FIG Topics of Interest



"After significant engagement with China Mobile, concerns about increased risks to U.S. law enforcement and national security interests were unable to be resolved," said the statement, which quoted David Redl, assistant secretary for communications and information at the U.S. Department of Commerce, which NTIA is part of.

China Mobile, the world's largest telecom carrier with 899 million subscribers, did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for comment.

The U.S. government moved on Monday to block China Mobile from offering services to the U.S. telecommunications market, recommending its application be rejected because the government-owned firm posed national security risks.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should deny China Mobile's 2011 application to offer telecommunication services between the United States and other countries, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) said in a statement posted on its website.

China Mobile Communications, a state-owned firm, owned almost 73 percent of China Mobile, according to Thomson Reuters data as of December.

In its recommendation, the NTIA said that its assessment rested "in large part on China's record of intelligence activities and economic espionage targeting the US, along with China Mobile's size and technical and financial resources."

It said the company was "subject to exploitation, influence and control by the Chinese government" and that its application posed "substantial and unacceptable national security and law enforcement risks in the current national security environment".

U.S. senators and spy chiefs warned in February that China was trying, via means such as telecommunications firms, to gain access to sensitive U.S. technologies and intellectual properties.

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The United States could get a new round of retaliatory tariffs worth as much as $300 billion, if it moves ahead with new duties on European cars, the Financial Times reported.

In a written statement to the U.S. Department of Commerce, seen by the news publication, the EU set out clear plans to respond to potential U.S. duties on European cars. According to the newspaper, European leaders are getting more convinced that President Donald Trump will put new tariffs on European cars.

The written submission sent by the EU also highlighted that European-owned car brands represented more than a quarter of U.S. car production. It added that this was mainly focused on exportation and any tariffs would fragment markets, raise prices for the American consumer and potentially lead to job losses.

Speaking to Fox News over the weekend, Trump said that the EU is “possibly as bad as China, just smaller” when speaking on trade deficits with other countries. He added: “It is terrible what they do to us.”


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“I’m not anxious about a policy-induced crisis on the currency but the signals really are quite confusing,” veteran global economist George Magnus said. Though the People’s Bank of China has repeatedly set the yuan’s reference rate against the dollar this week at stronger levels than analysts and traders had anticipated, other metrics show little sign of action to stem the sharp drop. The currency’s decline will only deepen as monetary policy on the mainland diverges from that of the Federal Reserve, Magnus said in a telephone interview this week. As for what’s going on right now -- the steepest drop for the yuan since the devaluation almost three years ago, and a bear market in stocks -- it reminds him of the 2015-16 selloff, and it’s hard to tell how officials will respond, he said.
“This is a double-edged sword and this is why it becomes uncertain or problematic for investors,” said Magnus, who served as chief international economist at major banks from the 1980s and is now a China Centre associate at the University of Oxford. “We’ve been here before, the situation is very similar to 2015-2016 when the exchange rate was under pressure” and the PBOC had to spend foreign-exchange reserves to prop it up, he said.
“My worry is that this 20 percent correction in stocks is no reason why you shouldn’t have half as much again,” said Magnus, who correctly said in July 2015 that Chinese stocks would slump further, and then accurately called the end of the rout in January 2016. “Not that there’s no floor, but we haven’t reached a bottom if the trade situation continues to deteriorate.”

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China is slowing approvals for offshore bonds and considering whether to ban short-dated issuance in dollars, according to people familiar with the matter, moves that would reduce financing options for the debt-laden developers that sit at the center of the nation’s economy.

The National Development & Reform Commission is weighing a ban on the sale of dollar bonds with tenors of less than one year, said the people, who asked not to be named because they’re not authorized to speak publicly. The regulator is already restricting offshore issuance quotas for Chinese companies, people said.
The new measures threaten to further constrain cash-strapped property developers even as concerns about China’s financial risks ripple across markets. And it’s not just funding problems that are plaguing the industry: this week, the housing ministry escalated a crackdown on property speculation, while the nation’s policy banks tightened approvals on new lending for shanty-town redevelopment projects.

Selling bonds that mature in 364 days had become a popular financing tactic because it didn’t require pre-approval from the NDRC. The regulator has publicly signaled that it’s wary of the offshore issuance boom, saying in a Wednesday statement that developers are only allowed to use proceeds to refinance existing debt, that some companies are borrowing amounts that are out of proportion with their profits, and that many don’t have foreign-currency revenues to protect themselves against the yuan’s slide.

