China’s Xi Jinping ‘unwilling’ to accept western Covid vaccines says US intelligence chief

Chinese leader Xi Jinping is unwilling to accept western vaccines despite the challenges China is facing with Covid-19, and while recent protests there are not a threat to Communist party rule, they could affect his personal standing, US director of national intelligence Avril Haines said. Although China’s daily Covid cases are near all-time highs, some cities are taking steps to loosen testing and quarantine rules after Xi’s zero-Covid policy triggered a sharp economic slowdown and public unrest opposing Covid-19 lockdowns. Haines, speaking at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in…

Pentagon unveils first strategic bomber in over 30 years to counter China

The Pentagon unveiled its first new strategic bomber in more than 30 years on Friday, a nuclear-capable bat-wing plane that will become a central component of the US effort to counter China’s military build-up when it enters service around 2027. Almost every aspect of the B-21 Raider is classified, but in a tightly-controlled unveiling at the Air Force’s Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, currently home of Lockheed-Martin’s legendary Skunk Works, the new strategic plane was briefly shown to the public. “This isn’t just another airplane,” Lloyd Austin, the defense secretary,…

‘Freedom in China is precious’: Tiananmen Square protest veteran salutes new generation

Rose Tang was stunned when she saw videos last week of crowds in China chanting in Mandarin, “Give me liberty or give me death.” It was a phrase the Brooklyn resident had last heard more than three decades ago, when she was one of the student leaders at the pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. It took her back to the afternoon of 3 June 1989, when she spotted military convoys rumbling toward the protest camp. She threw on a black outfit and rode her bike into the square, determined…

South Dakota bans TikTok access on state-owned devices citing ties to China

Kristi Noem, governor of South Dakota, on Tuesday issued an executive order banning state employees and contractors from accessing the video platform TikTok on state-owned devices, citing its ties to China. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020. It has been targeted by Republicans who say the Chinese government could access user data such as browsing history and location. US armed forces also have prohibited the app on military devices. TikTok, which has exploded in popularity with a nearly addictive scroll…

US bans new Huawei equipment sales over ‘unacceptable risk’ to national security

The Biden administration has banned approvals of new telecommunications equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies and ZTE because they pose “an unacceptable risk” to US national security. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said on Friday it had adopted the final rules, which also bar the sale or import of equipment made by Chinese surveillance equipment maker Dahua Technology, video surveillance firm Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology and telecoms firm Hytera Communications Corp. The move represents Washington’s latest crackdown on the Chinese tech giants amid fears that Beijing could use them to…

US receives stinging criticism at Cop27 despite China’s growing emissions

The US, fresh from reversing its 30 years of opposition to a “loss and damage” fund for poorer countries suffering the worst impacts of the climate crisis, has signaled that its longstanding image as global climate villain should now be pinned on a new culprit: China. Following years of tumult in which the US refused to provide anything resembling compensation for climate damages, followed by Donald Trump’s removal of the US from the Paris climate agreement, there was a profound shift at the Cop27 UN talks in Egypt, with Joe…

China and US renew commitment to tackling climate crisis but differences remain

China and the US have renewed their partnership to tackle the climate crisis, and are working closely and productively on ways of bringing down greenhouse gas emissions, China’s head of delegation has said. The surprise news from Xie Zhenhua, who briefed a small group of journalists at the Cop27 UN climate summit in Egypt on Saturday, comes as a rare moment of progress amid a conference mired in stalemate and bitter fighting between developed and developing countries. Xie said he and John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy for climate,…

China hits back at FBI claim of unauthorized ‘police stations’ in US

China has contested claims it was operating unauthorized “police stations” on US soil, calling the sites volunteer-run, after the FBI director said he was “very concerned” about unauthorized stations that have been linked to Beijing’s influence operations. Safeguard Defenders, a Europe-based human rights organization, published a report in September revealing the presence of dozens of Chinese police “service stations” in large cities around the world, including New York. The FBI director, Christopher Wray, told a Senate hearing on Thursday that it was “outrageous” that the Chinese government would attempt to…

Cop27: is it right to talk of ‘reparations’?

Todd Stern, the US climate envoy to Barack Obama who negotiated the Paris climate treaty on behalf of the US, recalls how at his first UN climate summit in 2009, the first question at his first press conference caught him offguard. “I had just arrived, and I was asked: do you believe in paying reparations to developing countries?” he recalls. “I said no, absolutely not. But I certainly believe in significant support for developing countries.” The issue of reparations struck him as one that should be relegated to the fringes…

FBI director ‘very concerned’ by reports of secret Chinese police stations in US

The United States is deeply concerned about the Chinese government setting up unauthorised “police stations” in US cities to possibly pursue influence operations, FBI director Christopher Wray has said. “I’m very concerned about this. We are aware of the existence of these stations,” Wray told a US Senate homeland security and governmental affairs committee hearing, acknowledging the FBI’s investigative work on the issue but declining to give details. “But to me, it is outrageous to think that the Chinese police would attempt to set up shop, you know, in New…