Last Friday, in a video message at the council’s

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South China Morning Post

South China Sea: PLA starts month long drill in push to modernise soldiers while resisting US operations

The People’s Liberation Army kicked off a month long military exercise in the South China Sea on Monday, as the United States steps up reconnaissance operations and France sends military vessels to the region. The prolonged PLA drill comes as it intensifies joint operation exercises to help build the Chinese military to meet modern warfare requirements. China is conducting its military exercise in a zone with a radius of 5km (3.1 miles) west of the Leizhou Peninsula in Guangdong province, according to a navigation restriction notice released by the China Maritime Safety Administration on Friday. The naval exercises are taking place as China vows to firmly defend its territorial integrity. “We will not lose an inch of our land left to us by our ancestors,” the defence ministry said in a statement on Monday. “We are cheap replica handbags determined to maintain the peace and stability of the South China Sea. We oppose any nations creating tensions and stepping up military presence under the name of freedom of navigation.” In addition to the drill, state run China Central Television reported that three theatre commands the Northern, Eastern and Southern staged joint operation naval exercises in the Yellow Sea, and East and South China seas in recent days. Without giving dates of the drills, CCTV broadcast video footage showing exercises taking place over several days and nights and including the use of missiles to hit target surface vessels and aircraft. The video showed armed helicopters attending accidents while delivering logistic support to Chinese bases, on reconnaissance missions and in operations to replenish ships on the high seas. The exercises come as the US has also been sending aircraft and naval ships to the South and East China seas. The PLA reacted with drills as “real combat scenarios”. “The US used to send spy jets every two days and now the PLA takes the visits of their American counterparts as usual operations,” Beijing based military expert Zhou Chenming said. According to monitoring data released by the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative, a Beijing based think tank, the US sent reconnaissance various aircraft including an MQ 4C maritime reconnaissance drone, an EP 3E spy plane and an RC 135U strategic reconnaissance aircraft to the South China Sea on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. It sent the USNS Impeccable ocean surveillance ship to replica louis vuitton bags the region on Friday. Why France is flexing its fake louis bag muscles in the South China Sea Last month, France sent an amphibious assault ship and a frigate which are expected to transit the South China Sea twice for freedom of navigation operations. “The latest flying routine made by the RC 135U focused on the southeast air space of Taiwan, the hot site the PLA used to conduct frequent air and naval drills,” said Lu Li Shih, a former instructor at Taiwan’s Naval Academy in Kaohsiung, adding the area was also the air defence identification zone (ADIZ) of Taiwan. PLA aircraft flew nearly 40 sorties into the southwest of Taiwan’s ADIZ in February, according to the Taiwanese defence ministry. Zhou said the PLA was boosting drills, requiring soldiers to meet real combat and joint operation requirements. “All PLA officers and soldiers should pass the requirements as those are the standards of assessments that decide their promotion,” he said. The Central Military Commission, the PLA’s top brass chaired by President Xi Jinping , issued a draft of its PLA Operation Outlines in November, ordering the military to improve its fighting power by applying joint combat operation strategies and using precision, intelligence, stealth and unmanned weapons designed for modern warfare in routine exercises. Zhou said that since July 2020, when Beijing had Covid 19 under control, the PLA had held several rounds of military drills in the region, indicating it was a routine location for exercises.

South China Morning Post

Hotpot chain Haidilao, controlled by Singapore’s richest couple, sees turnaround as China’s economy rebounds

