Asian shares rallied on Monday after U.S. and Chinese leaders brokered a truce in their trade conflict, a relief for the global economic outlook and a tonic for emerging markets and battered oil prices.
Trade-exposed currencies led the early gains, with the Australian dollar notching a four-month peak, while the dollar dropped to one-month lows against the yuan.
E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 climbed as much as 1.9 percent. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan jumped 1.8 percent.
China's CSI300 index of Shanghai and Shenzhen shares rose 2.6 percent. In Japan, the Nikkei gained 1.3 percent to a six-week high.
"Markets are opening with a knee-jerk boost to risk appetite but time will tell how enduring the optimism proves to be," said ANZ economist Jo Masters. "There are already very different official takes on what was achieved at the meeting."
"But for now, both sides can claim a win," she added. "Perhaps not insignificantly, it provides a window to export the soybean crop from key Republican states, at least."
‘I begged them to kill me,’ says Uyghur woman who survived Chinese detention camp
Mihrigul Tursun, a 29-year-old Uyghur Muslim, said the torture and abuse at one of the internment camps Chinese authorities use to detain 1.5 million people from religious minorities was so bad she begged for death.“I thought that I would rather die than go through this torture and begged them to kill me,” she said at the National Press Club in Washington.After her second arrest in 2017, Tursun said she was interrogated for four consecutive days without sleep, had her hair shaved, was electrocuted and also forced into an intrusive medical examination.Tursun moved from China to Egypt to study, and met her husband there. She had triplets and returned to China in 2015 to see her family.China’s ‘vocational camps’ employ draconian measures, use 360-degree surveillance in washroomsShe was immediately arrested and her children were taken from her. Three months later, she was released only to find that one of her triplets had died and the others had developed health issues.Two years later, she was arrested again and then released only to be arrested for a third time.Tursun said she shared a prison cell with 60 other women for three months, during which nine of her cellmates died. The women had to take turns sleeping and even use the bathroom while being watched by surveillance cameras. “The authorities put a helmet-like thing on my head, and each time I was electrocuted, my whole body would shake violently and I would feel the pain in my veins,” Tursun said, referring to an incident when she was made to sit a high chair and her legs and arms were shackled.“I don’t remember the rest. White foam came out of my mouth, and I began to lose consciousness. The last word I heard them saying is that you being a Uighur is a crime,” she added.Tursun said the facility employees forced the inmates, including herself, to take strange medication, some of which caused them to faint. The inmates were also made to drink a white liquid that caused some women to bleed and others to stop menstruating.Ultimately Tursun was freed so she could take her children to Egypt but she was directed to return to China. Once she arrived in Egypt, she reached out to the U.S. and has resided in Virginia since September.Scholars condemn China for mass detention of Muslim UighursMany refer to China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region -- home to many ethnic minority groups, including Turkic Uighur people -- as East Turkestan.They believe that the Uighur are among a number of Turkic tribes that inhabit the region, and consider it to be part of Central Asia, not China.Established under the pretext of “political reeducation” for China’s Muslim population, Beijing has amped up its construction of detention camps in the past three months, expanding them by an additional 700,000 square meters, according to satellite imagery.China’s Muslim incarceration camps have attracted heavy criticism from the international community as Beijing continually denied their existence and repeatedly rejected allegations of abuses against the country’s Uighur minority for years, opting to call them “vocational camps” instead.Xinjiang region is home to around 10 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group which makes up around 45 percent of the population of Xinjiang, has long accused China’s authorities for cultural, religious and economic discrimination.In rare coordinated move, Western envoys seek meeting on Xinjiang concernsHundreds in US march in solidarity for UyghursGermany cannot accept China’s camps for Uighur MuslimsSecurity spending soars in China's troubled Xinjiang region: report
US-China dispute casts shadow as world leaders gather in Argentina
The leaders of the world's top economies gathered in Argentina on Friday for talks overshadowed by a U.S.-China trade war that has roiled global markets, bracing for the kind of geopolitical drama U.S. President Donald Trump often brings to the international stage.The two-day annual gathering will be a major test for the Group of 20 industrialized nations, whose leaders first met in 2008 to help rescue the global economy from the worst financial crisis in seven decades. With a rise in nationalist sentiment in many countries, the group faces questions over its ability to deal with the latest round of crises.Overhanging the summit in Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital, is a trade dispute between the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies, which have imposed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other’s imports.All eyes will be on a planned dinner between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday to see whether they can make progress toward resolving differences threatening the global economy.China’s ‘vocational camps’ employ draconian measures, use 360-degree surveillance in washroomsBeijing hopes to persuade Trump to abandon plans to hike tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25 percent in January, from 10 percent at present."We hope the U.S. can show sincerity and meet China half way, to promote a proposal that both countries can accept," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a briefing in Beijing.Speaking in Buenos Aires, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said he would be surprised if the dinner was not a success, but it would depend entirely on the two presidents.On the eve of the summit, G20 member nations were still trying to reach agreement on major issues including trade, migration and climate change that in past years have been worked out well in advance.China has 'stern' words with US over ship in South China SeaTrump's skepticism that global warming is caused by human activity has raised questions about whether the countries will be able to reach enough consensus on climate change to include it in the summit’s final communique.Earlier this month, officials from countries attending a major Asia-Pacific summit failed to issue a joint statement for the first time after the U.S. delegation clashed with China over trade and security.However, delegates to the talks in Buenos Aires said good progress had been made on economic sections of the statement overnight. Argentina's presidency voiced optimism consensus would be reached on a draft."As this is a difficult moment for international cooperation, I would like to appeal to the leaders to use this summit ... to seriously discuss real issues such as trade wars, the tragic situation in Syria and Yemen and the Russian aggression in Ukraine," European Council President Donald Tusk told a news conference in Buenos Aires.China hopes US shows sincerity at G20 trade talksHighlighting the deep rifts within the G20, Tusk said the European Union would extend its economic sanctions on Moscow next month, after Russian ships fired on Ukrainian ones in the Sea of Azov last week, seizing the boats and sailors.Trump cited Russia's seizure of the ships as the reason he canceled a planned bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, where they had been expected to discuss the U.S. leader's threat to withdraw from the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty.However, Moscow said U.S. domestic politics may have been the real reason behind the cancellation after Michael Cohen, Trump's former longtime personal lawyer, pleaded guilty on Thursday to lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Organization skyscraper in Moscow.The presence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the summit also raised an awkward dilemma for leaders. Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler arrived under swirling controversy over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.Two Chinese trade union officials arrested after helping workersBritish Prime Minister Theresa May said she would be robust when she talks to Prince Mohammed, urging him to hold a full and credible investigation into Khashoggi's killing and hold those responsible to account.TRUMP AND TRADEUncertainty prevailed about how Trump, known for his unpredictability, would behave at what was shaping up as one of the group’s most consequential summits.Trump rejected a statement by fellow leaders of the G7 industrialized economies at a summit in May after a tense gathering ended in acrimony, again over tariffs and trade.Before heading for Buenos Aires on Thursday, Trump said he was open to a trade deal with China, but added, “I don't know that I want to do it.”China says it hopes US can show sincerity on tradeGlobal financial markets will take their lead on Monday from the outcome of the Xi-Trump meeting, having seesawed in recent days on concerns trade tensions could escalate.Oil markets will also be closely watching a bilateral meeting between Putin and Crown Prince Mohammed on Saturday afternoon for any sign of a breakthrough in a deal for Russia to participate in a production cut by the OPEC oil cartel next month.In another bilateral meeting on Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron will discuss the Renault-Nissan alliance's future with Japanese Prime minister Shinzo Abe, seeking to defuse a brewing diplomatic row over the balance of power inside the partnership.NEW-LOOK NAFTAOne bright spot in Buenos Aires on Friday before the summit opened was the signing of a revised U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade pact to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.Signing the agreement alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Trump said he looked forward to working with the U.S. Congress to complete the terms of the deal and did not anticipate problems in passing it.The three countries agreed a deal in principle to govern their trillion dollars of mutual trade after a year and a half of contentious talks concluded with a late-night bargain just an hour before a deadline on Sept. 30.However, Trudeau took advantage of the signing ceremony to say the partners needed to keep working to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum.
China and the United States agreed to halt additional tariffs in a deal that keeps their trade war from escalating as the two sides try again to bridge their differences with fresh talks aimed at reaching a deal within 90 days.
The White House said on Saturday that President Donald Trump told Chinese President Xi Jinping during high-stakes talks in Argentina that he would not boost tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25 percent on Jan. 1 as previously announced.
"Deeply contentious thornier structural issues such as forced technology transfer remain unresolved," cautioned Westpac FX analyst Robert Rennie.
"This U.S.-China agreement is thus better characterised as a 'mini-breakthrough' that puts a momentary pause on trade tensions rather than a comprehensive policy deal."
Indeed, many market players doubt the two countries can bridge their differences that cover a range of issues within three months.
