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HKSAR holds oath-taking ceremony for 7th-term LegCo members

An oath-taking ceremony for the 90 lawmakers elected to the seventh-term Legislative Council (LegCo) was held in China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on Monday.The lawmakers swore allegiance to the HKSAR and took an oath to uphold its Basic Law one by one, after jointly singing the national anthem of China together with HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the oath administrator, at the Chamber of the LegCo Complex.The oath-taking ceremony began at 11:00 a.m. local time, and at around 5:15 p.m., Lam announced in a statement that she had determined that the oaths taken by all the 90 members-elect of the LegCo were valid.It was the first time lawmakers had taken an oath in front of the national emblem in the history of the HKSAR LegCo.According to the National Flag and National Emblem (Amendment) Ordinance of the HKSAR that came into effect in October 2021, the national flag and emblem must be displayed at the oath-taking ceremonies of the chief executive, principal officials, the judiciary, the Executive Council, the LegCo and the District Council.The taking of the oath is legally binding. The oath-taker must sincerely believe in and strictly abide by the relevant oath prescribed by law. An oath-taker who makes a false oath or who, after taking the oath, engages in conduct in breach of the oath, shall bear legal responsibility in accordance with the law.The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of China's State Council and the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR extended their congratulations to the lawmakers in separately issued statements, adding their belief that the seventh-term LegCo will contribute to the overall and long-term interests of the city.The new LegCo began its four-year term of office on Saturday, and is expected to hold its first session on January 12.The LegCo election, the first since improvements to the HKSAR's electoral system, was held on December 19, 2021.During the election, a total of 153 candidates contested 90 seats – 20 from geographical constituencies, 30 from functional constituencies and 40 from the Election Committee constituency.(Xinhua)

Guangzhou issues first certificate of origin under RCEP

While people were celebrating the start of 2022, the officers of China Council for the Promotion of International Trade Guangzhou Committee (CCPIT Guangzhou) were still busy at the certification center at midnight. They were working to issue the first batch of certificate of origin under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement (RCEP) which just took effect on January 1.The first company that achieved the certificate of origin in Guangzhou is a Nansha-based chemical manufacturer named Sartomer (Guangzhou) Chemicals Limited. “Our company produces acrylate and mainly exports to Japan with an annual value of 12.87 million USD. With the certificate of origin, we are able to pay 2.29 million RMB less on import-export taxes every year,” said the representative of Sartomer. IRIS Group (Guangzhou) is a household product manufacturer that obtained certificate of origin. The company representative said they could pay 1.9 million RMB less every year when they export to the Japanese market, and reduce 580 thousand RMB taxes when importing raw materials from RCEP member states. According to the CCPIT, the RCEP will benefit both enterprises and customers. They took China and Japan as an example, saying, this is the first time for the two countries to establish bilateral free-trade relations. 25 percent of Japanese exports to China and 57 percent of Chinese exports to Japan will become tariff-free immediately after the implementation of RCEP. It’s expected that 86 percent of Japanese products and 88 percent of Chinese products will eventually enjoy zero tariffs to each other.Based on the CCPIT statistics, the import and export volume between Guangzhou and RCEP member states has taken up one third of the city’s total in recent years while ASEAN has become the biggest trading partner with the city. The trade volume between Guangzhou and RCEP members increased 8.5 percent to 334.58 billion RMB from January to November 2021. “The CCPIT joins hands with Nansha Free Trade Zone to promote the advantageous policies of the RCEP, help enterprises to formulate strategies and eventually to seize new opportunities amid the challenges brought by growing international shipping fees,” said Yang Yong, Director of CCPIT Guangzhou. Being a Free Trade Zone, Nansha’s foreign trade business has been rapidly growing. Its foreign trade volume increased 15.9 percent and accounted for one quarter of the city’s total by the end of 2021. The district’s main commodities for export are mechanical and electronic products, and it saw the export volume of ship & auto parts and containers surged rapidly recently. According to the CCPIT, the online application system ( for the certificate of origin and back-to-back certificate of origin under the RCEP was launched on January 1, 2022. The service is free of charge. Companies will enjoy tax preferences with these certificates under the RCEP agreement when they export products to RCEP member countries. The CCPIT Guangzhou also launched a 24-hour hotline for related consultation: 020-87613722/87305324.(GDToday)

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OPEC+ agrees to increase oil output

A key group of the world's major oil producers has agreed to increase output moderately next month.The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies (OPEC+) decided on Tuesday to raise production in February by additional 400,000 barrels per day (bpd). The decision was widely expected for two main reasons - crude supply disruptions in Libya - one of Africa's leading exporters -  and the limited impact of the Coronavrius Omicron variant on the market.Rystad Energy's analyst Bjornar Tonhaugen said OPEC+ was confident in part because global transport data suggested Omicron had not yet significantly impact oil demand."Ongoing (oil production) outages in Libya, struggling production recovery in Nigeria, and reduced expectations for Russian production capacity add bullish weight to the scale from the supply side," he said, according to Reuters.Viktor Katona, analyst at JBC Energy, told CGTN. "In terms of consumption the impact of Omicron has been significantly less - roughly half of what it was with Delta","Essentially we are still firing on all cylinders in terms of global demand. The world has already run down its crude stocks that it had previously. We just need the oil to come back at some point." Thus, OPEC's latest decision was unavoidable in order to keep the oil market balanced.Furthermore, U.S. crude reserve release and a possible Iran nuclear deal would only play a minor role in the OPEC decision-making for the upcoming months. "Even if a (nuclear) deal is concluded, it still takes roughly six months until that deal reaches a point where Iran can actually export its crude."   Katona assumed that this year the world will do a "better job handling the pandemic" and therefore supply and demand for crude oil should steadily rise - a positive outlook for the oil market, post-pandemic.In 2020, OPEC+ saw record production cuts of 10 million bpd. Then, last year, the price of Brent crude rose 50 percent, and was still trading above $80 on Tuesday.Meanwhile, Europe's natural gas market has been at the centre of an energy crisis, with prices quadrupling compared to last year. But a recent decision by the European Commission to define natural gas as a green or sustainable source of energy could help, according to Katona. Nevertheless, "Europe still needs to find those providers that would be big enough to accommodate Europe's interest," he said.Uncertainty remains over issues such as the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany as well as commitments to Gazprom - the largest supplier of natural gas to Europe. So geopolitical concerns could mean an additional burden to the already pandemic-hit energy market. (CGTN)