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The White House will push Congress to strengthen an inter-agency panel that it will employ as its main tool to curb Chinese investments in sensitive U.S. technologies, Bloomberg News reports, citing senior Trump administration officials.
The strategy is a less confrontational approach toward China than many had expected. The administration had considered employing a little-used national emergency law called the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 to curb prospective investments, people familiar with the plan said earlier this month.

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"There's no plans to impose investment restrictions on any countries that are interfering in any way with our country. This is not the plan," he said.
Peter Navarro, one of President Donald Trump's top trade advisors, said the market was overreacting to fears the administration would restrict foreign investment as part of its trade actions against China and other countries.

Navarro told CNBC that the administration currently does not have any specific countries targeted. His comments came after news reports that had Wall Street reeling over the prospect that the U.S. could prevent companies that had at least 25 percent Chinese ownership from buying businesses that possessed "industrially significant technology."

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With a dragnet closing in, engineers at a Taiwanese chip maker holding American secrets did their best to conceal a daring case of corporate espionage.

As the police raided their offices, human resources workers gave the engineers a warning to scramble and get rid of the evidence. USB drives, laptops and documents were handed to a lower-level employee, who hid them in her locker. Then she walked one engineer's phone out the front door.

What those devices contained was more valuable than gold or jewels: designs from an American company, Micron Technology, for microchips that have helped power the global digital revolution. According to the Taiwanese authorities, the designs were bound for China, where they would help a new, $5.7 billion microchip factory the size of several airplane hangars rumble into production.
A plan known as Made in China 2025 calls for the country to become a global competitor in an array of industries, including semiconductors, robotics and electric vehicles. China is spending heavily to both innovate and buy up technology from abroad.

Politicians in Washington and American companies accuse China of veering into intimidation and outright theft to get there. And they see Micron, an Idaho company whose memory chips give phones and computers the critical ability to store and quickly retrieve information, as a prime example of that aggression.

Three years ago, Micron spurned a $23 billion takeover offer from a state-controlled Chinese company. Today it faces a lawsuit and an investigation in China, which accounts for about half its $20 billion in annual sales.

Then Micron was the target of the heist in Taiwan, according to officials there and a lawsuit the company has brought against the Taiwanese company that employed the engineers, UMC, and the Chinese company it says wanted access to the technology, Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Company.

Other companies may face similar predicaments to Micron, industry experts said.

One state-backed factory in the city of Wuhan, owned by Yangtze Memory Technology Company, or YMTC, will be turning out chips that look similar to those made by Samsung, the South Korean chip maker, said Mark Newman, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein.

"The YMTC one is virtually identical to Samsung's, which makes it pretty clear they've been copying," Mr. Newman said.

Micron's accusations focus on efforts by Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit, a state-backed chip maker, to build a $5.7 billion factory in China's Fujian Province. Two years ago, Jinhua tapped UMC, a Taiwanese company, to help it develop technology for the factory. Instead of going through the lengthy steps required to design the technology, Micron said in its suit, UMC and Jinhua decided to steal it.

A UMC spokesman denied the allegations and declined to comment further. Jinhua did not respond to requests for comment.

First, UMC lured away engineers from Micron's Taiwan operations with promises of raises and bonuses, according to the Taiwanese authorities. Then, it asked them to bring some of Micron's secrets with them, according to Micron's court filings and the authorities. The engineers illegally took with them more than 900 files that contained key specifications and details about Micron's advanced memory chips, the authorities said.

Micron grew suspicious, according to its court documents, after discovering one of its departing engineers had turned to Google for instructions on how to wipe a company laptop. Later, at a recruiting event in the United States aimed at Micron employees, Jinhua and UMC showed PowerPoint slides that used Micron's internal code names when discussing future chips it would make, according to the court documents.

Alerted by Micron, the Taiwanese police tapped the phone of one Micron engineer, Kenny Wang, who was being recruited by UMC. According to an indictment in Taiwan against Mr. Wang and others, UMC reached out to Mr. Wang in early 2016 using Line, the smartphone messaging app, while he was still working for Micron. UMC explained it was having problems developing its memory chip technology. Mr. Wang then grabbed the information it needed from Micron's servers, and later used it to help UMC's design. The police said Mr. Wang received a promotion at UMC.

