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Biden talks Taiwan with Xi in effort to avoid ‘conflict’ – The Zimbabwe Mail

U.S. President Joe Biden, right, and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands before their meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit meeting, Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, in Nusa Dua, in Bali, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AP) — President Joe Biden on Monday objected to China’s “coercive and increasingly aggressive actions” toward Taiwan and raised human rights concerns about Beijing’s conduct in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong during his first in-person meeting with President Xi Jinping since the U.S. president took office, the White House said.

In its statement on the roughly three-hour meeting, the White House said Biden told Xi that the U.S would “continue to compete vigorously” with China, but that “competition should not veer into conflict.”

The White House said Biden and Xi also agreed that “a nuclear war should never be fought” and can’t be won, “and underscored their opposition to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.” That was a reference to Russian officials’ thinly-veiled threats to use atomic weapons as its nearly nine-month invasion of Ukraine has faltered.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AP) — President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks for about three hours Monday in their first in-person meeting since the U.S. president took office nearly two years ago, aiming to “manage” differences between the superpowers as they compete for global influence amid increasing economic and security tensions.

Xi and Biden greeted each other with a handshake at a luxury resort hotel in Indonesia, where they are attending the Group of 20 summit of large economies, before they sat down for formal talks. Biden was set to hold a news conference to discuss the meeting, which came in the middle of a seven-day, round-the-world trip.

“As the leaders of our two nations, we share responsibility, in my view, to show that China and the United States can manage our differences, prevent competition from becoming anything ever near conflict, and to find ways to work together on urgent global issues that require our mutual cooperation,” Biden said to open the meeting.

Xi called on Biden to “chart the right course” and “elevate the relationship” between China and the U.S. He said he was ready for a “candid and in-depth exchange of views” with Biden.

Both men entered the highly anticipated meeting with bolstered political standing at home. Democrats triumphantly held onto control of the U.S. Senate, with a chance to boost their ranks by one in a runoff election in Georgia next month, while Xi was awarded a third five-year term in October by the Communist Party’s national congress, a break with tradition.

“We have very little misunderstanding,” Biden told reporters in Cambodia on Sunday, where he participated in a gathering of southeast Asian nations before leaving for Indonesia. “We just got to figure out where the red lines are and … what are the most important things to each of us going into the next two years.”

Biden added: “His circumstance has changed, to state the obvious, at home.” The president said of his own situation: “I know I’m coming in stronger.”

White House aides have repeatedly sought to play down any notion of conflict between the two nations and have emphasized that they believe the countries can work in tandem on shared challenges such as climate change and health security.

But relations have grown more strained under successive American administrations, as economic, trade, human rights and security differences have come to the fore.

As president, Biden has repeatedly taken China to task for human rights abuses against the Uyghur people and other ethnic minorities, crackdowns on democracy activists in Hong Kong, coercive trade practices, military provocations against self-ruled Taiwan and differences over Russia’s prosecution of its war against Ukraine. Chinese officials have largely refrained from public criticism of Russia’s war, although Beijing has avoided direct support, such as supplying arms.


Taiwan has emerged as one of the most contentious issues between Washington and Beijing. Multiple times in his presidency, Biden has said the U.S. would defend the island — which China has eyed for eventual unification — in case of a Beijing-led invasion. But administration officials have stressed each time that the U.S.’s “One China” policy has not changed. That policy recognizes the government in Beijing while allowing for informal relations and defense ties with Taipei, and its posture of “strategic ambiguity” over whether it would respond militarily if the island were attacked.

Tensions flared even higher when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., visited Taiwan in August, prompting China to retaliate with military drills and the firing of ballistic missiles into nearby waters.

The Biden administration also blocked exports of advanced computer chips to China last month — a national security move that bolsters U.S. competition against Beijing. Chinese officials quickly condemned the restrictions.

And though the two men have held five phone or video calls during Biden’s presidency, White House officials say those encounters are no substitute for Biden being able to meet Xi in person. That task is all the more important after Xi strengthened his grip on power through the party congress, as lower-level Chinese officials have been unable or unwilling to speak for their leader.

Before the meeting, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning had said China was committed to peaceful coexistence but would firmly defend its sovereignty, security and development interests.

