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Chinese graduate students may be next hit by US-China tensions – News in USA by Post24x7

2020-05-29 01:45:00

The Trump administration may expel thousands of Chinese graduate students enrolled at U.S. universities in the latest sign of tensions between Washington and Beijing that are raging over trade, the coronavirus pandemic, human rights and the status of Hong Kong.

Four administration officials say President Donald Trump is currently considering a months-old proposal to revoke the visas of Chinese students affiliated with educational institutions in China that are linked to the People’s Liberation Army or Chinese intelligence services.

The officials said Trump has not yet signed off on what would be a presidential proclamation to implement the rule, but he could do so as early as this week, as the most recent tensions flare over China’s move to assert full control over Hong Kong. The officials were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Serious consideration of the proposal, first reported by The New York Times, has faced opposition from U.S. universities and scientific organizations who depend on tuition fees paid by Chinese students to offset other costs. In addition, those institutions fear possible reciprocal action from Beijing that could limit their students’ and educators’ access to China.

In a nod to those concerns, the officials said any restrictions would be narrowly tailored to affect only students who present a significant risk of engaging in espionage or intellectual property theft. The officials could not say how many people could ultimately be expelled, although they said it would be only a fraction of the Chinese students in the country.

Still, the possibility that the proposal may be implemented has drawn concerns from educators.

“We’re very worried about how broadly this will be applied, and we’re concerned it could send a message that we no longer welcome talented students and scholars from around the globe,” said Sarah Spreitzer, director of government relations at the American Council on Education.

“We don’t have a lot of details about how they are going to define ties to Chinese universities, what type of universities are they going to target, what would constitute a university having ties to the Chinese military,” she said. If the situation were reversed and another nation imposed limits on students from U.S. universities that receive Defense Department funding, she noted it would affect a wide range of schools.

The U.S. hosted 133,396 graduate students from China in the 2018-19 academic year, and they made up 36.1% of all international graduate students, according to the Institute of International Education. Overall, there were 369,548 students from China, accounting for 33.7% of international students who contributed nearly $15 billion to the U.S. economy in 2018.

The proposal to revoke the visas is not directly related to the dispute over Hong Kong, nor is it tied to U.S. criticism of China for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Rather, it is connected to various elements of trade and human rights issues that have seen U.S. officials complain about Chinese industrial espionage and spying and harassment of dissidents and religious and ethnic minorities.

But the timing of a potential announcement could come at a time of increasingly heated rhetoric about the imposition of national security laws on the former British territory, which was supposed to have enjoyed 50 years of special status after it reverted to Chinese control in 1997.

The proposal first began to be discussed last year when the administration moved to require Chinese diplomats based in the United States to report their domestic U.S. travel and meetings with American scientists and academics. At the time, U.S. officials said it was a reciprocal measure to match restrictions that American diplomats face in China.

Those limits were followed by a requirement that Chinese state-run media in the U.S. register as “foreign diplomatic missions” and report their property holdings and employee rosters to the government. That was, in turn, followed by the limiting of the number of visas for Chinese journalists allowed to work in the United States.

China retaliated for the visa limitations by expelling several reporters from U.S. media outlets, including The Washington Post and New York Times.

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Livemint news News in USA

China parliament advances Hong Kong security law as tensions with US rise – News in USA by Post24x7

2020-05-28 19:44:00
Hong Kong

China says the legislation will aim to tackle secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in the city but the plan, unveiled in Beijing last week, triggered the first big protests in Hong Kong for months.

Riot police were out in force in Hong Kong as its lawmakers debated another piece of legislation, a bill to criminalise disrespect of China’s national anthem, while the United States piled on pressure aimed at preserving the city’s autonomy.

Dozens of protesters gathered in a shopping mall to chant slogans but there was no repeat of disturbances the previous day when police made 360 arrests as thousands took to the streets in anger over the anthem bill and the national security legislation proposed by China.

Last year, the city was rocked for months by often violent pro-democracy demonstrations over an unsuccessful bid to introduce a law governing extradition to China.

The Chinese government’s security law for the city is fuelling fear in Hong Kong and beyond that Beijing is imposing its authority and eroding the high degree of autonomy the former British colony has enjoyed under a “one country, two systems” formula since it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Members of China’s mostly rubberstamp parliament, the National People’s Congress, in the Great Hall of the People to the west of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, burst into prolonged applause when the tally showed 2,878 votes to one in favour of moving forward with legislation, with six abstentions.

