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Factbox: China's business and economic interests in Ukraine – Reuters.com

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Ukraine's then presesident, Viktor Yanukovich (L), and Chinese President Xi Jinping exchange documents during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing December 5, 2013. REUTERS/Wang Zhao/Pool/File Photo
BEIJING, Feb 23 (Reuters) – Ukraine, which is locked in a security crisis with Russia, has seen growing investment from China in recent years.
China has a strategic interest in Ukraine because of its location, a free trade deal between Ukraine and the European Union, and the former Soviet republic's supply of mineral and agricultural resources.
China has expressed concern about the "worsening" situation in Ukraine and called for all parties to show restraint and resolve differences through dialogue. read more L1N2UY0FZ
Below are some of China's main business and economic interests in Ukraine.
Trade relations between China and Ukraine have grown significantly since a state visit to China in 2013 by then President Viktor Yanukovych.
China leapfrogged Russia to become Ukraine's biggest single trading partner in 2019, with overall trade totalling $18.98 billion last year, a nearly 80% jump from 2013, according to data from the State Statistics Service of Ukraine.
Ukrainian exports to China, mainly commodities such as iron ore, corn and sunflower oil, stood at $8.0 billion in 2021, while imports from China, largely machinery and consumer goods, totalled $10.97 billion, the data showed.
China became the largest importer of Ukrainian barley in the 2020-21 marketing year. About 30% of China's corn imports last year, more than 8 million tonnes, came from Ukraine, Chinese customs data showed. read more
Increased bilateral trade also facilitated the launch of direct rail freight service between the two countries, although the frequency remains low. Ukraine is also a stop on the China-Europe Railway Express service, which has helped ease logistics headaches for Chinese firms during COVID-19 pandemic.
Ukraine is an important hub within the Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese President Xi Jinping's signature infrastructure and foreign policy project, which Kyiv joined in 2017. In 2020, the two sides signed an agreement to strengthen cooperation in areas including the financing and construction of infrastructure projects.
Big Chinese companies with operations in Ukraine include state food conglomerate COFCO Corp (CNCOF.UL), state-run builders China Pacific Construction Group and China Harbor Engineering Co (CHEC), and telecoms gear giant Huawei Technologies (HWT.UL).
Direct investment by Chinese firms in Ukraine totalled $150 million by end-2019, according to Chinese data. In the first three quarters of 2020, Chinese firms invested $75.7 million on projects in Ukraine, according to Ukraine's embassy in China.
COFCO in 2016 launched a grain terminal at Nikolaev sea port worth of $75 million in southern Ukraine. In 2019, CHEC completed a dredging project at the port of Chornomorsk.
China Pacific Construction Group in 2017 signed a deal to build a metro line in the capital Kyiv and Huawei, which has helped Ukraine to develop its mobile networks, in 2019 won the bid to install the 4G network in Kyiv's subway.
Huawei was chosen in 2020 to help ensure and improve cyber defence and cybersecurity in Ukraine.
In 2021, China Longyuan Power Group Corporation (0916.HK) , the country's largest wind power producer, built and put into operation a large wind farm in the city of Yuzhne.
Not every investment has gone smoothly.
Ukraine said last year that it would halt the takeover of a local aircraft engine maker by Chinese aerospace company Skyrizon due to U.S. concerns of forced technology transfers to the Chinese state.
Power Construction Corp of China also signed a deal to construct an 800 MW wind power plant worth $1 billion with local partners in Donetsk which would be Europe's biggest onshore wind park.
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U.S. employers hired more workers than expected in August, but moderate wage growth and a rise in the unemployment rate to 3.7% suggested the labor market was starting to loosen, raising cautious optimism that the Federal Reserve could slow the economy without triggering a recession.
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China says Biden comments likening leader Xi to a dictator ‘extremely absurd and irresponsible’

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China says Biden comments likening leader Xi to a dictator ‘extremely absurd and irresponsible’

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s remarks calling Chinese leader Xi Jinping a “dictator” and China a country with “real economic difficulties” drew fast condemnation from China on Wednesday, cracking open a new rift just after the two countries agreed to tentative steps to stabilize the relationship.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning condemned Biden’s unusually pointed comments as “extremely absurd and irresponsible.”

The clash of words comes after Secretary of State Antony Blinken concluded a visit to Beijing on Monday that sought to break the ice in a relationship that has hit a historical low. While both sides saw those talks as productive, they did not result in any significant breakthroughs beyond an agreement to return to a broad agenda for cooperation and competition.

