies in Congress are loading up the chamber,” Cramer-Flood said. “That doesn’t mean they are going to fire the bullets, but they are creating a sort of legal arsenal, so that rather than just rhetoric and yelling, there are things the U.S. side can do to cause real pain on the Chinese side.”

What the Trump administration is aiming to do, Cramer-Flood said, is accumulate leverage and create a legitimate concern from the Chinese perspective, in hopes of bringing about change.

Without that kind of pressure, China is unlikely to have any interest in changing the status quo, which has been working very well for it for the past 30 years, he added.

Joyce Huang contributed to this report.

Tired of waiting for your website to load? $1/ mo Hosting + Free domain!

Trump Renews Focus on Tax Reform Amid New Political Landscape

President Donald Trump has shifted his focus back to domestic issues after returning from a 12-day trip to Asia. Trump is urging congressional Republicans to pass a tax reform measure to follow through on one of his key campaign promises. But the president and his Republican allies in Congress face a new political landscape in the wake of last week’s election victories by Democrats in Virginia and New Jersey. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Tired of waiting for your website to load? $1/ mo Hosting + Free domain!

Analysts: Resolving Farm Issue Could Help Zimbabwe’s Battered Economy

Zimbabwe’s economy has been hammered by political unrest, soaring inflation, a shortage of foreign cash, a trade deficit and many other problems. Residents say the economic turbulence has driven thousands of people out of the country and makes daily life challenging. But an economic analyst says Zimbabwe has an educated workforce and a battered-but-functional infrastructure that could boost agricultural production and manufacturing, and eventually bring recovery. VOA’s Jim Randle reports.

Tired of waiting for your website to load? $1/ mo Hosting + Free domain!

Trump Claims ‘Tremendous Success’ of Recent Trip to Asia

In his speech Wednesday, a day after returning from a 12-day Asia trip, U.S. President Donald Trump boasted of “tremendous success” in pushing America’s interests forward. During stops in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines, Trump pursued his “America First” philosophy, calling for more favorable trade deals for the U.S. He also urged North Korea not to test the U.S. resolve to defend itself and its allies. VOA’S Zlatica Hoke reports.

Tired of waiting for your website to load? $1/ mo Hosting + Free domain!

Africa’s Renewable Energy Set to Soar by 2022

Strong demand is set to give a huge boost to renewable energy growth in sub-Saharan Africa over the next five years, driving cumulative capacity up more than 70 percent, a senior international energy official said Wednesday.

From Ethiopia to South Africa, millions of people are getting access to electricity for the first time as the continent turns to solar, wind and hydropower projects to boost generation capacity.

“A big chunk of this [growth] is hydro because of Ethiopia, but then you have solar … in South Africa, Nigeria and Namibia and wind in South Africa and Ethiopia as well,” said Paolo Frankl, head of the renewable division at the Paris-based International Energy Agency.

He forecast installed capacity of renewable energy in the Sub-Saharan region almost doubling — from around 35 gigawatts now to above 60 gigawatts, given the right conditions.

Ethiopia has an array of hydropower projects under construction, including the $4.1 billion Grand Renaissance Dam along the Nile River that will churn out 6,000 megawatts upon completion.

That is enough for a good-sized city for a year.

“Africa has one of the best potential resources of renewables anywhere in the world, but it depends very much on the enabling framework, on the governance and the right rules,” Frankl told Reuters on the sidelines of a wind energy conference.

Coal industry opposition

The transition to a low-carbon trajectory to reduce harmful greenhouse gases is creating opposition from the coal industry and fueling uncertainty in countries where job creation was linked to coal mining.

In Africa, this tension and its impact on new investment has been best illustrated by South Africa’s state-owned Eskom and its reluctance to sign new deals with independent power producers, according to analysts.

In May, the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) said the energy regulator agreed to investigate Eskom’s refusal to sign agreements that delayed 2,942 megawatts in new solar and wind projects.

“Our government does not appear to appreciate the forces of nature,” SAWEA Chairman Mark Pickering said Wednesday.

The inability of Eskom to sign the new power purchase agreements for two years has delayed investment of 58 billion rand ($4.03 billion), and hit investor confidence with at least one shutdown of a wind turbine manufacturing plant, said SAWEA.

“The continent has a lot of potential, but the problem is financial and political issues, so all of our projects are being delayed for quite a long time, like with Eskom,” said Mason Qin, business development manager for southern and eastern Africa at China’s Goldwind.

Tired of waiting for your website to load? $1/ mo Hosting + Free domain!

IS May Sustain Virtual Caliphate After Battlefield Losses, Experts Say

With the Islamic State group almost defeated on the ground in Iraq and Syria and its territorial hold dramatically reduced, the terror group and its sympathizers continue to demonstrate their ability to weaponize the internet in an effort to radicalize, recruit and inspire acts of terrorism in the region and around the world.

Experts charge that the terror group’s ability to produce and distribute new propaganda has been significantly diminished, particularly after it recently lost the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, its self-proclaimed capital and media headquarters.