Lessons learned from 1990s internet commerce regulation: First, do no harm

Hardly a day goes by without at least one story involving the major platforms of the current web2 internet era - Facebook, TikTok, Google, etc. - abusing their power, frustrating lawmakers, and offending the very users who power their economic engines. Just last month, the head of Instagram laughably attempted to make the claim before the Senate Commerce Committee that Instagram improves the lives of teenagers while leaked internal documents from the company show the exact opposite to be true. Fortunately, just across the Capitol in the House Financial Services Committee, we grappled with the promise and opportunities inherent in the next version of the internet and did so in a shockingly open-minded, bipartisan, and productive manner.In many ways, the answer to the madness of today's digital world comes in the form of the next computing revolution, web3, which is more commonly referred to as the crypto or blockchain revolution. Web3 upends the existing power and economic structures of the current era by putting power and control back in the hands of the very users who create value for new projects. This is exactly how the internet in a free society should work. Rather than relying on an unaccountable set of tech leaders or government bureaucrats to make decisions about what we see, who we interact with, and how much of our data gets sold, power in the web3 world is fully-distributed to all stakeholders and is guaranteed on the blockchain via governance tokens.In the current internet era, the overwhelming majority of the value of companies accrues to investors, founders, and employees. It is practically unheard of for major platforms in web2, such as TikTok, to reward its users with equity shares in the business. It is even more rare for these companies to cede major decision making to the users of their platforms. Rather, for the pleasure of being fed harmful content and misinformation, many platforms sell access to you and your family to the highest bidders.Web3 flips this model on its head by putting governance and ownership in the hands of the communities of users who help fuel the projects themselves. If the incentive in web2 is for companies to extract as much value from their users as possible, in web3 the incentive is for users to provide as much value to the project as possible because the users themselves benefit personally from the value they provide.One way this occurs is through a new governance structure called Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, or DAOs. DAOs are democratic organizations that govern many web3 projects. They offer the most direct way for a community of users to make critical decisions for an organization and participate in the economics of a project via tradable governance tokens that entitle holders to votes on key issues facing the project. This level of transparency and liquidity ensures that organizations cannot make major decisions without the consent of the community but it also guarantees that the community will participate meaningfully in the economics of the enterprise as the value of the tokens fluctuate. The magnitude of this shift in the balance of power cannot be overstated and is likely to lead to a series of innovations that we can barely fathom today.Put differently, rather than organizations being controlled by a CEO and board of directors, DAOs will be controlled by their communities of users. Rather than receiving nothing for contributing time and energy to a new organization's products, community members will own meaningful stakes in the organizations that they support.One other feature inherent in the technology is that web3 can't really be stopped, no matter how hard regulators may try. The only real question is - which countries will own this future? Given the potentially enormous economic and societal benefits of the technology, every lawmaker should want the United States to be the home of web3. In the 1990s, the Clinton Administration helped ensure U.S. tech dominance by adhering to one simple maxim, "First, do no harm." In hindsight, this mindset was a stroke of genius that allowed the internet to thrive and guaranteed U.S. dominance along the way. We must do that again.Unfortunately, due to an uncertain regulatory environment and the overzealous comments of certain policymakers in Washington over the past several years, many of the most valuable web3 companies have been pushed overseas where they can operate within a clearer legal structure. This would have been unheard of in previous versions of the web. Canada, Singapore, and the Cayman Islands are the new homes for some of the most important companies in web3 today, not the United States.Every day that we waste not working to provide an environment conducive to the innovation and risk taking needed to win the future is another day that a new project leaves our shores and incorporates elsewhere. This robs our economy of an industry growing at lightspeed and it robs our next generation of digital pioneers from the opportunity to compete without fear of the overarching arm of the federal government. We can and must do better. It starts by learning a critical lesson from our past.First, do no harm.(AP)


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Russia-India-China format is the lighthouse of true multilateralism

