President Joe Biden’s tweet about blaming oil companies for record-high gas prices may have rankled some Americans on social media, but one prominent media member from China endorsed the message.
At precisely 12 noon EST on Saturday, Biden tweeted out, “My message to the companies running gas stations and setting prices at the pump is simple: this is a time of war and global peril. Bring down the price you are charging at the pump to reflect the cost you’re paying for the product. And do it now.”
And exactly 5 1/2 hours later, Chen Weihua, a columnist/bureau chief for China Daily EU, replied, “Now US President finally realized that capitalism is all about exploitation. He didn’t believe this before.”
It’s hard to say if President Biden was denouncing capitalism in his tweet, but that’s apparently how Weihua interpreted it; and that’s most likely how Ric Grenell, the onetime acting Director of National Intelligence for former President Donald Trump, viewed the tweet.
Early Sunday morning, Grenell posted a screenshot of the Biden/Weihua tweets together, before tweeting, “WARNING: The President of the United States attacks capitalism, the Chinese celebrate. (And the DC media do, too).”
According to World Atlas, China operates as a socialist market economy, which is characterized by state-owned enterprises and public ownership within a market economy.
China also ranks second (behind the United States) in world economy, in terms of nominal gross domestic product, with an estimated nominal GDP of $16.86 trillion in 2021.
Biden’s Saturday tweet comes shortly after he told reporters that gas prices would remain high for “as long as it takes,” a reference to helping Ukraine win its war against Russia.
That comment led to National Economic Council Director Brian Deese telling CNN that high gas prices were a necessary sacrifice for defending “the liberal world order.”
Here’s a timeline of gas prices in America over the last 18 months:
On Feb. 24, the first day of Russia invading Ukraine, the U.S. average for gas was $3.54.
And back in January 2021, the final month of former President Trump’s tenure in the White House, the average price of gas was $2.41 per gallon — with some states even reporting gas at less than $2 per gallon.
SHANGHAI—China’s first typhoon of the year brought gales and rain to its southern shores on Saturday, as forecasters warned of record rainfall and high disaster risk in provinces including Guangdong, the country’s most populous.
Typhoon Chaba, the Thai name for the hibiscus flower, was moving northwest at 15 to 20 kilometers (10 to 15 miles) per hour after the eye of the storm made landfall in Guangdong’s Maoming city on Saturday afternoon, the National Meteorological Center said in a statement.
Chaba, though medium in intensity and expected to lose strength over time, is likely to bring extremely heavy rains and may break the record for cumulative rainfall as it pulls the monsoon rain belt in the region inland, said Gao Shuanzhu, the centre’s chief forecaster.
“The abundant monsoon water vapour will lead to intense downpours and huge cumulative rainfall of an extreme nature,” Gao said, predicting up to 600 mm (24 inches) of cumulative rainfall in some areas.
At risk are the west of Guangdong, where China’s typhoons usually linger, the east of Guangxi autonomous region, and the island province of Hainan, with rainstorms causing landslides, urban waterlogging, and floods, Gao said.
Hainan upgraded its emergency response to Level II, the second-highest, on Saturday. It suspended railway service across the island and cancelled more than 400 flights to and from the cities of Haikou and Sanya.
In Macau, one person was injured due to the wind and rain on Chaba’s approach, state televisions reported.
In waters off Hong Kong, which is 270 kilometers (170 miles) northeast of Maoming, more than two dozen crew on an engineering vessel with 30 people on board were missing after it snapped in two in waters as Chaba passed through, authorities said.
In recent weeks, historic rainfall and flooding in southern China have destroyed property, paralyzed traffic and disrupted the daily lives of millions in one of the country’s most populous and economically key regions.
Extreme weather including unusually heavy flooding is expected to continue in China through August, forecasters predicted this week.
Tesla’s sales from April through June fell to their lowest quarterly level since last fall, as supply chain issues and pandemic restrictions in China hobbled production of its electric vehicles.
