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Trump visits Beijing amid mounting tensions over trade

Published: Tuesday, November 07, 2017 @ 8:13 PM
Updated: Tuesday, November 07, 2017 @ 8:12 PM

BEIJING (AP) — After a brief truce with China to cooperate on North Korea, President Donald Trump arrived in Beijing on Wednesday amid mounting U.S. trade complaints, with limited prospects for progress on market access, technology policy and other sore points.

The strains between the world's two biggest economies are fueling anxiety among global companies and advocates of free trade that they could retreat into protectionism, dragging down growth.

Washington accuses Beijing of backsliding on market-opening promises, and Trump said last week that the U.S. trade deficit with China — $347 billion last year — is "so bad that it's embarrassing."

"I don't want to embarrass anybody four days before I land in China, but it's horrible," said Trump.

His government has raised import duties on Chinese aluminum foil, stainless steel and plywood, and is investigating whether Beijing improperly pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.

If they discuss trade during the two-day visit, Chinese President Xi Jinping's government is unlikely to offer enough "to appease U.S. negotiators," said John Davies of BMI Research.

That is likely to lead to "more protectionist measures on the part of the U.S.," said Davies.

While Trump is looking to boost sagging public approval ratings, the Chinese leader enters their meeting on a political high.

The ruling Communist Party added Xi's name to its constitution at a twice-a-decade congress last month, giving him status equal to Mao Zedong, founder of the communist government, and Deng Xiaoping, who launched economic reforms in 1979.

At the congress, Xi promised to open the economy wider but affirmed plans to build up state-owned companies that dominate industries including finance, energy and telecoms. That, along with plans for government-led development of electric cars and other technology, makes foreign companies worry that Beijing is squeezing them out of promising fields.

The chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, William Zarit, expressed concern that Trump appears to have done too little to prepare and said some companies worry his focus on trade in goods will mean he does too little about such "structural issues." Zarit said those include limits on access to finance, health care and other industries.

In contrast to "advance work" for previous presidential trips to Beijing, "there really hasn't been much of that for this visit, which makes us a bit concerned that there may not be much discussion on the structural issues," said Zarit, a former American diplomat.

A senior administration official who briefed reporters in Washington denied that Trump hasn't adequately prepared.

"We've analyzed this probably more than most administrations," said the official, who spoke on condition that he not be identified further.

The official said Beijing has shifted to "moving away from market-based principles" and Washington wants movement toward a "market-oriented" system.

That echoes complaints by foreign companies that despite a 2013 pledge by the ruling party to give market forces a "decisive role," restrictions on them in some industries are increasing. That led to a 1.2 percent fall in foreign investment in China in the first seven months of this year, breaking a series of annual double-digit gains.

Business groups have warned that Beijing's efforts to shield its fledgling competitors in electric cars, clean power and other fields are fueling a backlash against globalization.

A possible U.S. response might be "closing down certain industry sectors that are now open to Chinese investment," said Zarit. "I know we do not want to see any kind of a tit-for-tat, which could end up in a trade war."

For its part, Beijing is pressing Washington and the European Union to grant "market economy" status to its state-dominated system. That would make it harder for trading partners to bring anti-dumping and other cases against China.

China says that when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, it was promised that status would take effect last December. The United States, Europe and Japan reject that and say Beijing has yet to meet market-opening goals to qualify.

Chinese economists argue their country isn't to blame for U.S. problems. They say global companies benefit from low-cost Chinese labor and a growing consumer market.

The loss of American factory jobs is due not to Chinese exports but to U.S. manufacturers moving to lower-wage countries, said Sun Lijian, an economist at Shanghai's Fudan University.

"In the end, it is U.S. companies that have gained large profits," said Sun.

Trump temporarily set aside trade complaints in April after meeting Xi for the first time in Florida and said he hoped Beijing would help discourage North Korea from pursuing nuclear weapons. They issued a "100-Day Plan" under which Beijing agreed to discuss expanding market access for electronic payments and financial services.

Despite renewed criticism on trade, "the U.S. needs continued Chinese cooperation" over North Korea, economist Rajiv Biswas of IHS Markit said in an email.

That means Trump will feel compelled to negotiate instead of using "blunt bilateral trade measures that could endanger the overall bilateral geopolitical relationship," said Biswas.

Potential options for a possible new package of immediate measures include raising Chinese ownership limits in fields including securities, in which foreign firms can own only 49 percent of a venture, said Zarit.

"If you raised it to 51 percent, I think that would be progress," he said.

China criticized Trump's order in September to investigate whether Beijing violates its free-trade commitments by pressing foreign companies to hand over technology in return for market access. They complained that Trump was jeopardizing the global system by launching the probe under U.S. law instead of the World Trade Organization.

Few American companies have provided evidence for the investigation, possibly due to fear of Chinese retaliation.

The U.S. Commerce Department also is investigating whether Chinese exports including metal tubing, industrial resin and polyester fiber benefit from improper subsidies.

Trade is a smaller share of China's economy than it was a decade ago and the U.S. market is losing importance for its exporters as sales to other developing markets grow. That blunts the potential impact of American tariffs or other sanctions, but the United States still accounts for about one-third of China's trade surplus, and export industries employ millions of workers.

"The U.S. does have leverage to realistically threaten to damage China's economic prospects," said BMI Research's Davies.