“It is important that the U.S. work together with China to properly manage differences, advance mutually beneficial cooperation, avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation, and bring China-U.S. relations back to the right track of sound and steady development,” she said at a daily briefing in Beijing.

Xi has stayed close to home throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic, where he has enforced a “zero-COVID” policy with mass lockdowns that have roiled global supply chains.

He made his first trip outside China since start of the pandemic in September with a stop in Kazakhstan and then onto Uzbekistan to participate in the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization with Putin and other leaders of the Central Asian security group.

White House officials and their Chinese counterparts have spent weeks negotiating details of the meeting, which was held at Xi’s hotel with translators providing simultaneous interpretation through headsets.

The two men spoke while seated facing each other at two long tables separated by more than a dozen feet and an elaborate floral arrangement inside a cavernous and windowless conference room.

U.S. officials were eager to see how Xi approaches the Biden sit-down after consolidating his position as the unquestioned leader of the state, saying they would wait to assess whether that made him more or less likely to seek out areas of cooperation with the U.S.

Each leader was flanked by nine N-95 mask-wearing aides, and in the case of Xi, at least one official newly elevated in the recent Congress to its top leadership. U.S. officials that the interaction with top Xi aides could lead to more substantive engagements down the line.

Before meeting with Xi, Biden held talks with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the G-20 host, to announce a range of new development initiatives for the archipelago nation, including investments in climate, security, and education.

Many of Biden’s conversations and engagements during a three-country tour — which took him to Egypt and Cambodia before he landed on the island of Bali on Sunday — were, by design, preparing him to meet Xi.

The two men have a history that dates to their service as their country’s vice president. The U.S. president often emphasizes that he knows Xi well.

Biden has tucked references to his conversations with Xi into his remarks as he traveled around the U.S. before the Nov. 8 elections, using the Chinese leader’s preference for autocratic governance to make his own case to voters for why democracy should prevail.

The president’s view was somewhat validated on the global stage, as White House aides said several world leaders approached Biden during his time in Cambodia — where he was meeting with Asian allies to reassure them of the U.S. commitment to the region in the face of China’s assertive actions — to tell him they watched the outcome of the midterm elections closely and that the results were a triumph for democracy.

—-


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ZimSat-1 deployed into orbit – The Zimbabwe Mail – The Zimbabwe Mail




Zimbabwe is banking on its first satellite, ZimSat-1 to give impetus to plans to solve the country’s power challenges, as it has capacity to, among other things, map regions where there is high sun intensity for effective solar farm distribution.

Zimbabwe and Uganda last month launched their first homegrown satellites into space aboard a United Sates National Aeronautics and Space Administration rocket.

The Zimbabwean satellite, named ZimSat-1, was designed and assembled by three of the country’s scientists who were supported and trained in Japan under the Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite (BIRDS) Project.

The satelite was launched into orbit yesterday from the International Space Station where it arrived last month.

For Zimbabwe, which is battling acute power shortages due to frequent breakdowns at Hwange Thermal Power Station and water shortages at Kariba, the satellite gives impetus to the pursuit of strategies meant to ensure a healthy energy mix to guarantee sufficiency.

Project manager Victor Mukungunugwa said the satellite would play a key role in the development of solar farms.

“The satellite will also provide solar illumination mapping for effective solar farm distribution,” he said in a presentation before ZimSat-1 and Uganda’s Pearl of Africa-1 deployed into orbit.

“Through solar illumination, the satellite maps the regions where there is high solar intensity and thereby optimising the deployment of solar farms in Uganda and Zimbabwe to solve the electricity distribution.”

Zimbabwe has already expressed its determination to accelerate the use of renewable energies such as solar, to boost local power generation capacity.


Other economic sectors, such as agriculture, would also greatly benefit from the satellite, including through the provision of vital information such as harvest estimates, and crop health.

“This is with the aim to promote agriculture in Zimbabwe and Uganda,” he said.

“It will also provide soil fertility assessments to support agricultural activities. This will optimise the distribution of agricultural inputs to various agricultural regions in Uganda and Zimbabwe.”

ZimSat-1 also has the ability to provide data on water quality.