When investigators showed up at UMC's offices early last year, the police said, some employees rushed to hide what they had taken from Micron. Mr. Wang and another former Micron employee gave laptops, USB flash drives and documents to an assistant engineer, who locked them in her personal locker. She then left the office with Mr. Wang's phone — the one that the police had tapped, which was quickly tracked down.

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Chinese oil buyers will keep taking crude from the United States through September, but plan to reduce future purchases to avoid a likely import tariff amid a trade spat between the world’s two largest economies, multiple industry sources said.
Beijing has put U.S. energy products, including crude oil and refined products, on lists of goods that it will hit with import taxes in retaliation for similar moves by Washington.

Beijing did not specify when it will impose a 25 percent tax on oil, and that gives buyers time to adjust purchases while waiting for the outcome of trade talks, the sources said.

Unipec, trading arm of Sinopec - Asia’s largest refiner and biggest buyer of U.S. oil - has been offering U.S. crude, such as West Texas Intermediate (WTI) Midland, to other Asian buyers for July, said three sources with knowledge of the offers.

“They (Unipec) only offer crude for September arrival, that means July-loading cargoes,” one of the sources said, although adding that the offer was “quite expensive”.

Unipec officials said this was normal trading activity, as the trading unit often re-sells excess crude from its refining system depending on economics and the state of its supplies.

A top trading executive with Sinopec told Reuters the state refiner will maintain its usual import volumes for July-loadings, but can’t commit to bookings further out.

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"China has targeted America's industries of the future," Navarro said Tuesday citing aerospace, robotics and artificial intelligence as technologies threatened by Chinese cybertheft.

"If China successfully captures these emerging industries of the future, America will have no economic future and its national security will be severely compromised," he said adding that "economic security is national security."

For the Pentagon, there is no better example of Navarro's comments than the most expensive U.S. weapons system: the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

On Oct. 26, 2001, the Pentagon awarded Lockheed Martin a contract worth more than $200 billion to build the next-generation stealth strike fighter.

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“Most are hopeful this is all tactical and will eventually be resolved,” Douglas said. “The uncertainty, however, is already having a chilling effect on decisions by companies regarding cross-border investment and deals.”
Similar fears loom in Florida, bound to Latin America and the Panama Canal with 14 deep-water sea ports. The Florida Chamber of Commerce estimates that a quarter of the state’s economy depends on trade to some extent.

But in Granite City, Illinois, the sound of blast furnaces roaring back to life is the area’s hope.

U.S. Steel Corp. plans to hire about 300 people to restart a second furnace at its plant there to satisfy fresh demand for American-made steel, the company said this month. It resumed operations in March after Trump announced the tariffs based on national-security grounds.

The town of about 30,000 just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis was founded around the steel industry, said James Amos, its economic development director. More workers at U.S. Steel mean more people buying gas or grabbing lunch.

“It really does put a real smile on people’s faces,” Amos said.

Elsewhere in America’s industrial heartland, though, companies are on edge. Many have built supply chains that source parts from all over the world.

“Uncertainty in terms of trade and global flows like that isn’t good,” said Blake Moret, chairman and chief executive of Rockwell Automation Inc., a Milwaukee producer of industrial systems.

Some companies are delaying capital projects. Tariffs are clouding investment decisions and raising construction costs, said A.B. Ghosh, North America president of Akzo Nobel NV’s specialty chemical business.

While the Dutch company will proceed with a $100 million upgrade of an Illinois plant, “it may stop us from doing other investments,” Ghosh said.

Companies with links to Mexico are particularly worried. Mexico has been hit with steel tariffs, and Trump has threatened to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Union Pacific Corp. has connections at six border crossings, and 12 percent of its volume originates or ends in Mexico. The Omaha, Nebraska-based railroad also owns a 26 percent stake in the Mexican railroad Ferromex.

“The worst fear would be the trade war in general,” said Rob Knight, chief financial officer of Union Pacific. “Does Mexico come up with some other retaliatory action?”

Jim Knott, chief executive officer of Riverdale Mills Corp. in Northbridge, Massachusetts, says his company supplies 85 percent of the North American market for the wire mesh that covers lobster traps. The price of the steel, much from Canada, has almost doubled since Jan. 1, he said, blaming the tariffs themselves and hoarding after Trump’s announcement.

As much as 45 percent of what Knott’s company produces is shipped overseas. He says the steel tariff threatens the livelihoods of his 200 employees.

“We work very, very hard to take jobs back from China, and we ship all over the world,” Knott said. “This tariff just puts handcuffs on us.”

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