The release of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou shows China’s strength and Canada should “draw lessons,” China’s foreign ministry said on Monday, after state media called it an opportunity for a reboot of bilateral relations.
Meng landed in Huawei’s home city of Shenzhen aboard a government-chartered plane on Saturday to much fanfare, ending her near three-year U.S. extradition fight, the same day two Canadians detained by Beijing shortly after Meng’s 2018 detention returned home.
Meng’s return shows the ability of the Chinese government and ruling Communist Party to protect its citizens, companies, and interests, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular daily briefing.
The cases involving the Canadians were “completely different” from Meng’s, which was a case of “political persecution,” Hua said.
“Canada should draw lessons and act according to its own interests,” she added.
Canada had called the arrest of the two an act of “hostage diplomacy,” a characterisation China repeatedly denied.
The Global Times late on Sunday said that Kovrig and Spavor had “confessed their guilt” and were released on bail for medical reasons before departing China.
Spavor was accused of supplying photographs of military equipment to Kovrig and sentenced to 11 years in jail in August. Kovrig had been awaiting sentencing.
Meng’s release was an opportunity to improve relations with Canada and the United States but “toxic political rhetoric” could still “poison” the atmosphere”, China’s Global Times tabloid said earlier on Monday.
“The relaxation of positions by both sides is a positive but limited development in China-U.S. relations and is less than significant in the big scheme of things,” said Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Beijing’s Renmin University.
“There is no indication that Washington is going to soften on the trade war,” Shi said. “I don’t see China immediately relaxing trade restrictions against Canada either.”
Meng was allowed to go home after reaching an agreement with U.S. prosecutors on Friday to end a bank fraud case against her.
(Reporting by Gabriel Crossley in Beijing and Brenda Goh in Shanghai; Additional reporting by Yew Lun Tian; Editing by Gerry Doyle, Kirsten Donovan)
Ethiopia conducts two air strikes on Tigray within hours, war escalates
The Ethiopian government carried out a second air strike within hours on the Tigray region on Wednesday, significantly escalating a campaign to weaken rebellious Tigrayan forces in an almost one-year-old war.
The second strike was in Agbe in the Temben region some 80 km (50 miles) west of the regional capital Mekelle, targeting a military training centre and heavy artillery depot, government spokesperson Legesse Tulu said.
That came after a morning air strike in Mekelle, the third this week. Tigrai Television said the attack targeted the centre of the city while the Addis Ababa government said it targeted buildings where Tigrayan forces were repairing armaments.
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has “been adept at hiding munitions and heavy artillery in places of worship and using ordinary Tigrayans as a human shield”, Legesse said.
Two witnesses and a humanitarian source in Mekelle told Reuters that the morning strike appeared to have targeted Mesfin Industrial Engineering PLC, a factory complex which the government believes supports the TPLF.
TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael, referring to government forces, said: “They are desperate on the war front. My interpretation is they are bombing us because they are losing on the ground and it’s their reprisal. The fact that they are bombing shows they don’t care about Tigrayan civilians.”
Speaking to Reuters by satellite phone from an undisclosed location, Gebremichael said the strike did not hit the engineering complex, rather another private company compound, but he had no further details.
Nine civilians, including a five-year-old child, were being treated at Ayder Referral Hospital for injuries sustained in the strike, according to TPLF-run Tigrai Television.
The blast shattered the windows of Mekelle General Hospital, about one kilometre away from Mesfin Industrial, and damaged nearby homes, said a doctor at the hospital. It had received five wounded people, he said.
“Four of them were factory employees and the fifth one is a lady whose lives near the factory. Her house was destroyed by the air strike,” the doctor said.
Tigrai Television posted photographs of what appeared to be plumes of billowing smoke. Reuters geolocated the images to Mekelle.
The two sides have been fighting for almost a year in a conflict that has killed thousands of people and displaced more than two million amid a power struggle between the TPLF, which controls the northern region, and the central government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa.
The TPLF dominated the Horn of Africa country’s ruling party for decades before Abiy, who is not a Tigrayan, took office in 2018.
CONTROL OF THE SKIES
Mesfin Industrial Engineering is an equipment manufacturer and car and truck assembly plant that was part of EFFORT, a TPLF-owned conglomerate.
After war broke out last November, the government froze the company’s bank accounts, saying there was evidence that it was supporting the TPLF. The company could not be reached for comment. Most communications in Mekelle are down.
Mekelle was also hit by two air strikes on Monday https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/mekelle-capital-ethiopias-tigray-hit-by-air-strikes-regional-tv-2021-10-18. The TPLF accused the government of launching the attacks. A government official initially denied the accusation but state media later reported the air force had conducted a strike.
The attacks follow intensified fighting in two other northern regions where the military is trying to recover territory taken by the TPLF, which recaptured Mekelle and most of the rest of Tigray several months ago.
In July, the TPLF pushed into the two other regions, Amhara and Afar, and several hundred thousand more people fled their homes, according to the United Nations.
Last week, after the TPLF said the military had started an offensive in Amhara, the military said that the TPLF had “opened war on all fronts”, and that government forces were inflicting heavy casualties.
“The federal air strikes on Mekelle appear to be part of efforts to weaken Tigray’s armed resistance, which has recently made further gains in eastern Amhara region, with fighting ongoing in some areas,” said Will Davison, a senior analyst on Ethiopia at the International Crisis Group think-tank.
