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After report prison labour used for Christmas cards, U.K. retailer suspends Chinese supplier – CBC.ca

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British supermarket giant Tesco suspended a Chinese supplier of Christmas cards on Sunday after a press report said a customer found a message written inside a card saying it had been packed by foreign prisoners who were victims of forced labour.

“We abhor the use of prison labour and would never allow it in our supply chain,” a Tesco spokesperson said on Sunday.

“We were shocked by these allegations and immediately suspended the factory where these cards are produced and launched an investigation. We have also withdrawn these cards from sale whilst we investigate.”

Tesco, Britain’s biggest retailer, donates £300,000 ($520,000 Cdn) a year from the sale of the cards to the charities British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK.

The message written inside a card sold at Tesco. (Reuters)

The Sunday Times said the message inside the card read: “We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qingpu Prison China. Forced to work against our will. Please help us and notify human rights organization.

“Use the link to contact Mr Peter Humphrey.”

Contact information for British man

Peter Humphrey is a British former journalist and corporate fraud investigator.

Humphrey and his American wife, Yu Yingzeng, were both sentenced in China in 2014 for illegally obtaining private records of Chinese citizens and selling the information to clients including drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline. The couple were deported from China in June 2015 after their jail terms were reduced.

The message inside the card was found by a six-year-old girl, Florence Widdicombe, in London, the Sunday Times said. Her father contacted Humphrey via the LinkedIn social network.

“We didn’t open them on the day that we got them. We opened them about a week ago. We were writing on them, and on my sixth or eighth card somebody had already written in it,” Florence told Reuters.

The message inside the card was found by six-year-old Florence Widdicombe in London. (Reuters )

Florence’s father, Ben Widdicombe, said he felt shocked after his child found the note, “but I also felt the responsibility to pass it on to Peter Humphrey as the authors asked me to do.”

Writing in the Sunday Times, Humphrey said he did not know the identities or the nationalities of the prisoners who put the note into the card, but he “had no doubt they are Qingpu prisoners who knew me before my release in June 2015 from the suburban prison where I spent 23 months.”

Tesco said it had a comprehensive auditing process in place.

Tesco auditing process

“This supplier was independently audited as recently as last month and no evidence was found to suggest they had broken our rule banning the use of prison labour,” the spokesman said.

British corporate investigator Peter Humphrey, left, and his wife, Yu Yingzeng, leave a Shanghai court on Aug. 8, 2014. Humphrey, who spent 23 months in a Chinese prison, says a prisoner he knew inside Qingpu prison likely placed the note inside a box of Christmas cards. (Reuters)

“If a supplier breaches these rules, we will immediately and permanently de-list them.”

The cards were produced at the Zheijiang Yunguang Printing factory, which is about 100 kilometres from Shanghai Qingpu prison, Tesco said.

The company, which prints cards and books for food and pharmaceutical companies, says on its website it supplies Tesco.

Two phone calls and one emailed request for comment to the company went unanswered after usual business hours on Sunday.

Humphrey and his wife said in their trial they had not thought they were doing anything illegal in their activities in China.

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Nova Scotia goes 5 days without new case of COVID-19 – CBC.ca

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Nova Scotia reported no new cases of COVID-19 for a fifth straight day Sunday.

The province has one known active case.

One person remains in hospital in intensive care, according to a release from the Department of Health and Wellness.

The latest case was announced Tuesday and involves an essential worker from the western zone who travelled outside of the country.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority completed 878 Nova Scotia tests on Saturday.

The province has recorded 92,348 negative test results, 1,087 positive COVID-19 cases and 65 deaths since March. 

The latest numbers from around the Atlantic bubble are:

Symptoms

Anyone with one of the following symptoms of COVID-19 should visit the 811 website to see if they should call 811 for further assessment:

  • Fever.
  • Cough or worsening of a previous cough.

Anyone with two or more of the following symptoms is also asked to visit the 811 website:

  • Sore throat.
  • Headache.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Runny nose.
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US Reportedly Curbs Exports From Chinese Chipmaker SMIC For ‘Unacceptable Risks’ – Sputnik International

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Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp

Previously, reports suggested the US Department of Defense was considering adding Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) to an Entity List along with Huawei, ZTE and more than 70 Chinese tech firms, barred from doing business with US firms without a licence, as part of the ongoing trade war between Washington and Beijing.

The United States Department of Commerce has reportedly sanctioned China’s biggest chipmaker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), curbing exports from the company, according to a letter cited by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Saturday.

According to the Commerce Department’s dispatch to the Shanghai-based firm, the WSJ reports, US companies will now need a licence to export certain products to China’s largest chipmaker, because of the “unacceptable risk” that SMIC products could be used for military purposes.

