Oil prices down as markets await US, China trade deal

By Ovunc Kutlu

ANKARA (AA) – Crude oil prices were down during early trading on Wednesday as the markets await some form of a trade deal between Washington and Beijing before the implementation of additional U.S. tariffs on China due on Sunday, Dec. 15.

International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $63.95 per barrel at 0940 GMT for 0.37% loss after closing Tuesday at $64.19 a barrel.

American benchmark West Texas Intermediate was at $58.93 a barrel at the same time for a 0.29% decline after it ended the previous session at $59.19 per barrel.

The U.S. is set to impose 15% additional tariffs on $160 billion worth of goods that it imports from China on Dec. 15.

The world's two largest economies are trying to form some sort of a trade agreement before the additional tariffs go into effect.

Washington and Beijing have so far failed to agree on a phase-one trade deal amid their dispute.

In the last 20 months, the U.S. has imposed tariffs on $550 billion worth of Chinese imports, while China has reciprocated by implementing tariffs on $185 billion worth of imports from the U.S.

The trade dispute between U.S. and China has already hurt the global economic growth forecast for next year, and has had a negative impact on overall oil demand throughout the world, while putting a downward pressure on crude prices.

Alaturka Gazetesi

Trump warns Russian FM against election interference

By Servet Gunerigok

WASHINGTON (AA) – President Donald Trump warned Russia’s foreign minister Tuesday against "any Russian attempts to interfere" in U.S. elections, according to the White House.

During his closed-door meeting with Sergey Lavrov at the Oval Office, Trump also urged Moscow to resolve the conflict with Ukraine, referring to the unrest in the country's east, the White House said in a statement.

Russia and Ukraine have been at loggerheads since 2014, when Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula after a controversial referendum.

Trump also posted a photo of himself with Lavrov on Twitter, saying he had "a very good meeting" with the top Russian diplomat and the country's representatives.

"Discussed many items including Trade, Iran, North Korea, INF Treaty, Nuclear Arms Control, and Election Meddling. Look forward to continuing our dialogue in the near future!" he tweeted.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Lavrov briefed Trump "on their discussions regarding the state of the bilateral relationship" between the two countries, said the statement.

Earlier in the day, Pompeo also warned Lavrov against further interference in next year's presidential election, saying he made clear during their bilateral meeting Washington's "expectations of Russia."

"Should Russia or any foreign actor take steps to undermine our democratic processes, we will take action in response," Pompeo said.

U.S. intelligence agencies determined that Russia was behind a sweeping disinformation campaign to influence the 2016 elections in favor of Trump, but Moscow staunchly denied the allegations even as the Trump administration imposed sanctions and indicted Russian companies and individuals in retaliation.

During the meeting, Trump also emphasized his support for effective global arms control that includes both Russia and China.

"President Trump welcomed continued engagement with Russia to address areas of mutual concern, including how the United States and Russia can take positive steps with respect to detained citizens," said the statement.

Trump also urged Moscow to back Washington to "prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and ensure the denuclearization of North Korea."

The two men also reviewed the state of relations with Beijing.

"The President reiterated the need for fair and reciprocal trade with China. The President noted that a better relationship with Russia would allow increased trade between our countries," the statement concluded.

Alaturka Gazetesi

Hundreds of thousands take to streets of Hong Kong

By Sibel Morrow

ANKARA (AA) – Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents took to the streets Sunday in demonstrations two weeks after a victory in local elections buoyed the movement, which has led to months of protests, reported local media on Sunday.

On the eve of the six-month anniversary of the protests, the Hong Kong police gave the Civil Human Rights Front a permit to hold a march, where they chanted slogans like “Fight for Freedom” and “Stand by Hong Kong.”

Protest organizer Eric Lai said the high turnout in the march would show the world and Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, that people are resilient and will continue their fight for freedom and democracy.

Eleven people were arrested before the march, and police said they seized weapons that they feared could be used during the rally.

