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Trump will take ‘strong action’ against China over trade

Trump is due in Beijing Wednesday when he will meet with leader Xi Jinping President has touted his ..



  • Trump is due in Beijing Wednesday when he will meet with leader Xi Jinping
  • President has touted his close relationship with Xi, calling it 'outstanding'
  • But he says that won't stop him from getting tough with China over trade
  • North Korea is expected to dominate the agenda as it did when pair met in April

By Francesca Chambers, White House Correspondent For In Seoul, South Korea

Published: 03:45 EST, 7 November 2017 | Updated: 03:45 EST, 7 November 2017

President Donald Trump says he's moving to take 'very, very strong action' against China and other countries that have been treating the United States 'unfairly' in the trade arena, regardless of the warm relationship he's established with Xi Jinping.

The U.S. president said Monday in Japan that he's fond of Xi, the newly-elevated communist party chair of China, and the foreign leader likes him. But he won't allow their mutual affection to cloud his judgement, Trump asserted.

'He represents China. I represent the United States,' Trump said at a news conference.

Donald Trump is due in Beijing on Wednesday where he will meet Chinese leader Xi Jingping on home soil for the first time (pictured at the G20 summit in Germany in July)

Donald Trump is due in Beijing on Wednesday where he will meet Chinese leader Xi Jingping on home soil for the first time (pictured at the G20 summit in Germany in July)

Trump has touted his relationship with Xi, calling it 'outstanding', but says he still intends to get tough with the Chinese leader over tradeTrump has touted his relationship with Xi, calling it 'outstanding', but says he still intends to get tough with the Chinese leader over trade

Trump has touted his relationship with Xi, calling it 'outstanding', but says he still intends to get tough with the Chinese leader over trade

This Wednesday Trump travels to Beijing, his third destination on a five-nation hustle across eastern Asia. As with every other stop on this trip, North Korea is expected to dominate Xi and Trump's discussions.

However, here more than anywhere else during the visit, Trump – a former titan of real estate – is under pressure to address the regional trade practices that he said as a candidate he would fix.

Trump pounded China for alleged currency manipulation in the presidential election last year that unexpectedly put him in power. He's said as recently as February that the Chinese were 'grand champions' at the economic trick.

By artificially devaluing its currency, the yuan, Beijing has been able to been able to lower the price of its exports, 'stealing' American jobs, Trump has said.

His assessment was rejected by the International Monetary Fund last year, and Trump's own administration has shied away from shackling China with the designation.

Since an April summit with Xi at Trump's Palm Beach golf club, the U.S. president has backed off the assault.

'The relationship developed by President Xi and myself I think is outstanding,' Trump said after less than a day of talks with the Chinese president and his representatives.

'We look forward to being together many times in the future. And I believe lots of very potentially bad problems will be going away.'

  Trump has not shied away from attacking China on Twitter, both before and after his first meeting with Xi at Mar-A-Lago back in AprilTrump has not shied away from attacking China on Twitter, both before and after his first meeting with Xi at Mar-A-Lago back in April

Trump has not shied away from attacking China on Twitter, both before and after his first meeting with Xi at Mar-A-Lago back in April

Days later, Trump continued to gush about his weekend in Florida with Xi in what amounted to a total about-face of his previous criticisms.

'Now what am I going to do? Start a trade war with China while in the middle of him working on a bigger problem, frankly, with North Korea?' he said on Fox & Friends.

Trump said later that month that it wouldn't make sense to label Xi's country a currency manipulator after the Chinese leader offered to assist the U.S. in its efforts to constrain North Korea.

'Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem? We will see what happens!' Trump tweeted.

China's stepped up efforts to choke of Kim Jong-un's finances has not kept Trump from complaining about the gross trade deficit between the two countries, nor has it had an immediate effect on the United States' enforcement of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

Trump told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo late last month that the U.S. loses 'hundreds of billions a year' a year to China.

'We lose with almost every country, we have massive deficits. And that is gonna change, we can't allow the world to look at us as a whipping post. Not gonna happen, anymore,' the billionaire president insisted.