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Police: Ohio 7th-grader suffers self-inflicted wound after bringing gun to school

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 11:05 AM

Ohio 7th-Grader Suffers Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound At School

A seventh-grader was hospitalized after suffering an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at an Ohio middle school, police said Tuesday.

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Shortly before 8 a.m., the boy shot himself in a restroom at Jackson Memorial Middle School, Jackson Township police Chief Mark Brink said.

Superintendent Christopher DiLoreto said middle school officials will decide later whether classes will be held Wednesday, WKYC reported.

Police did not say if the shooting was accidental or intentional, WOIO reported.

The boy was taken to a local hospital and his condition was unknown, police said.

As a precaution, the middle school and a high school in the Jackson Local School District in Stark County were on lockdown Tuesday, WOIO reported. All four elementary schools in the district were closed, WKYC reported.

Nobody else was injured, police said.

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Anthony Borges took bullets for classmates in Parkland school shooting

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 11:46 PM

Victims of the Florida High School Mass Shooting

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Anthony Borges is a hero, who put himself in the line of fire to protect his classmates when a gunman rampaged through their Parkland, Florida, school.

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Borges’ father and a friend who survived the massacre told ABC News that the 15-year-old Borges put the lives of others before his own.

“None of us knew what to do. So, he took the initiative to just save his other classmates,” Carlos Rodriguez, Borges’ best friend, told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

A soccer player at the school, Borges placed his body between the gunman and the students. Rodriguez said that he survived the shooting because of Borges’ brave actions.

When gunfire broke out at the school Wednesday, Rodriguez said that Borges and his classmates rushed to hide in a classroom. The gunman was firing randomly at students as he closed in on their position in the building.

>> Related: Florida gun owner surrenders assault rifle after Parkland high school massacre

Rodriguez said that Borges was the last of 20 students to enter the classroom to take cover and that, as he attempted to lock the door, he was shot. He held his ground, keeping his body between the gunman and the other students, all of whom survived without injury.

Borges took five bullets to the back and both legs but survived, his father, Royer Borges, told police.

He told “Good Morning America” that his son called him moments after the attack and described what had happened.

>> Related: NY state troopers fly friend of school massacre victim to Florida for funeral

“He just called me and says, ‘Dad, somebody shot me in the back and my leg, too,'” said Royer Borges, unable to hold back his tears.

The father said others who were inside the building with the gunman shared stories of his son’s courageous actions that might have saved the lives of other students. Royer Borges expressed pride in his son, saying, “He’s my hero.”

Anthony Borges is in stable condition after undergoing hours of surgery, his father said.

“I only ask that people pray for him,” Royer Borges said.

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When is the Stoneman Douglas town hall meeting; what time, what channel?

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 10:53 AM

WATCH: Florida High School Shooting Survivor Talks About NRA

Stoneman Douglas High School students and parents will take part in a town hall meeting on Wednesday, a week after the school was the site of a mass shooting.

The meeting will come following a rally Wednesday in Tallahassee where a group of the students hopes to pressure the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to consider a sweeping package of gun-control laws.

>> Read more trending news

Some of the state’s legislators were given a tour of Stoneman Douglas to see the damage Nikolas Cruz caused when he launched an attack at the Parkland, Florida, school.

Many legislators appeared shaken as they left the school, according to The Associated Press.

A group of students is in Tallahassee to try to get legislators to consider changes in Florida’s gun laws.

“I really think they are going to hear us out,” said Chris Grady, a 19-year-old senior who is going on the trip. He said he hopes the trip will lead to some “commonsense laws like rigorous background checks.”

Here is what you need to know about Wednesday’s town hall meeting.

What is it: "Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action" – a town hall meeting

Where: BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida

When: Wednesday

What time: 9 p.m. ET

What channel: CNN

Who will be there: In addition to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and parents, Florida Rep. Ted Deutch, Sen. Bill Nelson, (D-Fla.), and Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.), have accepted an invitations to attend. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declined the invitation, as has President Donald Trump.

Who is moderating: CNN anchor Jake Tapper

Chris Grady, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, poses at a memorial outside the school, for Wednesday's mass shooting, in Parkland, Fla., Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. Grady huddled in his classroom at the high school last Wednesday listening to shots ring out nearby, what he felt wasn't fear, but anger. Grady and his friend are among about 100 Stoneman Douglas students who are heading to Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, to push lawmakers to do something to stop gun violence.(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

 

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VIDEO: Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz shown fighting students in 2016

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 1:59 AM

Parkland Shooter Nikolas Cruz Appears At Status Hearing

The man allegedly behind the fatal Florida high school shooting apparently has a disturbing past that is coming to light. A school fight that was captured on camera a little more than a year ago is the latest development.

>> Click here to watch

Authorities said 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Cruz was formerly a member of the school’s JROTC program before being expelled.

>> Florida school shooting: Teacher of the year's emotional Facebook post goes viral

A September 2016 video shared by ABC News shows Cruz wearing a white shirt and khakis while fighting with other students. Cruz was reportedly handed a two-day suspension following the incident.

>> Family who took in Nikolas Cruz: 'We just didn't know'

According to ABC, the fight was one of five documented incidents that caused school administrators to expel Cruz, mandating his transfer to another high school in February 2017.

>> WATCH: Florida school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez slams politicians, NRA in emotional speech

Another incident that reportedly contributed to Cruz’s expulsion was his alleged fight with his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. Cruz was allegedly abusive toward her before they broke up.

>> Read more trending news 

The massacre at the high school marked the 25th U.S. school shooting in which someone was killed since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School.

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