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EU must learn from #ANZ mistakes in the #BogacOzdemir case with China

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The German government is rightly facing questions both from its politicians and from the European Union over its capitulation to China over Taiwan, removing the Taiwanese flag from the website of its Foreign Ministry and replacing it with a white square – the international symbol for surrender, writes Maria Murphy.

But it is not only German leaders who are coming under scrutiny for showing fealty to China.

The leadership of ANZ – Australia’s multinational bank which has offices across Europe – now find themselves under mounting pressure to explain their own appeasement of China linked to the Bogac Ozdemir case.

As governments and the private sector “bend the knee” to China in a short-term quest to appease relations, it is increasingly apparent to those familiar with diplomatic and security issues that a new Chinese iron curtain is rapidly descending across the globe. A new cold war is erupting which has already placed countries like Germany and enterprises like ANZ on the front line.

Bogac Ozdemir was the Singapore-based Global Head of Credit at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), and has been a senior and respected figure in banking for many years. Formerly the Global Head of US Dollar swaps trading at Barclays Plc in New York, he has also worked for BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole and Citigroup. However, all this changed when, while working at ANZ, he wrote in early March about the response to the COVID-19 crisis on LinkedIn stating that “we are all in this mess because of China and I don’t believe anything from there.”

In response, Mr Ozdemir was viciously attacked – both on Chinese and English language social media, and in several Chinese language media outlets – by hordes of “wumao” (Chinese nationalist internet trolls paid by Beijing to harass critics of the regime).

As is typical in modern memetic warfare, the bots and trolls quickly deployed the usual smear tactics, asserting that any criticism of the Chinese Communist Party is somehow a “racist” and “prejudiced” attack on the Chinese people as a whole.

ANZ immediately buckled in the face of such manufactured outrage, issuing a knee jerk statement that indirectly agreed with the party-line that Ozdemir’s criticism of the Chinese government was somehow a racial slur, claiming that the post “showed a distinct lack of judgement. In doing so, the bank’s board and executive unitedly promised a full inquiry.

For those in the know, there are suggestions that the Chinese financial regulator and the CEOs of other Chinese companies also lobbied ANZ behind the scenes, adding to the pressure to remove Mr Ozdemir. Before long, he was placed on “special leave” before ANZ promptly moved to fire him.

From the outset, ANZ seem to have acted not only as complicit co-conspirators in Beijing’s plot but they quickly became the proxies for a totalitarian regime increasingly attacking the security and wellbeing of Australia itself – not to mention Hong Kong, India or indeed its own internal minorities such as the Uighur peoples, who Amnesty International claim are facing genocide.

Such an approach as seen here is reminiscent of historical diplomatic policies of appeasement, all of which have inevitably resulted in not only a shortfall of respective governments’ driving objectives, but also catapulted them into all-out conflict with authoritarian regimes. Governments with tyrannical instincts and totalitarian goals are never content with a single pander from foreign parties to prevent confrontation; yielding to Chinese authorities risks the treatment of Bogac Ozdemir, and other capitulations happening across many global sectors, becoming the Munich Betrayal of our century, with subsequent events being potentially dire.

From the EU’s perspective, and no doubt the perspectives of NATO and SEATO, it is concerning that ANZ fell for such obvious and mendacious bullying tactics. There is rising concern that under CEO Shayne Elliott the bank’s security, communications and human resources defences simply crumbled. When push came to shove, ANZ was unable or unwilling to deal with the realities of being a major investor in what remains a communist state and the knock-on consequences of such a reality.

EU member states can get as tough as they want with China, but when inexperienced corporate leaderships are willing to throw their own star performers under an unsustainable bus to keep a totalitarian power sweet, what realistic expectation could there be that Europe’s corporate leaderships or organisations would fare any better? That when push comes to shove, the contradictions between all these organisations’ professed values and corporate social responsibility statements simply turn to dust.

It could be argued that ANZ is a special case as it is already so mired in scandal and intrigue that its submissiveness to China is simply just another regrettable step along a well-trodden path.

In 2019, ANZ had to take a $682 million hit to compensate customers it had ripped off over the previous decade. And in 2018, it was embroiled in a murky affair over allegedly forming a cartel to fix the price of its shares to keep them artificially high.

Not only do such scandals demonstrate that Australia’s Royal Commission into its banks has failed to get them to clean up their act, but they leave such corporations open to espionage and blackmail by an even more unscrupulous Chinese intelligence community.

It is in this context that some in Brussels are worried that weak, scandal-prone financial institutions like ANZ, not to mention HSBC and UBS, are themselves potential weak links in the West’s armoury against a bellicose China determined to throw its weight around in an ever more desperate quest for power.

