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China hits back after Biden criticises Xi’s COP26 no-show

China hit back Wednesday against criticism by US President Joe Biden, who had accused Beijing of not showing leadership after President Xi Jinping skipped the make-or-break COP26 United Nations summit in Glasgow.

Xi — who leads the planet’s largest emitter of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change — has not travelled outside of China since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and has not joined world leaders for COP26.

Biden on Tuesday had launched blistering criticism of the Chinese and Russian leaders for not attending the summit.

“Actions speak louder than words,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin responded Wednesday.

“What we need in order to deal with climate change is concrete action rather than empty words,” he added. “China’s actions in response to climate change are real.”

He also made a jibe at Washington by adding that the United States pulling out of the Paris Agreement under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump had harmed global climate governance and the implementation of the accord.

Biden has apologised for Trump’s decision.

COP26 has been billed as vital for the continued viability of the 2015 Paris Agreement under which nations promised to limit global temperature rises to “well below” 2C, and to work for a safer 1.5C cap.

At the summit on Tuesday, nearly one hundred nations joined a US and European Union initiative to cut emissions of methane — a potent greenhouse gas — by at least 30 percent this decade, with China among notable absentees.

Experts say the initiative could have a powerful short-term impact on global heating.

“It just is a gigantic issue and they walked away. How do you do that and claim to be able to have any leadership?” Biden told journalists before flying out of Glasgow.

“It’s been a big mistake, quite frankly, for China not showing up. The rest of the world looked at China and said: ‘What value are they providing?'”

China reports over 100 COVID-19 cases amid virus spike

China on Wednesday reported over 100 COVID-19 cases, including nine in Beijing, which has already imposed several curbs restricting the travel of the city residents to other parts of the country amid the new spike in infections.

China’s National Health Commission said on Wednesday that 93 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases and 16 new imported cases were reported on Tuesday, the highest in a single day in recent weeks.

Of the new local cases, 35 were reported in the province of Heilongjiang bordering Russia, 14 in Hebei, another 14 in Gansu, nine in Beijing, six in Inner Mongolia, four each in Chongqing and Qinghai, two each in Jiangxi, Yunnan and Ningxia, and one in Sichuan, the Commission said.

Tuesday also saw 16 new imported cases, including three previously reported asymptomatic carriers, it said.

One new suspected case arriving from outside the mainland was reported in Shanghai and no new deaths from COVID-19 were reported on Tuesday, the Commission said.

Since the coronavirus first surfaced in Wuhan in December 2019, China has so far officially reported 97,423 as of Tuesday of which 4,636 had died as a result of the virus. As of Tuesday, 1,000 patients are still receiving treatment. Among them, 37 were in severe condition, the Commission report said.

China, which has been pursuing a Zero COVID policy, continues to experience periodic outbreaks of the virus in different places despite vaccinating over 76 per cent of its population.

China’s top respiratory diseases expert Zhong Nanshan has fended off criticism against the Zero-COVOD strategy saying it was still less costly than living with the virus and reintroducing restrictions each time outbreaks occurred.

The country had no option but to aim for zero infections because the coronavirus was replicating quickly and the global death rate of about 2 per cent was unacceptable, Zhong told state-run CGTN-TV on Monday.

“Some countries have decided to open up entirely despite still having a few infections,” Zhong said.

“That led to a large number of infections in the past two months and they decided to re-impose restrictions. This flip-flopping approach is actually more costly. The psychological impact on citizens and society is greater,” he said.

Backing the COVID Zero policy, an article in Global Times said “if we change course to the European and US way of “coexistence with the virus,” China will fall victim to the virus within just a few months, with tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of cases a day”.

“The daily death toll could mount to hundreds or even thousands of people. The situation is definitely not something most Chinese are willing to bear”, it said.

“Every time an outbreak occurs, the implementation of the zero-COVID policy will mean economic and social costs. But if we don’t adopt this policy, it will lead to a serious spread of the virus, and the cost will only be higher”, it said.