“Along with superior manpower, control of the skies is one of the few remaining areas of military advantage for the federal government,” Davison said.
(Reporting by Addis Ababa newsroom with additional reporting by George Sargent in London and Nairobi newsroom; writing by Maggie Fick; editing by Nick Macfie, Angus MacSwan and Mark Heinrich)
How the COVID-19 microchip shortage has brought Canada's car industry to a halt — again – CBC.ca
Even before the pandemic, 2020 was always going to be an uncertain year for Canada’s automotive industry.
The Big 3 automakers — General Motors, Ford and Chrysler (now known as Stellantis) — were set to negotiate multi-year work agreements with their main unions, after the previous agreements with their workers had expired.
Then COVID-19 hit, and everything changed. Buyers weren’t coming to showrooms for fear of getting sick, so sales slowed to a crawl. Factories shut down to keep workers safe.
By the time consumers felt safe enough to take their first tentative steps back into dealerships this year, they were confronted by a new problem: There were no cars to buy.
That’s because when things slowed down in 2020, car companies slashed their orders from their suppliers for the components that go into them. When demand came roaring back, those same suppliers could not ramp up fast enough, especially the makers of the cheap little semiconductor microchips that are in just about everything these days.
“Automakers in Canada initially thought that demand would be very slow recovery over the course of the pandemic, so they cut their chip orders,” said Rebekah Young, an economist with Scotiabank.
It’s not just the car companies, either. Makers of everything from iPhones, to gaming consoles and even refrigerators can’t find microchips right now, which is a global supply crunch for just about everything.
A typical car rolling off the line today likely contains dozens of semiconductor microchips that control everything from the headlights to the entertainment system to GPS navigation.
They’re relatively inexpensive, adding a few dollars apiece to the cost of a typical car. But they’re also highly customized, which means it’s next to impossible to find alternatives on short notice. But without that custom-made $1 microchip, a car company can’t finish a car that might sell for $40,000 — and the industry is scrambling to get its hands on what’s available.
“Do you remember the toilet paper shortage in March and April of 2020?” automotive journalist Stephanie Wallcraft said in an interview. “That’s pretty much what we’re going through right now in terms of semiconductors.”
“Everybody’s trying to get semiconductors all at once and there’s just not the supply to get that inventory out,” she said.
Car companies aren’t necessarily at the front of the line, so they’re waiting their turn same as everyone else. That’s causing them to idle factories in Canada until they can get the components to start building again.
GM’s facility in Ingersoll has been down for most of the year, and Ford’s main Oakville plant has been idled at times, too. The Stellantis facility in Windsor was offline for two months up until May before it reopened at limited capacity.
As recently as last year Stellantis was floating the idea of expanding production there but this week the company waylaid staff with news that it would be closing one line entirely and laying off 1,800 workers.
In the labour deals they hammered out late last year, Canada’s big car makers made it clear that the future of the automotive industry in Canada will be in making electric vehicles, but most of those won’t be rolling off the lines until some time in 2024 at the earliest.
Until then, Canadian car plants don’t have a lot to do, and a big part of the problem is that the vehicles Canadian plants are set up to make aren’t the ones that are selling.
“What they’re doing is they’re allocating the minimum chips to their most profitable vehicles,” Unifor president Jerry Dias said in an interview with CBC News.
“If you’re looking at the industry in North America that would be predominantly pickup trucks and SUVs.”
Young, the economist, says Canada is on track to produce about 1.2 million vehicles this year. That would be the lowest annual total since 1982 — below the 1.4 million the country made in pandemic-stricken 2020, and well off the 2.2 million annual pace that the country had been cranking out for the decade leading up to 2019.
Chip makers, mostly in Asia had been ramping up production through the first part of 2021, before the delta variant put a chill on everything again. Malaysia makes about one seventh of the world’s semiconductors, and factories there have been idled for September and October. Vietnam is another major supplier, and they too are about three months behind because of COVID lockdowns.
For both car buyers and the people who make them, the good news is that the experts think things will get back to normal at some point. But the bad news is it could take a while.
“Demand for vehicles is very strong this year, and that could have easily closed pre-pandemic gaps this year if there were enough vehicles to buy,” Young said.
But without enough chips to go around “we see that being pushed out not only to 2022, but in fact 2023.”
At least 34 dead after floods in north India
At least 34 people have died following days of heavy rains in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand, the state’s chief minister said, as rescuers continued work to free those stranded on Wednesday.
Aerial footage of the affected areas showed engorged rivers and villages partially submerged by floodwaters.
“There is huge loss due to the floods … the crops have been destroyed,” Pushkar Singh Dhami told Reuters partner ANI after surveying the damage late on Tuesday.
“The locals are facing a lot of problems, the roads are waterlogged, bridges have been washed away. So far 34 people have died and we are trying to normalise the situation as soon as possible.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet he was “anguished” by the loss of life.
The Himalayan state of Uttarakhand is especially prone to flooding. More than 200 were feared killed in February after flash floods swept away a hydroelectric dam.
Unseasonally heavy rains across India have led to deadly floods in several areas of the country in recent days. Authorities in the southern state of Kerala said on Monday more than 20 people had died there following landslides. (This story corrects typographic error in the last paragraph)
(Reporting by Alasdair Pal; Editing by Jane Wardell)
Ethiopia conducts two air strikes on Tigray within hours, war escalates
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