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Iran warns against US “destabilizing” acts in world

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the United States is “creating instability and insecurity” in the Middle East and Latin America, Tasnim news agency reported on Saturday.

“The resistance of Venezuela to the United States is very important for the people of the world and the people of Venezuela,” Zarif was quoted as saying.

“Without the interference of the United States, the people of Venezuela know how to live together and how to get along with each other,” Zarif said.

“Wherever the United States steps, it brings instability and insecurity,” he said, adding in the Middle East and the regions of South America and Latin America, the United States is creating “instability and insecurity.”

The Iranian foreign minister made the remarks on Friday in Venezuela.

Zarif is visiting Caracas for a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement.

US Justice Department opens antitrust review of tech giants

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Tuesday that it is opening an antitrust review to determine whether “market-leading” online platforms are unlawfully reducing competition, which is expected to rattle tech giants such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

The department’s antitrust division is reviewing whether and how these companies have achieved market power and are engaging in practices that have decreased competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers, the DOJ said in a statement.

The review will consider the “widespread concerns” that consumers, businesses, and entrepreneurs have expressed about internet search, social media, and some retail services online, the statement said.

The announcement has pushed down shares of Amazon, Google’s parent company Alphabet and Facebook in extended trading.

Growing concerns about the power of major tech companies have prompted both congressional Democrats and Republicans to call for more regulatory scrutiny, and even US President Donald Trump has recently intensified his criticism, again claiming that social media companies are biased against conservatives.

Last week, the US House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the power of the online platform companies, as executives from the four tech giants took tough questions from committee members on competition and innovation.

In a separate hearing last week, senators on the US Senate Banking Committee grilled a Facebook executive on the controversial Libra cryptocurrency the social network giant plans to unveil next year, raising the issue of breaching privacy, among other things.

The DOJ’s review is designed to “go above and beyond” recent plans for scrutinizing the tech sector that were crafted by the department and the Federal Trade Commission, the two agencies that share antitrust enforcement authority, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“Without the discipline of meaningful market-based competition, digital platforms may act in ways that are not responsive to consumer demands,” Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the antitrust division said in the statement. “The department’s antitrust review will explore these important issues.”

China, Russia conduct joint reconnaissance flights in Northeast Asia, deepening military partnership: Defense Ministry

China and Russia conducted their first joint strategic reconnaissance flights in Northeast Asia on Tuesday and did not enter another country’s airspace, a Defense Ministry spokesperson said on Wednesday.

China dispatched two H-6K bombers and Russia dispatched two Tu-95 MS missile carriers. The aircraft adhered to international laws and did not enter a third country’s airspace, Wu Qian, spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense, said on a press conference on Wednesday.

The joint flights were aimed at deepening and developing a comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Russia in the new era, and further enhancing the joint operation capabilities of the Chinese and Russian militaries, Wu said.

The operation aimed to jointly safeguard global strategic stability. It was part of the annual cooperation plan between the two countries and did not target third parties, Wu said.

The flights sparked the attention of the media on Tuesday. A South Korean journalist on Tuesday claimed that Chinese military aircraft “invaded” South Korea’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) at Chinese Foreign Ministry’s routine press conference.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying refuted the journalist’s claim, saying that ADIZ is not territorial airspace and countries enjoy the freedom of overflight under international law.

The journalist said that Chinese military aircraft “invaded” South Korea’s ADIZ over the Sea of Japan. South Korea’s foreign ministry has summoned the Chinese ambassador to give an explanation, the journalist said.

Hua suggested the journalist should be more prudent in his choice of words as China and South Korea are friendly neighbors.

Echoing Hua, Shanghai-based military analyst Wu Jian told the Global Times that flying over the ADIZ does not violate any laws as the zone is defined by a country based on air defense needs in public airspace outside the country’s airspace.

The zone is set for a country’s military to detect and identify unidentified flying objects from elsewhere and to decide whether to implement interception operations, Wu said.

A country has no right to take measures such as forced landings or shooting down an aircraft before it enters its airspace, otherwise it would violate international laws, Wu noted.