Details of the law are expected to be drawn up in coming weeks. It is expected to be enacted before September.

Chinese authorities and the Beijing-backed government in Hong Kong say there is no threat to the city’s autonomy and the new law would be tightly focused.

China’s Premier Li Keqiang said the law would be good for Hong Kong’s long-term stability and prosperity and the “one country, two systems” formula would remain a national policy.

Conflict between China and the United States would harm both sides while both stand to gain from cooperation, he told a news conference.

Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed leader Carrie Lam said her government would work with Beijing to complete the legislative work as soon as possible.

“The law will not affect the rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong residents,” she said in a statement welcoming the Chinese parliament’s vote.

Democracy campaigners in the city were despondent, however.

“This is the death knell for Hong Kong, make no mistake of it, this is the end of ‘one country, two systems’ … the Hong Kong that we loved, a free Hong Kong,” pro-democracy lawmaker Dennis Kwok told reporters.


The United States, Britain and the European Union have also expressed concern about the security legislation and its implications for China’s freest city.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday Hong Kong no longer qualified for special treatment under U.S. law, potentially dealing a crushing blow to its status as a major financial hub.

The proposed security law was “only the latest in a series of actions” undermining Hong Kong freedoms, he told Congress.

“No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground,” he said.

The security law could see Chinese intelligence agencies set up bases in the city.

Relations between the two countries have been tense over China’s claims in the South China Sea and trade, with the coronavirus pandemic adding to the acrimony.

“Already, international business is facing the pressure of increased tension between the U.S. and China, but the enactment of China’s security law for Hong Kong could take the tension to a whole new level,” said Tara Joseph, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

“This is show time for Hong Kong,” she said in a commentary in the South China Morning Post.

U.S. President Donald Trump has promised action over Hong Kong, with an announcement at the end of the week. More than 1,300 U.S. companies have offices in the city, providing about 100,000 jobs.

China said it would take necessary countermeasures against foreign interference in what it insists are its internal affairs.

Hong Kong stocks underperformed most of Asia, closing down 0.7%.

Trump’s possible response could include visa and economic sanctions, David Stilwell, the State Department’s assistant secretary for East Asia, told reporters.

(Reporting by Jessie Pang, Anne Marie Roantree, Donny Kwok, Noah Sin, Clare Jim, Sarah Wu; Writing by Michael Perry and Marius Zaharia; Editing by Stephen Coates, Robert Birsel)

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USA: 41 million have lost jobs since coronavirus hit, but layoffs slow – News in USA by Post24x7

2020-05-28 18:39:00

Roughly 2.1 million people applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, a sign that companies are still slashing jobs in the face of a deep recession even as more businesses reopen and rehire some laid-off employees.

About 41 million people have now applied for aid since the virus outbreak intensified in March, though not all of them are still unemployed. The Labor Department’s report Thursday includes a count of all the people now receiving unemployment aid: 21 million. That is a rough measure of the number of unemployed Americans.

The national jobless rate was 14.7% in April, the highest since the Great Depression, and many economists expect it will near 20% in May.

States are gradually restarting their economies by letting some businesses — from gyms, retail shops and restaurants to hair and nail salons — reopen with some restrictions. As some of these employers, including automakers, have recalled a portion of their laid-off employees, the number of people receiving unemployment benefits has fallen.

First-time applications for unemployment aid, though still high by historical standards, have now fallen for eight straight weeks. In addition to those who applied last week, an additional 1.2 million applied under a new program for self-employed and gig workers, who are eligible for jobless aid for the first time. These figures aren’t adjusted for seasonal variations, so the government doesn’t include them in the overall data.

Analysts are monitoring incoming economic data to gauge how consumers are responding as many retail establishments gradually reopen. Jobs won’t return in any significant way as long as Americans remain slow to resume spending at their previous levels.

Data from Chase Bank credit and debit cards shows that consumers have slowly increased their spending since the government distributed stimulus checks in mid-April. Consumer spending had plunged 40% in March compared with a year earlier but has since rebounded to 20% below year-ago levels.

Most of that increase has occurred in online shopping, which has recovered to pre-virus levels after having tumbled about 20%. But offline spending, which makes up the vast majority of consumer spending, is still down 35% from a year ago, according to Chase, after having plummeted 50% at its lowest point.