But they warn that the circulation of its old media content and easy access to it on social media platforms indicates that the virtual caliphate will live on in cyberspace for some time, even as IS’s physical control ends.

“Right now we have such a huge problem on the surface web — and [it’s] really easy to access literally tens of thousands of videos that are fed to you, one after the other, [and] that are leading to radicalization,” Hany Farid, a computer science professor at Dartmouth College and adviser for the group Counter Extremism Project (CEP) in Washington, said Monday.

Little headway

Speaking at a panel discussion about the rights and responsibilities of social media platforms in an age of global extremism at the Washington-based Newseum, Farid said the social media giants Facebook, Google and Twitter have tried to get radical Islamist content off the internet, but significant, game-changing results have yet to be seen.

Farid said social media companies are facing increasing pressure from governments and counterterrorism advocates to remove content that fuels extremism.

Earlier this year, Facebook announced it had developed new artificial intelligence programs to identify extremist posts and had hired thousands of people to monitor content that could be suspected of inciting violence.

Twitter also reported that it had suspended nearly 300,000 terrorism-related accounts in the first half of the year.

YouTube on Monday said Alphabet’s Google in recent months had expanded its crackdown on extremism-related content. The new policy, Reuters reported, will affect videos that feature people and groups that have been designated as terrorists by the U.S. or British governments.

The New York Times reported that the new policy has led YouTube to remove hundreds of videos of the slain jihadist Anwar al-Awlaki lecturing on the history of Islam, recorded long before he joined al-Qaida and encouraged violence against the U.S.

The World Economic Forum’s human rights council issued a report last month, warning tech companies that they might risk tougher regulations by governments to limit freedom of speech if they do not stem the publishing of violent content by Islamic State and the spread of misinformation.

IS digital propaganda has reportedly motivated more than 30,000 people to journey thousands of miles to join IS, according to a report published by Wired, a magazine published in print and online editions that focuses on how emerging technologies affect culture, the economy and politics.

An ongoing struggle

Experts say measures to restrict cyberspace for terrorist activities could prove helpful, but they warn it cannot completely prevent terror groups from spreading their propaganda online and that it will be a struggle for some time.

According to Fran Townsend, the former U.S. homeland security adviser, terrorist groups are constantly evolving on the internet as the new security measures force them onto platforms that are harder to track, such as encrypted services like WhatsApp and Telegram and file-sharing platforms like Google Drive.

She said last month’s New York City attacker, Sayfullo Saipov, used Telegram to evade U.S counterterrorism authorities.

“This guy was on Telegram in ISIS chat rooms. He went looking for them, he was able to find them, and he was able to communicate on an encrypted app that evaded law enforcement,” Townsend said during Monday’s panel on extremism at the Newseum.

U.S. officials said Saipov viewed 90 IS propaganda videos online, and more than 4,000 extremism related images were found on his cellphones, including instructions on how to carry out vehicular attacks.

As the crackdown increases on online jihadi propaganda, experts warn the desperate terror groups and their lone wolf online activists and sympathizers could aggressively retaliate.

Last week, about 800 school websites across the United States were attacked by pro-IS hackers. The hack, which lasted for two hours, redirected visitors to IS propaganda video and images of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Similar attacks were also reported in Europe, including last week’s hacking of MiX Megapil, a private radio station in Sweden where a pro-IS song was played for about 30 minutes.

A global response

Experts maintain that to counter online extremism and terrorism, there is a need for a coordinated international response as social media platforms continue to cross national borders and jurisdictions.

Last month, Facebook, Twitter, Google and the Group of Seven advanced economies joined forces against jihadi online propaganda and vowed to remove the content from the web within two hours of its being uploaded.

“Our European colleagues — little late to this game, by the way — have come into it in a big way,” Townsend said.

She said the U.S-led West had given more attention to physical warfare against IS at the expense of the war in cyberspace.

“We have been very proficient in fighting this in physical space. … But we were late in the game viewing the internet,” she said.

Townsend added that the complexity of the problem requires action even at the local level.

“The general public can be a force multiplier,” she said, adding, “As you’re scrolling through your feed and you see something … it literally takes 50 seconds for you to hit a button and tell Twitter, ‘This should not be here and it’s not appropriate content.’ And it will make a difference.”

Tired of waiting for your website to load? $1/ mo Hosting + Free domain!

Trump in Political Maelstrom Over Moore Senate Candidacy

U.S. President Donald Trump is facing a political maelstrom over Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore, whether to join prominent Republicans in trying to force him to end his candidacy in the wake of sexual misconduct accusations from four decades ago.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and two former Republican presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and Senator John McCain, have all said that the 70-year-old Moore should drop out of the December 12 election in the southern state, but Trump, back in Washington after a five-nation Asian trip, has yet to weigh in.

Two women have accused Moore of unwanted sexual advances when they were teenagers and Moore was in his early 30s. Three other women said that at about the same time in the late 1970s, Moore pursued them for dates when he was a local prosecutor and they were in high school.