According to civil aviation regulations, the airspace, referring to air space over the territorial land and sea of a sovereign state, is an integral part of a state’s territory. States have absolute sovereignty in airspace over their territory, Paris Convention of 1919 and Convention on International Civil Aviation said.

The conference marked not only Hua’s first appearance after she studied at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China for five months, but also her debut after being promoted head of the Foreign Ministry’s information department.

“Long time no see,” Hua greeted international journalists attending the conference.

The journalists congratulated Hua on her appointment.

Senior CPC official urges political, legal organs to better serve public

A senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has urged political and legal organs to give full play to their role and better serve the public.

Guo Shengkun, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks in Sichuan Province from Wednesday to Thursday.

Guo called for strengthened political work of the Party in political and legal organs, stressing that absolute Party leadership should be exercised over every dimension and at every point in the process of political and legal work.

He stressed the need to push the deepening reform in political and legal fields and to develop a new mode of case handling in accordance with China’s own national conditions.

Guo also called for efforts to improve supervision over law enforcement, to promote the campaign against organized crimes and local mafias, and to effectively prevent and reduce cases that endanger people’s safety and social stability.

4 dead in east China rain-triggered flood

Four hikers were dead after a flood triggered by a heavy rainstorm hit east China’s Jiangxi Province, local authorities said early Monday.

The downpour started at around 3 pm on Sunday in a mountainous area in Gaohu Town in the city of Yichun and trapped 285 hikers from three tourist groups, according to the Jiangxi provincial emergency management bureau.

As of Monday morning, all hikers who were missing have been rescued.

Local authorities have sent more than 530 rescuers to the affected area.

Xi encourages Italian youths to build links

Visitors take photos of a statue ofMarco Polo at Macro Polo Memorial Hall in Yangzhou, East China’s Jiangsu province. [File photo/VCG]

President answers letter of Rome high schoolers ahead of 6-day European trip

President Xi Jinping encouraged high school students in Rome to be “Marco Polo in the new era” and facilitate cultural exchanges between China and Italy.

Xi wrote a letter in reply to the principal and eight students of Convitto Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele II, a boarding school.

The president said he was pleased to see the students express their thoughts in fluent Chinese in their letter.

In 2009, the school opened an international high school that teaches science-related courses in Chinese.

The students said they got the chance to learn about China through the Confucius Classroom program and to see the vastness of the world and the value of cultural diversity.

The high school has cultivated young people that aspire to friendliness between China and Italy, Xi said.

He said he appreciated that the students are determined to promote the exchanges and dialogue of thought and cultures between the young people of the two countries and friendship between the two peoples.

Xi also welcomed the students to study and work in China, saying that he hoped the country could be one of the places where they realize their dreams.

The students also expressed their eager expectations for Xi’s visit, as Italy will be the first stop of the president’s six-day trip to Europe starting on Thursday. It will also take him to Monaco and France.

It will be the first visit of China’s head of state to Italy in a decade. Xi is scheduled to have talks with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

“We believe this visit will further consolidate the political mutual trust between the two countries and deepen practical cooperation in various areas under the Belt and Road Initiative,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular news conference on Monday.

Xi’s visit to Monaco will be the first to the country by a Chinese head of state, which “bears historic significance for developing the China-Monaco relationship,” Geng said.

“We wish to work with Monaco … and continue to be the example of friendliness and mutually beneficial cooperation between countries of different size,” he said.

In France, Xi will have talks with French President Emmanuel Macron and meet with French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

“China-Europe cooperation is crucial and important for reducing uncertainties in the current international situation and boosting the confidence of the global community,” said Ruan Zongze, executive vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies.

China and Europe are supporters of multilateralism and have achieved many results in cooperation on global issues such as climate change and global governance, and “there is still huge potential for further cooperation”, Ruan said.

China’s newly approved Foreign Investment Law will also provide opportunities for Europe to further strengthen cooperation with China, given that it shows China’s efforts to improve its domestic business environment, he added.

Financial lifeline boost for SMEs

Initiative will allow enterprises to overcome cash shortages and enhance their development

A plan rolled out by the central authorities to create a level playing field and boost financing channels for small and medium-sized enterprises will inject fresh impetus for the growth of SMEs, officials and experts said.