The U.S. government is set to sketch its latest picture Thursday of the layoffs that have left tens of millions of people unemployed but have slowed as states increasingly allow businesses to reopen.

Even with companies calling some laid-off employees back to work, millions more likely filed for unemployment benefits last week after nearly 39 million sought aid in the previous nine weeks as the coronavirus paralyzed the economy.

The pace of layoffs has declined for seven straight weeks, a sign that the cratering of the job market may have bottomed out. By historical standards, though, the number of weekly applications remains enormous.

The job cuts reflect an economy that was seized by the worst downturn since the Great Depression after the virus forced the widespread shutdown of businesses. The economy is thought to be shrinking in the April-June quarter at an annual rate approaching 40%. That would be, by far, the worst quarterly contraction on record.

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US coronavirus deaths top 100,000 as country reopens – News in USA by Post24x7

2020-05-28 02:58:00

US deaths from the novel coronavirus topped 100,000 on Wednesday even as the daily average death toll declines, businesses reopen and Americans emerge from lockdowns across the country.

About 1,400 Americans have died on average each day in May, down from the peak of the outbreak in April when 2,000 people a day died on average.

The US death toll is higher than fatalities from the seasonal flu going back to the 1957-1958 season, when 116,000 died. In about three months, COVID-19 deaths exceed the number of Americans killed in the Korean War, Vietnam War and the U.S. conflict in Iraq from 2003-2011 – combined.

The coronavirus has killed more people than the AIDS epidemic did from 1981 through 1989.

Total US coronavirus cases are over 1.7 million with some southern states seeing new cases rising in the past week, according to a Reuters analysis of data from The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer-run effort to track the outbreak.

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Opinion | A game of diplomatic chessboard on WHO’s battlefield – News in USA by Post24x7

2020-05-25 23:48:00

Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has taken over as chair of the World Health Organization (WHO) executive board at a very difficult time. The whole world has been shaken up by the covid-19 crisis. With limited powers, it would be a difficult task for Vardhan to help humanity through WHO.

This, at a time when questions have been raised on the role of this organisation during the outbreak. US President Donald Trump and some other leaders from the West are blaming China for deliberately pushing the world into the pandemic. They also alleged that WHO could neither stop Beijing nor hold it responsible. Trump even threatened to permanently stop funding WHO, and reconsider its membership. If the US and its allies take this path, it would become difficult to run the organization. During the course of its existence, WHO has passed through a number of diplomatic obstacles, but for the first time it is caught up in an emerging cold war between the US and China. This development is certainly sad for the world, since, in the past, WHO has played an important role in the eradication of diseases like smallpox and polio. Right now, we need such organisations.

This need further increases when we flip the pages of history. The League of Nations was constituted in 1920, after the World War I, with the aim of settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration. Whether it was the dispute between Sweden and Finland, or between Bulgaria and Greece, the League played an important role to solve the issues. When everyone was hoping that there will be no World War again, the war broke out. After the war, countries felt the need for another intergovernmental organisation to maintain peace. Just one year before the dissolution of the League, WHO was constituted in 1945.

The Charter of the United Nations (UN) came into force on 24 October, 1945 and, a few months later, in April 1946, the League of Nations was formally dissolved, and the United Nations came into existence. It was the end of one dream and the beginning of another. UN played an important role in the half-century-long cold war between the US and the Soviet Union. But everything changed after the fall of the Berlin Wall. When the Soviet Union disappeared, the US become the undisputed leader. No one was there to stop its march. When the US and its allies attacked Iraq, the UN could not stop the war. It was said that Iraq under Saddam Hussein had a huge cache of chemical weapons, despite the 1,625 observers from the UN and the US who inspected the 1,700 suspected sites, not finding anything. It’s clear that the reason for the attack was something else. This ‘something else’ was going to prove more fatal. The only fallout of this misadventure was that UK PM Tony Blair lost power. All along he had said that he had convincing information on the stock of chemical weapons kept by Hussein. Billions of dollars and a large number of lives were lost in this needless war. The only satisfaction for former US President George W. Bush was that he could hang Hussein. What Bush, Blair and their allies got is another matter, but one thing is sure—that attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq actually catalysed jihadi forces. The UN’s failure, in both these cases, proved costly for the peaceful population of the world. Now, when WHO is being made a pawn in the tussle between the US and China, we must remember this lesson. It is actually a trade war between the US and China which is being fought on the battlefield of WHO. There is one more similarity, Iraq was alleged to possess chemical weapons, and now China is being blamed for the spread of the virus. That’s why, at the beginning, I said Vardhan’s tenure is going to be challenging. As he takes over as the chairman of WHO’s executive board, 100 members out of the 194 are against China, directly or indirectly. So, now, it’s not just an issue related to WHO, but a game of diplomatic chessboard. The outcome may also decide the future of the world. We should also remember that leadership skills are tested in such times. As health minister Vardhan has played an important role in the fight against covid-19. We should wish him the best, not only for India’s interests, but since it is also crucial for the whole world.