Monday, a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, Trump told a reporter who asked how the U.S. plans to enforce its mandate of a 'free and open' Indo-Asia Pacific without riling up China, a major power on the continent, that he's realistic about his relationship with Xi.

'You will be seeing things of countries that have been treating the United States and the United States worker and companies…our country, and our workers very unfairly, you will be seeing that the United States will take very, very strong action,' Trump said.

The President is currently in Seoul where he has met with Moon Jae-in, the newly elected leader of South Korea, as he tours AsiaThe President is currently in Seoul where he has met with Moon Jae-in, the newly elected leader of South Korea, as he tours Asia

The President is currently in Seoul where he has met with Moon Jae-in, the newly elected leader of South Korea, as he tours Asia

Trump visited Japan earlier this week and after stopping in Beijing he is due to visit Vietnam and the Philippines before heading back to the USTrump visited Japan earlier this week and after stopping in Beijing he is due to visit Vietnam and the Philippines before heading back to the US

Trump visited Japan earlier this week and after stopping in Beijing he is due to visit Vietnam and the Philippines before heading back to the US

The legal work is mostly finished, he revealed. 'And you're going to see a very big difference, and it's going to happen very soon. Because the United States, by many countries, has been treated very, very unfairly when it comes to trade.'

Sandy Pho, an associate at the non-partisan Wilson Center, assessed last week, as Trump prepared to depart on his overseas trip, that the U.S. president was exiting the 'honeymoon stage' of his relationship with Xi.

Trump is starting to realize that China is not going to do what the U.S. wants China to do, she said, and that China does not have as much power to compel North Korea.

He is now 'slowly kind of coming down from this high, kind like a hangover' from the April Mar-a-Lago summit, Pho observed, and realizing 'he was wrong' about China's position.

'He's figuring out that Xi's going to do what he's going to do for China,' she said, much like Trump is putting America first.

The fading rapture is evident in the United States' rift with China in several areas, including intellectual property, Pho stated, pointing to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer's investigation into China's alleged theft of intellectual property.

The administration believes that China is behind as much as $600 million in IP theft through forced technology transfers.

China's Commerce Ministry has called the probe 'irresponsible' and 'not objective.' Beijing would almost certainly bring additional U.S. action before the World Trade Organization.

But Trump could unilaterally impose tariffs on Beijing through Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 if USTR determines that China is engaging in 'unfair trade practices' – a powerful weapon if he decides to use it.

Trump has been hesitant to act against Beijing so long as Xi goes along with his plans to suffocate North Korea's nuclear ambition.

Still, Pho says the U.S. president is 'fully starting to realize this' that the United States and China's goals in North Korea 'aren't necessarily aligned.'

'Xi's willing to deal with this despot on his doorstep, but obviously Trump isn't,' she asserted. 'But he's willing to deal with this for the time being because the other options, the US on it's doorsteps, or nuclear war on its doorsteps, are just far worse.'

At a briefing with reporters on Sunday evening in Tokyo, a senior White House official insisted that the economic and security concerns of the Trump administration are wholly separate issues.

'The United States isn't going to barter away our interests on the trade front in order to make gains doing what the entire world has, more or less, obligated itself to do, and that is to contain and confront the threat from North Korea,' the official asserted. 'So I don't see a comingling of those two issues.'

Derek Scissors, the foremost economist on U.S.-Asia economic relations the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, said the two issues are inextricably linked.

'South Koreans are looking at an obvious missile threat from a deranged state on their border, they accept US missile help, which is not going to solve their problem but at least makes it a little better, and the Chinese go ballistic,' he said of the present situation.

Without a strong U.S. economic presence in East Asia, countries along the Pacific Rim are at the mercy of China, Scissors said.

'The only country they can turn to is us, and meanwhile we're talking about bilateral trade deficits,' he proclaimed. 'At the time they need the US to be more present, the US is pulling away.'

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Why Australia decided to quit its vaping habit



He’s talking about students in his class, teenagers, who can’t stop vaping.

He sees the effect of the candy-flavoured, nicotine-packed e-cigarettes on young minds every day, with children even vaping in class.

“The ones who are deepest into it will just get up out of their seat, or they’ll be fidgeting or nervous. The worst offenders will just walk out because they’re literally in withdrawal.”