It is no surprise that, as a US citizen, Bogac Ozdemir has reputedly been called in for recent meetings with senior advisors at the White House to discuss the problems raised by ANZ. While this may be one of the worst examples of abuse in recent months, it is not the only case that Washington, London and Brussels are aware of.

In an age increasingly struggling with Chinese and Russian information warfare, EU leaders are right to want citizens and employees to be able to exercise their democratic rights to free speech without employers giving in and becoming part of the problem.

In the face of Chinese and Russian aggression, many in Europe want greater solidarity in standing up for the rule of law, including the rights of employees. That is why now is the time for the EU to develop a comprehensive plan to take on China. To learn the lessons of Bogac Ozdemir’s experience with ANZ and others like it.

If the EU is going to take seriously its struggle against tyranny in an age of fake news and information hostility, it is going to have to make sure that the leaderships and practices of all organisations across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors do not fall into the traps set by the world’s worst tyrants.

For those major banks and corporations who do continue to invest in China and thereby run the risk of becoming twenty-first century Krupps or IG Farbens, they should at least be open, transparent and self-aware of what they are really about.

As with wealth, so it is with morality – there is no such thing as a free lunch.

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#Huawei delivered a lifeline from Samsung as latest US sanctions hit

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Huawei has reportedly been delivered a helping hand from smartphone rivals Samsung as they deal with more US sanctions inflicted on them, writes Dion Dassanayake.

The P40 Pro and P30 Pro makers this week (15 September) are seeing a new set of US sanctions imposed on them. Following on from Huawei being put on the US Entity trade blacklist last year, Donald Trump's administration are ramping up the pressure on Huawei even further with a new restriction that means a company which wishes to supply parts that use any kind of American tech to Huawei needs to apply for a license. The latest sanction affects a wide range of tech used in Huawei smartphones such as chips and OLED displays from Samsung and LG.

LG has already commented about this latest round of sanctions, saying it will have little impact on its operations as the firm supplies a limited amount of panels to Huawei.

Samsung is yet to comment, but the South Korean tech giant has reportedly applied for a license to supply the P40 makers with panels.

According to a post by ZDNet, Samsung Display has applied for a license from the US Department of Commerce before the latest sanctions kick in on September 15.

If the license is given the green light then it will be great news for both parties.

Samsung Display is the world's biggest OLED provider, with Huawei their third most important customer behind Apple and Samsung Electronics.

While Huawei will be hoping the license gets approved as if it doesn't it leaves them with few alternatives.

Elsewhere, ahead of the latest US sanctions coming into force Huawei has reportedly been stockpiling Kirin chipsets.

Reports coming from China claim Huawei chartered a cargo plane to Taiwan to ship Kirin and other related chips back to them by 14 September.

Huawei has already confirmed that their upcoming Mate 40 handset will be the last to feature their own Kirin chipset.

Huawei’s consumer business CEO Yu Chengdong has confirmed the restrictions being implemented on 15 September means its Kirin chipsets "cannot be manufactured" after that date.

HuaweiHuawei have been hit by a number of restrictive US sanctions 

Huawei chips are manufactured by Taiwanese firm TSMC which use equipment sourced from the States.

Recently, Huawei chairman Guo Ping spoke about the latest sanctions coming from the Trump administration.

Staying upbeat, Guo admitted the latest sanctions would "cause certain difficulties" but said "I believe we can solve them".

Guo also said "the world has been suffering for a long time" over the power Google wields on the Android ecosystem and that the globe is "looking forward to a new open system". The Huawei bigwig added: "Since Huawei helped Android to succeed, why not make our own system successful?"

Guo, whose firm in Q2 of 2020 became the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, added that Huawei was up to the "fight" to succeed. The Huawei chairman said: "HMS must have a ‘Foolish Old Man Moving Mountain Spirit’, no matter how high the mountain is, dig an inch or less, persist and fight for a long time, we will definitely succeed".

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Competition zone for 2022 Olympic Winter Games goes deep in sports industry

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Chongli district, as a major competition zone for the snow events of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, is accelerating construction of ski resorts and relevant facilities to develop the sports industry, writes Zhang Tengyang, People’s Daily.

So far, it has built 7 middle- and large-sized ski resorts, including 169 tracks that total 161.7 kilometers.

Wen Chang, is a 56-year-old resident of Chongli, Zhangjiakou of North China’s Hebei Province. He now works at the Thaiwoo Ski Resort & Alpine Park in the district.

The location of the resort was once Wen’s home - Yingcha village. In the past, like other villagers, Wen lived in an adobe house and made a living by growing cabbages. However, due to the lack of water resources, the crop not always harvested.

A hailstorm happened in 2011, which lasted over 20 minutes, ruined all the crops, and I cried in the field,” Wen recalled.

Later, the ski resort was built in the village. Wen and his family moved away and received compensation for relocation. They bought an apartment in downtown Chongli.

