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Chinese officials

U.S., Chinese Officials to Meet Aug. 15, Assess Trade Deal – The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. and China have agreed to high-level talks on Aug. 15 to assess Beijing’s compliance with the bilateral trade agreement signed early this year, according to people briefed on the matter.

The trade pact has emerged as one of the few remaining avenues for the two countries to engage on matters of mutual concern. Relations have deteriorated in recent months, with the Trump administration hammering Beijing over the coronavirus outbreak, Hong Kong and the treatment of Uighurs in western China.

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Federal officials

Federal officials warn of seasonal spike in polio-like condition that mostly affects children – The Washington Post

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned parents and caregivers Tuesday to watch out for an uncommon, polio-like condition that mostly strikes children, usually between August and November.

Acute flaccid myelitis, which may be caused by any of several viruses, is marked by a sudden weakness or paralysis of the limbs. Since surveillance began in 2014, prevalence of the ­syndrome has spiked in even-numbered years, often afflicting children about 5 years old.

The disease is very rare, but a quick response is critical once the weakness sets in; the disease can progress over hours or days and lead to permanent paralysis or respiratory failure, according to a report issued Tuesday by the CDC. Among 238 cases in 2018 reviewed by the CDC, 98 percent of patients were hospitalized, 54 percent required intensive care, and 23 percent were placed on ventilators to help them breathe.

Most patients were hospitalized within a day of experiencing weakness, but about 10 percent were not hospitalized until four or more days later, possibly because of failure to recognize the syndrome, the report said.

Limb weakness, difficulty walking and limb pain are often preceded by fever or respiratory illness, usually by about six days, the CDC said. Hundreds of U.S. children have been affected, and many do not fully recover.

A number of viruses — including West Nile virus, adenovirus and non-polio enteroviruses — are known to produce the symptoms in a small number of people who become infected by those pathogens. But enterovirus, particularly one dubbed EV-D68, appears to be the most common cause, the CDC said. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is working on a vaccine for EV-D68.

Thomas Clark, the deputy director of the CDC’s division of viral diseases, said the coronavirus pandemic may force doctors to evaluate patients by phone or telemedicine, but he warned that they should not delay if they suspect the syndrome, which is considered a medical emergency.

It is unclear whether mask-wearing, social distancing and other measures that have been taken against the coronavirus will limit the outbreak of acute flaccid myelitis expected this year.

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German officials

German And U.K. Officials Warn Of A Possible New COVID-19 Wave In Europe – NPR

Parts of the European Union are at risk of a new wave of coronavirus cases, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says. The bloc began lifting many internal border restrictions last month. Here, airline passengers walk out of a departures area last week at Gatwick Airport, south of London.

Matt Dunham/AP


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Matt Dunham/AP

Parts of the European Union are at risk of a new wave of coronavirus cases, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says. The bloc began lifting many internal border restrictions last month. Here, airline passengers walk out of a departures area last week at Gatwick Airport, south of London.

Matt Dunham/AP

The European Union successfully flattened the curve of COVID-19 cases in the spring – but a second wave could be building in parts of the EU, according to both British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the head of Germany’s disease agency.

“I’m afraid you are starting to see, in some places, the signs of a second wave of the pandemic” in Europe, Johnson said Tuesday.

“We don’t know yet if this is the beginning of a second wave, but of course it could be,” said Lothar Wieler, head of Germany’s infectious disease agency, the Robert Koch Institute. His remarks were reported by Deutsche Welle.

Wieler said he is “very worried” about a higher incidence of COVID-19 in many parts of Germany, blaming the rise on negligence. In its most recent situation report, the Robert Koch Institute said many cases are connected to people returning to work, having family celebrations and engaging in leisure activities.

“In the past two weeks there were more than 500 new cases a day, a slight uptick from the previous month, and local outbreaks have contributed to the rise,” NPR’s Rob Schmitz reported from Berlin.

Both Johnson and Wieler said a second wave can be avoided if people take precautions such as wearing face masks, washing hands and maintaining physical distance.

“Everybody knows what the rules are,” Johnson said. “That’s how we’ll help ourselves.”

After being on a near-total lockdown in the spring, Europe has increasingly opened itself to travel this summer. Many internal border restrictions were lifted in June. As of July 1, the bloc is also allowing international tourists to visit from certain countries, depending on their epidemiological status.