Shashi Shekhar is editor-in-chief, Hindustan. His Twitter handle is @shekarkahin

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US to provide $6 million to Pakistan to fight coronavirus – News in USA by Post24x7

2020-05-25 00:30:00

The US on Sunday announced that it will provide $6 million aid to Pakistan to support its effort in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

US ambassador to Pakistan, Paul Jones, in a video message said that the aid money will strengthen Pakistan’s “response by expanding training for healthcare workers who take care of patients in hospitals with severe cases of coronavirus; preventing the spread of coronavirus in healthcare facilities and providing a fourth mobile lab to test and treat Pakistanis living in virus hotspots”.

Jones in the message also expressed good wished for Pakistan on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr.

“I would like to congratulate all Pakistanis on the completion of Ramazan,” said Jones.

Jones also thanked Islamabad for its recent delivery of medical supplies as a gesture of friendship and partnership between the two countries.

The embassy said that the US government has now committed a total of USD 21 million since it declared Pakistan a ‘priority country for coronavirus response’.

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China says coronavirus pushing US ties to brink of ‘Cold War’ – News in USA by Post24x7

2020-05-24 22:27:00

Fresh tensions between Beijing and Washington emerged as Muslims around the world celebrated an end to the holy month of Ramadan muted by virus restrictions and as more European nations prepared to further ease their lockdowns.

Globally more than 5.3 million people have been infected by the virus, which most scientists believe jumped from animals to humans — possibly at a market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the pandemic emerged in December.

The origins of the virus and China’s response have become highly politicised, with US President Donald Trump accusing Beijing of a lack of transparency, and pushing the theory that it may have leaked from a Chinese maximum-security laboratory.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Washington had been infected by a “political virus” to continually attack China, but added the country would be open to an international effort to find the coronavirus source.

“It has come to our attention that some political forces in the US are taking China-US relations hostage and pushing our two countries to the brink of a new Cold War,” Wang told a press conference at China’s week-long annual parliament session.

Wang blasted what he called efforts by US politicians to “fabricate rumours” about the virus origin and “stigmatise China”.

While European nations initially among the hardest hit have started to ease lockdowns in a bid to salvage economies and lifestyles, other countries such as Brazil, where deaths have surged, are emerging as new centres of the pandemic.

Hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world were celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday, marking the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, with Islam’s two most important mosques still closed to worshippers in Mecca and Medina.

At the same time, churches were reopening in some countries, Spain’s football league announced it would kick off again on June 8, and thousands flocked to beaches in the US, where lockdowns and social distancing have become rights issues that have split communities.

But in Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who recovered from the virus himself after intensive care, on Sunday faced increased pressure to sack top aide Dominic Cummings who was accused of twice breaching his government’s own lockdown rules.

End of Ramadan

With infection numbers stabilising in the West, many governments are trying to move towards lighter social distancing measures to revive moribund business and tourism sectors while remaining wary of a second wave of infections.

In Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez sought to reassure potential visitors, saying that from July 1, “entry for foreign tourists into Spain will resume in secure conditions”.

Italy is also due to reopen its borders to foreign tourists from June 3.

French churches were holding their first Sunday masses in more than two months after the government bowed to a court ruling that they should be reopened — provided proper precautions were taken.

“My cell phone is crackling with messages!” Father Pierre Amar, a priest in Versailles, just outside Paris, told AFP.

France’s mosques, however, called on Muslims to stay at home for the Eid al-Fitr holiday. They said they would gradually resume services from June 3.