According to official data, some 6,000 people have been arrested in Hong Kong since June.

The pro-democracy protests against a bill to legalize extradition to mainland China began in June and saw violence between protestors and the police in the city, which has been under the control of China since 1998.

The bill to amend the extradition law was finally withdrawn on Sept. 4, but protesters have moved onto other demands.


China in NATO agenda for first time with US influence

By Serife Cetin

BRUSSELS (AA) – The rise of China was on the NATO agenda for the first time in the history of the alliance during its summit held earlier this week in London, which was celebrating the 70th anniversary of the alliance.

At a time when the alliance’s presence was questioned by the leaders of some member states, and the allegations of "brain death" were discussed, NATO's China step sends a message that the alliance is "still alive" and does not hesitate to take bold steps in the political sphere.

The China move as well has brought controversy over whether China will become "new Russia" for the alliance.

– 'Rise of China not one-dimensional issue'

"This is the first time NATO leaders had a discussion and addressed together — based on our analysis — our assessments, a discussion about both the opportunities connected to the rise of China, but also the challenges," said NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg on the leaders’ summit agenda.

"We all acknowledge that this is not a one-dimensional issue," said Stoltenberg.

The NATO chief also said China is the world's second-largest defense spender following the U.S., and has recently demonstrated new modern technologies, including nuclear weapons, but it is not the "new adversary" of the alliance.

"The economic rise of China provides great economic opportunities. It has lifted millions of people out of poverty, but at the same time, we see that China invests heavily in new modern capabilities," said Stoltenberg.

"A few weeks ago, they displayed a new intercontinental ballistic missile, able to reach Europe and North America. They displayed hypersonic missiles, gliders," he added.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Ian Lesser, vice president of The German Marshall Fund, said that it is "not surprising" for NATO to discuss China in the latest summit.

NATO provides an ideal platform for European and North American allies to better understand China and conduct joint discussions on this issue, Lesser said.

"The point is to make the alliance a more active place for transatlantic discussion and coordination around China. They don't want to create a new adversary," he added.

A new political initiative, at a time when NATO's effectiveness is questioned by some circles, is useful to show that the alliance can still make decisions and act jointly in unity and solidarity.

Lesser also said on the matter that China's move demonstrated that NATO can conduct political discussions on "big pictures and strategies."

* Writing by Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak

Alaturka Gazetesi

China announces tariff exemption of US soybeans, pork

By Islamuddin Sajid

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) – China on Friday announced it would exempt some U.S. soybeans and pork from tariffs in an attempt to lower tensions and secure a trade deal, local media reported Friday.

Customs officials said in a statement that some purchases of the two items by Chinese firms would not be hit by the punitive duties imposed as a countermeasure in the trade war with the U.S., the local daily South China Morning Post reported.

Chinese companies have already "imported certain quantities of goods from the United States," the statement added.

The announcement came amid ongoing bilateral "extensive and serious" discussions over the past two weeks between Beijing and Washington to end a trade war between them and reach an agreement that would help stabilize the world economy.

On Thursday, Beijing announced that China and the U.S. have agreed to remove additional tariffs on each other's goods.

The Chinese Commerce Ministry said the two sides would decide how much tariffs would be rolled back in first phase.

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced earlier this week that his country would boost imports and decrease tariffs on goods coming into the country.

U.S. President Donald Trump had accused China of infringement of patents originating in the U.S.

The U.S.'s trade deficit with China is around $419.2 billion, with Washington importing a record $539.5 billion worth of goods from Beijing last year.

Alaturka Gazetesi

Trump calls Canada's Trudeau 'two-faced'

By Vakkas Dogantekin

ANKARA (AA) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday called Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau "two-faced" when asked by a reporter about Trudeau’s jokes apparently at his expense.