Thaiwoo Ski Resort & Alpine Park, starting operation since 2015, has developed from a simple ski resort into a “small town” that gathers relevant snow and ice industries such as hotel, catering, costume and winter sports.

The prospering snow and ice industry also created abundant job opportunities for local residents. Yingcha village had 70 households, and the resort has created a job for at least one person from each of them.

Wen works at the staff canteen of the resort and earns 4,000 yuan ($586) per month with social insurance. His two daughters, after graduating from college, are also working at a local resort and a tourism investment company, respectively.

Ski tracks are common in Thaiwoo Ski Resort & Alpine Park. However, the white tracks in winter are green in summer, winding in the dark green forests on the mountain. Though it’s not snow season at present, visitors are still hustling in the resort. According to Tong Haitao, an employee of the Thaiwoo Ski Resort & Alpine Park, an outdoor off-road racing event will be held there several days later, and is expected to attract more tourists.

Relying on the opportunity of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games and favorable natural scenery, Chongli has steadfastly developed skiing industry in the winter and outdoor activities in the summer, making remarkable performances in both Winter Games preparation and economic development.

Since Beijing won the bid to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, Chongli has newly planted 48,200 hectares of forests, improving its forest coverage from 52.38 percent in 2015 to 67 percent. The figure stands at 80 percent in core the core zones of the Olympic games.

Since 2017, the district has also seen prosperous tourism industry. The Thaiwoo Ski Resort & Alpine Park alone had received 200,000 visitors last summer, almost the same with those seen in the winter.

The thriving tourism created huge development space for local residents. Tong, who worked in Qingdao, East China’s Shandong Province, is one that returned to his hometown after seeing more job opportunities there. He was once an electrician when he just entered the resort, but as summer activities were more and more launched, he was promoted and took up more responsibilities. “My income doubled after I became a department chief,” he said.

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Xi encourages Chinese scientists to make sci-tech research intensive, extensive

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Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed that scientific and technological development must target the global science frontiers, serve the main economic battlefield, strive to fulfill the significant needs of the country and benefit people's lives and health, writes Du Shangze, People's Daily.

Xi made the remarks at a symposium attended by scientists in Beijing on 11 September.

Fu Qiaomei, a research fellow of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) delivered a speech at the symposium. Her speech was joked to be the "oldest topic introduced by the youngest scientist," as the woman was only in her thirties.

According to her, what she does is to study the question of who we are and where we came from through ancient genomes.

To explore the long stretches of history calls for perseverance. Fu shared with the president a question that she had frequently been asked over the years - what usages her study has. She told Xi that she once considered switching to hotspot research when struggling to maintain her lab, but finally decided to stick to it. She hopes that the country can further guide the public’s opinion on basic research, saying the so-called usage is not the only criterion for evaluation.

Deeply impressed by what Fu said, Xi replied that unpopular subjects are always considered useless, but such practice might hinder the development of these subjects. He told Fu that evaluation on scientific research calls for insight, global vision and science-based analysis.

Basic research is the source of scientific innovation. That’s an issue that has been long considered by the Chinese President. He stressed the importance of enhancing basic research, saying the root cause of China's stranglehold problems in science and technology is the lack of basic studies.

He demanded necessary fiscal, finance and taxation support for progressive research units and enterprises engaged in basic studies, regardless of their types of ownership and system. He said a favorable ecology for basic studies shall be developed in an innovative manner.

The inflow of overseas returnees in the recent years indicated the attraction of China’s development, and the topic of talents was a focus at the symposium.

Academician Yao Qizhi suggested to build a complete chain of talent cultivation to foster the “blood making” capacity of China. Academician Shi Yigong reported the progress of the construction of the Westlake University, a new research-oriented private university in east China’s Zhejiang province, hoping it to become a top-notch scientific and technological incubator and a top base for talent cultivation.

Xi recorded what they said on a note book when talking with them, noting people are the source of China’s scientific innovation.

He demanded bolder practices in talent attraction and cultivation, suggesting to introduce opener and more flexible mechanisms. He stressed that China should gather first-class talents from the world and attract high-level talents from overseas, and build a competitive and attractive environment for overseas scientists working in China.

The president encouraged the spirit to seek truth in scientific research, saying scientific innovation, especially original innovation needs creative and dialectical capability and strict verification.

Scientific research shall start from the development trend of the country to make preparation in advance, Xi said, adding that the selection of research directions shall be demand-oriented and address the urgent and long-term demand of the country to solve practical problems.

The planning of the Fourteenth Five-Year Plan is being made when the timeframes of the two centenary goals converge. Recently, Xi has convened several symposiums to solicit opinions. At this symposium, he listened to speeches of 7 scientists, saying they have a broad mind and are enlightening. He also encouraged other scientists to submit advices in written forms.

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