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China Has Threatened Trade With Some Countries After Feuds. They’re Calling ‘The Firm’ For Help

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China | AP News Image

Washington — Business is adept at “the firm.”

The State Department’s eight-person team is leading Washington’s efforts to mitigate the economic consequences for China-targeted countries

It sprang from the scramble to assist Lithuania during a dispute with China over Taiwan two years ago. Today, “the firm” is assisting many governments in dealing with what diplomats call economic pressure emanating from Beijing.

Countries “knock on the door, they call,” Undersecretary of State Jose Fernandez said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “We run a consulting firm that does not have to advertise for clients, as they come.”

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China | AP news Image

China Has Threatened Trade With Some Countries After Feuds. They’re Calling ‘The Firm’ For Help

Led by State Department senior adviser Melanie Hart, the group assesses risks and creates responses for countries that are cut off or fear losing trade with global giant China. Fernandez said that since the group’s inception with Lithuania, more than a dozen countries have sought assistance from the Biden administration.

The attempt comes as Washington intensifies its campaign to counter China’s worldwide influence, as tensions between the rivals rise.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington rejected the claim that Beijing is exerting economic pressure on other countries, calling it “completely unfounded.” It claimed that the United States was bullying China economically by misusing export regulations, treating Chinese enterprises unfairly, and accusing Beijing of economic pressure.

According to Fernandez, China “uses this tactic repeatedly.” They believe intimidation works, which is why we engaged in it. It was time to put a stop to this.

For example, after a Norwegian jury awarded a Chinese dissident the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, Beijing stopped purchasing salmon from Norway. Two years later, China blocked banana imports from the Philippines due to a territorial dispute in the South China Sea. In response to Australia’s request for a probe into the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak, Beijing raised duties on Australian barley and wines in 2020.

Then came Lithuania. Lithuanian enterprises’ cargo shipments to and from China were stalled in late 2021 and early 2022, and large European businesses warned them that Lithuanian-made auto parts would be prevented from entering the Chinese market.

That came when Lithuania allowed Taiwan’s de facto embassy in Vilnius to use the name Taiwan rather than Taipei, Taiwan’s capital city, as Beijing preferred. China considers the self-governed island to be part of its territory and has disputed Taiwan’s use.

Instead of caving in, the northern European country requested assistance. The United States and its allies stepped up.

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China | AP News Image

China Has Threatened Trade With Some Countries After Feuds. They’re Calling ‘The Firm’ For Help

American diplomats sought new markets for Lithuanian products. The Export-Import Bank of Washington granted Vilnius $600 million in export credit, and the Pentagon inked a procurement arrangement with the country.

“The firm” persevered. The State Department serves as the first line of action and can cooperate with other U.S. agencies to access “every tool that the U.S. government has,” according to a department official who requested not to be named to disclose team details.

While it takes years to reorganize global supply chains to lessen dependency on nations like China, the team aims to provide a faster approach to alleviate a crisis, the official said, equating the team to ambulance services that “help you get past that scary emergency time.”

According to the official, the United States may strive to collaborate with partners to assist a country in quickly diverting agricultural exports to new markets, building more cold storage so products can reach further markets, or improving product quality to win admission into more markets.

The support is confidential, according to the person who declined to detail the instruments at the team’s disposal or identify the countries that have sought assistance.

Shay Wester, director of Asian economic affairs at the Asia Society Policy Institute, described it as “a significant and much-needed initiative.”

“China’s growing use of economic coercion to pressure countries over political disputes is a significant challenge that requires a concerted response,” said Wester, who co-authored an April paper on the subject.

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China | Pixa Bay Image

China Has Threatened Trade With Some Countries After Feuds. They’re Calling ‘The Firm’ For Help

According to Wester, answers from other countries demonstrate a high demand for this type of support.

Lithuania organized a seminar on opposing economic pressure last month, and Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis stated that the action “is to crush the victims by forcing reversal and public renunciation of its policies.”