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi lauded the Russia-India-China (RIC) format of talks that he participated in via video link on November 26 alongside his Russian and Indian counterparts as an example of genuine multilateralism and democracy promotion in international relations. Among the many issues that their joint communique touched upon were Afghanistan and Syria. The foreign ministers condemned terrorism in both countries while supporting the formation of an inclusive government in the first and the Astana peace process in the second. This was a symbolic show of solidarity.In these uncertain times where unilateralism, protectionism, and hegemony are running rampant, it's a breath of fresh air to see that major powers can cooperate with one another as equals in multiple spheres of shared interest. This makes RIC the lighthouse of true multilateralism and a shining example of how different countries should conduct their international relations. It also speaks to the pragmatism of all three parties involved.Nobody ever seriously doubted the strength of the Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership nor the Russian-Indian one, but the recent complications in the Chinese-Indian Strategic Partnership prompted a lot of speculation in recent years. There have been credible concerns that the U.S. is trying to tempt India into functioning as its proxy for dividing and ruling Asia. Evidence in this direction includes that country's participation in the U.S.-led Quad alongside Australia and Japan. Observers regard this framework as an emerging military alliance united by its members' shared desire to "contain" China.This context makes it all the more remarkable that the latest RIC meeting went off not only without a hitch, but also resulted in these major countries elaborating on the common ground between them, which also includes combating climate change and COVID-19. It's more important than ever for countries to focus more on shared interests than on those issues in which they differ. The former can bring everyone closer together while the latter will only keep them apart, which only serves the interests of ill-intended third parties like the U.S.Despite the pandemic, BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – the world's two most prominent multipolar frameworks in which all three of those major countries participate – remain strong and effective. RIC serves as their core and ensures that their joint plans remain on track. Meaningful progress on the most pressing questions of the day isn't possible without these three countries working together. This latest RIC meeting should therefore fill their partners with optimism since it shows that the multipolar world order is a fact of contemporary international relations.Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends the 18th meeting of Russia-India-China (RIC) foreign ministers via video link, November 26, 2021. /Chinese Foreign MinistryThe RIC meeting's communique about Afghanistan is especially important. All three countries have crucial security and economic interests there. None of those countries want terrorist threats to emerge following the Taliban's return to power in August. Furthermore, they're also concerned about Afghanistan's impending humanitarian crisis. The formation of an ethno-politically inclusive government would be a step in the direction of getting that country back on track. The Taliban's interim authorities are working hard to resolve Afghanistan's problems but much more work remains to be done.It's here where RIC can play a leading role. These major countries could pool their political and economic efforts, including through the BRICS and SCO frameworks, to present a credible path forward for Afghanistan. For example, specific investment and other sorts of projects could be directly connected to progress on the domestic political track with respect to forming that country's hoped-for ethno-politically inclusive government. All the while, they can continue providing aid to stave off its impending humanitarian crisis.This approach would contrast with the U.S., which is characterized by literally blackmailing the country by freezing its foreign funds until it does what Washington wants. The result has been that the government that's most directly responsible for Afghanistan's many crises is continuing to make them worse, which has very serious security implications for the region. That's why RIC have an urgent need to continue working together to help make meaningful progress there in order to ensure that the U.S. doesn't succeed in endangering their interests.Afghanistan could therefore serve as a perfect case study of RIC's capability to effect positive change in Eurasia. If these three major countries continue working together by focusing on their commonalities instead of the several issues on which they differ, they can make history by reversing the destabilizing processes that the U.S. catalyzed in Afghanistan. As the lighthouse of true multilateralism, they have a responsibility to their international peers to do their best in this respect. For these reasons, the world has high expectations that RIC will continue serving as a shining example of international relations.(CGTN)


Africans mostly view China favorably

Chinese and African officials are gathering in Dakar, Senegal today (November 29) for the much-awaited Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), a triennial high-level forum for collective dialogue between China and nearly every African country. Although China-Africa relations have a long history that can be traced back centuries, the forthcoming gathering – the forum's eighth edition – highlights the increasingly close ties and growing engagement between China and many African countries in recent decades. China and Africa actively cooperate and broadly engage on a variety of issues and in a range of fields, while economically, China has emerged as Africa's most important partner. It is the continent's largest bilateral trading partner, the biggest bilateral lender, and among the leading sources of assistance and foreign direct investment.But this increasingly close relationship has stoked anxiety and led to scrutiny from some in the West. Frequently, the relationship is portrayed in an unjustifiably critical and negative light, often based on a Sinophobic narrative and involving paternalistic warnings to Africans of the alleged dangers of cooperation with "predatory" China. However, despite these concerns, the populations of many African countries actually see China in a much different light. In fact, for the most part, Africans view China quite favorably, according to the latest national survey results released last week by Afrobarometer.Briefly, Afrobarometer, which is based in Accra, Ghana, is a pan-African, independent, non-partisan research network that measures public attitudes on economic, political and social matters in Africa through conducting regular face-to-face interviews. The research institution is widely regarded as the world's leading source of high-quality, reliable data on what Africans are thinking. Last week, Afrobaromenter released the results of national surveys which polled nearly 50,000 respondents in 34 African countries between the years 2019 and 2021. Among the topics covered in the nationally representative surveys was how Africans perceived China's engagement with their countries.According to the results, Africans tend to hold positive views of China's assistance and influence on the continent. In particular, almost two-thirds (63 percent) of Africans consider the economic and political influence of China in their country as "somewhat positive" or "very positive." Notably, this is more than other countries or international and regional institutions with a significant presence on the continent, including the U.S., the United Nations, and even the African Union. It is also interesting to note that the overall positive perception of China demonstrated in the recent Afrobarometer surveys is highly consistent with the findings of surveys conducted in past years, indicating that the favorable view of China held by Africans is not something new or simply a passing development.Although not explicitly detailed within the latest surveys, there are a number of different factors that contribute to Africans' positive perceptions of China. For one, Africans appreciate China's promotion of multilateralism and its adherence to the principles of mutual respect. In addition, for many years, China has been a consistent and reliable partner to the continent, extending various forms of socioeconomic, infrastructural, technological and other assistance.Ultimately, this assistance has met the needs of locals, created jobs, promoted development and helped raise living standards. As a formerly underdeveloped country that has achieved great socioeconomic strides and considerable developmental progress, China also offers African countries with an alternative model for development and has committed to sharing its experience. Additionally, China has made strong contributions to peacekeeping missions across the continent and supported the operability of the African Standby Force, therefore helping promote peace, security and stability.Not to be overlooked amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, China has supported Africa's prevention and control measures, contributed multiple batches of medical resources and vaccines, committed to making vaccines available as a global public good, and dispatched medical teams across the continent to help with capacity-building and strengthening local responses. Importantly, with the pandemic having plunged Africa into its first recession in 25 years, China has also been at the forefront of the continent's economic recovery. Specifically, China has maintained robust economic and trade cooperation with Africa, while also signing debt service suspension agreements with multiple African countries, thus becoming the biggest player in terms of relieving African debt among the G20.(CGTN)