China’s quick response to Biden, a president known for seemingly off-script remarks that venture beyond his administration’s policies, raises questions whether his remarks would undo the limited progress that had been made in Blinken’s carefully engineered trip or whether the two sides would move on.

Biden’s characterization of China comes as the campaign for next year’s presidential election is already taking off, with Republicans accusing him of being weak on China.

Biden also was preparing to welcome Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington on Wednesday evening for a lavish state visit where a central theme will be a shared wariness of China.

Biden, at a fundraiser in California on Tuesday night, referred back to January and February’s two-week overflight of what the U.S. says was a Chinese spy balloon. The balloon’s surprise appearance over U.S. skies roiled relations and transfixed the American public.

Speaking to wealthy donors at the event for his 2024 reelection campaign, Biden depicted Xi as out-of-touch and embarrassed by the incident, which ended with the Air Force shooting down the balloon just off the East Coast.

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“The reason why Xi Jinping got very upset in terms of when I shot that balloon down with two box cars full of spy equipment is he didn’t know it was there,” Biden told the crowd.

“No, I’m serious,” he added. “That was the great embarrassment for dictators, when they didn’t know what happened.“

Biden also played down trade competition from China, which is the world’s second-biggest economy after the United States but struggling to emerge from COVID-era financial troubles.

“By the way, I promise you, don’t worry about China. Worry about China but don’t worry about China,” Biden said. “I really mean it. China has real economic difficulties.”

Biden’s remarks came hours after his secretary of state, in an interview with MSNBC, had called for the two countries to put the balloon incident behind them, saying it was a chapter that “should be closed.”

In Beijing on Wednesday, Mao told reporters that Biden’s remarks “go totally against facts and seriously violate diplomatic protocol, and severely infringe on China’s political dignity.”

“It is a blatant political provocation,” Mao said.

Mao also reiterated China’s version of the balloon episode, saying the balloon was for meteorological research and had been accidentally blown off course.

Administration officials signaled Wednesday that Biden had no intention of walking back his comments.

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Biden and Blinken have made clear “we will continue to responsibly manage this relationship, maintain open lines of communication with the PRC,” Vedant Patel, a State Department spokesman, told reporters, using an abbreviation for the People’s Republic of China.

“But that, of course, does not mean we will not be blunt and forthright about our differences,” including differences on the global competition between democracies and autocracies, Patel said.

U.S.-China tensions have mounted for years as rivalry builds over trade and global influence. Repeated flare-ups have helped escalate the tensions, including over the balloon, U.S. tariffs, sanctions on China, and self-ruled Taiwan.

The U.S. is pressing China to embrace direct communications between Biden, Xi and other senior U.S. and Chinese military and civilian leaders, as a channel to defuse tensions and keep incidents from escalating into open hostilities.

Despite the administration’s diplomatic efforts to soothe relations, analysts point to the Republican political pressure, and note Biden regularly seems to go off-script to criticize Xi.

Bonnie Glaser, Asia director of the George Marshall Fund of the United States, pointed Wednesday to Biden’s state of the union address in February, soon after the balloon flight, as Republican lawmakers in the audience heckled him over China and other issues. Waving a finger in the air, Biden cried out, “Name me a world leader who’d change places with Xi Jinping! Name me one! Name me one!”

For Biden, “he’s under a lot of criticism from the right. He doesn’t want to be seen as soft on China. He views Xi Jinping as a dictator,” Glaser said.

“And he’s not very good … at differentiating what should be said in public and what should be said in private,” Glaser said. “And the relationship pays a price for it. There’s no doubt about it.”

Xi was likely upset by the claim that he hadn’t been fully informed about the balloon incident, said Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at the London University School of Oriental and African Studies and a longtime observer of Chinese politics.

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“My sense is that Xi may not want to overreact and put the relationship back on ice again,” Tsang said in an email.

The initial Republican response to Biden’s remarks was approving. “It’s an appropriate description of their system of government,” Sen. Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said.

While Xi heads a country formally named the People’s Republic of China, he faces no limits on his terms as head of state, commander of the military and leader of the ruling Communist Party, which brooks no challenges to its authority.

In California, Biden had told donors that Xi “wants to have a relationship again.”

Blinken “went over there … did a good job, and it’s going to take time,” he said.

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Associated Press writer Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.