“The satellites seek to survey the water bodies in Zimbabwe and Uganda to see sources of contamination and eliminate the contamination at the source. This will, to a great extent, minimise the amount of chemicals used to purify drinking water,” he said.

Part of its mission also includes providing early warning services for incoming natural disasters such as floods and landslides.

At its launch to the International Space Station last month, President Mnangagwa hailed the occasion as a proud moment symbolising a nation on a technology driven trajectory to achieve its developmental aspirations.

The satellite is a culmination of the 2018 launch of the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA), which operates under the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development.

The satellite is also expected to enhance mineral exploration and mapping human settlements. — New Ziana.


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Hwang gets the message, South Korea advances at World Cup – The Zimbabwe Mail

South Korea’s team players celebrate after the World Cup group H soccer match between South Korea and Portugal, at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)


AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — The sign said it all. Hwang Hee-chan got the message.

A young South Korea fan held up a sign that read “One More Goal” during halftime of the team’s match against Portugal on Friday at the World Cup. The teams were even at 1-1 at the time, but the South Koreans needed another goal to earn a spot in the round of 16.

Hwang delivered the dramatic goal in stoppage time, lifting South Korea to a 2-1 victory and its third trip to the knockout stage of the World Cup.

“I’m glad I was able to give this present to the fans,” said Hwang, who pulled off his jersey and struck a classic muscle-man pose after scoring as thousands of South Korean fans burst into a screaming, cheering frenzy at the north end of Education City Stadium.

It’s South Korea third trip past the group stage at the World Cup. The team reached the semifinals as co-host in 2002 and then made it to the round of 16 in 2010.

Hwang missed the first two group games in Qatar with a hamstring injury, and entered as a substitute in the second half against Portugal.

“In the first match it was impossible for me to play and the pain got worse,” he said. “I did a little running, but I thought I could play the second match, but they held me out.”


He finally made an appearance on Friday. And it turned out to be a match-winning, World Cup-advancing appearance, too.

“It was a little bit of a risk,” Hwang said. “But I didn’t care what happened to me personally. I just wanted to contribute.”

South Korea was heading out of the tournament in the final minutes when a Portugal corner got cleared and Son Heung-min raced down the right side of the field. He slipped a pass through an opponent’s legs and into the path of Hwang, who converted with a low finish.

“When Son got the ball, I was convinced he would pass me the ball,” said Hwang, who said his coaches and teammates gave him confidence as he was about to enter the game.

“They told me I was going to create something,” he said. “A lot of teammates told me they trusted me.”

Cho Gue-sung, who scored two goals in South Korea’s 3-2 loss to Ghana in an earlier group game, summed up what thousands of fans in the stands — and millions at home — were thinking.

“It really feels like a miracle,” Cho said. “Our players really gave their best. Our coaching staff did a great job preparing us and everything came together. Our dreams came true.”

___


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Zimbabwe now one of the fastest growing African economies – Bulawayo24 News

ANALYSING Zimbabwe’s unconventional economy always proves somewhat cumbersome because it is a country bridled with policy inconsistency, unfavourable operating conditions buoyed by decades of unilateral sanctions and a touch of political upheaval at every election cycle.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) economic structural adjustment policy, 13 climate-related droughts, economic mismanagement and civil unrest have also contributed to the country’s rapid decline.

The lack of autonomy by the apex bank essentially means that monetary policy is compromised and is set to serve the interests of the ruling government, which can secure election funding willy-nilly to thwart the opposition.

Development has stalled for decades, as post-colonial infrastructure continues to dilapidate. Once Africa’s beacon, “the jewel of Africa” as it was formerly known, is now one of the saddest places to live in the world.

In fact, to put that into context, a recent study found that Zimbabwe was the third saddest country to live in the world, after Afghanistan and Lebanon in first and second place, respectively. Economic crisis after crisis has been the norm in one of the most resource-rich nations in Africa.

Although Zimbabwe’s mining sector is highly diversified, with over 40 different minerals, the ruling party has never been able to leverage the sectors’ returns to create value for its people.

Corruption persists like a festering wound slowly spreading to all of the state’s institutions.

From the outside, the situation looks dire and the economy is seemingly unlikely to return to its glory days. Most certainly, if the monetary authorities continue with their current policy trajectory, Zimbabwe will likely not attain middle-income status because simulations show that Zimbabwe will need to reach productivity growth rates of 8–9% per year in the next seven years to advance to UMIC status.