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At least four anti-coup protesters shot dead in Sudan as security forces raid broadcasters

At least four people were shot dead by Sudanese security forces during anti-coup demonstrations near the capital Khartoum on Thursday, the civilian-allied Sudanese Central Doctors Committee (SCDC) said.Authorities fired live bullets and tear gas at crowds in Omdurman, about 25 kilometers (16 miles) northwest of the capital, SCDC said in a statement. It added that a number of people had been injured and admitted into hospital.In videos shared by activist groups, crowds of demonstrators can be seen running through plumes of white teargas smoke and dispersing from the sound of purported gunfire.Other videos show demonstrators chanting "for a civilian state."The SCDC called on "all medical personal and specialists" to support the critically injured and called out called out "militias" for obstructing the movement of ambulances and delaying medical teams ability in reaching the wounded.CNN has reached out to authorities for comment.Thursday's protests mark the 11th day of mass demonstrations against military rule since the October 25 coup. At least 52 people have been killed by security forces since, the SCDC reported.The US Embassy in Khartoum reiterated its support for "peaceful expression of democratic aspiration, and the need to respect and protect individuals exercising free speech," in a tweet on Wednesday evening."We call for extreme discretion in use of force and urge authorities to refrain from employing arbitrary detention," it said.Thursday's demonstrations were unfolding as Sudanese security forces sought to censor some broadcasters from reporting on them, according to accounts from multiple media outlets.Authorities raided the offices of Saudi broadcaster al-Arabiya and its sister outlet al-Hadath, confiscating equipment and assaulting the staff in Khartoum on Thursday, al-Arabiya said in a series of tweets."Sudanese security forces raids the offices of al-Arabiya and al-Hadath and confiscate(d) equipment," al-Arabiya said."Injuries among the staff of al-Arabiya and al-Hadath as a result of assault by Sudanese security forces," another al-Arabiya tweet said. "Sudanese security forces assault and beat the reporters of al-Arabiya, Lina Yacoub and Nizar Biqdawi, and assault and beat photojournalists and producers."Earlier in the day, a Qatar-based TV station said its reporters were prevented from reporting on protests.During a live televised broadcast Thursday, Asharq News correspondent Sally Othman apologized to viewers saying she couldn't continue the broadcast because Sudanese authorities were stopping her from doing so."...Pardon me, I am not able to continue the reporting the authorities have prevented me just now from continuing, pardon me," Othman said on air.Hours later, Asharq News said that staff had been detained by security forces, posting an image of Othman with the message.The US Embassy in Khartoum condemned Thursday's violence, adding that "We also deplore the violent attacks by Sudan's security services on media outlets and journalists, and urge authorities to protect the freedom of the press."Tensions riding highInternet services have been badly disrupted since the coup, and phone coverage remains patchy. Although daily life came to a near standstill when the coup happened, shops, roads, and some banks have since reopened.The coup followed months of rising tensions in the country, where military and civilian groups have shared power in the years since Bashir was deposed. Since 2019, Sudan had been ruled by a shaky alliance between the two.That all changed when the military effectively took control, dissolving the power-sharing Sovereign Council and transitional government, and temporarily detaining Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.The country's military chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, reinstated Hamdok last month as part of a deal between the military and civilian leadership.Under the deal agreed by Hamdok and Al-Burhan, Hamdok again becomes leader of the transitional government, which was first established after strongman President Omar al-Bashir was ousted in 2019.The Council of Ministers, which was dissolved on October 25, will be restored and the civilian and military leadership will share power. The constitution will be amended to outline the partnership between civilians and the military in the transitional government.But the agreement also includes as yet unspecified restructuring, according to Mudawi Ibrahim, a prominent official in the National Forces Initiative (NFI), which helped mediate the talks, and it has been met with resistance in Sudan.(CNN)


Jury finds Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of sex trafficking a minor for Jeffrey Epstein and four other charges

