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Iran 'ready' to resume nuclear program if US exits deal: FM

Iran is ready to resume its controversial nuclear program "at a much greater speed" if the United States walks away from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has warned. US President Donald Trump has set a May 12 deadline for the Europeans to "fix" the agreement that provides for curbs to Iran's nuclear program in exchange for relief from financial sanctions. US President Donald Trump speaks about the Iran nuclear deal in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, DC, October 13, 2017. In a CBS interview to be broadcast Sunday on "Face the Nation," Zarif doubled down on a warning this month from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who vowed Washington would "regret" withdrawing from the nuclear deal, and that Iran would respond within a week if it did. "If the decision comes from President Trump to officially withdraw from the deal, then Iran will take decisions that have been provided for under the JCPOA and outside JCPOA," Zarif said, referring to the 2015 accord. "We have put a number of options for ourselves and those options are ready, including options that would involve resuming at a much greater speed our nuclear activities." "And those are all envisioned within the deal. And those options are ready to be implemented and we would make the necessary decision when we see fit," added the foreign minister, who is in the United States to attend a UN meeting on sustaining peace. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif talks with Belgium's foreign minister before their meeting at the Palais Egmont in Brussels, January 11, 2018. The fate of the Iran deal will be a key issue during French President Emmanuel Macron's state visit to Washington beginning Monday, followed by talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington on Friday. Zarif said the European leaders must press Trump to stick to the deal if the United States intends to maintain any credibility in the international community. European leaders are hoping to persuade Trump to save the deal if they, in turn, agree to press Iran to enter into agreement on missile tests and moderating its regional influence in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. If the United States buries the deal, Iran is unlikely to stick to the agreement alongside the other signatories – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, said the foreign minister. "Obviously, the rest of the world cannot ask us to unilaterally and one-sidedly implement a deal that has already been broken," Zarif said. (AFP)

Opinion: In the name of trade

The ban imposed by the United States government on sales of hardware and software to Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE has revealed the true nature of the trade dispute that President Donald Trump is waging against China in the name of reducing the trade deficit. After two rounds of reciprocal warnings from both sides of possible tariff hikes on each other’s exports worth 200 billion US dollars, we now see an exchange of “live-fire”. But whereas Beijing has targeted American dumping of commodity goods, citing WTO rules, Washington is using its domestic laws to attack the value chain of sectors involved in the “Made in China 2025” strategy, including ZTE. The difference in the underlying approach of the two sides is clear: One is fighting unfair trade practices for fear of short-term market losses; the other is attacking the leading tech companies of its market competitor out of fear that it is losing its global digital supremacy. ZTE logo. Want to solve the trade imbalance? Narrow the import-export gap by selling more goods to China that meets market demand. American tech products are highly competitive and would easily attract buyers in a market of 1.4 billion people. Concerned about unfair trade practices? There is a globally-accepted trade dispute mechanism at the WTO, whose predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the GATT, was set up by the United States and others decades ago. The United States remains a signatory state to this rules-based mechanism. Worrying about a loss of intellectual property rights? In recent years, China has shown a steady improvement in both the legal framework for, and enforcement of, intellectual property rights protections. As for the corporate contracts that involve technology-for-market-access deals, that is a normal part of cooperative business investment. If rules have been violated, or there’s evidence of government interference in breach of market rules, then both sides can work to resolve those specific complaints. Trade conflict between China and the US. None of this is to say that ZTE hasn’t had problems. That’s why it agreed to pay a massive fine, and why they engaged a US law firm to conduct an independent investigation that immediately reported the issues it found to the United States government. But that proactive approach still failed to prevent the US Department of Commerce from reactivating the seven-year ban. It is this disproportionate response that shows this dispute is, at its core, not about ZTE as much as it is about the “Made in China 2025” plan. There is nothing wrong with a nation upgrading its high tech and value-added manufacturing sector. Many countries have similar programs, such as Germany’s “Industry 4.0”. The problem lies in how other market players interpret these efforts, and how they respond. Made in China 2025. The United States is the world’s high tech industry leader. But in the process of globalization, many American companies chose to shift some of their manufacturing to other countries in order to access cheaper labor and resources, and to protect their environment. Under the Trump administration, America has been determined to shore up employment and support the growth of American companies domestically. But the way to do that is not to throw up tariff walls to keep competition out, or try to stifle competition by imposing sanctions on companies like ZTE. The solution for the United States is to encourage more of its companies to join the global value chain, and to participate in international trade in line with established global market rules. ZTE logo, at ZTE pavilion, during the Mobile World Congress day 3, on February 28, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain. The current American strategy of containment for China is a strategy destined to create losses on both sides. That’s why IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde is warning against protectionist measures. And it’s why UN Chief António Guterres is fearful that the Cold War might be coming back. The world is nervously watching and waiting to see how the current trade dispute unfolds. Few people doubt that a protracted trade war would shatter market confidence and see cuts to growth and employment both at home and abroad. (CGTN)