The company on Saturday disclosed it sold more than 254,000 cars and SUVs from April through June, an 18% drop from the first three months of this year and also well below the pace in last year’s final quarter.
The last time Tesla sold fewer vehicles globally was in the third quarter of 2021, when it delivered 241,000.
On Friday, the rest of the industry reported a 21% drop in sales during the second quarter, as the average price for vehicles skyrocketed to a record of $45,844 amid soaring inflation, according to J.D. Power.
Tesla’s sales drop may be a harbinger of weaker second-quarter earnings for the Austin, Texas, company, which is the world’s top-seller of battery-powered vehicles and has posted net profits for nearly three years. Tesla plans to release its full results for the April-June period on July 20.
Like many other stocks, Tesla shares have been hard hit this year. But the 35% decline in Tesla’s stock price hasn’t been entirely tied to the company’s see-sawing fortunes.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk also has made a $44 billion bid for Twitter, which he placed on hold after complaining that it has too many spam bot users who aren’t humans. Much of the erosion in Tesla’s value has occurred since Musk became Twitter’s largest shareholder and then launched a takeover bid that has raised concerns he has too much on his already crowded plate
Musk has used his own Twitter account, which now has more than 100 million followers, to discuss the pandemic restrictions that forced the Shanghai factory to temporarily close during the quarter. Wedbush analyst Dan Ives estimated that more than 40% of Tesla’s sales come from China and that the Shanghai factory produced about 70,000 fewer vehicles due to the shutdowns.
But Tesla signaled things are getting better Saturday, saying it produced more vehicles during June than in any other month in its history. The company didn’t disclose the number of vehicles manufactured during June.
As of early Saturday afternoon, Musk hadn’t tweeted about Tesla’s second-quarter sales. But he created a bit of a stir late Friday with ending an uncharacteristically long nine-day silence on Twitter. His Friday tweets included one with him and four of his children meeting with Pope Francis.
Tesla’s latest delivery numbers came out a week after the release of an interview with Musk in which he described new factories in Austin and Berlin as “money furnaces” that were losing billions of dollars because supply chain breakdowns were limiting the number of cars they can produce.
In a May 30 interview with a Tesla owners’ club that was just released last week, Musk said that the Berlin and Austin plants and getting them functional “are overwhelmingly our concerns. Everything else is a very small thing,” Musk said, adding, “It’s all gonna get fixed real fast.”
Musk also has discussed making salaried workers return to offices and a possible 10% cut in Tesla’s work force due to a possible recession.
Supply chain breakdowns since the onset of COVID-19 two years ago have been especially debilitating for automakers, who get parts from all corners of the globe. A lack of computer chips needed to run cars’ computers compounded automakers’ problems and sent prices for used and new cars skyrocketing.
As the pandemic erupted in the U.S. in 2020, automakers had to shut factories for eight weeks to help stop the virus from spreading. Some parts companies canceled orders for semiconductors. At the same time, demand for laptops, tablets and gaming consoles skyrocketed as people stuck at home upgraded their devices.
By the time auto production resumed, chip makers had shifted production to consumer goods, creating a shortage of weather-resistant automotive-grade chips. Although Tesla has fared better than other automakers, the industry still can’t get enough chips.
In recent years, China has been accused of committing crimes against humanity — including possible genocide — involving the Uyghur population and other mostly-Muslim ethnic groups in the region of Xinjiang.
Human rights groups believe China has detained millions of Uyghurs against their will over the past few years, while placing them in a network of “re-education camps” and sentencing them to prison terms.
On Friday evening, Newsmax host Greta Van Susteren conducted an extensive one-on-one interview with Rushan Habbas, a human rights activist who has taken public exception to China’s alleged Uyghur concentration camps.
“The most horrific things you can imagine,” said Abbas, while adding the camp prisoners are immediately forced to give up any kind of ethnic identity and are forced to forsake their religion.