"He's two-faced," said Trump, near the end of a two-day NATO summit in London, when asked about Trudeau’s private remarks a day earlier in an informal conversation with the leaders of France and U.K. which were caught by microphones and went viral.

However, he lost no time in calling Trudeau a "nice guy."

Trump also said he had criticized Canada for not living up to NATO's spending goals.

"The truth is I called him out on the fact that he's not paying 2% and I guess he's not very happy about it," Trump said, adding "he should be paying 2%” and that Canada "has money."

Trump was referring to national defense spending as a percentage of NATO’s member state GDP, a frequent bugbear for the U.S. leader.

"I can imagine he's not that happy, but that's the way it is," added Trump.

Trump's remarks on the Canadian leader came only a day after he slammed French leader Emmanuel Macron over the NATO "brain dead" comment last month, calling it "insulting, very disrespectful."

Since taking office, Trump has gained a reputation for alienating NATO allies and disrupting meetings of the alliance.

On the sidelines of the NATO summit, Trump also gave a luncheon to eight other countries that commit 2% of their GDP to NATO.

– 'Security risk'

During the meetings, Trump said he urged NATO allies to avoid using the 5G services of Chinese telecom Huawei.

“I do think it’s a security risk, it’s a security danger,” Trump told reporters amid an escalating trade war between U.S. and China.

“And I spoke to Italy and they look like they are not going to go forward with that. I spoke to other countries, they are not going to go forward. Everybody I’ve spoken to is not going to go forward,” Trump said.

In a summit declaration, NATO itself said: “NATO and Allies, within their respective authority, are committed to ensuring the security of our communications, including 5G, recognizing the need to rely on secure and resilient systems.”

The declaration was interpreted as lack of agreement over Huawei among member states.

Cancelling his NATO press conference, Trump also said he will be heading directly back to Washington.

"When today’s meetings are over, I will be heading back to Washington. We won’t be doing a press conference at the close of NATO because we did so many over the past two days," Trump said on Twitter.

Alaturka Gazetesi

China blasts US over bill to protect Uighur rights

By Islamuddin Sajid

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) – China on Wednesday hit back over a U.S. bill to toughen Washington’s response to human rights violations against ethnic Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, an autonomous territory in northwest China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying expressed China's strong opposition to the passage of a bill on Xinjiang-related issues by the U.S. House of Representatives, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported

The U.S.’ Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019 deliberately smears the human rights condition in Xinjiang, slanders China's efforts in de-radicalization and counter-terrorism, and viciously attacks the Chinese government's Xinjiang policy, said Hua.

"We state our position clearly to the U.S. that as Xinjiang is part of China, its affairs are purely domestic affairs that allow no foreign interference," she added.

It also violates international law and norms governing international relations and interferes in China's internal affairs, she added

"We urge the U.S. to correct its mistakes at once, prevent this bill from becoming law, and stop using Xinjiang-related issues to interfere in China's internal affairs. China will take further actions according to how the situation develops," Hua warned.

On Tuesday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill, meant to pressure Beijing over its actions and crackdown in the Muslim-majority Xinjiang region.

The legislation condemns the detention of more than 1 million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other minorities in “reeducation” camps and accuses China of “systematically discriminating" against Uighurs by denying them civil and political rights, including freedom of expression, religion, movement, and a fair trial.

It would require the State Department to evaluate whether Chinese officials would meet the criteria for sanctions for their roles in the crackdown in the Xinjiang region.

The bill still needs passage by the Senate and the president’s signature to become law.

Alaturka Gazetesi

US House passes bill to protect Chinese Uighurs

By Beyza Binnur Donmez

ANKARA (AA) – The U.S. House of Representatives late Tuesday passed a bill calling for sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for human rights abuses against the Uighur Muslim minority.

The Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act easily passed the House, 407-1, with the only nay vote coming from Thomas Massie, a Republican congressman from the state of Kentucky.