A jury in a New York federal court has found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty on five of six counts related to her role in Jeffrey Epstein's sexual abuse of minor girls between 1994 and 2004.Maxwell, 60, was found guilty of five federal charges: sex trafficking of a minor, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three related counts of conspiracy.She was acquitted on the charge of enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.Maxwell, who now faces up to 65 years in prison, showed no reaction when the verdicts were read. Judge Alison Nathan did not set a sentencing date."The road to justice has been far too long. But, today, justice has been done," US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. "I want to commend the bravery of the girls -- now grown women -- who stepped out of the shadows and into the courtroom. Their courage and willingness to face their abuser made this case, and today's result, possible."The jury, which was made up of six women and six men, deliberated for about 40 hours across parts of six days.Prosecutors argued Maxwell and Epstein conspired to set up a scheme to lure young girls into sexual relationships with Epstein from 1994 to 2004 in New York, Florida, New Mexico and the US Virgin Islands. Four women testified during the trial that Epstein abused them and that Maxwell facilitated the abuse and sometimes participated in it as well.Her defense, meanwhile, said she was a "scapegoat" for Epstein's actions and attacked the memories and motivations of the women who say they were sexually abused.Maxwell's lawyers are working on an appeal, attorney Bobbi C. Sternheim said."We firmly believe in Ghislaine's innocence. Obviously, we are very disappointed with the verdict," Sternheim said, adding her team believes Maxwell still will be vindicated.The trial, which began November 29, alternated between disturbing testimony from sexual abuse victims and illuminating testimony about some of Epstein's connections to some high-profile celebrities.Annie Farmer, one of four accusers who testified, said Wednesday she hopes the verdicts bring solace to the victims."I am so relieved and grateful that the jury recognized the pattern of predatory behavior that Maxwell engaged in for years and found her guilty of these crimes," she said. "She has caused hurt to many more women than the few of us who had the chance to testify in the courtroom."Epstein, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to state prostitution charges, was indicted on federal sex trafficking charges in July 2019 but died by suicide in prison a month later. Maxwell, his confidante and former girlfriend, was arrested a year afterward and has been held in jail since.It remains to be seen whether others will be prosecuted. CNN legal analyst Elie Honig, a former prosecutor in the district where Maxwell was tried, said this was not a two-person operation.He pointed to civil lawsuits that link others to the abuse."I think prosecutors have a real obligation to dig all the way down to the bottom, and bring anyone else who may have been part of this to justice," he said.Maxwell also faces two pending perjury charges related to a 2016 civil deposition.What happened at the trialThe prosecution's case rested primarily on four women with personal stories of Maxwell's role facilitating Epstein's abuse.Jane, testifying under a pseudonym, said Maxwell organized sexual massages with Epstein and sometimes joined in the abuse. The charges of enticing -- on which Maxwell was acquitted -- and transporting relate to testimony solely from her.Carolyn testified that when she was 14, Maxwell touched her breasts, hips and buttocks and told her she "had a great body for Epstein and his friends." The child sex trafficking count -- the most serious of all the charges -- relates to her testimony."Kate" testified Maxwell invited her over and directed her how to give Epstein a sexual massage. She said Maxwell spoke often of sexual topics with her and asked Kate to invite other young girls for Epstein's sexual desires.The jury was instructed it could not convict Maxwell on any of the counts based solely on testimony from Kate as she was over the age of consent at the time of the events.Jurors could consider Kate's allegations in addition to testimony from Jane, Carolyn and Farmer.Farmer, the only accuser to testify by her full name, said that she was 16 when Maxwell massaged her naked chest at Epstein's New Mexico ranch in 1996.Prosecutors sought to closely link Maxwell and Epstein and said her actions normalizing sexual massages were crucial to his international abuse scheme at his properties in New York, Florida, New Mexico and the US Virgin Islands.(CNN)


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Two U.S., one British personnel killed in Iraq rocket attack

Two Americans and one British were killed and about a dozen people were wounded when 18 small rockets hit Iraq's Taji military camp north of Baghdad on Wednesday, according to Reuters's sources.The officials, who cautioned the death toll may rise given the severity of some of the injuries, said it was too soon to assign blame. Any indication that Iran-backed militia was responsible could spark a new round of confrontation between the United States and Iran.The last military escalation led to a U.S. strike in January that killed top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, which, in turn, led Iran to fire missiles at a base in Iraq hosting U.S. forces, leaving more than 100 troops with brain injuries.U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has argued the killing of Soleimani was necessary for part to deter Iran and Iran-backed groups from additional attacks.The U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq said in a statement that 18 107 mm Katyusha rockets struck the base and suggested they may have been fired from a truck.It confirmed three personnel were killed and about a dozen wounded but declined to disclose the nationalities of the casualties or offer any other identifying information."The attack is under investigation by the Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces," the coalition said.Earlier on Wednesday, the Iraqi military said no casualties had been reported in the attack.War powers voteIn a sign of concern that tensions between the United States and Iran could be headed toward open conflict, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation on Wednesday to limit President Donald Trump's ability to wage war against Iran.U.S. President Donald Trump at a news briefing inside the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 11, 2020. /ReutersThe Republican president has been engaged in a maximum-pressure campaign of renewed sanctions and near-constant rhetorical conflict against Iran, after pulling the United States out of the international nuclear deal reached during the administration of his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama.Tension between Washington and Tehran has mostly played out on Iraqi soil in recent months.Iran-backed paramilitary groups have regularly been rocketing and shelling bases in Iraq that host U.S. forces and the area around the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.The Kataib Hezbollah militia was blamed for an attack on a base last year that killed an American contractor, which led to retaliatory U.S. strikes against it in Iraq and Syria.Syrian state media reported on Wednesday that unidentified jets hit targets southeast of a Syrian town along the border with Iraq.But there was no indication so far that those strikes were by the United States. U.S. officials told Reuters the United States had not carried out any retaliatory strikes at this point.(REUTERS)


14 killed in jihadist attack on Nigeria military base

Jihadists killed 14 security personnel and civilians in an attack on a military base in northeast Nigeria's Borno state on Wednesday, security sources told AFP.Suspected Boko Haram fighters in trucks fitted with machine guns launched a dawn raid on the army base in the town of Damboa, sparking intense fighting.Sources said six soldiers, four police officers and two members of a government-backed militia were killed along with two civilians."We lost six soldiers in the attack while six others were injured," a military officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.The officer claimed 13 insurgents were killed by a fighter jet as they fled the area.The leader of an anti-jihadist militia said the civilians who died were among more than 50 local residents hit by shrapnel after rocket-propelled grenades fired by the jihadists hit nearby homes.Nigeria's decade-long jihadist insurgency has killed 36 000 people and displaced two million others inside the country, and spilled into neighbouring Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.The United Nations has complained of a surge in violence in the conflict zone in recent weeks.Anger has been growing among local residents about the army's failure to stem the attacks despite repeated claims from officials that the insurgency has been defeated.(CGTN)


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Princess falls in love with a "cat "--An interview with rising ballet dancer Dong Manning