“They cannot speak their own language. They are forced to speak Chinese,” said Abbas, who also heard that the prisoners are regularly indoctrinated to Chinese political ideology.
“They’re subject to inhumane treatment,” said Abbas, while noting the prisoners are often deprived of food, water and sleep. They also suffer from poor hygiene, the result of 40 to 50 people being herded in one room together.
“[The prisoners] are not given the opportunity to drink enough water,” said Abbas, while saying the lack of sufficient food, water, sleep and proper restroom facilities is a true test “of how long the internal organs can last.”
Abbas cites estimated reports of more than 3 million prisoners in the Uyghur camps, or roughly 25% of the total Uyghur population in China. “But today, the streets are empty [among the general population].”
The fears of Uyghurs being captured and imprisoned by the Chinese government have forced the people into hiding, said Aabbas.
The mostly Muslim Uyghur people believe in burying the dead. But Abbas said that crematorioum construction is booming near the camps.
“For a culture that belives in burials, why is there such a need for crematorias?” she asked Van Susteren, rhetorically.
This prompted Van Susteren to ask how the worldwide Muslim community has reacted to reports of the concentration camps in China.
Abbas said the Chinese government — which doesn’t support ideological religion, characterizing it as a “mental disease,” according to Rushan — has demolished mosques and anything else associated with organized religion.
“Basically waging a war on Islam,” said Abbas.
The Western world has been slow to denounce the Chinese government’s handling of the Uyghur people, said Abbas.
“Even in the United States, where you see corporations that [take pride] in being woke,” very few celebrities are calling attention to the Uyghurs’ inhumane treatment.
“Everybody’s so quick to criticize our government in America, but where are they [for the Uyghurs]?” wondered Habbas. “When the perpetrator of genocide has the money and the power, everyone takes the economic benefit” of being silent.
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China will loosen entry restrictions on U.S. citizens, allowing entrance in case of transit via a third country, notices issued late on Friday by the Chinese embassy in Washington said, relaxing rules imposed in Beijing’s drive to curb COVID-19.
China’s “dynamic COVID zero” policy, which aims to minimize the risk of infected travelers arriving from abroad, has resulted in many barriers to international travel, from restrictions on the issue and renewal of passports for Chinese citizens to tough quarantine requirements upon arrival.
According to an updated policy statement, U.S. citizens with valid negative COVID test results looking to enter China may now apply for and receive a green health code for travel in from either the United States or a third country. In the past, the embassy would only grant the codes to U.S. citizens flying directly from the United States.
China has loosened the same restrictions recently for citizens of other countries.
The restrictions, coupled with a limited number of direct flights from the United States to China, caused ticket prices to cost as much as $10,000.
The changes follow a similar slight relaxation of COVID testing rules for people arriving in China from countries including the United States announced on May 18.
The city of Hong Kong is no longer recognizable. That’s what a number of locals had to say amid the anniversary of its handover from Britain to Beijing. On the other hand, China’s Communist Party leader said the opposite: that the city has risen from the ashes.
The world’s largest naval exercise is underway in Hawaii. Troops from 26 nations are joining this year—looking to counter China’s military aggression.
Taiwan’s foreign minister highlights his hopes for the island, as it grapples with the threat of invasion.
Imposter social media accounts are exposed by a new report. It says the accounts are posing as Texans to attack the state’s rare earth industry online.
Shanghai Disney reopens to the public after a months-long closure. But some theme park goers say it’s not the same.