In a worrying sign, Europe’s latest COVID-19 statistics show rising numbers in the 14-day average of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people. Spain’s rate is now at 47 cases per 100,000 people, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Both Germany and the U.K. have identified Spain as a potential source of new cases due to its spike in transmission rates and its popularity with summer holiday travelers. The German foreign ministry is advising people not to visit the regions of Aragon, Navarra and Catalonia. The U.K. has taken a more formal step by imposing a 14-day quarantine order on anyone arriving from Spain.

“What we have to do is take swift and decisive action where we think that the risks are starting to bubble up again,” Johnson said.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez sharply criticized the British move, calling it an error and “unjust” during an appearance Monday night on national TV. The U.K. policy is misguided, Sánchez said, adding that Spain’s spike in cases is concentrated in two territories in the northeast, while most of the country has a lower infection rate than both the U.K. and the EU.

A graphic shows lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the EU and the U.K., as of July 28. German and U.K. officials warn that the region could be seeing a second wave.

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control


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A graphic shows lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the EU and the U.K., as of July 28. German and U.K. officials warn that the region could be seeing a second wave.

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

The U.K. currently has more than 300,000 coronavirus cases – the most in Europe. Spain is close behind, with nearly 280,000 cases. Germany has around 207,000 cases.

While the EU’s most populous countries such as Germany, France and the U.K. are reporting case rates at or below 16 people per 100,000 people over the past 14 days, many of their close neighbors continue to struggle. Sweden’s rate of new cases is nearly 35 per 100,000 people; Belgium’s is nearly 30. Both Bulgaria and Portugal are reporting high rates – and Romania’s is among the worst in the EU, at 66.7.

The EU has roughly 116 million more people than the U.S. Taken along with the U.K., the European bloc is currently reporting nearly 1.7 million coronavirus cases — far less than the more than 4.3 million cases confirmed in the United States.

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Chinese officials

US officials raid Chinese consulate in Houston believed to be spy hub – Fox News

U.S. officials pried open the doors of the Chinese consulate in Houston on Friday and took over the building shortly after Chinese officials vacated the facility on orders from the Trump Administration.

Federal officials and local law enforcement surrounded the Houston facility Friday afternoon as the Chinese officials moved out of the building that the Trump Administration contends was a hub of spy activity by the Chinese Communist Party.

Forty minutes after the 4 p.m. eviction deadline passed, U.S. officials broke into a back door of the consulate and a man believed to be a State Department official led the way of the U.S. takeover, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Federal officials and a locksmith pull on a door to make entry into the vacated Consulate General of China building Friday, July 24, 2src2src, in Houston. On Tuesday, the U.S. ordered the Houston consulate closed within 72 hours, alleging that Chinese agents had tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Federal officials and a locksmith pull on a door to make entry into the vacated Consulate General of China building Friday, July 24, 2020, in Houston. On Tuesday, the U.S. ordered the Houston consulate closed within 72 hours, alleging that Chinese agents had tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
(Godofredo Vasquez/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Photographs show federal officials and a locksmith trying to force their way into the vacated Consulate General of China. U.S. officials had tried three other entrances but couldn’t get in. Security teams donning U.S. State Department emblems on their shirts stood guard. The Houston Chronicle reported that the local fire department entered the building, too.

Tuesday night, hours after the Trump Administration announced its directive for the Chinese to vacate, the Houston Fire Department responded to fires at the courtyard of the building — an apparent effort to destroy documents. Chinese officials refused to allow the first responders to enter to put out the fires, Fox 26 in Houston reported.

Federal officials and a locksmith work on a door to make entry into the vacated Consulate General of China building Friday, July 24, 2src2src, in Houston. On Tuesday, the U.S. ordered the Houston consulate closed within 72 hours, alleging that Chinese agents had tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Federal officials and a locksmith work on a door to make entry into the vacated Consulate General of China building Friday, July 24, 2020, in Houston. On Tuesday, the U.S. ordered the Houston consulate closed within 72 hours, alleging that Chinese agents had tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)

CHINA THREATENS RETALIATION AFTER U.S. CLOSES CONSULATE

All morning Friday, consulate workers were spotted loading up two U-haul trucks and vehicles and tossing trash bags into a nearby Dumpster in an attempt to meet the U.S.’s 4 p.m. eviction deadline, the Chronicle reported.