Those who are most addicted need nicotine patches or rehabilitation, he says, talking about 13 and 14-year-olds.

is enough and introduced a range of new restrictions. Despite vapes already being illegal for many, under new legislation they will become available by prescription only.

The number of vaping teenagers in Australia has soared in recent years and authorities say it is the “number one behavioural issue” in schools across the country.

And they blame disposable vapes – which some experts say could be more addictive than heroin and cocaine – but for now are available in Australia in every convenience store, next to the chocolate bars at the counter.

For concerned teachers like Chris, their hands have been tied.

“If we suspect they have a vape, all we can really do is tell them to go to the principal’s office.

“At my old school, my head teacher told me he wanted to install vape detector alarms in the toilet, but apparently we weren’t allowed to because that would be an invasion of privacy.”

E-cigarettes have been sold as a safer alternative to tobacco, as they do not produce tar – the primary cause of lung cancer.

Some countries continue to promote them with public health initiatives to help cigarette smokers switch to a less deadly habit.

Last month, the UK government announced plans to hand out free vaping starter kits to one million smokers in England to get smoking rates below 5% by 2030.

But Australia’s government says that evidence that e-cigarettes help smokers quit is insufficient for now. Instead, research shows it may push young vapers into taking up smoking later in life.

‘Generation Vape’

Vapes, or e-cigarettes, are lithium battery-powered devices that have cartridges filled with liquids containing nicotine, artificial flavourings, and other chemicals.

The liquid is heated and turned into a vapour and inhaled into the user’s lungs.

Vaping took off from the mid-2000s and there were some 81 million vapers worldwide in 2021, according to the Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction group.

Fuelling the rise is the mushrooming popularity of flavoured vapes designed to appeal to the young.

These products can contain far higher volumes of nicotine than regular cigarettes, while some devices sold as ‘nicotine-free’ can actually hold large amounts.

The chemical cocktail also contains formaldehyde, and acetaldehyde – which have been linked to lung disease, heart disease, and cancer.

There’s also a suggestion of an increased risk of stroke, respiratory infection, and impaired lung function.

Experts warn not enough is known about the long-term health effects. But some alarming data has already been drawn out.

In 2020, US health authorities identified more than 2,800 cases of e-cigarette or vaping-related lung injury. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 68 deaths attributed to that injury.

In Australia, a major study by leading charity The Cancer Council found more than half of all children who had ever vaped had used an e-cigarette they knew contained nicotine and thought that vaping was a socially acceptable behaviour.

School-age children were being supplied with e-cigarettes through friends or “dealers” inside and outside school, or from convenience stores and tobacconists, the report said.

Teens also reported purchasing vapes through social media, websites and at pop-up vape stores, the Generation Vape project found.

“Whichever way teenagers obtain e-cigarettes, they are all illegal, yet it’s happening under the noses of federal and state authorities”, report author and Cancer Council chair Anita Dessaix said.

“All Australian governments say they’re committed to ensuring e-cigarettes are only accessed by smokers with a prescription trying to quit – yet a crisis in youth e-cigarette use is unfolding in plain view.”

In addition to the government’s move to ban the import of all non-pharmaceutical vaping products – meaning they can now only be bought with a prescription – all single-use disposable vapes will be made illegal.

The volume and concentration of nicotine in e-cigarettes will also be restricted, and both flavours and packaging must be plain and carrying warning labels.

But these new measures are not actually all that drastic, says public health physician Professor Emily Banks from the Australian National University.

“Australia is not an outlier. It is unique to have a prescription-only model, but other places actually ban them completely, and that includes almost all of Latin America, India, Thailand and Japan.”

‘We have been duped’

Health Minister Mark Butler said the new vaping regulations will close the “biggest loophole in Australian healthcare history”.

“Just like they did with smoking… ‘Big Tobacco’ has taken another addictive product, wrapped it in shiny packaging and added sweet flavours to create a new generation of nicotine addicts.”

“We have been duped”, he said.

Medical experts agree. Prof Banks argues that the promotion of e-cigarettes as a “healthier” alternative was a classic “sleight-of-hand” from the tobacco industry.