Chinese hotpot restaurant chain Haidilao International surprised investors by saying it will deliver a profit in 2020, suggesting the business turned around in the second half as the mainland economy rebounded. The group, controlled by two of Singapore’s richest tycoons, said it expects earnings to slide by 90 per cent in 2020 in a profit warning issued to the stock exchange in a filing late Monday. It cited the impact of Covid 19 pandemic for the decline in takings. It had a net profit of 2.347 billion yuan (US$362.9 million) in 2019. The warning, however, suggests it returned to profitability in the second half. The business slumped in the first six months of the year, incurring a bigger than expected net loss of 964.6 million yuan to shareholders, according to a September filing. China’s economy rebounded last quarter, helping the group which had 92 per cent of its 935 outlets in 164 mainland cities. The slump in the first half of 2020 reflected measures by governments worldwide in restricting or banning dine in operations to stem infection cases. Haidilao fell 0.5 per cent to HK$68.50 in Hong Kong on Tuesday, after swinging between a 2.2 per cent gain and 3 per cent loss. The stock surged 8.2 per cent after a decision to add it to the benchmark Hang Seng Index from March 15. The stock has gained more than 14 per cent this year, after handing investors a 91 per cent gain in 2020 and an 82 per cent rise in 2019. Chairman Zhang Yong and his spouse Shu Ping, who are co founders, controlled 68.2 per cent of the group, based on the interim report published in September. The spicy Sichuan hotpot chain group boosted its outlets to 935 from 768 outlets in mainland China and elsewhere during the first half of 2020. Apart from the slowdown in customer patronage, Haidilao also expects to suffer a net foreign currency loss of about 235 million yuan due to fluctuations in the yuan US dollar exchange rate, according to its filing. The group has monitored market conditions and adjusted its business strategies and operations to reduce the negative impact, Zhang said in the exchange filing. It also took measures to control rents and other operating costs, working capital and borrowings to ensure a healthy cash flow position, he added. Zhang, 50, who was born in mainland China and moved to high quality designer replica handbags wholesale Singapore in 2019. He and his spouse were ranked No. 1 in 2020 by Forbes on fake designer bags Singapore’s list of billionaires with a net worth US$19 billion, ahead of Li Xiting of medical devices maker Shenzhen Mindray. Additional reporting by Zhang ShidongMore from South China Morning Post:China’s biggest hotpot chain Haidilao taps Hillhouse, Morgan Stanley as cornerstone investors in up to US$963 million IPOStarbucks and hotpot chain Haidilao close mainland China stores in response to Wuhan coronavirus outbreakThis article Hotpot chain Haidilao, controlled by Singapore’s richest couple, sees turnaround as China’s economy rebounds first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app.

South China Morning Post

Meng Wanzhou’s lawyers say HSBC ‘fully knew’ that Huawei controlled affiliates that did business in Iran