The Belt and Road

China to invest 800 mln USD in Abu Dhabi B&R project

Twelve Chinese companies will invest more than 800 million US dollars in a Belt and Road project in Abu Dhabi, creating more than 2,000 jobs. Agreements have been signed between the companies, 10 of which are from east China's Jiangsu Province, with the Jiangsu Provincial Overseas Cooperation and Investment Company (JOCIC), which is in charge of developing 2.2 square kilometers of land at the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad). China will build the industrial cooperation demonstration park within Kizad to boost practical cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. The provincial government of Jiangsu said it will build the industrial park into a landmark of China's Belt and Road Initiative, attracting companies from both inside and outside the province. Construction of the industrial park started in January. (ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


Li praises foreigners for help in opening-up

China will continue with supply-side structural reform and produce more appealing policies to attract foreign professionals to work here in an enhanced effort at opening-up further in 2018, Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday. "With our country's door to the world opening even wider, we will produce more appealing policies to attract foreign talents to work in China and provide more convenience for your lives here," Li told a gathering of outstanding foreign experts working in China. Ten days ahead of Chinese Lunar New Year, Li attended the annual event in the Great Hall of the People to send greetings and collect wisdom from more than 60 scholars and business leaders on achieving high-quality development, smart manufacturing and improving the quality of higher education. Li expressed his gratitude on behalf of the Chinese government to foreign experts in China for their contribution to the country's progress of modernization and reform. Noting that 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up policy, Li said the government will fully implement the five to 10 year visa policy for foreign experts and issue more favorable policies for foreigners working in China, including easing terms of applications for permanent residency. He said that under the Communist Party of China's strong leadership, with General Secretary Xi Jinping as the core, China's economy remained in good health in 2017, with a better than expected annual growth rate of 6.9 percent, the first acceleration in annual growth in seven years, contributing to more than 30 percent of the world's economic growth. "The Chinese economy will not face drastic fluctuation, as its economic structure has been remarkably improved with consumption leading its growth in the past several years," Li said, ruling out the possibility of a hard landing. The government will comprehensively deepen reform while preparing for all kinds of risks this year, he said. He encouraged experts from overseas to continue to actively participate in China's growth in innovation and industrial upgrading, adding that their ideas will be more than welcomed. Edmund S. Phelps, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Economics and dean of New Huadu Business School in Fujian province, told Li at the meeting that he has just received the new 10-year visa for foreign experts. "It is encouraging to see China creating an increasingly conducive environment for entrepreneurship and innovation," he said. "And I think this open policy will bring more foreign talents to China to showcase their expertise and to join in China's development." John Hopcroft, a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, shared his thoughts with the premier on improving the evaluation system of China's higher education. In January, China's State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs announced easier visa permits for foreign professionals and high-skilled workers who qualified among efforts to bridge the country's gap in foreign experts, with the expiration date of the visa extended to five to 10 years after issuance, with multiple entries and 180-day-stays for a single entry. (CHINA DAILY)