As such vaping has become “normalised” in Australia, and in the UK too.

“There’s over 17,000 flavours, and the majority of use is not for smoking cessation”, she tells the BBC.

“They’re being heavily marketed towards children and adolescents. People who are smoking and using e-cigarettes – that’s the most common pattern of use, dual use.”

Professor Banks says authorities need to “de-normalise” vaping among teenagers and make vapes much harder to get hold of.

“Kids are interpreting the fact that they can very easily get hold of [vapes] as evidence [they’re safe], and they’re actually saying, ‘well, if they were that unsafe, I wouldn’t be able to buy one at the coffee shop’.

But could stricter controls make it harder for people who do turn to vapes hoping to quit or cut down on tobacco?

“It is important to bear in mind that for some people, e-cigarettes have really helped. But we shouldn’t say ‘this is great for smokers to quit’, says Prof Banks.

“We know from

Australia, from the US, from Europe, that two-thirds to three-quarters of people who quit smoking successfully, do so unaided.”

“You’re trying to bring these [vapes] in saying they’re a great way to quit smoking, but actually we’ve got bubble gum flavoured vapes being used by 13-year-olds in the school toilets. That is not what the community signed up for.”


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Australia: Scott Morrison saga casts scrutiny on Queen’s representative



In the past fortnight, Australia has been gripped by revelations that former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison secretly appointed himself to several additional ministries.

The move has been labelled a “power grab” by his successor as prime minister, and Mr Morrison has been scolded by many – even his own colleagues.

But the scandal has also dragged Australia’s governor-general into the fray – sparking one of the biggest controversies involving the Queen’s representative in Australia in 50 years.

So does Governor-General David Hurley have questions to answer, or is he just collateral damage?

‘Just paperwork’

Governors-general have fulfilled the practical duties as Australia’s head of state since the country’s 1901 federation.

Candidates for the role were initially chosen by the monarch but are now recommended by the Australian government.

The job is largely ceremonial – a governor-general in almost every circumstance must act on the advice of the government of the day. But conventions allow them the right to “encourage” and “warn” politicians.

Key duties include signing bills into law, issuing writs for elections, and swearing in ministers.

Mr Hurley has run into trouble on the latter. At Mr Morrison’s request, he swore the prime minister in as joint minister for health in March 2020, in case the existing minister became incapacitated by Covid.

Over the next 14 months, he also signed off Mr Morrison as an additional minister in the finance, treasury, home affairs and resources portfolios.

Mr Morrison already had ministerial powers, so Mr Hurley was basically just giving him authority over extra departments.

It’s a request the governor-general “would not have any kind of power to override or reject”, constitutional law professor Anne Twomey tells the BBC.

“This wasn’t even a meeting between the prime minister and the governor-general, it was just paperwork.”

But Mr Morrison’s appointments were not publicly announced, disclosed to the parliament, or even communicated to most of the ministers he was job-sharing with.

Australia’s solicitor-general found Mr Morrison’s actions were not illegal but had “fundamentally undermined” responsible government.

But the governor-general had done the right thing, the solicitor-general said in his advice this week.

It would have been “a clear breach” for him to refuse the prime minister, regardless of whether he knew the appointments would be kept secret, Stephen Donaghue said.

Critics push for investigation

Ultimately, Mr Hurley had to sign off on Mr Morrison’s requests, but critics say he could have counselled him against it and he could have publicised it himself.

But representatives for the governor-general say these types of appointments – giving ministers the right to administer other departments – are not unusual.

And it falls to the government of the day to decide if they should be announced to the public. They often opt not to.

Mr Hurley himself announcing the appointments would be unprecedented. He had “no reason to believe that appointments would not be communicated”, his spokesperson said.

Emeritus professor Jenny Hocking finds the suggestion Mr Hurley didn’t know the ministries had been kept secret “ridiculous”.

“The last of these bizarre, duplicated ministry appointments… were made more than a year after the first, so clearly by then the governor-general did know that they weren’t being made public,” she says.

“I don’t agree for a moment that the governor-general has a lot of things on his plate and might not have noticed.”