HSBC bankers “fully knew” that Huawei Technologies controlled the accounts of affiliates through which it did business in Iran, undermining US claims that Meng Wanzhou defrauded the bank by allegedly lying about the relationships, a Vancouver court heard on Monday. But a Canadian government lawyer at the extradition hearing said it was inappropriate for the judge to weigh evidence that would be eventually be presented in New York if Meng were sent there to face the accusations, which she denies. “Save it for the trial,” said Robert Frater, representing US interests in the extradition case. Meng’s lawyers are pressing their claim this week that the Huawei executive is the victim of an abuse of process, and that former US president Donald Trump tainted the American fraud case against her so badly that the US bid to have her extradited from Canada should be thrown out by the Supreme Court of British Columbia. They are applying to have a series of affidavits admitted to the court to bolster that claim. On Monday, Meng’s lawyer Frank Addario told Holmes that the record of the case submitted by the US was “manifestly unreliable”. Meng is accused of defrauding HSBC by lying about Huawei’s business interests in Iran, conducted through a company called Skycom replica louis vuitton bags from china , which potentially exposed the bank to the risk of breaching US sanctions on the country. Huawei’s Meng takes HSBC to court in Hong Kong to seek bank’s papers Addario said the US record of the case left the court with the impression that as a result of a 2013 meeting between Meng and “Witness T”, an HSBC banker in Hong Kong, the bank believed Skycom had been sold by Huawei to an arm’s length third party company. But Addario said that “Peter Z”, another HSBC banker who managed the relationship with Huawei, “fully knew” that Skycom had been sold to a company called Canicula Holdings, whose accounts were still controlled by Huawei. “The risk committee at the bank relied on Peter Z,” said Addario, and US claims otherwise were “very misleading as it underplays what [he] told the global risk committee,” referring to the bank group that decided to continue working with Huawei in 2014. “Canicula was no mere third party, it was a non arm’s length affiliate whose bank accounts were managed by Huawei,” said Addario. In addition to Peter Z, “plenty of other people at the bank” were aware of this, he said, and it was “never a secret”. In HSBC emails, Skycom and Canicula were consistently referred to as “Huawei accounts”, Addario said. Holmes suggested that a high quality replica handbags china fraud could be committed against a bank, even if its staff “lower down the hierarchy” understood the fraud or had information about it. Addario responded that Peter Z “was far more than a gofer, he was the primary conduit of information” between HSBC and Huawei. “Either he’s lied to the global risk committee or he’s told them the truth and the requesting state has not told you the truth,” Addario told Holmes, adding that “either way the evidence should be in front of you.” Meng Wanzhou seeks HSBC records to counter Iran linked fraud claims During his remarks, Addario initially identified both Peter Z and Witness T by their full names, prompting the Crown to complain; Holmes immediately imposed a publication ban on their full names. In rebuttal, Frater said there was an “inappropriate purpose” behind Addario seeking to admit the new affidavits, which represented an argument best made at trial and not at the extradition phase. “An extradition hearing is not a trial,” Frater said. “To the extent that there is a weighing function, it is a limited weighing function,” he added. He told Holmes: “Your job is not to get bogged down in minutiae, the six point font of emails.” Addario had presented “standard defence cross examination material”, which was not a matter for an extradition hearing. “If they get to trial they will confront all of those witnesses That’s why we have trials,” Frater said. The proposed evidence “has no relevance to your function of deciding whether to commit [Meng]”, he told Holmes. The allegations that Meng is the victim of an abuse of process and that she was a pawn in Trump’s trade war with China have hung over the extradition case since she was arrested at Vancouver’s airport on December 1, 2018, throwing China’s relations with Washington and Ottawa into disarray. The suspicions were highlighted 10 days later when Trump told the Reuters news agency he would “certainly intervene” in the case if it helped strike a trade deal with China. Meng’s lawyers said this and other remarks by US officials showed the case was politically tainted. Canadian government lawyers, acting on behalf of US interests in the extradition case, say the entire argument is moot because Trump is no longer president. They have called the argument weak and “hyperbolic”. Hearings in the Vancouver extradition case are expected to continue until May 14, but appeals could drag proceedings out for years. Meng, who is Huawei’s chief financial officer and the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, is living under partial house arrest at a C$13 million (US$10.2 million) home she owns in Vancouver.

South China Morning Post

Chinese electronics chain Gome Retail seeks US$574 million from sale of new shares as disgraced founder Huang Guangyu vows to restore its former glory

Chinese electronics chain Gome Retail is seeking to raise HK$4.45 billion (US$573.7 million) from the sale of new shares after its founder Huang Guangyu pledged to return his company to its former glory after completing his parole last month. Gome Retail said it plans to place 2.28 billion shares, or 10.58 per cent of its existing shares, at HK$1.97 per share to repay debt and to expand its online and offline dual platform business, in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange on Tuesday. The top up placement will allow Gome Retail to raise money quickly from investors as part of its bid to return to its illustrious past. The company has struggled since its chairman was jailed for financial crimes in 2010. “We will try to resume our original market position within the next 18 months,” said Huang, 52, in his latest speech to Gome’s management, published by the company on WeChat on February 18. The comeback will not be easy as China’s retail environment has undergone massive changes. As online shopping replaced bricks and mortar stores as the main channel for home appliance purchases, Gome’s business came to be dwarfed by the country’s rising e commerce giants. The company seemed to have recognised the challenges and said that the newly raised money will be used “for the future expansion of its integrated online and offline dual platform business, [to] accelerate the future development of digital local retail,” according to the company’s filing. Huang said earlier that Gome’s basic strategy is to offer customers “low prices for carefully selected products”, along with timely delivery and a happy shopping experience. One of China’s most influential entrepreneurs before the country’s rich list came to be dominated by tech founders and property developers, Huang was arrested in 2008 on suspicion of “economic crimes”. He was convicted in 2010 for insider trading and corporate bribery, and the transfer high quality designer replica handbags of 800 million yuan (US$113 million) to underground private banks in 2007. He was released from jail on parole in June last year and officially finished his parole in February. Gome Retail lost some of its shine during Huang’s time in prison. It has reported losses for three consecutive years since 2017. Last week, the company warned of a loss of up to 7.2 billion yuan in 2020, much wider than the loss of 2.6 1:1 replica handbags billion yuan in 2019. It also expected to see a drop in revenue as much as 29 per cent last year, bringing it to some 42.2 billion yuan. Today, Huang and his wife remain Gome Retail’s largest shareholders with a 50.26 per cent stake.