APD HannahDong Manning, a dancer of Suzhou Ballet, won the first prize of contemporary dance group and outstanding Performance award with her excellent professional strength in Vienna Ballet Grand Prix last month.Dong ManningRecently, The reporter of Asia Pacific Daily interviewed the new ballet star who was born in 1998. Dong said the prize was a kind of affirmation and inspiration for her, and she also needed to introspect and push herself more. "Dance is a way to explore myself and I will continue ," said Dong.Dong  began to learn dance at the age of 6. With the encouragement of the dance teacher,  Dong entered the Ballet Department of Shanghai Dance School at the age of 10.Dong graduated from Shanghai Theatre Academy last year. During her one year with Suzhou Ballet, she acted in several major dance dramas, including Romeo and Juliet, Carmen, Tang Yin and My Name is Lilac.Dong Manning and her colleaguesDong, 22, graduated from Shanghai Theatre Academy last year. In less than a year since joining Suba, she has acted in several major dance dramas, including Romeo and Juliet, Carmen, Tang Yin and My Name is Lilac.Instead of a classic ballet role, Dong chose to dance as "a cat". "' A cat named Flora 'was my first modern dance solo after joining the Suzhou Ballet," Dong said. "When I first performed it, I felt it was appropriate and I was happy to act it in the competition." In her opinion, the "cat"have the same spirit as contemporary young people, naughty, lively and lovely, and also have their own persistence and courage.Manning Dong/A cat named FloraOn weekdays, Dong usually warm up early. After work, she schedules swimming, Pilates and yoga to help build muscles. In spare time, Dong prefer to doing some reading, which will helps her clear  mind. On weekends, Dong will try not to arrange things for herself and enjoy the holiday totally.Dong in rehearsalSuzhou Ballet will produce the classical ballet Sleeping Beauty and an original ballet repertory. We also expect Dong to act more wonderful roles.


Chinese and foreign ballet gatherings ——The Fifth China International Ballet Season is about to kick off

On November 12th, the Fifth China International Ballet Season will kick off on the stage of Tianqiao Theater. This season of performance will last until December 26th. Audiences who love ballet art can enjoy classic art works of different styles and genres performed by world-renowned ballet troupes and masters through various forms. The fourteen major dramas and twenty-four performances will present a gorgeous and affectionate ballet feast for the audience.The opening ceremony GALA was led by the chief actors of the Central Ballet Zhang Jian, Wang Qimin, and Ma Xiaodong and a new generation of outstanding young Chinese artists Qiu Yunting, Wang Ye, Zhan Xinlu, Fang Mengying, Xu Yan, Liu Xuechen, Sun Ruichen, Li Wentao, Wu Sicong, Chen Zhuming, Zheng Yu, etc.Numerous classic and modern ballet pieces will kick off the prelude to this season of performances with gorgeous.The famous international ballet troupe, which is unable to celebrate with us due to the epidemic, will reunite with us in the clouds to continue the love of ballet.Has performed well on the stage of the China International Ballet Season, which surprised Chinese audiences by the Bolshoi Ballet ,Stuttgart Ballet, John Neumeier Hamburg Ballet, St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet and the Royal Ballet will bring their respective masterpieces in the form of high-definition screening.In addition, China National Ballet will also affectionately interpret the full play of John Cranko’s classic ballet "Onegin", Ben Steven Mori version of "Cinderella", "Three in One Ballet Boutique", and large-scale original ballets "Yimeng" and "Century".Audiences will also enjoy the Shanghai Ballet version of "La Traviata" starring Wu Husheng and Qi Bingxue from Shanghai Ballet, and the wonderful performances of the two in the third performance season are also very unforgettable.As a state-owned troupe and theater, the Central Ballet and Tianqiao Theater always keep in mind their mission and responsibilities, let literature and art serve the people, and let more people enter the palace of literature and art and appreciate elegant art.The China International Ballet Season has become a veritable international ballet event.The Fifth China International Ballet Performance Season will surely set off a phenomenal ballet craze in the expectation of the audience and write a new chapter with a gorgeous and affectionate posture! 


Sportsmore >>

Max Verstappen wins 2021 Formula 1 title at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Red Bull racer Max Verstappen won the 2021 Formula 1 championship title at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton of the Mercedes entered this race with a tie on points, both with 390.5. Verstappen, though, had the tiebreaker of most Grand Prix wins this season as well as the pole position.Hamilton got off to a good start from the second grid, leading the race since the first lap, during which the two almost had a collision. His leading-edge over second-placed Verstappen came to almost five seconds after the 12th lap, while Verstappen had already reported twice of tire struggles.The gap continued to expand when the Dutch racer got stuck in a train behind Carlos Sainz of Ferrari. And when he finally managed to surpass Sainz, he was more than eight seconds behind leading Hamilton.As hope was fading for Verstappen, teammate Sergio Perez, who had been leading since the 15th lap, rekindled Red Bull's hope as he held off Hamilton's attempt to outrace him, helping Verstappen to close the gap.Perez then made way for Verstappen after Hamilton overtook Perez.Verstappen, however, wasn't able to seize the opportunity. Hamilton maintained his leading edge over ten seconds going into the last ten laps.The biggest drama at the Yas Marina Circuit happened when Nicholas Latifi of Williams Racing crashed in the final sector, and the safety car had to be called.Verstappen, 24, made sure this golden opportunity did not slip away. He outraced the seven-time world champion who had been leading the entire race in the last lap and won his first title.Hamilton and F1 great Michael Schumacher jointly hold the current record of seven titles. Source:CGTN


Raising tensions contrary to Olympic mission: IOC chief Bach

"The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics should not be used to raise global tensions, and athlete participation is a matter of worldwide consensus," International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said on Wednesday.Bach expressed concern about athlete participation after the U.S. announced that its government officials will not attend Beijing 2022 under the pretext of human rights. At a virtual press conference following the latest IOC Executive Board meeting, he welcomed support for the Olympic teams to reassure the athletes."This is in full accordance with the approval by consensus of all the UN member states supporting the Olympic Truce Resolution," said Bach. "The presence of government officials is a political decision. Political neutrality applies and the IOC won't take a side."Source(s): Xinhua News Agency