Topics in this episode:
Hongkonger on City’s Situation: ‘We Cannot Go Back’
Johnson: UK Doing ‘All It Can’ to Hold China to Commitments on Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s Situation Explained
World’s Largest Navy Drill Underway in Hawaii
Top Taiwan Diplomat Requests Support in Case of War
Report Exposes Alleged Beijing Propaganda Tactics
Bill Aims to Protect U.S. Agriculture, Farms
Shanghai Disney Reopens After 3-Month Closure
Samsung Beats TSMC to Mass Produce 3nm Microchips
Taiwan Reveals Plans to Build $5B Factory in Texas
A U.S. news publication revealed an “in-orbit game of cat and mouse” between a U.S. surveillance satellite and two new Chinese satellites in geostationary orbit, angering Beijing. In response, China’s state-run media published a commentary on June 30 that slandered the United States, accusing it of “threatening [the] Chinese satellites’ safety.”
SpaceNews reported on June 16 that China launched two satellites, Shiyan-12-01 and Shiyan-12-02, to geostationary orbit (GEO) early this year. The U.S. surveillance satellite USA 270 reportedly moved toward the Chinese satellites “to get a closer look.”
When the USA 270 closed in on Shiyan-12-01 and Shiyan-12-02, the Chinese satellites “took off in opposite directions.” But the Shiyan-12-02 moved into a position that can “get a sunlit view of the U.S. surveillance satellite,” according to SpaceNews.
“It’s pretty clear that as USA 270 gets close, these guys are getting out of Dodge,” Space News quoted Dan Oltrogge, research director at COMSPOC. “It also demonstrates that countries are doing what we call counterspace. They’re taking action to avoid disclosure of their capabilities or their activities.”
COMSPOC Corp. is an American space situational awareness (SSA) company based in Pennsylvania.
Beijing Fires Back
The Chinese regime doesn’t allow private companies or individuals to work on space research or develop related technologies. Moreover, Beijing treats the progress of China’s space development as a guarded state secret.
After SpaceNews reported on the close encounter between the U.S. satellite and two Chinese satellites, Chinese state-run tabloid Global Times published a commentary on June 30, claiming that the action of the U.S. satellite was “threatening [the] Chinese satellites’ safety.”
The article claimed the USA 270 approached the Chinese satellites, Shiyan-12-01 and Shiyan-12-02, with the intention of “monitoring secretly.”
Global Times warned that “China has the ability to track and maneuver satellites with extreme precision. … Space is a new field for the benefit of mankind, and is also a new battlefield that is moving towards militarization and weaponization.”
Global Times is published by People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Thus, articles published by Global Times and People’s Daily represent the CCP’s stance.
Conflicts in GEO
The GEO is an essential and fragile orbital shell. Its orbital period is the same as the Earth’s rotation period, which means a satellite can remain motionless on the vertical equator at a fixed position relative to any point on the surface of the Earth. This can allow the satellites in GEO to telecommunicate, broadcast television, observe, and forecast weather that covers a fixed region on the ground.
At the same time, “one collision or explosion could spread very quickly throughout the GEO belt,” Oltrogge said. “It requires careful allocation and assignment of spacecraft for both conjunction-assessment purposes and to make sure you don’t have RF [radio frequency] interference.”
The GEO has become more and more crowded in recent years. According to the latest information from UCS Satellite Database, 574 operational satellites were in geostationary orbit, up from 449 in January 2018. In detail, the United States owned 179 satellites in January, while China had 80 and Russia operated 33, the UCS Satellite Database showed.
Moreover, some satellites allegedly attempted to damage other countries’ interests in GEO in recent years. For example, a Russian satellite in GEO was found intercepting military-related communications between two European satellites in 2018.
Experts claim that Chinese satellites in GEO can pose a threat, such as carrying out surveillance activities, based on the current technologies that China recently unveiled.
“When you say, ‘that satellite moves next to mine to spy on me,’ that may be true. Or maybe that was the only free space they could find to park for a while,” SpaceNews quoted Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer and spaceflight analyst, to describe the situation in GEO.
To enable space flight safety, such as satellite collision avoidance, the U.S. military launched the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) satellites in 2014, which monitors the resident space objects (RSOs) and performs rendezvous and proximity operations (RPO). RPO means two or more satellites matching in space and then performing maneuvers to affect their relative operations, including positions, information exchanges, and mechanism exchanges.