Consular staff pack items into their vehicles as they vacate the Consulate General of China building Friday, July 24, 2src2src, in Houston. On Tuesday, the U.S. ordered the Houston consulate closed within 72 hours, alleging that Chinese agents had tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. (Godofredo Vasquez/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Consular staff pack items into their vehicles as they vacate the Consulate General of China building Friday, July 24, 2020, in Houston. On Tuesday, the U.S. ordered the Houston consulate closed within 72 hours, alleging that Chinese agents had tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. (Godofredo Vasquez/Houston Chronicle via AP)

“We can confirm that the PRC Consulate General in Houston is closed,” a State Department spokesperson told Fox News.

After the Chinese officials packed up and left, U.S. teams began to force their way in. After two hours of gaining entry, the government officials loaded into a van and drove away, leaving the Houston Police and security teams behind at the scene, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The U.S. alleged that the consulate was a nest of Chinese spies who tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Police officers install barricades outside the Consulate General of China Friday, July 24, 2src2src, in Houston. Workers at China's consulate loaded up moving trucks Friday ahead of an afternoon deadline to shut down the facility, as ordered by the Trump administration. (Godofredo Vasquez/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Police officers install barricades outside the Consulate General of China Friday, July 24, 2020, in Houston. Workers at China’s consulate loaded up moving trucks Friday ahead of an afternoon deadline to shut down the facility, as ordered by the Trump administration. (Godofredo Vasquez/Houston Chronicle via AP)

RUBIO: CHINESE CONSULATE IN HOUSTON WAS ‘MASSIVE SPY CENTER’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week called the Houston complex “a hub of spying and IP theft.” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the consulate was a “massive spy center [and] forcing it to close is long overdue.”

China called the allegations “malicious slander” and responded by ordering the U.S. to close its consulate in the western Chinese city of Chengdu.

CHINA ORDERS US TO CLOSE CHENGDU CONSULATE IN APPARENT RETALIATION FOR HOUSTON SHUTDOWN ORDER

U.S. officials were spotted packing up and moving out of the Chengdu consulate Saturday as thousands of people gathered to watch the Americans forced to exit on Beijing’s orders.

Federal officials arrive to make entry into the vacated Consulate General of China building Friday, July 24, 2src2src, in Houston. On Tuesday, the U.S. ordered the Houston consulate closed within 72 hours, alleging that Chinese agents had tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Federal officials arrive to make entry into the vacated Consulate General of China building Friday, July 24, 2020, in Houston. On Tuesday, the U.S. ordered the Houston consulate closed within 72 hours, alleging that Chinese agents had tried to steal data from facilities in Texas, including the Texas A&M medical system and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)

The South China Morning Post reported that three trucks and a bus were seen entering and leaving the U.S. compound while other workers left on foot with the arms full of boxes and files. Reuters reported the American consulate emblem was taken down and security was tight outside the facility for the moveout in the tit-for-tat consulate closures.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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China officials

Officials Push U.S.-China Relations Toward Point of No Return – The New York Times

Top aides to President Trump want to leave a lasting legacy of ruptured ties between the two powers. China’s aggression has been helping their cause.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Edward WongSteven Lee Myers

WASHINGTON — Step by step, blow by blow, the United States and China are dismantling decades of political, economic and social engagement, setting the stage for a new era of confrontation shaped by the views of the most hawkish voices on both sides.

With President Trump trailing badly in the polls as the election nears, his national security officials have intensified their attack on China in recent weeks, targeting its officials, diplomats and executives. While the strategy has reinforced a key campaign message, some American officials, worried Mr. Trump will lose, are also trying to engineer irreversible changes, according to people familiar with the thinking.

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has inflamed the fight, brushing aside international concern about the country’s rising authoritarianism to consolidate his own political power and to crack down on basic freedoms, from Xinjiang to Hong Kong. By doing so, he has hardened attitudes in Washington, fueling a clash that at least some in China believe could be dangerous to the country’s interests.

The combined effect could prove to be Mr. Trump’s most consequential foreign policy legacy, even if it’s not one he has consistently pursued: the entrenchment of a fundamental strategic and ideological confrontation between the world’s two largest economies.