Science&Militarymore >>

Tornadoes kill at least 74 in Kentucky

At least 74 people in Kentucky have been confirmed dead after a barrage of tornadoes hit large parts of the U.S. state on Friday night and residents could be without heat, water or electricity in frigid temperatures for weeks or longer, the state's governor Andy Beshear warned on Monday. Kentucky was the worst hit by far in the cluster of twisters across several states, remarkable because they came at a time of year when cold weather normally limits tornadoes. Beshear said that the death toll was likely to rise as 109 other people remained unaccounted for. The dead, including at least six children, ranged from 5 months to 86 years old in age.As the search continued for those still missing in Kentucky, efforts also turned to the repair of the power grid, sheltering those whose homes were destroyed and delivering drinking water and other supplies to survivors. About 26,000 homes and businesses still lacked power, according to, including nearly all of those in the town of Mayfield. More than 300 people in Kentucky, as well as in Arkansas and Tennessee, are being housed in Red Cross shelters, and that number is expected to grow. Hundreds more have been placed temporarily in resorts at area state parks, Kentucky Red Cross Chief Executive Steve Cunanan said. Still others are staying with friends and relatives whose houses were spared.Source:CGTN


Confronted with Omicron, countries are endorsing China's COVID-19 approach: expert

China's top epidemiologist said on Saturday that many countries taking strict measures when facing the Omicron variant are echoing China's approach in fighting COVID-19."The world is gradually recognizing China's approach against the virus during the two-year battle against the pandemic," Zhong Nanshan told a sub-forum of the Greater Bay Science Forum.He said research and development on vaccines, antibodies and medicines are still lagging due to a lack of understanding of the origins of the virus, the intermediate hosts and transmission routes.Zhong reiterated that taking vaccines or other treatments is still essential to keep the transmission at low rates."It's estimated China will hit the target of herd immunity by the end of the year with 83 percent population fully vaccinated," he said.The pulmonologist also mentioned the latest progress in China's first COVID-19 treatment, Brii Biosciences' (Brii) neutralizing antibody cocktail. "The drug is working as many COVID-19 patients with severe conditions in Yunnan, Qinghai and other places have reacted to the drug well," Zhong said.In addition, he said the consistent development of new drugs against COVID-19 and the joint effort from different countries are also required to battle the virus."We can't win the battle against the pandemic if only depending on one country or one company," he said.Source:CGTN


Businessmore >>

Elon Musk's SpaceX raises over $337 million in fresh funding

Billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX has raised $337.4 million in equity financing, the rocket company disclosed in a regulatory filing on Wednesday.SpaceX, which counts Alphabet and Fidelity Investments among its investors, hit $100 billion in valuation following a secondary share sale in October, according to CNBC. It had raised about $1.16 billion in equity financing in April.The company competes with former Chief Executive Jeff Bezos's space venture Blue Origin and billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic in the burgeoning constellation of commercial rocket ventures.All three rocket companies have successfully launched civilians into space.According to Morgan Stanley, the space economy could be worth $1 trillion by 2040.Musk, who also leads several futuristic companies including Tesla Inc, Neuralink and Boring Co, said earlier this year that SpaceX will be landing its Starship rockets on Mars well before 2030.SpaceX has already launched numerous cargo payloads and astronauts to the International Space Station for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).(Source(s): Reuters)


Waymo and China's Zeekr partner to develop driverless taxis

China's Geely Holding said its premium electric mobility brand, Zeekr, will make electric vehicles for Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving unit, to be deployed as fully autonomous ride-hailing vehicles across the United States. The vehicles will be designed and developed at Zeekr's facility in Sweden and later integrated with Waymo's self-driving technology, Geely said on Tuesday. Waymo said it would introduce the vehicles to U.S. roads "in the years to come." Concept images Waymo published on Tuesday show a roomy, low-to-the-ground minivan with seating for about five riders and sliding doors on each side serving as the lone entryways.Waymo is the first and only fully driverless taxi service in the United States. It has driven thousands of people since launching the service a year ago in Phoenix.The partnership with Zeekr will help Waymo expand its driverless ride-hailing service in the face of increased competition, and also create inroads for Chinese brand Geely into the U.S. market.(Source(s): Reuters)


chinamore >>

SCIO briefs media on white paper on Hong Kong's democratic progress

The State Council Information Office of China (SCIO) on Monday held a press conference on the white paper titled "Hong Kong: Democratic Progress Under the Framework of One Country, Two Systems."Released on December 20, the white paper presents a comprehensive review of the origin and development of democracy in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), and the principles and position of the central government.The white paper restores truth and distinguishes right from wrong, said Wang Zhenmin, head of the Institute of State Governance and director of the Center for Hong Kong and Macao Studies at Tsinghua University.The white paper not only helps people understand the significance of the Legislative Council election of the HKSAR, but also provides a more comprehensive, accurate understanding of the advanced nature and superiority of HKSAR's improved electoral system from a macro perspective, Wang said. (CGTN)