EU & US end tariff dispute, target China’s ‘dirty’ steel

The United States and the European Union on Sunday ended a dispute over steel and aluminium tariffs and said they would work on a global arrangement to combat “dirty” production and overcapacity in the industry.

The future EU-US arrangement will be a challenge for China, which produces more than half of the world’s steel and which the EU and US accuse of creating overcapacity that is threatening the survival of their own steel industries.

“The United States and the European Union have reached a major breakthrough that will address the existential threat of climate change while also protecting American jobs and American industry,” US President Joe Biden told reporters in Rome in a joint event with European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen on G20 sidelines.

Under the deal, Washington will allow EU countries duty free access for steel and aluminium exports to the United States in volumes comparable to those shipped before tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump’s administration in 2018.

In response, the EU removed retaliatory tariffs on US products including whiskey, power boats and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

But rather than just a simple return to the status quo from 2018, the United States and the European Union plan to address the existential threat of climate change and production overcapacity in the steel industry, which is one of the biggest CO2 emitters in the world.

“Together, the United States and European Union will work to restrict access to their markets for dirty steel and limit access to countries that dump steel in our markets, contributing to worldwide over-supply,” the White House said in a factsheet without naming China directly. -Reuters

Commerce ministry for continuation of anti-dumping duty on certain steel imports from China

The commerce ministry‘s investigation arm DGTR has recommended continuation of anti-dumping duty for five years on certain steel imports from China with a view to guard domestic manufacturers from cheap inbound shipments from the neighbouring country. In a notification, the Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) has said there is a likelihood of continuation/ recurrence of dumping and injury to the domestic industry in the event of revocation of the existing duty on imports of certain ‘bars and rods, hot-rolled, in irregularly wound coils, of iron or non-alloy steel or alloy steel’ from China.

“The authority recommends continuation of anti-dumping duty on the imports of the subject goods…originating in or exported from the subject country (China) for five years from the date of notification to be issued in this regard by the central government,” it said.

The recommended duty is the difference between the landed value of the goods and USD 546 per tonne. If the landed value is more than USD 546 per tonne, anti-dumping duty will not be applicable, it added.

“The authority is of the view that continued imposition of anti-dumping duty is required on the imports,” the DGTR said.

The existing duty was applicable till January next year.

In a separate notification, the DGTR has recommended withdrawal of anti-dumping duty on PVC flex films imported from China.

“Even though there is a continued dumping of the subject goods from China, the likelihood of continuation/recurrence of injury to the domestic industry in the event of revocation of the duty could not be conclusively established due to lack of sufficient independent corroborative evidence,” it said.

In international trade parlance, dumping happens when a country or a firm exports an item at a price lower than the price of that product in its domestic market.

Dumping impacts price of that product in the importing country, hitting margins and profits of manufacturing firms.

According to global trade norms, a country is allowed to impose tariffs on such dumped products to provide a level-playing field to domestic manufacturers. The duty is imposed only after a thorough investigation by a quasi-judicial body, such as DGTR, in India.

In its probe, the directorate has to conclude whether the imported products are impacting domestic industries.

Imposition of anti-dumping duty is permissible under the World Trade Organization (WTO) regime. India and China are members of this Geneva-based organisation, which deals with global trade norms. China is a key trading partner of India.

The duty is aimed at ensuring fair trading practices and creating a level-playing field for domestic producers vis-a-vis foreign producers and exporters.

China’s Xi Jinping calls for mutual recognition of COVID-19 vaccines

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday called for equal treatment and mutual recognition of COVID-19 vaccines based on the World Health Organization‘s emergency use list, the official Xinhua agency reported.

In his remarks at the 16th Group of 20 Leaders’ Summit, delivered via video link, Xi said China had provided over 1.6 billion doses of COVID shots to the world, and was working with 16 nations on the cooperative manufacturing of doses.

Two Chinese vaccines, one from Sinovac Biotech and one from Sinopharm, have been included in the emergency use list of the WHO.

