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Xiaomi in US crosshairs over military links

Technology correspondent

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Smartphone maker Xiaomi became the latest industry player to face increased restrictions from the US government, being added to a list of companies deemed to have links with the Chinese military, writes Mobile World Live Content Editor Kavit Majithi.

In a statement, the US Department of Defence (DoD) said it had nine additional “Communist Chinese military companies” operating directly or indirectly in the US, including Xiaomi.

The vendor surpassed Apple as a top three global smartphone maker in Q3 2020 in terms of shipments. Xiaomi joins Huawei, chipmaker SMIC, and China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom on the US list.

Huawei, notably, is also on a Department of Commerce list, which restricts its access to US suppliers over national security concerns.

The DoD list aims to comply with an executive order signed by Trump in November 2020, and restricts domestic investment in companies the department claims are owned or controlled by the Chinese military.

This month, the New York Stock Exchange delisted the three Chinese operators to comply with the order.

The move against Xiaomi came just hours after the US moved to restrict purchases of network technology from a number of countries, including China, citing concerns about supply chain security.

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In response, Xiaomi said it complies with the laws and regulations where it does business, and provides products and services for civilian and commercial use.

“The company confirms that it is not owned, controlled or affiliated with the Chinese military and is not a communist military company”.

It added it was reviewing potential consequences to understand the impact of the move. Xiaomi is listed in Hong Kong and the restrictions could mean US investors are forced to divest their holdings in the company.

US

Biden and von der Leyen agree to suspend Airbus/Boeing tariffs

Catherine Feore

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Following a phone call with President Biden this afternoon (5 March), European Commission President von der Leyen revealed in a statement after the call that “as a symbol of this fresh start” they had agreed to suspend all tariffs imposed in the context of the Airbus-Boeing disputes, both on aircraft and non-aircraft products, for an initial period of four months.

Both sides committed to focus on resolving the dispute, through their respective trade representatives. Von der Leyen welcomed the news, saying: “This is excellent news for businesses and industries on both sides of the Atlantic, and a very positive signal for our economic co-operation in the years to come.”

The suspension is already being welcomed by politicians across Europe; Bruno le Maire, French economy minister, said that in times of crisis it was best for both sides to co-operate.

The leaders also discussed many challenges the EU shared with the US as allies. 

On COVID-19, there was a recognition that as major producers of vaccines the EU and US had a responsibility to ensure the good functioning of global supply chains. Von der Leyen invited President Biden to the Global Health Summit in Rome on 21 May.

On climate action co-operation, von der Leyen “warmly thanked” President Biden for re-joining the Paris Agreement. The EU and US have agreed to engage ahead of COP26 in Glasgow this year. In that context, von der Leyen has invited John Kerry to the next College meeting and thanked President Biden for the invitation to attend the Earth Day Climate Summit that he is convening.

On the future of the EU/US economic relationship, von der Leyen proposed a new partnership rooted in our shared values and principles. She will set up a ministerial-level Trade and Technology Council to address innovation challenges, which is seen as a key forum to build on transatlantic technology alliance.

The leaders also managed to discuss foreign policy, where they agree to step up co-operation “as like-minded partners and support democracy, stability and prosperity against the backdrop of a fast-changing international environment” in close co-operation with NATO.

Apart from a shared “strategic outlook” on Russia, von der Leyen suggested that we closely coordinate our policies and measures with respect to Eastern Europe, in particular. The leaders also shared views on the situation in Ukraine. The conversation took place on the same day that US Secretary of State Blinken announced that he would impose “public designation” restrictions on Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyy.

Section 7031(c) of the law provides that, in cases where the Secretary of State has credible information that officials of foreign governments have been involved in significant corruption, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.

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Khashoggi's fiancée says Saudi crown prince should be punished 'without delay'

Reuters

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The fiancée of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi called on Monday for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to be punished after a US intelligence report found he had approved the killing. Khashoggi, a US resident who wrote opinion columns for the Washington Post criticising Saudi policies, was killed and dismembered by a team linked to the crown prince in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

A US intelligence report on Friday (26 February) found the prince had approved the killing, and Washington imposed sanctions on some of those involved - but not Prince Mohammed himself. The Saudi government, which has denied any involvement by the crown prince, rejected the report’s findings.