The GSSAP works well “without the interruption of weather or the atmospheric distortion that can limit ground-based systems,” the U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) posted on its official website in September 2019.
US-China Space Race
China launched the Shijian-21 space debris mitigation satellite into GEO on Oct. 24, 2021. In late December, the satellite approached a defunct Beidou-2 G2 navigation satellite in orbit, rendezvoused with it, and then docked with it. On Jan. 22, the Shijian-21 hauled the Beidou-2 to a graveyard orbit about 200 miles above the GEO belt.
COMSPOC recreated the process by using video animation.
With the successful operation of Shijian-21, China became the second country in the world to possess the capability of removing a satellite.
The United States acknowledged that China is developing advanced space technology.
U.S. Army Gen. James Dickinson, USSPACECOM commander, testified before the House and Senate Armed Services Committees on March 8: “In 2021, the PRC [People’s Republic of China] increased on-orbit assets by 27 percent. … In January, the recently launched SJ-21 ‘space debris mitigation’ satellite docked with a defunct PRC satellite and moved it to an entirely different orbit. This activity demonstrated potential dual-use capability in SJ-21 interaction with other satellites.”
Dickinson confirmed the USSPACECOM could protect and defend against such threats but asked Washington for more support to “authorize and fund Space Domain Awareness programs that enable USSPACECOM to monitor, characterize, and attribute behavior as well as provide combat-relevant indications and warning of potential threats to U.S. government, allied, and partner space systems,” according to the USSPACECOM statement.
China’s test of a new hypersonic weapon last year raised red flags. In an April report, the Defense Intelligence Agency warned that China and Russia pose the biggest threat to U.S. national security interests in space.
Nicole Hao is a Washington-based reporter focused on China-related topics. Before joining the Epoch Media Group in July 2009, she worked as a global product manager for a railway business in Paris, France.
The United States has not seen China evade sanctions or provide military equipment to Russia, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday, adding that enforcement measures taken earlier in the week targeted certain Chinese companies, not the government.
The Commerce Department added five companies in China to a trade blacklist on Tuesday for allegedly supporting Russia’s military and defense industrial base as Moscow carries out its war in Ukraine.
U.S. officials have warned of consequences, including sanctions, should China offer material support for Russia’s war effort, but have consistently said they have yet to detect overt Chinese military and economic backing of Moscow.
“China is not providing material support. This is normal course-of-business enforcement action against entities that have been backfilling for Russia,” a senior Biden administration official told Reuters, referring to the Commerce blacklist.
“We have not seen the PRC (People’s Republic of China) engage in systematic evasion or provide military equipment to Russia,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
The United States has set out with allies to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for the invasion, which Moscow calls a “special operation,” by sanctioning a raft of Russian companies and oligarchs and adding others to a trade blacklist.
China has refused to condemn Russia’s actions and has criticized the sweeping Western sanctions on Moscow. Beijing also says that it has not provided military assistance to Russia or Ukraine, but that it would take “necessary measures” to protect the rights of its companies.
The Commerce Department action means U.S. suppliers need a license before they can ship items to listed companies. But the department also targeted dozens of other entities, including some in allied countries, such as the United Kingdom and Lithuania. (Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Stephen Coates)
The Lao central bank has imposed a limit on selling foreign currencies as part of a group of measures designed to stabilize the kip, which has plunged to its lowest value in decades.
The new rules prohibit currency exchange bureaus from selling foreign currency to legal entities and international organizations, instead permitting only licensed commercial banks to do so, Vientiane Times reported.
“Currency exchange units will only be allowed to change money for individuals and tourists, up to a maximum of 15 million kips ($1,004) per person per day,” said Sonexay Sitphaxay, the governor of the Bank of the Lao PDR.
Sitphaxay said that legal entities would only be allowed to make foreign exchange transactions at commercial banks, with priority given to organizations importing fuel and other essential goods from abroad.