High valuations not a deterrent for India deals: Partners’ CEO

Mumbai: Switzerland-based global buyout firm Partners Group Holding AG will not shy away from rich Indian valuations as it looks to aggressively expand its footprint in the world’s second largest democracy, a senior company executive said.

“Private market investors have to pay aggressive multiples to access India’s growth potential. Yes, it’s a high price, but per unit of growth, it can be reasonable, and we are willing to pay a full and fair price for the investments that fit our themes and meet our criteria,” David Layton, chief executive and head of private equity, told ET in an exclusive interaction.

The PE firm said last month that it had raised $15 billion for its fourth PE fund to invest in technology, healthcare, and consumer goods companies. While $6 billion was through a direct equity fund, the remaining was through separately managed accounts investing alongside the fund.

“India is a geography that has a tremendous amount of upside potential for us. The close of our recent, larger fund coincides with there being larger businesses in India for us to invest in,” Layton said.

Since 2012, Partners has deployed $2 billion across four investments in India, ahead of China where it has only deployed $500 million so far.

High Valuations not a Deterrent for India Deals: Partners’ CEO

The PE firm stands to make more than seven to eight times its initial investment in Aavas Financiers, which went public in 2018. It invested Rs 609 crore ($90 million at exchange rates then) between 2016 and 2018 and booked a partial exit in August this year. Ecom Express, another portfolio company since late 2020, is planning to make its public market debut at a valuation of more than $2 billion.

Like several of its peers, Partners Group has also been on a deal spree amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier this year, Partners Group exited its first India investment when it sold CSS Corp to Capital Square Partners for $500 million. After accounting for leverage, the firm doubled the investment of $270 million it made in 2013.

It bought a controlling stake in ACT Broadband, a leading non-telco internet service provider, at a $1.2 billion enterprise value, in August, its largest cheque in India till date.

Partners followed that up a week after by selling Straive (formerly known as SPi Global), a global provider of technology-driven content and data solutions company, to Baring Private Equity Asia for $1 billion, making a 3x return on a 4-year-old bet.

Xi Jinping hasn’t left China in 21 months. Covid may be only part of the reason.

When the presidents and prime ministers of the Group of 20 nations meet in Rome this weekend, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, will not be among them. Nor is he expected at the climate talks next week in Glasgow, Scotland, where China’s commitment to curbing carbon emissions is seen as crucial to helping blunt the dire consequences of climate change. He has yet to meet President Joe Biden in person and seems unlikely to anytime soon.

Xi has not left China in 21 months — and counting.

The ostensible reason for Xi’s lack of foreign travel is COVID-19, though officials have not said so explicitly. It is also a calculation that has reinforced a deeper shift in China’s foreign and domestic policy.

China, under Xi, no longer feels compelled to cooperate — or at least be seen as cooperating — with the United States and its allies on anything other than its own terms.

Still, Xi’s recent absence from the global stage has complicated China’s ambition to position itself as an alternative to American leadership. And it has coincided with — some say contributed to — a sharp deterioration in the country’s relations with much of the rest of the world.

Instead, China has turned inward, with officials preoccupied with protecting Xi’s health and internal political machinations, including a Communist Party congress next year where he is expected to claim another five years as the country’s leader. As a result, face-to-face diplomacy is a lower priority than it was in Xi’s first years in office.

“There is a bunker mentality in China right now,” said Noah Barkin, who follows China for the research firm Rhodium Group.

Xi’s retreat has deprived him of the chance to personally counter a steady decline in the country’s reputation, even as it faces rising tensions on trade, Taiwan and other issues.

Less than a year ago, Xi made concessions to seal an investment agreement with the European Union, partly to blunt the United States, only to have the deal scuttled by frictions over political sanctions. Since then, Beijing has not taken up an invitation for Xi to meet EU leaders in Europe this year.

“It eliminates or reduces opportunities for engagements at the top leadership level,” Helena Legarda, a senior analyst with the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin, said of Xi’s lack of travels. “Diplomatically speaking,” she added, in-person meetings are “very often fundamental to try and overcome leftover obstacles in any sort of agreement or to try to reduce tensions.”

