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24 Hours Across Africa

China and U.S boost of progress in discussion over trade war.

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Source: Reuters

China and the United States have agreed to keep talking about their trade dispute, the Chinese government said on Tuesday, as U.S. President Donald Trump said he thought recent discussions in Beijing would be successful.

The slightly more optimistic comments came after both sides ramped up their trade war, with China announcing details of new tariffs against U.S. imports on Monday, following a U.S. move last week to target Chinese imports.

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The U.S. Trade Representative’s office said it planned to hold a public hearing next month on the possibility of imposing duties of up to 25% on a further $300 billion worth of imports from China. Cellphones and laptops would be included in that list but pharmaceuticals would be excluded, the office said.

The prospect of the global economy being derailed by the United States and China sliding into a fiercer, more protracted dispute has rattled investors and sparked a sharp selloff on equities markets in the past week.

“My understanding is that China and the United States have agreed to continue pursuing relevant discussions. As for how they are pursued, I think that hinges upon further consultations between the two sides,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing, without giving details.

But China will not be bullied, he added: “We hope that the U.S. side does not misjudge the situation and not underestimate China’s determination and will to safeguard its interests.”

Sources have said talks stalled after China tried to delete commitments from a draft agreement that its laws would be changed to enact new policies on issues from intellectual property protection to forced technology transfers.

Geng said China had shown sincerity by still sending a high level delegation to the United States for talks last week and that China has remained calm in the face of pressure.

He put the blame on Washington for going back on its word in some previous rounds of talks, including last May, when the two reached an agreement in Washington but then the United States backed out a few days later.

“So you absolutely can’t put the hat on China of reversing positions and going back on one’s promises,” Geng said, adding China had shown goodwill in the talks and kept its promises.

The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.7% and the blue chip CSI 300 was 0.6% lower on Tuesday. But both indexes rebounded from opening down 1%, supported by suspected state-backed purchases.

However, the onshore yuan weakened 0.1% to its lowest level since Dec. 27, 2018, trading at 6.8874 per dollar, after the foreign ministry said it hoped the United States would not underestimate China’s determination to defend its interests.

The ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily said in a commentary that the United States needed to “give it a rest” with the complaints that it was losing out to China in the trade relationship.

China is not to blame for the huge trade deficit the United States runs, and China was a hugely profitable market for U.S. companies, the paper said, in a commentary published under the pen name “Zhong Sheng”, meaning “voice of China”.

“U.S. consumers, farmers, businesses and so on have become the victims of the trade frictions provoked by the United States. They are not victims of China’s ‘unfair competition.’”

Trump, who has embraced protectionism, also repeated the rhetoric of his “America First” agenda in an string of early morning tweets on Tuesday.

“We are in a fantastic position,” he wrote on Twitter, calling on U.S. companies to make more products in the United States and praising his tariffs on imported steel for boosting domestic producers.


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24 Hours Across Africa

Kenya: Popular author and gay activist dies.

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Kenyans prolific writer Binyavanga Wainaina, who was born in Nakuru in Rift Valley Province has died after a short illness in Kenya.

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He is popularly known for his debut book, a memoir entitled One Day I Will Write About This Place, was published in 2011.

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In January 2014, in response to a wave of anti-gay laws passed in Africa, Wainaina publicly announced that he was gay, first writing a short story that he described as a “lost chapter” of his 2011 memoir entitled “I am a Homosexual, Mum”, and then tweeting: “I am, for anybody confused or in doubt, a homosexual. Gay, and quite happy.

Prize-winning Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina has died in Nairobi after a short illness at the age of 48.

Wainaina was also named among Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2014 for his gay rights activism.

He “demystified and humanized homosexuality” author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote at the time.

Wainaina was one of the first high-profile Kenyans to openly declare he was gay and “he felt an obligation to chip away at the shame” that people felt about being gay, Adichie added.

Wainaina challenged Kenyans to rethink their negative stereotypes about homosexuality, Nyabola added.

“Inasmuch as homosexuality is illegal in Kenya, there are people who are very comfortable with their identity… but the public space for acceptance and respect has always been lacking and even characterised by violence,” Nyabola said.

“What he said is ‘look I’m here and I’m still the same person that you know and love and respect ‘… I think it’s incredibly powerful,” she added.

Homosexual relations are currently illegal in Kenya but the Supreme Court is due to rule on Friday whether to overturn the law banning them.


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24 Hours Across Africa

Algerians army Chief shun claims over political ambition.

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Algeria’s army chief of staff said on Wednesday he had no political ambitions in response to democracy activists who say that he intends to copy the authoritarian model of Egypt.

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The armed forces have been a pivotal power center in Algeria for decades and have been managing a transition after mass protests forced President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign last month after 20 years in office.

Street demonstrations have continued to press demands for a dismantling of the elite of independence veterans, security commanders and business tycoons that have run the major oil and natural gas producer since independence from France in 1962.

“Everybody should know that we have no political ambitions,” Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah told state television.

A presidential election has been scheduled for July 4 but an informed source said on Friday it might be postponed.

Algerian activists say they are concerned the army-steered transition toward democracy will prove illusory as in Egypt.

As Egypt’s army chief in 2013, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi toppled freely elected Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, won election himself in 2014 and then suppressed Mursi’s supporters as well as the liberal opposition in a pervasive crackdown on dissent.

In Algeria, analysts the army fears the crisis will continue at a time of worsening disorder in neighboring Libya, where there is factional fighting for control of the capital Tripoli.

Salah also said a fight against corruption and cronyism, among protesters’ main grievances, would continue and that he disagreed with some officials who said this was not a priority.

Earlier this month a military judge placed Bouteflika’s youngest brother and two ex-intelligence chiefs in custody. They joined a string of businessmen and officials under investigation over corruption ahead of the presidential election.

Said Bouteflika, who served as a top adviser to the presidency, acted as Algeria’s de facto ruler after his brother suffered a stroke in 2013 that left him in a wheelchair.

Several businessmen, including Algeria’s richest man, Issad Rebrab, have also been placed in custody pending completion of investigations into corruption allegations.


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