Chinese enterprises are facing more than challenges when they go global

Hosted by The China Public Diplomacy Association and the Shanghai Municipal Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC),  the seminar on Chinese enterprises entering the Belt and Road Initiative was officially held in the Jianghai Hall of the Shanghai CPPCC on December 15.With the theme of "Jointly Overcoming Difficulties for Development and Creating a Better Future through Win-win Cooperation", the symposium aims to give full play to the role of the Bridgehead of the Belt and Road Initiative and contribute China's and Shanghai's wisdom to its implementation.At 9 o 'clock in the morning, the conference was officially opened in a warm and grand atmosphere. Dong Yunhu, chairman of the Shanghai Municipal Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, attended the meeting and delivered a speech. He pointed out that the Belt and Road initiative is a sunny road for China to share opportunities and seek common development with the world. In the past eight years, the Belt and Road Initiative has gone from initiative to action and made substantial achievements. It has contributed significantly to trade growth, economic development and improvement of people's livelihood in countries along the Belt and Road. It has become a popular international public good and a platform for international cooperation. At present, In accordance with the requirements of the Central government, Shanghai is constantly strengthening the "four major functions", making every effort to build the central node of the major domestic cycle and the strategic link of the domestic and international double cycle, striving to become the main hub of the global industrial, supply and value chain, and better serve the belt and Road Initiative.Lou Jiwei, Chairman of The Committee of Foreign Affairs of the CPPCC National Committee and Vice Chairman of the China Economic and Social Council, said through a video message that the symposium was held against the special background of the national fight against COVID-19, which fully demonstrated the determination of the Chinese business community to work together to overcome difficulties.Vice President of China's public diplomacy association, Mr Liu biwei said,the Belt and Road Initiative of practice has proved that China's public diplomacy and enterprises to go out is complementary to each other, in order to better play to the Chinese enterprises in overseas contribution, walk out of Chinese companies to raise the political stance, strengthen resource as a whole, accurately elaborate policies and innovate work methods, Let our country appear more colorful at the level of enterprise exchange and public diplomacy.After the wonderful opening speech, the seminar entered into the keynote speech with the theme of "Overcoming difficulties together for Development and Creating the Future through Win-win Cooperation".Mr. Chen Deming, former Minister of Commerce of The People's Republic of China, Mr. Zhou Hanmin, Vice Chairman of Shanghai CPPCC and President of Shanghai Public Diplomacy Association, and Dr. Tang Longgong Wu Senthilangu, Deputy Director of Thai-China Research Center for the Belt and Road Initiative Cooperation delivered wonderful speeches.Zhou Hanmin, vice chairman of the Shanghai Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and president of the Shanghai Public Diplomacy Association, pointed out in his speech that in the future, the all-round expansion of the Belt and Road initiative cannot be achieved without Chinese enterprises going global. They are the main force of the Belt and Road initiative, and this process needs a more complete legal guarantee. First, we should do more to promote the negotiation and formulation of bilateral and multilateral international treaties; second, we should build a more comprehensive legal service system for Chinese enterprises to go global; third, we should further popularize the relevant legal knowledge of foreign investment.Dr. Tang Longgong Wu Sentirangu, Deputy director of thai-china the Belt and Road Initiative Cooperation Research Center, said that the Belt and Road Initiative cooperation opens a new channel to promote the development of economy, trade and finance and other industries in countries along the Belt and Road, and can further strengthen international cooperation or remove various regional barriers to achieve win-win cooperation. Chinese enterprises' support for the Belt and Road Initiative and China's "going out" policy will accelerate the internationalization of Chinese enterprises and build world-class multinational enterprises and supply chains.Subsequently, the first round table discussion was held with the theme of "Accurately Grasping the world pattern and Unswervingly Advancing the Belt and Road Initiative", and the second round table discussion was held with the theme of "Chinese enterprises entering the Belt and Road Initiative" under the COVID-19 pandemic.Finally, in the warm atmosphere, the seminar ended all the agenda.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


The Belt and Roadmore >>

Belt and Road Initiative paves way for win-win cooperation between China and Czech

By APD Writer He WeiIn July last year, the first China-EU freight train departed from Prague, captial of Czech,to Yiwu, a city in east China’s Zhejang Province. The new cargo train service marked the official launch of “the Belt and Road Initiative” in Czech. Thanks to joint efforts of both sides, the economic and trade ties between China and Czech Republic is heading for a bright future.During the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May 2017, two months before the opening, China signed the Memorandum of Understanding to Jointly Coordinate and Promote Cooperation and Project Implementation with Czech. According to the memorandum, more efforts will be made to set up a China-Czech Cooperation Center under the Belt and Road initiative, a key project bank and a cooperation platform, integrate domestic and foreign resources, as well as adjoin and implement projects On the sidelines of the The Working Conference of China-Czech Jointly Coordinating and Monitoring Cooperation Plan and Projects under the Framework of the “Belt and Road Initiative”, Liu Jielei, vice chairman of the Czech-China Friendship Association, told the Asia Pacific Daily (APD) that besides geographic advantage, Czech enjoys a sound investment environment because of its stable domestic policies, friendly policy toward China, lower business taxes and labor cost than that of in other European countries.The "Yixin’ou (Yiwu-Xinjiang-Europe) cargo train, which began in Yiwu, was hailed as an important bridge linking Asian and European continents and a signficiant achievement in the early stage of the initative by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xu Jie, general manager of Rongsheng Travelling (Czech) Investment Co., Ltd., said because of its important location, they have launched two projects including the Czech-Chinese Technology Business District (CCTBD) project and the South Moravia Chinese Herbal Spa Project in Prague during the past two years, stressing that initial success has been achieved thanks to the initiative.Transalated by Hu Yahui(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


Work conference held in Yiwu for China, Czech to coordinate their efforts in promoting Belt and Road Initiative cooperation

By APD Writer He Wei The conference, which jointly organized by the western development department of the National Development and Reform Commission and the second foreign policy department of the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade kicked off on June 6, 2018. It is of great significance in implementing the plan for China-Czech cooperation and promoting bilateral communication and cooperation. Both sides took a review on the development of the plan and held a talk over the cooperation prospects on trade, finance, think tank and projects. The priority work of the China and Czech cooperation in the next phase was discussed during the conference.Both sides reached an agreement on enhancing the cooperation on the field of policy coordination, facility connectivity, economic and trade, investment, finance and culture aiming at boosting the economy of both countries and benefiting the people. Almost 100 people from government officials, financial institutions, think tanks  and enterprises of both countries attended the conference.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)