Xi’s absence has also dampened hopes that the gatherings in Rome and Glasgow can make meaningful progress on two of the most pressing issues facing the world today: the post-pandemic recovery and the fight against global warming.

Biden, who is attending both, had sought to meet Xi on the sidelines, in keeping with his strategy to work with China on issues like climate change even as the two countries clash on others. Instead, the two leaders have agreed to hold a “virtual summit” before the end of the year, though no date has been announced yet.

“The inability of President Biden and President Xi to meet in person does carry costs,” said Ryan Hass, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who was the director for China at the National Security Council under President Barack Obama.

Only five years ago, in a speech at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Xi cast himself as a guardian of a multinational order, while President Donald Trump pulled the United States into an “America first” retreat. It is difficult to play that role while hunkered down within China’s borders, which remain largely closed as protection against the pandemic.

“If Xi were to leave China, he would either need to adhere to COVID protocols upon return to Beijing or risk criticism for placing himself above the rules that apply to everyone else,” Hass said.

Xi’s government has not abandoned diplomacy. China, along with Russia, has taken a leading role in negotiating with the Taliban after its return to power in Afghanistan. Xi has also held several conference calls with European leaders, including Germany’s departing chancellor, Angela Merkel; and, this week, President Emmanuel Macron of France and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain. China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, will attend the meetings in Rome, and Xi will dial in and deliver what a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hua Chunying, said Friday would be an “important speech.”

While Biden has spoken of forging an “alliance of democracies” to counter China’s challenge, Xi has sought to build his own partnerships, including with Russia and developing countries, to oppose what he views as Western sanctimony.

“In terms of diplomacy with the developing world — most countries in the world — I think Xi Jinping’s lack of travel has not been a great disadvantage,” said Neil Thomas, an analyst with the Eurasia Group. He noted Xi’s phone diplomacy this week with the prime minister of Papua New Guinea, James Marape.

“That’s a whole lot more face time than the prime minister of Papua New Guinea is getting with Joe Biden,” Thomas said.

Still, Xi’s halt in international travel has been conspicuous, especially compared with the frenetic pace he once maintained. The last time he left China was January 2020, on a visit to Myanmar only days before he ordered the lockdown of Wuhan, the city where the coronavirus emerged.

Nor has Xi played host to many foreign officials. In the weeks after the lockdown, he met with the director of the World Health Organization and the leaders of Cambodia and Mongolia, but his last known meeting with a foreign official took place in Beijing in March 2020, with President Arif Alvi of Pakistan.

Chinese leaders have long made a selling point of their busy schedule of trips abroad, especially their willingness to visit poorer countries. Before COVID, Xi became the first to outpace his American counterpart in the annual average number of visits to foreign countries, according to research by Thomas.

In the years before COVID, Xi visited an average of 14 countries annually, spending around 34 days abroad, Thomas estimated. That notably surpassed Obama’s average (25 days of foreign travel) and Trump’s (23).

“President Xi’s diplomatic footsteps cover every part of the world,” said an article shared by Communist Party media outlets in late 2019.

Xi has made his mark on the world by jettisoning the idea that China should be a modest player on the international stage — “hiding our strength and biding our time,” in the dictum of his predecessor Deng Xiaoping. Now, though, he finds himself trying to project China’s new image of confident ambition over video meetings.

He is doing so while facing international scrutiny over many of China’s policies; the origins of the coronavirus; mounting rights abuses in Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang; and its increasingly ominous warnings to Taiwan.

Surveys have shown that views of China have deteriorated sharply in many major countries over the past two years.

Victor Shih, professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego, said that Xi’s limited travel coincided with an increasingly nationalist tone at home that seems to preclude significant cooperation or compromise.

“He no longer feels that he needs international support because he has so much domestic support, or domestic control,” Shih said. “This general effort to court America and also the European countries is less today than it was during his first term.”

The timing of the meetings in Rome and Glasgow also conflicted with preparations for a meeting at home that has clearly taken precedence. From Nov. 8-11, the country’s Communist elite will gather in Beijing for a behind-closed-doors session that will be a major step toward Xi’s next phase in power.