“It is essential that the crown prince... should be punished without delay,” Hatice Cengiz (pictured) said on Twitter. “If the crown prince is not punished, it will forever signal that the main culprit can get away with murder which will endanger us all and be a stain on our humanity.”

US President Joe Biden’s administration on Friday imposed a visa ban on some Saudis believed involved in the Khashoggi killing and placed sanctions on others that would freeze their US assets and generally bar Americans from dealing with them.

Asked about criticism of Washington for not sanctioning Prince Mohammed directly, Biden said an announcement would be made on Monday (1 March), but did not provide details, while a White House official suggested no new steps were expected.

“Starting with the Biden administration, it is vital for all world leaders to ask themselves if they are prepared to shake hands with a person whose culpability as a murderer has been proven,” Cengiz said.

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Open Society calls for global sanctions on Saudi crown prince after US intelligence report on Khashoggi murder

EU Reporter Correspondent

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Today (26 February) the Biden administration released an unclassified intelligence report to the US Congress that details who is responsible for the killing of Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.  The report confirmed that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) (pictured), directed Khashoggi’s brutal murder in 2018. 

In response to the release, Amrit Singh, lawyer for the Open Society Justice Initiative, said: “We welcome the Biden administration’s release of this long-awaited report. This is an important step forward, but it is not enough.  The U.S. and other governments must take immediate measures to hold the Crown Prince and the Saudi government accountable for their flagrant disregard for the rule of law.  They must issue a full range of travel and financial sanctions on the Crown Prince.  They must also suspend all arms sales to Saudi Arabia.”

The Open Society Justice Initiative has sought disclosure of the report in litigation pending before a New York federal court against the U.S. Office of Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).  Under the Trump administration, ODNI argued in court that releasing the Congressionally-mandated report on the murder would harm national security, including by revealing intelligence sources and methods.  After the Biden administration took office, ODNI sought and obtained an extension until March 3, 2021 to update the court on the new administration’s position in the lawsuit.

Given today’s new evidence presented to the U.S. Congress, Open Society is calling for immediate accountability measures on the Saudi government and the Crown Prince:

  • United States:
    • Impose the full range of sanctions on MBS and other individuals identified in the report who have not already been designated
    • Suspend all arms sales to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) as long as it continues to engage in a consistent pattern of gross human rights violations (On 27 January 2021, the Biden administration put a temporary freeze on some sales).
    • Enact legislation that will ensure governments are held accountable for the persecution of dissidents, journalists, and human rights defenders.
  • European Union:
    • Impose travel and financial sanctions on MBS under the new EU Global Human Rights Sanction Regime.
  • Key U.S. Allies (United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Canada, and Australia):
    • Impose the full range of sanctions on MBS and other individuals identified in the report who have not already been designated
    • Suspend all arms sales to KSA as long as it continues to engage in a consistent pattern of gross human rights violations.
       

In a parallel lawsuit pending in the same federal court against CIA, ODNI, and the Departments of Defense and State, the Open Society Justice Initiative is challenging the U.S. government’s withholding of additional records about the murder, including a tape of the murder and a 2018 CIA report on the murder that reportedly identified the Crown Prince as responsible.  The CIA has informed the Court that, by March 10, it will produce a “Vaughn index” identifying the report and explaining the legal basis for withholding it.

Singh went on to say, “The U.S. government still needs to disclose numerous other records about the murder and its cover-up that it has withheld from the public in Open Society’s litigation.”

The Open Society Justice Initiative is represented before the court by Amrit Singh and James A.
Goldston, together with Debevoise & Plimpton, a leading international law firm, with offices in the United States, Europe, and Asia. The Debevoise team is led by Catherine Amirfar and Ashika Singh.

Documents released in litigation are publicly available on the Open Society Foundations’ Document Cloud.

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