Moore has been defiant in refusing to quit the race against Democrat Doug Jones, a former federal prosecutor, to fill the remaining three years of a Senate seat once held by Jeff Sessions, who resigned to join Trump’s Cabinet as attorney general, the country’s top law enforcement position.

Moore has vehemently denied the sexual misconduct allegations, while not denying that he dated much younger women.

He has blamed the media for harassing his campaign and said he would sue The Washington Post, the newspaper that a week ago published the first wave of accusations from four women in on-the-record interviews. On Monday, a fifth accuser, Beverly Young Nelson, alleged that Moore assaulted her one night in the late 1970s after she finished work at a barbecue restaurant that Moore frequented in Gadsden, Alabama. Moore claimed to not know the woman, but in 1977 had wished her Merry Christmas in her high school yearbook.

“To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say ‘Merry Christmas’…Love, Roy Moore D.A.,” the inscription said, referring to his job as a district attorney.

Moore has attempted to rally his political supporters and focus his campaign on Christian virtues, saying Tuesday night, “If we don’t come back to God, we’re not going anywhere.” Political surveys show Moore and Jones in a close contest in the politically conservative state that voted overwhelmingly for Trump in last year’s presidential election.

Trump, while traveling overseas, deflected questions about Moore. “I have to get back into the country to see what’s happening,” he said.

Trump faces a political dilemma in dealing with Moore. The candidate could ignore any entreaty from the president to quit the race since Trump supported Moore’s opponent in a September Republican party primary election, appointed Senator Luther Strange. But after Moore won the primary, Trump voiced his support.

In addition, if Trump says, as other Republicans have, that he believes the women’s accusations against Moore, Trump critics are likely to question why the five women’s accounts are to be believed, but not those of 11 women who during the 2016 presidential election accused Trump of unwanted touching or kissing. Trump said they were liars and promised to sue them, but has not.

Now, Moore’s name would remain on the ballot even if he were to drop out, since the deadline to withdraw from the race has long passed.

McConnell and other Republican officials have floated the idea of mounting a write-in candidacy to try to defeat Moore. Some have suggested that Strange attempt to keep the Senate seat in Republican hands with a write-in bid, while others have suggested that Sessions resign as attorney general and attempt to reclaim the Senate seat he held for 20 years.

Other Republicans are saying that if Moore wins the election and is seated in the 100-member Senate, they would immediately try to expel him as morally unfit to be a U.S. senator.

Tired of waiting for your website to load? $1/ mo Hosting + Free domain!

Airbus to Sell 430 Planes to Indigo for $49.5 Billion

Airbus announced on Wednesday that it will sell 430 airplanes to U.S. firm Indigo Partners for $49.5 billion in the European firm’s biggest deal ever.

The announcement came at the Dubai Air Show and the deal includes 273 A320neos and 157 A321neos. The airlines that use the aircraft will include Frontier Airlines, JetSMART of Chile, Volaris of Mexico and Wizz Air of Hungary.

A320neos list for $108.4 million apiece and A321neos at $127 million. Airlines and manufacturers often negotiate lower prices for big deals like these.

Indigo Partners is a Phoenix-based private equity firm. It owns Denver-based Frontier Airlines and owns part of Mexico’s Volaris. It’s managed by William Franke, a pioneer of the cheap tickets and high fees airline business that has spread overseas and is growing in the United States.

Airbus’ previous biggest-ever sale came in August 2015, when it sold 250 A320neos to Indian budget airline IndiGo, a deal estimated to be worth $26 billion at list prices. IndiGo and Indigo Partners are separate firms with separate management.

Until Wednesday, the only major deal announced at the Dubai Air Show came on Sunday, when long-haul carrier Emirates purchased 40 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners in a $15.1 billion deal.

Airbus, which is based in Toulouse, France, has pinned hopes of continuing production of its A380 double-decker jumbo jet on Emirates, the world’s largest operator of the aircraft. Reports circulated before the air show that a major A380 sale would be coming.

Airbus employees even filled a news conference on Sunday, expecting the A380 sale, instead to find state-owned Emirates making the deal with Boeing in front of Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Emirates now relies solely on the Airbus 380 and the Boeing 777 for its flights, making it the largest operator of both. It has 165 Boeing 777s in its fleet today and took possession of its 100th A380 earlier this month.

The Emirates’ snub even came up at the news conference Wednesday, when a reporter asked Airbus if another deal could be coming.

“I think you’ve got to walk over to the chalet with Emirates on the door and ask them,” said John Leahy, Airbus’ chief operating officer.

Tired of waiting for your website to load? $1/ mo Hosting + Free domain!

Employers Hire Sexual Harassment Trainers

Recent accusations of sexual misconduct by Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is impacting the upper echelons of the business world. The “Weinstein Effect” has men in powerful positions facing similar accusations. It is also increasing awareness about where the line is between friendly banter to more uncomfortable, and sometimes criminal motives. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes us to a class that teaches how to intervene when witnessing sexual harassment.

Tired of waiting for your website to load? $1/ mo Hosting + Free domain!