The bill, a stronger version of one passed by the Senate in September, aims "to condemn gross human rights violations of ethnic Turkic Muslims in western Xinjiang region,” and calls “for an end to arbitrary detention, torture, and harassment of these communities."

To become law, the bill would have to be reconciled with the Senate version and then signed by President Donald Trump.

China’s Xinjiang region is home to around 13 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45% of Xinjiang’s population, has long accused China’s authorities of cultural, religious, and economic discrimination.

As Trump recently suggested, the bills could hurt prospects for a major trade deal between the two countries amid a mid-December deadline for new U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, including electronics.

According to the latest statements from Chinese and American officials, the biggest trade war of the century is far from over and might extend past the U.S. elections next November.

Although Chinese authorities have not retaliated significantly so far, U.S. legislation on Hong Kong and Xinjiang may bolster Chinese rhetoric of U.S. interference in its internal affairs and harness anti-American sentiments among Chinese nationals.

In November Trump signed a law expressing support for Hong Kong protestors and requiring annual reviews of Hong Kong’s special trade status and sanctions against any officials responsible for human rights violations.

Bilim Teknoloji

China kicks off work on 6G communication technology

By Fuat Kabakci

BEIJING (AA) – China has launched research and development work for 6G mobile networks, having only just rolled out 5G, said the country's Science and Technology Ministry.

Officials from relevant ministries gathered in the capital Beijing to discuss 6G communication technology, according to a ministry statement on Wednesday.

Beijing established a team of 37 telecommunication experts from universities, research institutes and enterprises to lay out the technical features of 6G.

The team was tasked to prove the scientific feasibility of next-generation mobile internet connection.

Wang Xi, the vice science and technology minister, said 6G is currently at the initial stage.

Xi stressed that his country must attach "great importance" to the technology.

On Nov. 1, Chinese three state-backed operators launched 5G next generation wireless services, which can provide data speeds at least 20 times faster than 4G.

The initial 5G services will be available in about 50 Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai.

*Gozde Bayar contributed to this story from Ankara

Bilim Teknoloji

Europe-bound China train sets off from Ankara

By Muhammet Emin Horuz and Ayse Bocuoglu Bodur

ANKARA (AA) – The first freight train from China to Europe set off from Ankara on Wednesday after a brief stop over.

The train will cross to Europe using Istanbul's sub-sea tunnel, Marmaray.

At a ceremony at the Ankara Station, Infrastructure Minister Cahit Turhan said that Turkey with its geographical location, history and culture has a great role in the economic and social development of Asian, European, Balkan, Caucasus, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Black Sea countries.

"With an investment of $754 billion, we have strengthened our transport and communications infrastructure and completed the missing links on international transport routes," Turhan said.

He praised China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative project aimed at linking Europe, China, Asia and the Middle East with a network of roads and railways.

Turhan said that the China Railway Express, which made its first journey on the Baku-Tiblisi-Kars route, gave a new direction to railway transportation.

He said this railway line, which has been in operation since Oct. 30, 2017, has reduced cargo transportation time between China and Turkey from a month to 12 days.

Turkey has become a central link in a "middle corridor", which extends between Beijing and London as well as the "Iron Silk Road" — a rail track between Turkey and Kazakhstan, Turhan noted.

Turhan said with the integration of Marmaray in the route, transportation time between Far Asia and Western Europe has been reduced to 18 days.

"When we consider the trade volume between Asia and Europe of $21 trillion, its importance will be easily understood.

"The Iron Silk Road, which benefits approximately 5 billion people and 60 countries, has become a new and very important alternative for global trade networks," Turhan said.

China Railway Express that started its journey from Xi'an, China, carries an electronic product load equivalent to 42 tractors.

The train travels over two continents, 10 countries, two seas and 11,483 kilometers [7,135 miles] of road in 12 days with 42 container-loaded wagons.

Turhan said he hopes the train reaches its last destination Prague successfully with no disruption.

*Writing by Dilara Hamit