Achieving such unprecedented rates for Zimbabwe will require dramatic improvement in the policy environment to address the binding constraints to productivity growth.

The question is, does government have the incentive or the means to make such radical policy shifts, uncharacteristically? Well, there are two forces at play here. One is internal and within our control, but it is also important to take into account the impact of external forces such as sanctions.

First and foremost, sanctions have never achieved their intended purpose anywhere they were ever deployed. In fact, they often give rise to tyrannical governments that use the very sanctions as precedence for complete control of power.

Statistically, sanctions fail to achieve their aims in 65 to 95% of the cases in which they are imposed and it is the poorest that suffer the most through their implementation, rather than the elites that the sanctions aim to target.

Through the economic damage of the sanctions, a significant impact is felt by the public: GDP per capita decreases at an increased rate, exports and imports decrease, international capital decreases, and inflation increases.

Due to the already fragile economies of sanctioned countries, the sanctions run the risk of leading to an economic collapse, which in turn leads to greater impoverishment. As import and export-focused sectors are more affected by economic sanctions and these sectors tend to hire low-skilled workers, deprived groups in society are affected more by sanctions.

In 2001, Zimbabwe’s official development assistance reached a 20-year low of US$160,2 million as external debt reached 2,485% of the gross national income, a level not seen since the early 1980s.

For Zimbabwe, lost revenues reportedly exceeded US$42 billion from 2001 to 2019. Zimbabwe historically relied on foreign trade to sustain its economy. It last registered a trade surplus in 2000, at US$155 million, representing approximately 74% of its gross domestic product (GDP).

Overall production increased 1,44% in 2001 after a shortfall in previous years. However, sanctions targeted various entities in key productive sectors of the economy, including mining, manufacturing, tourism and agriculture, which made it challenging for Zimbabwe to rely on its trade and industry to promote growth. During the first decade under sanctions, the country’s trade balance spiralled to -23,8%, in 2010, and has stayed negative since then.

It does not end there. Sanctions also facilitated deindustrialisation, as key agriculture, mining and manufacturing companies were barred from selling their products in the United States and European Union markets.

The economic contraction went from -3,1% in 2000 to -17,7% in 2008. Thousands of workers were forced out of employment in the formal economy, and multiple local companies closed down. This nurtured the expansion of the informal sector as a method of resilience, estimated at 94,5% in 2014 and 75,6% in 2019.

Foreign direct investments were affected as investors avoided risks, given the negative perceptions about the economy and the country’s governance.

This led to increased unemployment, estimated at 94% in the formal sector by the end of 2008, and to a significant loss of qualified professionals. From 2000 to 2008, the gross national income per person fell by 35%.

The list of the effects of sanctions goes on and on, from humanitarian impacts, the access to food, water and sanitation, access to healthcare, education and basic fundamental human rights. The irony is that the west says it is fighting the abuse of human rights, but ends up inflicting worse damage on sanctioned economies.

Most economists consider this damage irreparable in the short term. Consequently, going into the 2023 election, even if the opposition party wins (let us assume sanctions are lifted), they will have to contend with the effects of the sanctions for at least half a decade.

Let us delve into the internal forces. Zimbabwe’s GDP growth in 2021, according to World Bank was 5,85%, making Zimbabwe the 10th fastest-growing economy in Africa in 2021.

Zimbabwe’s economic growth accelerated to an anticipated 5,9% in 2021 from a 6,2% fall in 2020 due to a bountiful harvest that expanded agriculture by 36,2% in 2021 as opposed to 4,2% growth in 2020.

The per capita GDP also increased, jumping by 4,9% in 2021 after declining by 6,7% in 2020. However, in 2022, economic growth was held down by unstable prices and deteriorating agricultural circumstances.

The real GDP growth rate is anticipated to decrease from 5,8% in 2021 to 3,4% in 2022. Zimbabwe’s economic growth is expected to end the year at 4% in 2022, down from 4,6% previously targeted, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said in a speech on Thursday.