China’s ‘vocational camps’ employ draconian measures, use 360-degree surveillance in washrooms
The 1.5 million “prisoners,” a million of whom are Uighur Muslims, locked up in China’s “vocational training centers” in Xinjiang are subject to such severe indoctrination and security measures that “some are tortured and die there,” the Bitter Winter online magazine reported on Monday.The report is based on a video published by Bitter Winter on Nov. 26 that delves inside one of the centers in the Yining area of Xinjiang.The video shows a complex with various buildings, each four stories tall. The windows are barred and also have netting. Each exit is monitored by three surveillance cameras. The inside of the buildings are highly reminiscent of typical prisons.“Each room has double iron doors, and the outermost iron door also has guard railing and a keypad lock. Up to 15 people can live in each dorm. Surveying has also revealed that each floor holds 28 dorm rooms and three classrooms,” the Bitter Winter reported. The building shown in the shocking video also reveals a surveillance room. “From the large-screen monitor, it is apparent that 360-degree surveillance cameras are installed in every corner of the building—including not only classrooms, dormitories and corridors, but even washrooms. Every move by the detainees is monitored, 24 hours a day. They are totally deprived of freedom and privacy.”The draconian security measures are used to keep people inside and prevent them from escaping. The building is also littered with propaganda aimed at assimilating those being held.“A slogan is written on the external walls of the buildings, which reads: ‘Heartfelt thanks for the cordial care of the [Chinese Communist] Party’s central committee, with comrade Xi Jinping as the core,’” the Bitter Winter reported. “Various slogans are written on the walls outside of the classrooms, such as: ‘Make a habit of studying Mandarin’ (intended for Uyghurs, who normally do not speak Mandarin but only their own Uyghur language) and ‘Follow the guidance of Xi Jinping’s thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, and untiringly strive to achieve the dream of the people of China to bring about a great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.’”Many refer to China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region -- home to many ethnic minority groups, including Turkic Uighur people -- as East Turkestan.They believe that the Uighur are among a number of Turkic tribes that inhabit the region, and consider it to be part of Central Asia, not China. Established under the pretext of “political reeducation” for China’s Muslim population, Beijing has amped up its construction of detention camps in the past three months, expanding them by an additional 700,000 square meters, according to satellite imagery.China’s Muslim incarceration camps have attracted heavy criticism from the international community as Beijing continually denied their existence and repeatedly rejected allegations of abuses against the country’s Uighur minority for years, opting to call them “vocational camps” instead.Xinjiang region is home to around 10 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group which makes up around 45 percent of the population of Xinjiang, has long accused China’s authorities for cultural, religious and economic discrimination.Scholars condemn China for mass detention of Muslim UighursIn rare coordinated move, Western envoys seek meeting on Xinjiang concernsGermany cannot accept China’s camps for Uighur MuslimsChina says world should ignore 'gossip' about XinjiangChina triples spending to expand detention camps for Uighur Muslims
China has 'stern' words with US over ship in South China Sea
China said on Friday it had lodged "stern representations" with the United States after the U.S. Navy sailed a ship through the contested South China Sea, passing near islands claimed by China.Tension between the two powers in disputed Asian waters comes as their relationship has between strained by a row over trade involving increasingly severe rounds of tariffs on billions of dollars worth of each other's imports.China hopes US shows sincerity at G20 trade talksThe U.S. guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville sailed near the Paracel Islands on Monday to challenge China's "excessive maritime claims", the U.S. Pacific fleet said in a statement.China claims "irrefutable" sovereignty over most of the South China Sea and the islands in it, and accuses the United States of raising military tension with its navy presence there.Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam all claim parts of the waterway, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year. Taiwan also claims the waters.Two Chinese trade union officials arrested after helping workersChina says it hopes US can show sincerity on trade
"Technology is becoming the main battle ground. It's not just a trade war any more. It's more like a technology war, in which we just found a temporary lull," said Hiroshi Watanabe, economist at Sony Financial.
And on the whole, there is still uncertainty over the outlook for corporate earnings amid signs of slowing growth.
For now though, investors chose to see the glass as half full and lifted the Aussie dollar 0.75 percent to $0.7360 .
The greenback eased against a basket of currencies to 96.993 , but also firmed on the yen to 113.52. The euro added 0.3 percent to $1.1345.
The Mexican peso jumped more than 1 percent to 20.185 , helped also by reports that newly sworn-in Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador may reverse his earlier plan to cancel construction of a new airport in the country's capital.
MSCI's emerging currency index rose 0.4 percent to its highest levels in almost 4 months.
The dollar had come under pressure last week when comments by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell were interpreted by markets as hinting at a slower pace of rate hikes.
Powell was scheduled to testify on Wednesday to a congressional Joint Economic Committee. But the hearing is expected to be postponed to Thursday because major exchanges will be closed on Wednesday in honour of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, who died on Saturday at the age of 94.
Treasuries rallied hard late on Friday to leave 10-year yields down at 2.99 percent before bouncing back to 3.035 percent early on Monday.