An SMIC spokeswoman cited by the WSJ said in an emailed statement that the firm had not yet received an official notice of the sanctions and was looking into the situation.

The chipmaker reiterated that it has no relationship with the Chinese armed forces and does not manufacture goods for any military end-users or uses.

There has not been any official comment on the report from the US Commerce Department.

Escalated US Attack

Earlier reports in September suggested the Trump administration was considering adding the firm to a government Entity List along with Huawei, ZTE and more than 70 Chinese tech firms which are barred from conducting business with US firms.

Adding SMIC to the Commerce Department’s so-called entity list would in effect target exports from a broader set of companies.

“The military end-use rules only apply to a subset of listed US origin items. The Entity List rules apply to all US origin and some foreign-origin items,” said Kevin Wolf, an export control lawyer at Akin Gump and senior Commerce Department official in the Obama administration, as cited by Bloomberg.

Around 50 per cent of SMIC’s equipment originates from the US, with the company having a market value of more than $29 billion, according to Bloomberg data, with US chipmakers Qualcomm Inc. and Broadcom Inc. among SMIC’s customers.

“Should the US export ban on SMIC materialise, it will signal an escalated attack by the US on China’s semiconductor industry and more Chinese companies will likely be included,” analyst Edison Lee of the American multinational independent investment bank and financial services company Jefferies said.

‘Blatant Bullying’

In the wake of the above-mentioned reports, the Chinese semiconductor company reiterated that it strictly abides by the laws and regulations of relevant nations while having maintained cooperative relations with global chipmaking equipment suppliers for years.

“Any assumptions of the company’s ties with the Chinese military are untrue statements and false accusations. The Company is in complete shock and perplexity at the news. Nevertheless, SMIC is open to sincere and transparent communication with the US Government agencies in hope of resolving potential misunderstandings,” SMIC said in a statement on its website.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian slammed Washington over “blatant bullying.”

“What it has done is violated international trade rules, undermined global industrial supply and value chains and will inevitably hurt US national interests and its own image,” Zhao told a news briefing in Beijing.

China’s Tech Giants in the Crosshairs

The US Department of Commerce added dozens of internationally based Huawei affiliates to its Entity list in August 2020, restricting their ability to do business with American firms. The decision expanded on rules issued in May subjecting companies to enhanced licensing requirements if they sold third-party computer chips or chip designs to Huawei that rely on US software or manufacturing equipment.

Back in 2019 the department essentially banned US companies from selling parts and components to 68 Huawei affiliates, allowing, however, for temporary waivers that enabled limited transactions to ease the transition for American suppliers.

Those waivers expired in August 2020, with a fresh order subjecting an additional 38 Huawei affiliates around the world to similar restrictions.

Fresh measures on the part of Washington could block Huawei from gaining access to chipsets, in yet another stinging blow to the Shenzhen-based tech giant.


©
REUTERS / Dado Ruvic
A smartphone with the Huawei and 5G network logo is seen on a PC motherboard in this illustration picture taken January 29, 2020

Earlier this month China had launched plans to boost the mainland chipmaker and others, seeking to distance itself from US technologies.

Sanctions targeting the Chinese partially state-owned publicly-listed semiconductor foundry company, SMIC, would come as yet another step in the escalating tensions between the US and China, that have been exchanging invective on issues ranging from trade, their respective governments’ handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and perceived threats to intellectual property and national security.

The Trump administration began its onslaught by blacklisting Huawei Technologies Co., preventing the giant Chinese telecommunications provider from buying components from American suppliers and pressuring allies to follow suit.


©
REUTERS / Florence Lo/Illustration
China and U.S. flags are seen near a TikTok logo in this illustration picture taken July 16, 2020. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration

Subsequently, President Donald Trump threatened to ban the video app TikTok from China’s ByteDance Ltd. if the service weren’t sold to American owners, sparking indignation among Chinese executives and government officials, who have repeatedly dismissed all allegations of spying and presenting a security threat.

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Recall notice issued on spaghetti sauce that could cause botulism – Montreal Gazette

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A brand of spaghetti sauce sold in Quebec has been recalled by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The sauce, made by Érablière Godbout, could cause botulism, according to an advisory by the agency.

The sauce did not have a “keep refrigerated” label on the jars.

The spaghetti sauce, which was sold in 500 millilitre and one litre jars, should be returned to the store or thrown out.

No one has fallen ill after eating the sauce, but the recall has been ordered as a precaution, the agency said in a news release.

Symptoms in adults can include facial paralysis or loss of facial expression, fixed pupils, difficulty swallowing, drooping eyelids, blurred or double vision, slurred speech and hoarseness.

Symptoms of botulism in children can include difficulty swallowing, slurred speech, generalized weakness and paralysis.

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