In Saudi Arabia, Eid prayers will be held at the two holy mosques in the cities of Mecca and Medina “without worshippers”, authorities said as the kingdom began a five-day curfew after infections quadrupled since the start of Ramadan.

“Eid is not Eid with the atmosphere of coronavirus — people feel a sense of fear,” Palestinian Akram Taher said in Gaza, where worshippers wore masks and kept prayer mats apart.

In Senegal’s capital Dakar, muslim worshippers packed the outdoor floors of the esplanade at a main mosque for Eid prayers. Orderlies distributed hand gel and tried to keep people apart to respect social distancing.

Some faithful gathered for prayer on a nearby beach, kneeling on the sand to keep a safe distance apart.

For Christians in Jerusalem, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre briefly reopened its doors, but with tight restrictions in place.

British scandal

In Britain, a scandal has erupted over disclosures that top government adviser Dominic Cummings had flouted the lockdown rules.

Cummings was seen visiting his parents in Durham, 250 miles (400 kilometres) away from his London home in March, despite suffering from virus symptoms.

The Observer and Sunday Mirror reported he had broken lockdown restrictions again and was seen in Durham a second time on April 19, days after he had returned to work in London following his first trip north.

Cummings denies any wrongdoing and the British government has so far rejected calls to sack him over the allegations.

“You cannot advise the nation one thing then do the opposite,” Tory MP Craig Whittaker tweeted, echoing opposition criticism.

Despite positive signs elsewhere, the disease continued its surge in large parts of South America, with the death toll in Brazil passing 22,000 and infections topping 347,000, the world’s second-highest caseload.

In the US, where the death toll is highest in the world nearing 100,000, Trump has aggressively pushed to reopen the economy, defying the advice of health experts.

He sent a signal of his intentions by playing golf Saturday — his first round since March 8.

But the New York Times marked the grim US toll on Sunday with a memorial on its front page carrying one-line obituaries for 1,000 victims.

“The 1,000 people here reflect just one percent of the toll. None were mere numbers,” the newspaper said.

The US economy has shed almost 40 million jobs this year and many companies have gone to the wall. But most states have begun easing their lockdowns and many reopened public beaches despite worries about infections.

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New York City is set to be the only region of state on lockdown after next week – News in USA by Post24x7

2020-05-23 00:50:00
New York City

Long Island and the Mid-Hudson regions are on a trajectory to reopen, provided they see deaths continue to decline and meet contact-tracing targets, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Friday at a virus briefing. In anticipation, construction preparation can begin in those two regions.

With those areas, nine of 10 New York regions will have begun phased-in restarts, after more than seven weeks on lockdown. New York City still has met only four of the state’s seven reopening metrics, due largely to a lack of capacity at the city’s hospitals. It also must continue to build up its number of tracers, according to state data.

“We said deliberately at the beginning of this, it’s going to be one standard that is data driven, there’s no politics here, and safe is safe,” Cuomo said. “What’s safe for your health in New York City. I’m not going to put your life at more risk or less risk than a life in Buffalo. It doesn’t work that way.”

New York state had 356,458 cases of the new coronavirus as of May 20, with more than half from New York City. Both the state and city are on a path to recovery, with fewer hospitalizations, but some metrics in the city have been slower to improve than those in regions less hit by Covid-19.

Saying the city had made major progress in its fight, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday unveiled a new set of metrics, in the form of charts showing the decrease in the city’s numbers of respiratory-illness patients hospitalized and in public hospital intensive care units. The city is moving toward a first phase of reopening, focusing on construction, wholesale distribution and curbside retail by the middle of June, the mayor said.

While de Blasio’s metrics are in line with Cuomo’s, it’s the state metrics that New York City must meet before reopening, the governor said. New York City had 27% of total hospital beds and 28% of intensive-care beds available as of May 21, below the 30% state thresholds, which are based on guidelines by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s not up to the local officials, it’s a statewide decision across the board,” Cuomo said.

New York state reported 109 deaths on May 21, for a total of 23,192. At the outbreak’s peak in April, the state was reporting more than 700 fatalities daily.

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There’s a long way to go before China Inc. abandons US listings – News in USA by Post24x7

2020-05-22 01:05:00

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have deteriorated markedly in the past few months, with tensions spilling over into Chinese companies’ access to the U.S. capital markets in the wake of the rapid downfall of Luckin Coffee Inc, one of China’s brightest startups, as a result of accounting fraud.