A state of broad and intense competition is the end goal of the president’s hawkish advisers. In their view, confrontation and coercion, aggression and antagonism should be the status quo with the Chinese Communist Party, no matter who is leading the United States next year. They call it “reciprocity.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared in a speech on Thursday that the relationship should be based on the principle of “distrust and verify,” saying that the diplomatic opening orchestrated by President Richard M. Nixon nearly half a century ago had ultimately undermined American interests.

“We must admit a hard truth that should guide us in the years and decades to come: that if we want to have a free 21st century, and not the Chinese century of which Xi Jinping dreams, the old paradigm of blind engagement with China simply won’t get it done,” Mr. Pompeo said. “We must not continue it and we must not return to it.”

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Credit…Mark Felix/Agence France-Presse

The events of the last week brought relations to yet another low, accelerating the downward spiral.

On Tuesday, the State Department ordered China to shut down its Houston consulate, prompting diplomats there to burn documents in a courtyard. On Friday, in retaliation, China ordered the United States to close its consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu. The Chinese Foreign Ministry the next day denounced what it called “forced entry” into the Houston consulate by U.S. law enforcement officers on Friday afternoon.

In between, the Department of Justice announced criminal charges against four members of the People’s Liberation Army for lying about their status in order to operate as undercover intelligence operatives in the United States. All four have been arrested. One, Tang Juan, who was studying at the University of California, Davis, ignited a diplomatic standoff when she sought refuge in the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, but was taken into custody on Thursday night.

This comes on top of a month in which the administration announced sanctions on senior Chinese officials, including a member of the ruling Politburo, over the mass internment of Muslims; revoked the special status of Hong Kong in diplomatic and trade relations; and declared that China’s vast maritime claims in the South China Sea were illegal.

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Credit…Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times

The administration has also imposed a travel ban on Chinese students at graduate level or higher with ties to military institutions in China. Officials are discussing whether to do the same to members of the Communist Party and their families, a sweeping move that could put 270 million people on a blacklist.

“Below the president, Secretary Pompeo and other members of the administration appear to have broader goals,” said Ryan Hass, a China director on President Barack Obama’s National Security Council who is now at the Brookings Institution.

“They want to reorient the U.S.-China relationship toward an all-encompassing systemic rivalry that cannot be reversed by the outcome of the upcoming U.S. election,” he said. “They believe this reorientation is needed to put the United States on a competitive footing against its 21st-century geostrategic rival.”

From the start, Mr. Trump has vowed to change the relationship with China, but mainly when it comes to trade. Early this year, the negotiated truce in the countries’ trade war was hailed by some aides as a signature accomplishment. That deal is still in effect, though hanging by a thread, overshadowed by the broader fight.

Beyond China, few of the administration’s foreign policy goals have been fully achieved. Mr. Trump’s personal diplomacy with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, has done nothing to end the country’s nuclear weapons program.

His withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal has further alienated allies and made that country’s leaders even more belligerent. His effort to change the government in Venezuela failed. His promised withdrawal of all American troops from Afghanistan has yet to occur.

In Beijing, some officials and analysts have publicly dismissed many of the Trump administration’s moves as campaign politics, accusing Mr. Pompeo and others of promoting a Cold War mentality to score points for an uphill re-election fight. There is a growing recognition, though, that the conflict’s roots run deeper.

The breadth of the administration’s campaign has vindicated those in China — and possibly Mr. Xi himself — who have long suspected that the United States will never accept the country’s growing economic and military might, or its authoritarian political system.

“It’s not just electoral considerations,” said Cheng Xiaohe, an associate professor at the School of International Studies at Renmin University in Beijing. “It is also a natural escalation and a result of the inherent contradictions between China and the United States.”

Already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, some Chinese officials have sought to avoid open conflict with the United States. They have urged the Trump administration to reconsider each of its actions and called for cooperation, not confrontation, albeit without offering significant concessions of their own.

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Credit…Noel Celis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“With global anti-China sentiment at its highest level in decades, Chinese officials have indicated an interest in exploring potential offramps to the current death spiral in U.S.-China relations,” said Jessica Chen Weiss, a political scientist at Cornell University who studies Chinese foreign policy and public opinion.