The Chinese Embassy’s spokesman, Liu Pengyu, stated that the problem with Lithuania was “political, not economic.” It was triggered by Lithuania’s poor faith actions, which harmed China’s interests, not by Chinese pressure on Lithuania.

Fernandez, who attended the summit, praised Lithuania for standing up to China. “Lithuania gave us the opportunity to prove that there were alternatives to the coercion,” he stated.

SOURCE – (AP)

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

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Yellen Says China’s Trade Policies Could ‘Interfere Significantly’ With US Bilateral Relationship

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Chinese “overconcentrated supply chains” threaten American jobs and recent investments intended to strengthen the country’s green energy industry, according to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. The Asian superpower’s trade policies “may interfere significantly with our efforts to build a healthy economic relationship.”

Yellen endorsed Biden administration initiatives meant to boost American economic competitiveness in a prepared speech she gave to Wall Street and corporate executives at the Economic Club of New York on Thursday afternoon.

yellen

Yellen | AP News Image

Yellen Says China’s Trade Policies Could ‘Interfere Significantly’ With US Bilateral Relationship

“When foreign subsidies threaten the viability of domestic firms” in important industries like green energy, she added, the United States should react. China’s green energy products are especially feared to undercut significant climate-friendly investments made possible by the Democrats’ August 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law.

Former President Donald Trump is making his argument to the Business Roundtable in Washington, an organization of over 200 CEOs, on why the economy would be better if he were back in the White House while Yellen is speaking.

Voters have heard from Biden and Trump, his likely Republican opponent, that they will be harsh on China.

The United States imposed major new duties this month on Chinese electric cars, cutting-edge batteries, solar cells, steel, aluminum, and medical equipment. On Wednesday, the European Union also acted to increase import duties, or tariffs, on Chinese-made electric vehicles after preliminary findings of a continuing inquiry into Chinese EV subsidies revealed that the nation’s battery electric vehicle “value chain” benefited from “unfair subsidization” that damaged EU competitors.

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Yellen | Forbes Image

Yellen Says China’s Trade Policies Could ‘Interfere Significantly’ With US Bilateral Relationship

Chinese companies can charge as little as $12,000 for an electric vehicle. Chinese officials contend that their manufacturing keeps costs low and would support a shift to a green economy. They also claim that their solar cells and steel and aluminum mills have enough capacity to supply most of the world’s demand.

Among other concerns, Yellen mentioned in her statement on Thursday the proportion of Chinese manufacturing companies that are losing money, the high savings rates compared to other OECD nations, and the stringent investment regulations.

Yellen listed industries where Chinese government subsidies have fueled fast output growth, including the production of electric cars and their batteries and solar energy equipment, which the U.S. administration is attempting to boost domestically.

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Yellen | CNN Image

Yellen Says China’s Trade Policies Could ‘Interfere Significantly’ With US Bilateral Relationship

“I reject the idea that ‘decoupling’ would help the US economy in any way,” she stated. Concurrently, a level playing field is necessary for us to fully enjoy the possible advantages of our economic partnership.

Her trip to Guangzhou and Beijing earlier this year was centered on industrial strategy and what the United States and Europe call China’s manufacturing overcapacity.

SOURCE – (AP)

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President Joe Biden Faces First Lawsuit Over New Asylum Crackdown At The Border

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Biden Administration Plans for Potential Presidential Transition

Washington, D.C. On Wednesday, a coalition of immigrant advocacy groups sued the Biden administration, claiming that President Joe Biden’s recent order to essentially stop asylum claims at the southern border is no different from a similar action by the Trump administration that was thwarted by the courts.

The American Civil Liberties Union and others filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Centre and the Refugee and Immigrant Centre for Education and Legal Services, or RAICES. It is the first legal challenge to Biden’s broad border crackdown, which followed months of internal White House deliberations and is intended in part to fend off political criticism of the president’s immigration policy.

