By Gabriel D. Crossley
BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese state media on Thursday warned against any “nitpicking” as Beijing portrayed the Phase 1 trade deal with United States and its new commitments to massive purchases of American goods as a boon for China’s economy.
In return for some tariff relief, China agreed to buy at least $200 billion in additional U.S. goods and services over two years, including $32 billion more in imports of U.S. farm products – targets some analysts say may be tough to meet.
In the world’s most populous nation, coverage was tightly managed and the trade deal quickly dropped out of the top 10 trending topics on the Twitter-like Weibo platform.
A person who works in censorship at Chinese social media giant ByteDance and a senior official at a state-backed media outlet told Reuters they had been instructed only to use official reports on the deal – guidance that is not unusual for sensitive political news.
Official media and government statements were upbeat with the People’s Daily saying that boosting agricultural imports will “enrich the common people’s dining tables.”
An article in the same publication which bore the pen name “Zhong Sheng”, usually used to express its views on foreign policy, said the pact was in line with China’s reforms, opening up and the push for high-quality growth.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the Phase 1 agreement was good for both countries and the world when asked if he thought the deal was unfair.
China’s Ministry of Commerce, which would normally comment on trade matters, earlier this week canceled its regular Thursday news briefing.
Robust debate was, however, not encouraged.
An editorial in the Global Times, a tabloid run by the People’s Daily, stated that debating “about who had lost or gained is shallow.”
“We urge individuals and forces to exercise some restraint in their nitpicking of the agreement and bad-mouthing future trade negotiations,” it said.
The deal comes at a welcome time for President Xi Jinping, who faces a slowing economy, unrest in Hong Kong, and the recent re-election of the pro-independence party’s President Tsai Ing-wen in Taiwan, said Wang Yiwei, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing.
“That China hasn’t been defeated completely is already in itself a success,” he said.
Some people on both the U.S. and Chinese sides are not satisfied with the agreement, but that is a good thing, said a post by Taoran Notes, an influential WeChat account run by the Economic Daily.
A deal where just one side was happy would “cause no end of trouble,” it said.
(Reporting by Gabriel Crossley; Additional reporting by Liangping Gao and Cate Cadell in Beijing and Samuel Shen in Shanghai; Editing by Tony Munroe and Edwina Gibbs)
China's Hubei province reports 13 new coronavirus deaths – state media – National Post
SHANGHAI — China’s central Hubei province, at the center of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, reported 13 new deaths caused by the new virus on Jan. 25, state media CCTV reported on Sunday.
Shanghai also reported its first death from the virus.
Hubei also reported 323 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections.
Separately, the province of Henan reported one death from coronavirus infection. (Reporting by Samuel Shen, Yilei Sun and Vincent Lee; Editing by Sandra Maler)
Pompeo Denounces News Media, Igniting Outrage – The New York Times
WASHINGTON — A core mission of the secretary of state is to promote American values worldwide, including freedom of the press.
But on Saturday, Mike Pompeo, the top American diplomat, lashed out at a reporter from NPR and what he called the “unhinged” news media in an extraordinary statement, apparently angered by her description of an interview she conducted with him on Iran and Ukraine.
The statement, which used the fiery language to attack the news media that has become a regular trademark of President Trump’s, ignited outrage online among foreign policy experts, scholars of diplomacy and press freedom advocates, who accused Mr. Pompeo of violating the mission and nonpartisan nature of his office.
The interview between Mr. Pompeo and the reporter, Mary Louise Kelly, circulated widely after it published on Friday night. Describing a tense exchange after a taped part of the interview, Ms. Kelly said that Mr. Pompeo shouted at her repeatedly, using the “f-word” and challenged her to find Ukraine on an unlabeled map that his aides pulled out, which she did.
In his statement, released on Saturday morning by the State Department, Mr. Pompeo said: “It is shameful that this reporter chose to violate the basic rules of journalism and decency. This is another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump and this administration.”
He added, “It is no wonder that the American people distrust many in the media when they so consistently demonstrate their agenda and their absence of integrity.”
Mr. Pompeo also said Ms. Kelly, a veteran reporter who is a host of “All Things Considered,” had lied in “setting up our interview” and in agreeing to have the “post-interview conversation” off the record.
On the program, Ms. Kelly said Katie Martin, an aide to Mr. Pompeo who has worked in press relations, never asked for that conversation to be kept off the record, nor would she have agreed to do that.
Mr. Pompeo’s statement did not deny Ms. Kelly’s account of obscenities and shouting. NPR said Saturday that Ms. Kelly “has always conducted herself with the utmost integrity, and we stand behind this report.”
Mr. Pompeo has occasionally issued statements calling on authoritarian governments to respect press freedoms. But he has insulted journalists and has even cursed at diplomatic reporters in private meetings.
His Saturday statement was notable for the public — and broad — denunciation of the news media.
The fact that it was released by his office, a department known for its decorum, made it even more galling to many observers.
Five Democratic senators sent a letter on Saturday to Mr. Pompeo denouncing his “irresponsible” comments and the “corrosive effects of your behavior on American values and standing in the world.”
“The unavoidable reality is Pompeo never would have been in contention for a senior-level appointment in a normal GOP administration,” Thomas Wright, the director of the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution, said on Twitter. “He was promoted beyond his abilities because so many people were ruled out. The delta between what’s required & what he has is now on full display.”
Mr. Pompeo, a hawkish evangelical Christian who is a former Republican congressman from Kansas, tries hard to display loyalty to Mr. Trump and reiterate the president’s positions on issues. Mr. Pompeo has aspirations to run for president in 2024, his associates say, and he ties his political future to Mr. Trump’s support.