The kip has plunged to its lowest value against the U.S. dollar since the Asian financial crisis in 1997, with the bank blaming the drop on increased demand for foreign currencies to import goods, according to local reports.
The country’s inflation rate rose 12.8 percent in May, the highest rate in 15 years, due to rising commodity and fuel prices.
The World Bank said in May that Laos’s currency exchange rates depreciated sharply by 30 percent against the U.S. dollar in the year leading up to April 2022, indicating “considerable external liquidity constraints.”
The communist-ruled country is experiencing liquidity and solvency challenges caused by “its high debt service burden, poor revenue collection, limited financing options, and low foreign currency reserves,” it stated.
Moody’s Investor Service also downgraded Laos’s credit rating to “Caa3″—which is subject to very high credit risk—with the country’s debt service repayments amounting to $1.1 billion in 2022 and $1.4 billion in 2023.
The rating agency stated that Laos’s default risk would “remain high given very weak governance, a very high debt burden and insufficient coverage of external debt maturities” by foreign exchange reserves.
“In the face of narrowing financing options, even to meet limited financing needs, Laos’ reliance on external and domestic commercial financing will increase, resulting in a higher exposure to market sentiment,” it said.
Laos has spent heavily on hydroelectric schemes, many financed by China, with the aim of becoming “the battery of Southeast Asia.” But those projects, along with a new Chinese high speed railway, are at the center of a debt crunch.
The country inaugurated a $6 billion Chinese-built railway in December 2021, which is part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative that critics have denounced as a “debt trap” for smaller nations.
Economists have cautioned that the rail project could make it difficult for Laos to repay external debt, potentially forcing the country to hand over assets to China. This was the case when Laos ceded majority control of its electric grid to a Chinese company in September 2020.
Laos also signed an agreement (pdf) with Singapore on June 23 to sell electricity. The project, which will run for two years, would allow Singapore to import up to 100 megawatts of hydropower from Laos.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.
President Joe Biden’s administration added five companies in China to a trade blacklist on Tuesday for allegedly supporting Russia’s military and defense industrial base, flexing its muscle to enforce sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
The Commerce Department, which oversees the blacklist, said the targeted companies had supplied items to Russian “entities of concern” before the Feb. 24 invasion, adding that they “continue to contract to supply Russian entity listed and sanctioned parties.”
The agency also added another 31 entities to the blacklist from countries that include Russia, UAE, Lithuania, Pakistan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Uzbekistan and Vietnam, according to the Federal Register entry. Of the 36 total companies added, 25 had China-based operations.
“Today’s action sends a powerful message to entities and individuals across the globe that if they seek to support Russia, the United States will cut them off as well,” Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security Alan Estevez said in a statement.
The Chinese embassy in Washington did not respond to the allegations against the companies, but said Beijing had not provided military assistance to Russia or Ukraine. It said it would take “necessary measures” to protect the rights of its companies, arguing that the sanctions violate international law.
Three of the companies in China accused of aiding the Russian military, Connec Electronic Ltd, Hong Kong-based World Jetta, and Logistics Limited, could not be reached for comment. The other two, King Pai Technology Co, Ltd and Winninc Electronic did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Hong Kong is considered part of China for purposes of U.S. export controls since Beijing’s crackdown on the city’s autonomy.
The firms’ blacklisting means their U.S. suppliers need a Commerce Department license before they can ship items to them.
The United States has set out with allies to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for the invasion, which Moscow calls a “special operation,” by sanctioning a raft of Russian companies and oligarchs and adding others to a trade blacklist.
While U.S. officials had previously said that China was generally complying with the restrictions, Washington has vowed to closely monitor compliance and rigorously enforce the regulations.
“We will not hesitate to act, regardless of where a party is located, if they are violating U.S. law,” Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration Thea Rozman Kendler said in the same statement.