The bill passed on Wednesday would require companies to certify that they are not under the control of a foreign government or submit to audits from a U.S. accounting agency to determine that. China’s refusal to let the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board examine audits of firms whose shares trade on U.S. exchanges has long been a bone of contention between the two sides and the Luckin Coffee debacle has brought it back to the fore.

But while the environment for Chinese companies in the U.S. has become decidedly more hostile of late, the allure of U.S. markets — with their better liquidity and deeper investor base — is unlikely to go away.

“It will be a delicate balance for investors weighing between the risks here,” said Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG Asia Pte. “The U.S. may not drop off as one of the top IPO destination for Chinese companies, long seen as a highly liquid avenue which also helps in boosting the company’s attractiveness. That said, worsening of U.S.-China ties could trigger considerations of alternatives in Europe and closer to home in Asia.”

A string of disappointing debuts by Chinese firms on U.S. exchanges last year also fueled angst among investors and policy makers, while some global banks began dropping off deals, concerned about rising reputational risks. Of the 12 companies that listed in New York this year, just two are trading above their IPO prices, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Baidu Inc., which runs China’s top search engine, is considering delisting from the Nasdaq and moving to an exchange closer to home to boost its valuation, Reuters reported Thursday, citing three unidentified people familiar with the matter. A Baidu spokesperson in Beijing described the story as “a rumor” and declined to comment further. Baidu’s shares swung between gains and losses in New York trading.

“The recent Senate vote shouldn’t be seen as a bluff or an expression of temporary pique,” said Brock Silvers, chief investment officer of Adamas Asset Management. “The ‘Chinese exception’ of reduced auditing access won’t last for long. Nasdaq has offered a solution, but one which may not actually eliminate the loophole. No matter which party wins the election, China may face de-listings should Beijing’s regulators not give ground.”

The latest move by the U.S could, however, prove to be a boon for rival exchanges like Hong Kong, which have sought to position themselves as alternatives for Chinese companies seeking international capital. Several U.S.-listed Chinese technology heavyweights, such as Inc and NetEase Inc are already gearing up for second listings in the financial hub and the trend may accelerate as the U.S. becomes more hostile. Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd. has already done so, raising $13 billion in a massive share sale last year, which both gives it a listing venue closer to its home market as well as providing a hedge against risks from increasing U.S.-China tensions.

Shares in Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. have risen 7.4% this week, helped by news that the bourse is planning to speed up the IPO process to bring it more in line with other international markets.

“Now that conditions to list in the U.S. are getting more difficult, many Chinese companies are likely to choose Hong Kong instead. The reforms in Hong Kong will welcome those Chinese ADRs as secondary listings, and unlisted weighted-voting rights companies will be able to have primary listings in the city,” said Banny Lam, managing director at CEB International Capital Corp.

Here’s what others are saying about the Senate Bill:

Gary Dugan, chief executive officer at the Global CIO Office:

“I would expect the Chinese giants to be safe. I’m not so sure the U.S. authorities will escalate matters so far as to put at risk the listings of the Chinese majors. London would be an obvious market for the Chinese to turn to. Both London and Frankfurt have in the past tried to court the smaller companies sector.”

Shen Meng, director of Beijing-based boutique investment bank Chanson & Co.:

“It would dampen sentiment for Chinese ADRs in the short term but I wouldn’t worry too much about the potential impact. It would be hard for U.S. authorities to prove some Chinese firms are under the influence of their government and Chinese firms, especially those in the tech industry, wouldn’t easily give up on the U.S. market due to easier and more flexible rules.”

James Hull, a Beijing-based analyst and portfolio manager with Hullx:

“I don’t think it’s much of a shock. If you go back to last year, there were plenty of congressmen and senators talking about this idea of getting the disclosure requirements for foreign firms — Chinese U.S.-listed firms — aligned with U.S. domestic firms that are listed in the U.S. And that’s got a lot of bipartisan support.”

Justin Tang, head of Asian research at United First Partners in Singapore:

“Very simply, with the change in the HK Exchange, these Chinese issuers can go down the Alibaba, route. Where we saw valuation arbitrage in the Chinese ADRs in 2015, we will soon see a repeat of it albeit in a slightly different form.”