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Joe Biden | AP News Image

President Joe Biden Faces First Lawsuit Over New Asylum Crackdown At The Border

“We were forced to file this lawsuit by enacting an asylum ban that is legally indistinguishable from the Trump ban we successfully blocked,” said ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt.

The directive Biden issued last week will restrict the processing of asylum applications once 2,500 people are encountered between ports of entry each day. The current estimates were significantly higher, at almost 4,000 daily, so it went into effect right away.

The limits would remain in place for two weeks following the seven-day average of those daily encounter counts at or below 1,500. When the numbers might fall that low, though, is unclear; the last time was in July 2020, during the COVID-19 epidemic.

When the order entered into force on June 5, officials of the Biden administration stated they anticipated record numbers of deportations.

Advocates counter that, among other issues, suspending asylum for refugees who fail to show up at a predetermined point of entry—as the Biden administration is attempting to do—violates current federal immigration law.

For a long time, the United States has welcomed refugees seeking protection from persecution. That national commitment became legally codified with the Refugee Act of 1980. The groups said in their case filed on Wednesday that although Congress has, throughout time, imposed certain restrictions on the right to seek asylum, it has never allowed the Executive Branch to outright prohibit asylum based on where a noncitizen enters the nation.

Biden cited Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the same legal basis that the Trump administration used to justify its asylum restriction. Under this clause, a president may restrict the number of migrants admitted if it is judged “detrimental” to the country’s interests.

While running, Biden has frequently attacked the immigration policy of former President Donald Trump. His government counters that his order is unique because it has multiple humanitarian exclusions. Limits would not apply, for instance, to victims of human trafficking, unaccompanied minors, or people experiencing serious medical difficulties.

“The Securing the Border rule is legal, important to enhancing border security, and is already having an impact,” a Department of Homeland Security spokesman said, declining to comment on the complaint. We shall keep putting the contested actions into practice; they are still in force.

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Joe Biden | AP news Image

President Joe Biden Faces First Lawsuit Over New Asylum Crackdown At The Border

The immigrant rights organisations contend in the complaint that exceptions are “extremely limited.”

The White House forwarded questions regarding the complaint to the Justice Department, which declined to comment. According to White House spokesman Angelo Fernández Hernández, Biden’s action was required because congressional Republicans thwarted a bipartisan agreement that “would have provided critical resources, statutory changes, and additional personnel to the border.”

As per Biden’s decision, migrants who show up at the border without expressing a fear of going back to their own countries will be deported from the US in a few days or even hours. Sanctions for those migrants can include a five-year ban on entering the country again or criminal prosecution.

Proponents of the lawsuit contended that it is the migrants’ responsibility to exhibit fear, which is sometimes known as displaying fear.

“In practice, noncitizens who have just crossed the border, and may be hungry, exhausted, ill, or traumatised after fleeing persecution in their home countries and danger in Mexico, are likely to be intimidated by armed, uniformed Border Patrol officers, and are thus unlikely to ‘manifest’ their fear of return,” the lawsuit states.

However, a U.S. asylum officer will evaluate anyone who indicates fear or a desire to seek asylum, but to a higher level than is now in place. Should they clear the screening, they are eligible for more restricted humanitarian protection, such as the U.N. Convention Against Torture, which forbids sending someone back to a nation where they are likely to be subjected to torture.

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Joe Biden | NY Times Image

President Joe Biden Faces First Lawsuit Over New Asylum Crackdown At The Border

These revised, more stringent asylum limitations do not apply to migrants who utilise the CBP One app while in Mexico to make an appointment to present themselves at an official border crossing point to seek admission. The app is a component of the administration’s attempts to persuade migrants to attempt to enter the nation through its preferred routes rather than just crossing the border, locating a Border Patrol agent, and turning themselves in.

Advocates did, however, provide a laundry list of grievances against the app in the case. Many immigrants, for instance, lack the Wi-Fi connectivity or cellphone data plan required to use it. While some migrants are illiterates, others do not speak any of the languages the programme offers. And compared to the amount of migrants wishing to enter the nation, there are only a few spots open each day.