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Macron appeals to China’s Xi to ‘bring Russia to its senses’

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Macron appeals to China’s Xi to ‘bring Russia to its senses’

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese leader Xi Jinping called Thursday for peace talks over Ukraine after French President Emmanuel Macron appealed to him to “bring Russia to its senses,” but Xi gave no indication Beijing would use its leverage as Vladimir Putin’s diplomatic partner to press for a settlement.

Xi gave no sign China, which declared it had a “no limits friendship” with Moscow before last year’s invasion, had changed its stance since calling for peace talks in February.

“Peace talks should resume as soon as possible,” Xi said. He called on other governments to avoid doing anything that might “make the crisis deteriorate or even get out of control.”

Beijing, which sees Moscow as a partner in opposing U.S. domination of global affairs, has tried to appear neutral in the conflict but has given Putin diplomatic support and repeated Russian justifications for the February 2022 attack. Xi received an effusive welcome from Putin when he visited Moscow last month, giving the isolated Russian president a political boost.

The Chinese leader said “legitimate security concerns of all parties” should be considered, a reference to Moscow’s argument that it attacked Ukraine because of the eastward expansion of NATO, the U.S.-European military alliance.

During talks earlier, Macron appealed to Xi to “bring Russia to its senses and bring everyone back to the negotiating table.”

Macron pointed to Chinese support for the United Nations Charter, which calls for respect of a country’s territorial integrity. He said Putin’s announcement of plans to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus violated international agreements and commitments to Xi’s government.

“We need to find a lasting peace,” the French president said. “I believe that this is also an important issue for China.”

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Macron was accompanied to Beijing by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in a show of European unity.

Von der Leyen said she encouraged Xi to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and the Chinese leader “reiterated his willingness to speak when conditions and time are right.”

“I think this is a positive element,” von der Leyen said.

Von der Leyen warned China against sending military equipment to Russia, echoing a warning Wednesday by NATO’s 31 member governments of “severe consequences” for shipments of weapons or ammunition.

“Arming the aggressor is a clear violation of international law,” von der Leyen said. “This would indeed significantly harm the relationship between the European Union and China.”

China is the biggest buyer of Russian oil and gas, which helps prop up the Kremlin’s revenue in the face of Western sanctions. That increases Chinese influence, but Xi appears reluctant to jeopardize that partnership by pressuring Putin.

“China has always adhered to an objective and fair position on the issue of the Ukraine crisis,” said a Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning. “We have been an advocate of a political solution to the crisis and a promoter of peace talks.”

Also Wednesday, the French and Chinese governments announced agreements including the purchase of 160 Airbus aircraft by a Chinese leasing company and for their companies to collaborate on nuclear, solar, wind power and biofuel development.

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ITF resumes tennis in China with no word on Peng Shuai

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ITF resumes tennis in China with no word on Peng Shuai

TOKYO (AP) — The International Tennis Federation will play tournaments this year in China with no word of a resolution to the case of Chinese doubles player Peng Shuai.

Peng disappeared from public view shortly after accusing a former high-ranking Communist Party official — in a web posting in November of 2021 — of sexual assault.

The ITF, which conducts tournaments below the elite level in its World Tennis Tour, lists its first tournament in China on June 5-11 at Luzhou. The ITF’s last full season in China was 2019, prior to COVID-19.

“The ITF anticipates a resumption of tournament activity within China for each of the ITF Tours later this year,” the ITF said in a statement.

The WTA, which runs the sport’s top-tier women’s events, hasn’t announced if it will resume staging tournaments in China.

In late 2021, WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon announced that the WTA would be suspending all of its tournaments — including the season-ending WTA Finals — that were held in China because of concerns over Peng, costing the tour millions.

The men’s ATP has scheduled several event for later this year in China. It canceled 2022 events because of COVID-19 restrictions in China.

Peng gave a controlled interview a year ago during the Winter Olympics in Beijing and had dinner at the event with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach. She left many questions unanswered and has largely been out of public view since then.

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Simon has repeatedly called for a “formal investigation” into the allegations made by Peng, and has asked to meet privately with Peng. It’s not clear those conditions have been met.

In a statement announcing the ITF men’s and women’s tournaments returning to China, ITF President David Haggerty said the sport’s world governing body had to invest in the professional events that worked as “the main artery for the top level of the game.”

“As the global guardians of the game, we are passionate about providing a pathway for up and coming talent in all countries, and providing more opportunities for players to play closer to home,” Haggerty said, adding that the ITF was pleased to be returning to countries such as China, Burundi, Cyprus, Trinidad & Tobago and Taiwan.

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AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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