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Nearly 39 million have sought US jobless aid since coronavirus hit – News in USA by Post24x7

2020-05-21 18:42:00

Roughly 38.6 million people have now filed for jobless aid since the coronavirus forced millions of businesses to close their doors and shrink their workforces, the Labor Department said Thursday.

An additional 2.2 million people sought aid under a new federal program for self-employed, contractor and gig workers, who are now eligible for jobless aid for the first time, up from 850,000 in the previous week. These figures aren’t adjusted for seasonal variations, so the government doesn’t include them in the overall number of applications

The continuing stream of heavy job cuts reflects an economy that is sinking into the worst recession since the Great Depression. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated this week that the economy is shrinking at a 38% annual rate in the April-June quarter. That would be by far the worst quarterly contraction on record.

Nearly half of Americans say that either their incomes have declined or they live with another adult who has lost pay through a job loss or reduced hours, the Census Bureau said in survey data released Wednesday More than one-fifth of Americans said they had little or no confidence in their ability to pay the next month’s rent or mortgage on time, the survey found.

During April, U.S. employers shed 20 million jobs, eliminating a decade’s worth of job growth in a single month. The unemployment rate reached 14.7%, the highest since the Depression. Millions of other people who were out of work weren’t counted as unemployed because they didn’t look for a new job.

Since then, 10 million more laid-off workers have applied for jobless benefits. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in an interview Sunday that the unemployment rate could peak in May or June at 20% to 25%.

Across industries, major employers continue to announce job cuts. Uber said this week that it will lay off 3,000 employees, on top of 3,700 it has already cut, because demand for its ride-hailing services has plummeted. Vice, a TV and digital news organization tailored for younger people, announced 155 layoffs globally last week.

Digital publishers Quartz and BuzzFeed, magazine giant Conde Nast and the company that owns the business-focused The Economist magazine also announced job cuts last week.

The total number of people receiving benefits rose 2.5 million to 25 million in the week that ended May 9, the latest period for which data is available.

Though the flood of layoffs has slowed, last week’s claims filings are still roughly 10 times the typical number that prevailed before the virus struck. And Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont, said the most recent layoffs may be particularly worrisome because they’re happening even as states are gradually reopening their economies. This could mean that many companies foresee scant likelihood of a substantial economic recovery anytime soon and so still feel a need to cut jobs.

“There’s a high probability that those layoffs could persist for longer than those that were a function of (businesses) just being closed,” Stanley said.

At the same time, some companies have begun to rehire a limited number of their laid-off employees as states have eased restrictions on movement and commerce.

One rehired worker, Norman Boughman, received an email last week from his boss at a second-hand clothing store in Richmond where he’d worked part time, asking him to return, one day before Virginia allowed most retailers to reopen.

Boughman, who had applied for unemployment benefits to no avail, was happy to be paid again. So far, the job seems secure to him, because the store has been busy, and the owner hasn’t expressed any concerns about business. But even while wearing a mask, Boughman worries about the potential threat to his health.

“We’re having to sort through people’s things, and I feel like that puts us at a higher risk,” he said.

Some economists see tentative signs that economic activity might be starting to recover, if only slightly, now that all the states have moved toward relaxing some restrictions on movement and commerce.

Last week, the three major U.S. automakers, plus Toyota and Honda, recalled roughly 130,000 of their employees back to factories for the first time since the plants had closed in March. That’s about half the industry’s workforce. Some auto executives say sales have held up well enough to support the recall of those employees.

Still, the automakers, like other businesses, are also grappling with the health risks of operating during a pandemic. On Tuesday, Ford had to halt production at two assembly plants after three workers tested positive for the coronavirus. The workers were quarantined for 14 days, and the plants underwent cleaning.

Data from Apple’s mapping service shows that more Americans are driving and searching for directions. Restaurant reservations have risen modestly in states that have been open longer, according to the app OpenTable, although they remain far below pre-virus levels.

In most industries, employees are working more hours than in mid-April, the peak of the virus-related shutdowns nationwide. Data from Kronos, a software company that tracks 3 million hourly workers, shows that shifts worked at its 3,000 client companies are up 16% since the week that ended April 12. Still, the shifts are still down a sizable 25% from pre-virus levels.

Even in states that have been reopened the longest, like Georgia, not enough shoppers are visiting stores and restaurants to support significant rehiring, said David Gilbertson, an executive at Kronos.

“Our data is suggesting this recovery is going to take a while,” Gilbertson said.

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