Significant overcapacity will remain in China’s steel sector even after planned restructuring, industry executives said at the weekend, suggesting no let-up for the beleaguered industry’s plant closures and job losses across the globe.
The acknowledgement by Chinese government officials and the country’s steel association came as the UK foreign minister and a leading US steel executive added their voices to concerns about the recent surge in exports from China.
Luo Tiejun, an official with China’s industry ministry, said at a conference that planned cuts would reduce annual steel capacity to about 1.1bn tonnes by 2020 while domestic consumption was unlikely to exceed 700m tonnes.
“We need to cut [an additional] 200m tonnes for the situation to become acceptable,” Mr Luo said, noting that China also currently exported about 100m tones of steel annually.
The growing international controversy surrounding China’s steel industry comes at an awkward time for the Chinese government, which is seeking to secure EU “market economy status” by the end of the year.
Beijing argues that the designation, which would make it harder to prove that Chinese steel plants were “dumping” their products overseas at below cost, should be granted automatically under the terms of its 2001 World Trade Organisation accession agreement.
The G-7 foreign ministers pause for a photo during their discussions in Hiroshima. (Pool photo)
HIROSHIMA — Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven leading industrial nations kicked off a two-day conference on Sunday, with terrorism at the top of their agenda. They agreed that G-7 members will take initiatives toward strengthening the international alliance against terrorism and violent extremism.
At the beginning of the event, Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida, the chairman of the meeting, proposed that the participants discuss terrorism and violent extremism, as well as the ongoing refugee problem, as the priority issues that international society should work together to tackle.
The ministers apparently discussed these challenges with the recent terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris in mind, since all of the G-7 nations except Japan are Western countries.
Although the recent major incidents have been mainly in Europe and the Middle East, terrorism is a growing concern for Asia as well. In January this year, Indonesia’s capital Jakarta was the scene of suicide attacks that killed eight people. In August 2015, Bangkok suffered a deadly bombing attack, and India and Pakistan have seen a series of deadly incidents in recent years. Terrorists have struck in other Asian countries, and their attacks have paralyzed business activities, endangering emerging economies’ development.
The Washington-based magazine Foreign Policy has compiled its annual list of leading global thinkers. The influential outlet has placed President Putin at the top of its “Decision-makers” category for “poising Russia as critical to any peace deal” and ‘scoring points against America”.
Each year Foreign Policy magazine identifies its 100 Leading Global Thinkers List. While there are 100 slots, the outlet explains, there are far more individuals who actually populate it. This year there are 125 names, because the magazine identifies not just individuals, but sometime teams, when efforts are collaborative and often groups people who, independently of each other, work toward a common goal.
The Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office has included two foreign organizations operated by George Soros in its list of the undesirable NGOs, RIA Novosti quoted the office’s spokeswoman Marina Gridneva as saying on Monday.
The organizations include the Open Society Foundations and the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation, both part of a network of international organizations created by noted US billionaire investor George Soros.
“[The prosecutors] have found that the activity of these organizations poses a threat to the foundations of Russia’s constitutional system and state security,” Gridneva said.
The decision came after Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, asked the country’s Prosecutor —General’s Office, the Foreign Minister and the Justice Minister to inspect organizations included in the so-called patriotic “stop list.” The document was approved by the Federation Council in July 2015.
Earlier this year, Russia adopted a law facilitating the blacklisting of foreign and international non-governmental organizations which were considered “undesirable in Russia”. Organizations are included in the list if they are thought to pose a threat to the country’s constitutional system, defense capability or national security.
Under the law, the Prosecutor General or his deputy decides whether or not to blacklist an organization, in coordination with the Russian Foreign Ministry. The revocation of such a decision is carried out in a similar manner.
Syria has agreed to Russia’s proposal to put its chemical weapons under international control, according to the Moscow-based Interfax news agency. The news, if proved correct, could mean a military strike on Syria may have been averted.
The Russian news agency reported “a very fruitful round of talks” with the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday.
Walid Moallem, the Syrian foreign ministerm, reportedly said:
We agreed to the Russian initiative.