But the Saturday statement was the clearest echo yet of Mr. Trump, who frequently attacks the news media as the “enemy of the people.”
Some journalists pointed out that Mr. Pompeo appears to erupt more often at female reporters. In an interview with Deirdre Shesgreen of USA Today last year, Mr. Pompeo at one point appeared to belittle the reporter by repeating her name nine times: “No, not O.K., but. Deirdre, Deirdre, Deirdre, Deirdre, Deirdre, Deirdre, Deirdre, Deirdre, Deirdre. Not O.K., but.”
For some, Mr. Pompeo’s treatment of Ms. Kelly underlined a persistent hostility toward women. Cathryn Clüver, executive director of the Future of Diplomacy Project at Harvard Kennedy School, said, “This secretary of state is a bully and a misogynist.”
Mr. Pompeo’s statement included a puzzling reference to Bangladesh: “It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine.”
The line implied, though did not specifically assert, that when Mr. Pompeo challenged Ms. Kelly to identify Ukraine, which is in Eastern Europe, on an unlabeled map, she had mistakenly pointed to Bangladesh, in South Asia. But some speculated Mr. Pompeo had meant to write Belarus, which borders Ukraine.
Mr. Pompeo has been widely criticized both within the State Department and outside for failing to defend veteran diplomats who testified last fall in the impeachment inquiry and who have been attacked publicly by Mr. Trump.
Last April, Mr. Pompeo played a pivotal role in Mr. Trump’s political plans involving Ukraine — at the heart of the impeachment charges — by ousting Marie L. Yovanovitch, the ambassador to Ukraine and an anticorruption advocate. After Ms. Kelly had asked whether he owed Ms. Yovanovitch an apology and whether he had tried to block Mr. Trump’s shadow Ukraine policy, Mr. Pompeo to cut off the interview after nine minutes.
“I’ve defended every single person on this team,” Mr. Pompeo said.
When Mr. Pompeo objected to the Ukraine questions, Ms. Kelly said she had told an aide a day earlier that it would be a topic of discussion.
Ms. Kelly said Mr. Pompeo leaned toward her and glared at her before leaving with his aides, one of whom later asked her to accompany her to Mr. Pompeo’s private living room, but without the recorder. There, Mr. Pompeo, “shouted at me for about the same amount of time as the interview itself had lasted,” Ms. Kelly said.
“He was not happy to have been questioned about Ukraine,” Ms. Kelly said. “He asked, ‘Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?’ He used the f-word in that sentence and many others.”
That statement could complicate Mr. Pompeo’s planned trip to Ukraine next week, which comes as Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial is underway. Mr. Pompeo plans to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday in Kyiv, making him the first cabinet official from the Trump administration to meet with Mr. Zelensky since the impeachment inquiry began in the fall.
Mr. Pompeo has canceled planned trips to Ukraine twice since November.
Michael Levenson contributed reporting from New York.
Pompeo doesn't deny he cursed out NPR reporter, condemns 'unhinged' media – CNBC
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the U.S. State Department
Win McNamee | Getty Images
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday continued his attacks on an NPR reporter who reported that he cursed and shouted at her after she questioned him about the Trump administration’s firing of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
Pompeo accused reporter Mary Louise Kelly of lying, but did not deny her account of what happened.
“NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly lied to me, twice,” Pompeo asserted, without evidence. “First, last month, in setting up our interview and, then again yesterday, in agreeing to have our post-interview conversation off the record.”
“It is shameful that this reporter chose to violate the basic rules of journalism and decency. This is another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump and this Administration. It is no wonder that the American people distrust many in the media when they so consistently demonstrate their agenda and their absence of integrity,” he added.
Kelly said that Pompeo cut off their recorded interview when she questioned him on why he has not defended former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. After the interview, Kelly said that she was taken to Pompeo’s private living room, where he shouted and cursed at her and challenged her to find Ukraine on a map.
“He asked, ‘Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?’ He used the F-word in that sentence and many others,” Kelly told “All Things Considered” co-host Ari Shapiro on Friday.
“He asked if I could find Ukraine on a map. I said yes, and he called out for aides to bring us a map of the world with no writing. I pointed to Ukraine. He put the map away,” she said. “He said, ‘People will hear about this.'”
Kelly said that an aide never asked that the meeting with Pompeo be held off the record — nor would she agree to that. She also said she told the State Department afterwards that she was going to report what happened, but did not hear back.
Pompeo ended his statement by saying, “It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine,” implying that Kelly, who previously covered national security for NPR and has a masters in European Studies from Cambridge University, identified Bangladesh on the map instead of Ukraine.
Members of the media quickly came to Kelly’s defense following Pompeo’s accusations.
“Pompeo’s official response [to Kelly] doesn’t deny her account of his bullying & cursing,” wrote New York Times diplomatic correspondent Edward Wong. “This is an attack on news organizations from the top US diplomat, someone who is supposed to defend press freedoms. It’s obvious he’s playing to an audience of one — Trump.”
“Pompeo also undermines his credibility on the facts of the episode in the statement,” Wong wrote. “There is little chance [Kelly], a Cambridge-educated expert on Europe, would have pointed to Bangladesh if he asked her to identify Ukraine on an unlabeled map.”
Nancy Barnes, NPR’s senior vice president of news, said on Saturday that Kelly “has always conducted herself with the utmost integrity, and we stand behind this report.”
The State Department did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
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