“Beijing isn’t spoiling for an all-out fight with the United States,” she said, “but at a minimum the Chinese government will retaliate to show the world — and a prospective Biden administration — that China won’t be intimidated or pushed around.”

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Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Given the size of each nation’s economy and their entwinement, there are limits to the unwinding of relations, or what some Trump officials call “decoupling.” In the United States, tycoons and business executives, who exercise enormous sway among politicians of both parties, will continue to push for a more moderate approach, as members of Mr. Trump’s cabinet who represent Wall Street interests have done. China is making leaps in science, technology and education that Americans and citizens of other Western nations will want to share in. In his Thursday speech, even Mr. Pompeo acknowledged, “China is deeply integrated into the global economy.”

Only two weeks ago, the foreign minister, Wang Yi, called on the United States to step back from confrontation and work with China. In reality, officials in Beijing appear resigned to the likelihood that nothing will change for the better before next year.

“There is very little China can do to take the initiative,” said Wu Qiang, an independent analyst in Beijing. “It has very few proactive options.”

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Credit…David Mcnew/Getty Images

Mr. Trump whipsaws in his language on China. He has called Mr. Xi “a very, very good friend” and even privately encouraged him to keep building mass internment camps for Muslims and handle the Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters his way, according to a new book by John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser. When he last spoke with Mr. Xi, he expressed “much respect!” on Twitter.

With the election looming, Mr. Trump’s tone has changed. He has returned to bashing China, as he did in 2016, blaming Beijing for the pandemic and even referring to the coronavirus with a racist phrase, “Kung Flu.” His campaign aides have made aggressive rhetoric on China a pillar of their strategy, believing it could help energize voters.

The heated language, combined with the administration’s policy actions, could actually be having a galvanizing effect on Chinese citizens, some analysts and political figures in Beijing say.

“I strongly urge American people to re-elect Trump because his team has many crazy members like Pompeo,” Hu Xijin, the editor of the nationalist newspaper Global Times, wrote on Twitter on Friday. “They help China strengthen solidarity and cohesion in a special way.”

The relationship might not change course even if former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. defeats Mr. Trump in November. The idea of orienting American policy toward competition with China has had robust bipartisan support over the last three-and-a-half years.

The Chinese government’s initial mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak and its actions in Hong Kong, which is widely seen as a beacon of liberal values within China, have been signal moments this year, contributing to the tectonic shift in views across the political spectrum.

The China hawks in the administration have seized on them to publicly push their perspective: that the Chinese Communist Party seeks to expand its ideology and authoritarian vision worldwide, and that citizens of liberal nations must wake up to the dangers and gird themselves for a conflict that could last for decades.

Since late June, the administration has rolled out four top officials to make that case.

Attorney General William P. Barr accused American companies of “corporate appeasement,” while Christopher Wray, the F.B.I. director, said his agency was opening a new China-related counterintelligence investigation every 10 hours.

Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, warned that the Chinese Communist Party aimed to remake the world in its image. “The effort to control thought beyond the borders of China is well underway,” he said.

Mr. Pompeo’s speech on Thursday was meant as the punctuation mark. He chose the presidential library of the man credited with opening up U.S.-China relations to declare the policy a failure.

“President Nixon once said he feared he had created a ‘Frankenstein’ by opening the world to the C.C.P.,” Mr. Pompeo said, referring to the Chinese Communist Party, “and here we are.”

Edward Wong reported from Washington, and Steven Lee Myers from Seoul, South Korea. Claire Fu contributed research from Beijing.

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officials Russia-backed

U.S. and U.K. officials say Russia-backed hackers targeted coronavirus vaccine intelligence – CBS This Morning


U.S. and U.K. officials say Russia-backed hackers targeted coronavirus vaccine intelligence – YouTube














































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'very officials

Hong Kong officials ‘very disappointed’ at Canada’s move to suspend extradition pact – CNBC

Pedestrians walks past a government-sponsored advertisement promoting a new national security law on June 30, 2020 in Hong Kong, China.

Billy H.C. Kwok | Getty Images

Senior officials in Hong Kong said on Saturday they were “very disappointed” at Canada’s decision to suspend its extradition treaty with the Chinese-ruled city and again slammed Washington for “interfering” in its affairs.