President Obama is preparing in Washington for a national television address on Syria, to be broadcast at 9pm local time.
The EU has declared Hizbollah’s military wing a terrorist group, a decisive shift in the bloc’s dealings with the Lebanese Shia militant group that was precipitated by its believed involvement in a deadly attack on European soil.
EU foreign ministers took the unanimous decision at a meeting in Brussels on Monday following a two-month campaign led by the UK that managed to overcome longstanding misgivings among fellow member states.
The designation will open the way for the EU to curtail the group’s fundraising activities in Europe and freeze its assets – although sanctions will not be applied to individual members.
Several diplomats have acknowledged that the immediate practical impact could be limited, given the blurred boundaries between Hizbollah’s political and military activities. As well as possessing a formidable weapons arsenal, Hizbollah is also a political party in Lebanon and in practice the military and political wings are inextricably linked.
Nonetheless, they argued that blacklisting the group sent a strong political signal that the EU would not tolerate terrorist attacks within its borders. Read More
The United States has bugged European Union offices and gained access to EU internal computer networks, according to secret documents cited in a German magazine on Saturday, the latest in a series of exposures of alleged U.S. spy programs.
Der Spiegel quoted from a September 2010 “top secret” U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) document that it said fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden had taken with him, and the weekly’s journalists had seen in part.
The document outlines how the NSA bugged offices and spied on EU internal computer networks in Washington and at the United Nations, not only listening to conversations and phone calls but also gaining access to documents and emails.
The document explicitly called the EU a “target”. Read More
Greece is planning to pursue a long-dormant claim for reparations from Germany over World War Two, a further strain on relations with Berlin, which foots most of the bill for its 240-billion euro rescue.
The Finance Ministry has compiled a report that takes stock of all relating available documents spanning more than six decades, Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos told parliament on Wednesday.
It will be submitted to Greece’s legal advisers and then Athens will decide how to officially press its claim, he said.
Avramopoulos did not say how much would be sought. Read More
Outlining the reasons for sending back to India the two marines accused of killing Indian fishermen, Italy’s outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti said Rome faced serious risk of being isolated internationally and could have opened a crisis of “serious proportions” with New Delhi.
Monti also said that his Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi had resigned with motives not just limited to the marines issue.
The premier, who himself was sworn in to replace Terzi as interim foreign minister, gave more details behind the tangled diplomatic row, which Monti said risked ruining relations with key trade allies in the developing world but denied that economics was a factor in the decision-making process.
Monti said he was “stunned” by Terzi’s decision to step down, adding that his former chief diplomat gave no warning he would quit on Tuesday, and that his real aim was “to achieve another end that may become clearer in the near future,” avoiding a more direct accusation, Italian news agency INSA said. Read More
In the aftermath of yesterday’s surprising attack by Israel on Syrian soil, an act which any prior justification notwithstanding is a clear act of war sovereign aggression, it was only a matter of time before Syria responded, at least diplomatically at first. And as we also noted yesterday that “Iran has previously warned that any attack on Syria is the same as an attack on Iran” it was safe to assume that Iran would have a thing or two to say in response as well. Earlier today they did just that, with Syria warning that a “surprise” response to the Israel attack is forthcoming, while the “Iranian deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdullahian said the attack “demonstrates the shared goals of terrorists and the Zionist regime… It is necessary for the sides which take tough stances on Syria to now take serious steps and decisive stances against this aggression by Tel Aviv and uphold criteria for security in the region.” Finally yesterday we wondered “how Russia and/or China which have made clear that Syria is a strategic geopolitical center for both in the past will react”, and today we know: “Russia, which has blocked Western efforts to put pressure on Syria at the United Nations, said that any Israeli air strike would amount to unacceptable military interference.” So far nothing from China, which has in the past let Russia be its proxy on Syrian matters.
And while the rhetoric has soared on all sides, it remains to be seen if Syria will indeed challenge Israel or if it will retain its bluster, an act which will simply invite Bibi to launch ever more offensive sorties until one day something finally does snap. Read More