The historian says it’s one of the biggest controversies surrounding a governor-general since John Kerr caused a constitutional crisis by sacking Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975.

Prof Hocking famously fought for transparency around that matter – waging a lengthy and costly legal battle that culminated in the release of Mr Kerr’s correspondence with the Queen.

And she says the same transparency is needed here.

The Australian public need to know whether Mr Hurley counselled the prime minister against the moves, and why he didn’t disclose them

The government has already announced an inquiry into Mr Morrison’s actions, but she wants it to look at the governor-general and his office too.

“If the inquiry is to find out what happened in order to fix what happened, it would be extremely problematic to leave out a key part of that equation.”

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – Mr Morrison’s predecessor – has also voiced support for an inquiry.

“Something has gone seriously wrong at Government House,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“It is the passive compliance along the chain… that did undermine our constitution and our democracy… that troubles me the most. This is how tyranny gets under way.”

PM defends governor-general

Prof Twomey says the criticism of Mr Hurley is unfair – there’s was no “conspiracy” on his part to keep things secret.

“I don’t think it’s reasonable for anyone to expect that he could have guessed that the prime minister was keeping things secret from his own ministers, for example.

“Nobody really thought that was a possibility until about two weeks ago.”

Even if he had taken the unprecedented step to publicise the appointments or to reject Mr Morrison’s request, he’d have been criticised, she says.

“There’d be even more people saying ‘how outrageous!'” she says. “The role of governor-general is awkward because people are going to attack you either way.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has also defended Mr Hurley, saying he was just doing his job.

“I have no intention of undertaking any criticism of [him].”

A role fit for purpose?

Prof Hocking says it’s a timely moment to look at the role of the governor-general more broadly.

She points out it’s possible the Queen may have been informed about Mr Morrison’s extra ministries when Australia’s parliament and people were not.

“It does raise questions about whether this is fit for purpose, as we have for decades been a fully independent nation, but we still have… ‘the relics of colonialism’ alive and well.”

Momentum for a fresh referendum on an Australian republic has been growing and advocates have seized on the controversy.

“The idea that the Queen and her representative can be relied upon to uphold our system of government has been debunked once and for all,” the Australian Republic Movement’s Sandy Biar says.

“It’s time we had an Australian head of state, chosen by Australians and accountable to them to safeguard and uphold Australia’s constitution.”

But Prof Twomey says republicans are “clutching at straws” – under their proposals, the head of state would also have been bound to follow the prime minister’s advice.

“It wouldn’t result in any changes that would have made one iota of difference.”


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Australia election: PM Morrison’s security team in car crash in Tasmania



A car carrying the Australian prime minister’s security team has crashed in Tasmania during an election campaign visit.

Four police officers were taken to hospital with “non-life threatening injuries” after the car and another vehicle collided, authorities said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was not in the car, but the accident prompted him to cancel the rest of his campaign events on Thursday.

The other driver involved was not hurt.

Tasmania Police said initial investigations suggested the second car had “collided with the rear of the police vehicle, while attempting to merge”. It caused the unmarked security vehicle to roll off the road.

The two Tasmania Police officers and two Australian Federal Police officers were conscious when taken to hospital for medical assessment, the prime minister’s office said.

“Family members of the officers have been contacted and are being kept informed of their condition,” a statement said.

“The PM is always extremely grateful for the protection provided by his security team and extends his best wishes for their recovery and to their families.”

Australians go to the polls on 21 May. Mr Morrison – prime minister since 2018 – is hoping to win his conservative coalition’s fourth term in office.

Polls suggest the opposition Labor Party, led by Anthony Albanese, is favoured to win. However, Mr Morrison defied similar polling to claim victory at the last election in 2019.

Mr Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition holds 76 seats in the House of Representatives – the minimum needed to retain power.

Political observers say the cost of living, climate change, trust in political leaders, and national security will be among key issues in the campaign.

In recent weeks, the prime minister has faced accusations of being a bully and once sabotaging a rival’s career by suggesting the man’s Lebanese heritage made him less electable. Mr Morrison has denied the allegations.

Mr Albanese stumbled into his own controversy this week when he failed to recall the nation’s unemployment or interest rates.

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