Beijing imposed a new national security law this week on the former British colony, despite protests from Hong Kong residents and Western nations, setting China’s freest city and a major financial hub on a more authoritarian track.

“The Canadian government needs to explain to the rule of law, and explain to the world, why it allows fugitives not to bear their legal responsibilities,” Hong Kong’s security chief, John Lee, told a radio program on Saturday.

Lee was very disappointed and strongly opposed Canada’s move, he added, as it let politics override the rule of law.

The comments followed Canada’s statement on Friday that it was suspending the treaty with Hong Kong in the wake of the new law and could boost immigration from the city.

Canada would also bar the export of sensitive military items to Hong Kong, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters.

On Saturday’s program, Hong Kong Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng said she was disappointed and expressed extreme regret over Canada’s move, adding that she thought it could probably violate international law.

On Friday, a Hong Kong government spokesman described as “totally unacceptable” a bill passed by the U.S. Senate to penalize banks doing business with Chinese officials who implement the new law. 

“We reiterate that any ‘sanctions’ imposed under the act will not create an obligation for financial institutions under Hong Kong law,” the spokesman said in a statement.

He urged the United States to immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong’s internal matters, adding that Beijing, as well as the city’s government, could take counter-measures when needed.

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change officials

U.S. officials change virus risk groups, add pregnant women – Alabama’s News Leader

U.S. officials change virus risk groups, add pregnant women – Alabama’s News Leader
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health officials

US health officials believe 20M Americans have had COVID-19, a number 10 times greater than 2.3M confirmed cases – WPVI-TV

WASHINGTON — U.S. officials believe as many as 20 million Americans have contracted the coronavirus, suggesting millions had the virus and never knew it.

That’s nearly 10 times as many infections as the 2.3 million cases that have been confirmed and comes as the Trump administration works to tamp down nationwide concern about the COVID-19 pandemic as about a dozen states are seeing worrisome increases in cases.

The administration also looks to get its scientific experts back before the public more as it tries to allay anxieties about the pandemic while states begin reopening. Since mid-May, when the government began stressing the need to get the economy moving again, the panel’s public health experts have been far less visible than in the pandemic’s early weeks.

Twenty million infections would mean about 6% of the nation’s 331 million people have been infected, leaving a majority of the population still susceptible to the virus. Previously, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, have said that as many as 25% of infected people might not have symptoms.

The new estimate is based on CDC studies of blood samples collected nationwide. Many infections were not caught in early testing, when supplies were limited and federal officials prioritized testing for those with symptoms.

Administration officials are pointing to the new data to allay public anxieties, claiming that while there have been significant spikes, they have the outbreaks well in hand.

President Donald Trump, who refuses to wear a face mask in public, has been playing down the virus threat, insisting recently that “it’s fading away, it’s going to fade away.”

Senior administration officials maintained they were not trying to minimize a public health crisis. But they insisted the nation was in a markedly different place with the virus now than when the U.S. last saw similar infection numbers in mid-April, when testing infrastructure was weaker. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter candidly.

The administration officials did not provide full results of their blood samples collections, and several independent experts said the methods and locations of sampling are key to interpreting their meaning.

Dr. Thomas Tsai, a Harvard University health policy researcher, said 20 million seems reasonable, but “most of these estimates exist in a range” and it’s important to know how wide that is.

“It’s hard to interpret this just from a single number and without the context for it,” such as what locations were sampled and whether it was truly a random slice of a population or areas of low or high prevalence, which can skew the results.

Despite the phaseout of daily White House coronavirus briefings, the administration has been closely monitoring data on the spread of COVID-19 and has been deploying teams from the CDC to identify and stem outbreaks around the country.

A dozen states in recent weeks have seen a worrisome uptick in new cases, as well as in the more critical measure of the percentage of positive cases discovered in tests performed. Seven states have seen more than 10% of tests come back positive. And troublesome spikes in Sun Belt states have dominated news coverage in recent days, to the consternation of Trump administration officials.

They point instead to more nuanced county-level data, which shows positivity rates exceeding 10% in just 3% of the nation’s counties. Yet they acknowledge that some of the areas with the highest transmission rates are generally the most populous, suggesting tens of millions of Americans could be living in areas with spiking infections.