The guideline on promoting the healthy development of SMEs, jointly released by the general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council on April 7, highlighted the importance of creating a more enabling environment and solving the difficulties faced by the SMEs in financing procedures.

Wang Jiangping, vice-minister of industry and information technology, said the guideline has provided more targeted, concrete and effective measures to tackle the growing downward pressure faced by SMEs.

The SME sector in China, which accounts for more than 90 percent of the total number of businesses, has contributed to over 50 percent of the country’s tax revenues, over 60 percent of GDP, over 70 percent of innovations in technology and over 80 percent of urban employment, according to the State Council.

“The guideline will play a significant role to boost the morale for the development of SMEs and promote their healthy and sustainable development,” Wang told a news briefing on Friday.

The guideline called for more attention to the problems impeding further growth of SMEs, such as rising costs, financing difficulties and inadequate innovation capability.

To solve these problems, the country will improve the business environment for SMEs by further broadening market access, simplifying administrative procedures and strengthening market supervision and regulation, according to the guideline.

A variety of financial policy tools, including targeted required reserve ratio cuts and the use of small and medium-sized enterprise loans as collateral for medium-term lending facilities granted by the central bank, will be employed to make it easier and cheaper for businesses to access credit through subsidies and bank loans.

More favorable policies in financial and tax policies, including exemptions for interest received from value added tax, tax breaks for small firms and startups, a lower social security contribution ratio and an increase in government procurement, will also be made available to SMEs, the guideline said.

In order to create a level playing field for SMEs, Wang said the authority will introduce a negative list mechanism for market access to remove unreasonable barriers and restrictions to help SMEs.

Nansha, Meizhou join hands for coordinated development

Cai Chaolin, party secretary of CPC Nansha distict Committee and Meizhou’s mayor Zhang Aijun witnessed signing of an agreement for co-construction and sharing between the Nansha Administrative committee and the Meizhou municipal government in the district on July 15.

Cai Chaolin (upper left) and Zhang Aijun (upper right) witness the signing ceremony. [Photo/gznsnews.com.cn]

Meizhou is a city with deep Hakka cultural deposit, a red revolutionary base background, and rich ecological resources in Guangdong province. In recent years, Nansha has regularly offered counterpart assistance to Meizhou’s remote areas like Jiaoling and Pingyuan counties.

According to the agreement, the two sides will cooperate in industrial innovation and cultural tourism.

Nansha will share innovating experience with Meizhou, and promote its financial openness by pushing investment and trade reform and expanding electronic information and new energy business.

This is expected to lead to coordinated development in which Meizhou will take charge of manufacturing and processing and Nansha will oversee development and marketing.

The two sides will collaborate to construct the health industry and characteristic tourism. With the advantage of Nansha’s medical level and Meizhou’s ecological environment, it’s reasonable to co-construct a base of medical treatment as well as leisure and recuperation.

There will still be a special tour route from Nansha, a fascinating home port of international cruises, to Meizhou, an attractive red revolutionary resort.

Nansha and Meizhou share a close relationship based on geographic position and cultural bonds, and both are affected by the national strategy of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. There is extensive room for their communication and cooperation, according to Dong Ke, mayor of the Nansha district.

Chinese coffee start-up Luckin to enter Greater Middle East, India markets

Chinese coffee chain brand Luckin Coffee has set its sight on global expansion by planning businesses in the Greater Middle East and India markets via a partnership.

Luckin Coffee and Americana Group, the largest integrated food product company in the Middle East, signed a Memorandum of Understanding Monday, which includes a plan to set up a joint venture to launch new retail coffee businesses in the above regions.

“This collaboration represents Luckin Coffee’s first step toward bringing its leading products from China to the world,” said Luckin Coffee founder and CEO Jenny Qian.

Founded in 2017, Luckin posted fast expansion thanks to its convenient tech-driven services and affordable quality products. It now operates over 3,000 stores across 40 cities in China.

The company plans to open more than 4,500 stores by the end of 2019 to become China’s largest coffee chain.