“As a result, numerous asylum seekers have been forced to wait indefinitely under precarious conditions in Mexico in the hope of obtaining scarce appointments,” the lawsuit says.

Together with the ACLU, additional organisations filing the complaint were the Texas Civil Rights Project, Jenner & Block LLP, National Immigrant Justice Centre, Centre for Gender & Refugee Studies, and ACLU of the District of Columbia.

SOURCE – (AP)

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US Attorney General Merrick Garland Held in Contempt of Congress

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US Attorney General Merrick Garland Held in Contempt of Congress
Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing: AP Image

The United States Congress has voted to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt for refusing to send over recordings of President Joe Biden’s interview with Special Counsel Robert Hur about his handling of secret information.

The final vote was 216-207. Rep. David Joyce of Ohio was the lone Republican to vote against the contempt resolution.

Speaker Mike Johnson described the outcome as “a significant step towards maintaining the integrity of our oversight processes and responsibilities.”

“It is up to Congress – not the Executive Branch – to determine what materials it needs to conduct its own investigations, and there are consequences for refusing to comply with lawful Congressional subpoenas,” Johnson stated in a statement.

Garland responded, stating that it was “deeply disappointing that this House of Representatives has turned a serious congressional authority into a partisan weapon.”

“Today’s vote disregards the constitutional separation of powers, the Justice Department’s need to protect its investigations, and the substantial amount of information we have provided to the Committees,” Garland stated in a press release. “I will always stand up for this Department, its employees, and its vital mission to defend our democracy.”

Biden Hur

President Biden as he was under investigation over his possession of classified documents by Special Counsel Robert Hur. – Getty Images

General Merrick Garland Refuses

While the Department of Justice has made a transcript of Hur’s interview with Biden accessible to the GOP-led committees, House Republicans say that the audio tapes are required for their delayed impeachment probe into the president.

“The Committees need the audio tapes to verify the accuracy of the written transcripts given this White House has been known to heavily edit the President’s statements,” Johnson stated. “This is a simple matter — we have the transcript, and we need the audio.”

The contempt resolution instructs the House speaker to report the case to the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia for potential criminal prosecution.

Garland continued to defend his choice not to turn up audio tapes of the interview before the House Judiciary Committee last week, despite President Biden’s assertion of executive privilege.

“I shall not be scared. And the Justice Department will not be frightened. We shall continue to conduct our work without political influence. “And we will not back down from defending our democracy,” Garland stated during the hearing.

Representative Jerrold Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee

Representative Jerrold Nadler (D), the House Judiciary Committee – Getty Images

Democrat Protect General Merrick Garland

Democrats have also defended Garland, condemning the GOP’s attempt to hold him in contempt as a politically driven endeavour.

“This isn’t really about a policy disagreement with the DOJ, this is about feeding the MAGA base after 18 months of investigations that have produced failure after failure,” Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, said in testimony before the House Rules Committee on Tuesday.

Joyce, the single Republican who voted against the measure, also claimed it was a politicised act.

“As a former prosecutor, I cannot in good conscience support a resolution that would further politicize our judicial system to score political points,” Joyce stated. “The American people expect Congress to represent them, solve policy issues, and prioritise good governance. “Enough is enough.”

MORE: ‘I did not exonerate him,’ Hur says about Biden

Congress has previously found Cabinet officials in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a House subpoena, notably Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in 2019 and then-Attorney General Eric Holder in 2012.

In 2022, Congress found Peter Navarro, a former top trade advisor in the Trump administration, in contempt of Congress for allegedly falsifying records and testimony to the now-defunct House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol.

Navarro was recently sentenced to four months in prison.

Steve Bannon, a Trump associate who was previously held in contempt of Congress in 2022 for failing to comply with the Jan. 6 select committee, has been ordered to report to jail on July 1.

Source: Yahoo News

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