As states reopen, the administration says it is up to governors and local officials to determine how to respond to the spikes. Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott, for example, recommended that most residents remain home for their safety, as his state sees virus infections increasing in major metro areas.

The CDC teams, officials said, are working to trace new outbreaks and reinforce protective measures like social distancing and mask wearing in hard-hit areas and to remind vulnerable populations to take extreme precautions. The administration says those efforts have helped slow new infections in North Carolina and Alabama, where they were deployed earlier this month.

One of the hard-hit areas is Phoenix, where Trump held an event Tuesday with thousands of young attendees, nearly all of whom were maskless.

The officials say the nature of the outbreak now is different than months ago, when deaths topped more than 1,000 per day for weeks and hospitals were stretched beyond capacity across the country. The new increase in positive cases, they said, is capturing what has long been there. They say it is only now showing up in data because the U.S. has increased testing and surveillance.

Meanwhile, mortality data has steadily declined, as have hospitalizations in all but a few hot spots.

To the administration officials, that reinforces their hypothesis that millions unknowingly had the virus earlier this year. Through early May, federal guidelines prioritized testing for symptomatic people, those exposed to a positive case and those in high-risk environments.

With testing far more widespread now, officials believe 50% of new cases in Florida and Texas are among people ages 35 or younger, and most of them are asymptomatic.

The White House removes states with limited spread of COVID-19, like Hawaii and Wyoming, from its list of places of concern, despite their high percentage increases, because they are seeing just several dozen cases.

The U.S. is testing about 500,000 patients per day. On a per capita basis, the U.S. rate falls behind several other countries, including Spain, Australia, Russia and Iceland, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

There is no scientific consensus on the rate of testing needed to control the virus. But many experts say the U.S. should be testing roughly 1 million to 3 million people daily to catch new cases and prevent flareups. Administration officials said they expect to be able to run 20-40 million tests per month beginning this fall.

Testing is constrained by laboratory supplies needed to run the tests but also lack of demand for tests in some areas.

Copyright © 2020 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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India officials

India officials say 20 soldiers killed in China border fighting – Fox News

A violent clash with Chinese troops in northern India Monday night resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers, according to government officials.

The confrontation that occurred in the Ladakh region was the deadliest between India and China since 1975.

According to authorities on both sides, not a single shot was fired, and the assaults were carried out in hand-to-hand combat with only rocks and fists.

3 INDIAN SOLDIERS KILLED IN CLASH AT CHINESE BORDER, ARMY SAYS

The Indian Army originally reported that three Indian soldiers had been killed in the fight, but later reported that “17 Indian troops who were critically injured in the line of duty at the stand-off location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain have succumbed to their injuries.”

Chinese officials have not reported any deaths from the incident.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian gave little in details but accused Indian forces of carrying out “provocative attacks.”

Indian and Chinese forces have been in a monthslong standoff over disputed territory.

CHINA AND NORTH KOREA RAMPING UP THEIR NUCLEAR WEAPONS ARSENALS: REPORT

China claims about 35,000 miles of territory in northeast India, while India also claims that China has occupied around 15,000 miles of territory the Aksai Chin Plateau, an area that India says is a part of its Ladakh region.

Chinese and Indian soldiers have stoodoff for more than a month along the over 2,000-mile Line of Actual Control — the border established between India and China in 1962 following a monthlong war.

Chinese officials have said they are dedicated to ensuring “peace and tranquility” but placed the blame for the altercation on Indian soldiers.

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“What is shocking is that on June 15, the Indian troops seriously violated the consensus of the two sides, crossed the border illegally twice and carried out provocative attacks on Chinese personnel, resulting in serious physical conflicts between the two border forces,” Zhao said.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs likewise said the incident happened “as a result of an attempt by the Chinese side to unilaterally change the status quo.”

Indian officials accused Chinese soldiers of crossing the border last month to erect posts and disregarded verbal warnings to leave.

Another skirmish was reported in May involving fist fights and rock throwing, but no deaths were reported in that incident.

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Army officials and diplomats have reportedly held a series of meeting to try to end the impasse, to no avail yet.

“We are concerned about reports of violence and deaths at the Line of Actual Control between India and China, and we urge both sides to exercise maximum restraint,” Eri Kaneko said in a press briefing Tuesday.

“We take positive note of reports that the two countries have engaged to de‑escalate the situation.”

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