The progress on Sino-U.S. trade and an easier dollar provided some support to commodity prices.
Oil soared more than five percent, a positive start after it had posted its weakest month in more than 10 years in November, losing more than 20 percent as global supply outstripped demand.
Speculation is high the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia would agree some form of production cut at a meeting in Vienna on Thursday.
Brent futures rose $2.40 to trade at $61.86 a barrel, while U.S. crude gained $2.28 to $53.21, both on course to make their biggest daily gains in over two years.
Chicago soybeans climbed to their highest in almost six months, rising more than 2 percent at one point,
The gains were spurred a White House statement that said Beijing has agreed to buy an unspecified but "very substantial" amount of agricultural, energy, industrial and other products.
Over recent months, the tit-for-tat retaliatory tariffs have drastically curbed U.S. soybean exports to China, by far the world's biggest bean importer.
Activists seek release of refugee Bahraini footballer held in Thailand
Thai rights activists on Friday called for the release of a refugee footballer from Bahrain detained in Bangkok who may be deported back home where they say he could face persecution.Thai authorities arrested Hakeem AlAraibi, who plays in Australia where he has refugee status, on arrival at a Bangkok airport this week based on an Interpol notice issued at Bahrain's request.AlAraibi was convicted of vandalising a police station in Bahrain and sentenced to 10 years in prison in absentia. He has denied wrongdoing."We have to deport him to the country of origin or extradite him. According to the law, we have rights to detain him as long as we want, but within the necessary scope," said an immigration official who declined to be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media.Thailand does not have an extradition treaty with Bahrain but "it could be considered on a case by case basis", said Chitphol Kanchanakit at the Foreign Affairs Department.Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement it was "in direct contact with Thai authorities regarding this issue" but declined to elaborate.Officials at the Bahrain embassy in Bangkok were not immediately available for comment.AlAraibi has been a vocal critic of the president of the Asian Football Federation, Sheikh Salman Alkhalifa, who is a cousin of the king.He was tortured by Bahraini authorities because of his brother's political activities during the Arab Spring uprising in 2011, Human Rights Watch said."Sending him back to Bahrain would be a heartless act that violates Thailand's obligations to protect refugees," said Sunai Phasuk, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch in Thailand.AlAraibi, who used to play for the Bahrain national team, was granted refugee status in Australia in 2017 and now plays for a Melbourne club.
China rejects U.S. academic report calling for retaliatory action
Chinese media on Friday hit back at a U.S. academic report which urged the United States to engage in "tit-for-tat" retaliation to counter what it said was China's widening campaign for influence which threatened to undermine democratic values.The 213-page report, published by the U.S. think tank Hoover Institution on Thursday, said China's ruling Communist Party had in recent years "significantly accelerated" both the investment and intensity of its global influence-seeking efforts.The report was penned by a group of more than 30 prominent Western experts, such as Orville Schell, director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society in New York, many whom had long advocated for closer engagement with China.The sharper tone comes as President Xi Jinping has increased repression at home and adopted what the report describes as an "increasingly forward and aggressive posture on the global stage".Trump says 'long way to go' on tariffs and ChinaChina's state-run Global Times said the report's threat assessment was unfounded."We believe the Chinese infiltration into the United States the report describes does not match up with China's objective aspirations," the newspaper said in an editorial.The report, however, found that there was now a "surprising" level of bi-partisan scepticism about China's intentions and a willingness to push back against its "predatory" policies."China is exploiting America's openness in order to advance its aims on a competitive playing field," it said. "Once largely a form of economic competition, China's recent turn to military and political rivalry with the United States has changed the whole equation of the bilateral relationship."US farm sector stockpiles Chinese chemicals before scheduled tariffsIn order to counter China's activities, the report makes a series of suggestions for United States lawmakers, institutions and businesses that it said could help ensure "transparency, integrity and reciprocity".It recommends denying U.S. visas to Chinese journalists and having scholars affiliated with the Chinese government-run "Thousand Talents Programme" registered as a foreign agent.The report also lauded recent legislation that strengthened the review process by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an interagency panel that assesses the national security implications of investment.Legislation passed in June by U.S. President Donald Trump was a "substantial improvement" that closed loopholes that China had been exploiting, it said.China hopes for positive results from US talks at G20The authors also included a note of caution that China's efforts should not be exaggerated."China has not sought to interfere in a national election in the United States or to sow confusion or inflame polarisation in our democratic discourse the way Russia has done," it said.Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said it was their custom not to give detailed comment on think tank reports, but he said China welcomed U.S. companies, media, students and think tanks to come to the country."We hope that the United States, as the world's most powerful country, can open both arms and welcome companies, the media, think tanks and students from all countries, including China, to go to the United States," he told reporters.