Growth is then projected to slow to 3,8% in 2023 before increasing to 4,8% in 2024 and 5% in 2025, he said. The overall fiscal deficit is seen at 1,5% of GDP for next year.

“This growth will be sustained by mining, construction and agriculture, as well as accommodation sectors,” Ncube said.

The mining sector is expected to grow by 10,4% in 2023 on the back of anticipated favourable international mineral prices, as well as the increase in investment, especially in exploration, mine development and mechanisation, he added.

A barrage of measures introduced by government mid-year, which include the introduction of gold coins, the temporary suspension of bank lending, higher taxes on capital markets, a 200% policy rate, and the temporary suspension of payments to contractors, have seen the economy stabilising and recording growth, riding on investments in the mining, agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

Month-on-month inflations for September significantly declined to 3,5% from 12,4% in August 2022. Meanwhile, foreign currency earnings amounted to US$7,7 billion for the eight months up to August 31 2022. 

This reflects a 32,4% increase from the US$5,8 billion recorded over the corresponding period in 2021. With increased activity in both the mining and manufacturing sectors where industrial capacity utilisation is now at 66% up from 47% in 2020, the country is now facing increased power demand, with solutions already in place to meet the growing demand.

A new mineral royalty policy announced earlier this year is being utilised, as the country considers more than doubling spending in 2023 to help revive the economy. The royalty policy that came into effect in October compelled miners to pay royalties as follows – half in mineral form, 40% in local currency and 10% in foreign-currency cash.

The government has made some significant strides in taking back the reins of the economy and looks set for another stable economy next year, ceteris paribus. However, to ensure this long-fought stability, government has to focus on three key metrics.

Investor confidence

After probably the longest foreign investor drought, the new dispensation has worked over- time to win back the confidence of both external and domestic capital, since coming to power in 2017.

Billions of dollars, primarily from big-ticket investments in mining, power generation and an assortment of infrastructure projects have been flowing into the country. One of these is the Greenfield US$1 billion Chinese-led steel venture in Mvuma, the US$1,3 billion thermal power project in Hwange, and huge road and airport re-development programmes around the country as well as Invictus’s gas exploration in the north of the country.

The Second Republic has not unlocked even 1% of the potential FDI Zim could receive and that is because the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra doesn’t leverage tax incentives to nurture and underpin investor love and confidence.

Government should look to reducing general corporate income tax, implementing tax holidays and tax-privileged zones. Governments may also choose to offset the investment cost of the FDI by providing subsidies, or paying for some of the expenses of the project. Opponents of this practice claim it takes money from taxpayers and gives it to foreign entities.

This is true in the short term, but the investment is also intended to boost the economy (local and national). Land can also be used as a subsidy, either through reduced prices or by giving it away for free. However, if large tracts of land are going to be subsidized, then why not set up a special economic zone?

Ensuring stable exchange rates

Of equal concern should be maintaining stable exchange rates to anchor the government’s short-term economic stabilisation, lay a strong foundation for medium to long-term growth, and ultimately foster the public’s confidence in the local unit.

The local unit on the exchange parallel market has seen some slight depreciation, while the interbank rate has been somewhat steady over the past month or so.

Ensuring a stable exchange rate will be anchored on the government’s ability to keep liquidity out of the parallel market. The gold coins have played a vital part in moving that liquidity back to the RBZ.

The 40% tax on short-term investments on the ZSE also got rid of arbitrage that was being exploited with returns being dumped back into the parallel market.

However, ultimately, the suspension of payments to contractors had probably the most significant impact on the exchange rate, so it will be interesting how the resumption of these payments affects the market, particularly because the issue of forex shortages has not been addressed.

Keep inflation in check

The other measure, still being rolled out, is the introduction of gold coins. These have sucked out billions of dollars from the market which could have otherwise ended up on the black currency market, thereby driving up inflation.

And as long as the RBZ is able to settle all gold contracts without a hassle, that should see market players taking a keener interest in the new saving instrument. Gold coins valued at ZW$9,5 billion were sold as of September 30, 2022. Smaller denomination gold coins have been unveiled by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to broaden access and inclusivity and half of the released coins were bought within the first week.

Gwenzi is a financial analyst and MD of Equity Axis, a financial media firm offering business intelligence, economic and equity research. — respect@equityaxis.net

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