Xi’s absence in Rome and Glasgow could be a missed opportunity for countries to unite around a stronger, unified global effort on climate or economic recovery. It seems unlikely that the Chinese delegations will have the authority on their own to negotiate significant compromises.

“These are issue areas where there was some hope for cooperation and some hope for positive outcomes,” Legarda, the China analyst at the Mercator Institute, said of the climate summit in Glasgow. “With Xi Jinping not attending, it is, first of all, unclear if they will manage to get there. Second, I guess the question is, is this not a priority for Beijing, in many leaders’ minds?”

China has given 75.8% of population complete COVID-19 vaccine doses, says health official

China has given 1.07 billion people complete COVID-19 vaccine doses as of Oct. 29, National Health Commission spokesperson Mi Feng said on Saturday.

That accounts for about 75.8% of China’s 1.41 billion people.

A total of 2.26 billion vaccine doses had been given in China as of Oct. 29, official data showed.

View: A business alternative for Canada amid Chinese threats

Addiction to Chinese products, their investments and stock markets are not unknown to the world. However, the recent friction between Canada and China has brought to the fore the dependence of Canada upon the Chinese market, and channelled thought processes of analysts and policy makers to find the best possible alternative to Chinese products so as to prevent geopolitical risks.

Two Canadian businessmen, Michael Spavor and Michael Korvig, were detained in China in December 2018 on accusation of espionage, after the detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on a US extradition request. Although the Canadian businessmen were released recently, and the diplomatic row seems to be ending, the risk of such exchanges in the future, be it geopolitical or personal, cannot be ruled out. China is still one of the top national security concerns for the country.

In the past too there have been several trade-related disputes between Canada and the PRC, which included complaints against import restrictions, China’s espionage of Canadian expertise and theft of intellectual property, as well as demands for technology transfer.

Considering the expanse of opportunities and the market size of China, it would be necessary to come up with alternatives that are effective, and one country that fits the bill is Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has been emerging as the world’s fastest-expanding economy, and with that it has been a major alternative to the manufacturing companies who have explored their options during the time the US-China trade war kicked in, or even before that. It is renowned for its readymade garment export, which also is a driving force behind its economy, and a 20% contribution to its GDP. Its source of attraction has been its competitive labour costs which still remains one of the lowest in the World.

Some of the challenges faced by manufacturing units have been environmental compliances in factories and underdeveloped logistics infrastructure, but the country has done some commendable work in these areas.

During the pandemic, Bangladesh has become a centre of attraction for the global business community, and the country has been taking drastic steps to improve its infrastructure. The scope for investment is large in the areas of energy, infrastructure and consumer products.

The government in Bangladesh has also been taking steps to improve the country’s business climate and regulatory environments so as to improve its ranking in the Ease of Doing Business Index. It has been successful in increasing the network capacity of electric grids and reducing corporate income tax for companies based in Dhaka and Chittagong.

The government has also introduced an automated system for customs data, which is a fully computerised customs clearance system, among various other things. The country has also been working to improve its human capital and make them productive as per the needs of the market.

Bangladesh has been considered ideal for labour intensive industries, considering its low manufacturing wages. The country continues to offer better and more opportunities to the Canadian manufacturers willing to enter the consumer market.

With the rise in foreign manufacturing units, the country has also been witnessing a rise in investments and growing wealth among the people. Therefore Bangladesh also provides for a consumer market of over 200 million people hoping and expecting to transition to a middle income country in the near future.

The world has been seeing the market potential of Bangladesh, and it will be up to Canada to explore and make use of the opportunities available.

India’s trade minister Piyush Goyal to meet Chinese counterpart on Tuesday

India’s Trade Minister Piyush Goyal will have a one-on-one meeting with his Chinese counterpart on Tuesday at the G-20 summit in Italy, the government said in a statement.

Goyal will also meet other trade ministers, including those from the United States, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, and Canada, among others, the statement said on Monday.

Relations between India and China have been strained due to border related issues.