South China Morning Post

Hong Kong residents safer and better protected now city has national security law, minister tells UN officials

Hong Kong residents enjoy “extra protection” from violence under the national security law and their rights and freedoms remain intact, the city’s security minister told UN officials on Monday. John Lee Ka chiu defended the controversial legislation at a side event webinar at the ongoing session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, and said the Chinese government had no choice but to close the “vacuum” created after Hong Kong failed to pass its own legislation as required by the Basic Law since the 1997 handover. “The effect of the law is obvious and direct,” Lee said. “Violence has dropped significantly. Advocacy of Hong Kong independence subsided. People arrested for offences in public order incidents have dropped by 50 per cent in five months. “Stability and order have been restored. People have returned to their normal life. Business has returned to normal, and the economy has begun to recover.” He cited the security legislation and said the half of the 1:1 replica handbags first chapter emphasised protection of rights and freedoms. “This signifies how the law gives due regard to such protection,” he said. “Therefore, contrary to misguided perception, Hong Kong residents enjoy not just the same rights and freedoms that they have always been enjoying as enshrined in the Basic Law, but also extra protection from national security threats which have rocked Hong Kong in the earlier long period of violence, chaos and harm to persons.” Lee also said 99 people had been arrested under replica louis vuitton the law since its enactment, which represented “0.001 per cent of the population of Hong Kong”. He suggested this figure showed the law had not been abused. Beijing official, pro establishment figures agree on need to put ‘patriots’ in charge The two hour online conference was organised by China’s permanent mission to the United Nations Office in Geneva to brief diplomats on the latest situation in Hong Kong, replica louis vuitton handbags some eight months after the enactment of the national security law. Last Friday, in a video message at the council’s session, Hong Kong justice minister Teresa Cheng Yeuk wah also stressed that legal principles, such as presumption of innocence, still applied under the legislation and judges remained independent and impartial. In an address during Monday’s webinar, China’s permanent representative to the UN office in Geneva, Chen Xu, also emphasised that Hong Kong people need not fear for their safety, and their legitimate rights and freedoms were safeguarded. Also invited to speak at the online conference were legislator and Executive Councillor Martin Liao Cheung kong, Joephy Chan Wing yan of the pro Beijing Federation of Trade Unions, and Henry Ho Kin chung, convenor of the think tank, One Country Two Systems Youth Forum. Liao said the unrest should not be regarded as “a protest” and had been “more like a war”. Beijing announced the ban on Taiwan’s pineapples on Friday, citing the discovery of pests on the Taiwanese imports “on multiple occasions” since last year. The surprise announcement, which took effect on Monday, has fuelled public resentment on the island. To counter the ban, the public and private sectors have been promoting sales of the fruit for local consumption. Tsai has also been trying to reassure farmers in person, heading south to Kaohsiung, one of Taiwan’s pineapple production centres, on Sunday to address concerns. “No need to panic or worry. The government is watching your back,” she said. She promised the farmers that her government would help them open up the global market. She also called on the public, private organisations and government units to support the farmers by buying and consuming local pineapples. On Sunday, other Taiwanese leaders, including Vice President William Lai and Premier Su Tseng chang, also went to southern Taiwan, accusing Beijing of trying to use the ban to punish Taiwan. Major retailers, including PX Mart, I MEI Foods, Largan Precision which supplies smartphone camera lenses to Apple Inc., and online shopping PChome, on Monday said they had either already put in orders for the fruit ranging from 30 to 10,000 tonnes (9 aaa replica designer handbags ,800 tons) or would be doing so to help the local farmers. Beijing’s ban attracted strong opposition online. “It is exactly the same as what they did to Australia! China is in the habit of using politics to force others to accept their unreasonable demands,” a Twitter user said, referring to China’s bans on the import of an array of Australian products, including wine, lobsters, beef and timber as their relations deteriorated. Taiwan denies pro Beijing film pr.

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