Much work’ awaits new Sino-US trade talksnited Stat

hina and the United States will hold their eighth round of high-level economic and trade cons

ultations in Beijing on Friday, with “much work” remaining to be done, the Ministry of Commerce said.

Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said on Thursday that the two nations have made some progre

ss through recent phone discussions between Vice-Premier Liu He and US Trade Representative Robert Ligh

thizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “But there remains much work to be done,” he said.

To iron out differences over certain economic and trade issues, China and the US have b

een intensifying their consultations. Next week, Liu will visit Washington for the ninth round of talks.

Negotiators from both sides are striving to implement consensuses reached betw

een the countries’ leaders in December, Gao said at a regular news conference.

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ation and safety officials Daniel Elwell, Robert

US senators sharply questioned regulatory officials on Wedne

sday about the Federal Aviation Administration’s reliance on Boeing Co’s engineers to cert

ify the safety of the company’s new 737 Max 8 aircraft, which was involved in two fatal crashes in the past five months.

A self-certification procedure called Organization Designation Authorization came under scr

utiny at a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee’s aviation subcommittee in Washington. Testifying wer

e Daniel Elwell, acting FAA administrator; Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Saf

ety Board; and Calvin Scovel III, Transportation Department inspector general.

For decades, the FAA has delegated some authority for certifying new aircraft to the manufacturers, reducing government costs.

After the crashes of Lion Air in Indonesia in October and Ethiop

ian Airlines this month, which killed a total of 346 passengers and crew members, critics have ci

ted the self-certification process as evidence of an overly cozy relationship between the FAA and the industry.

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Currently, all special purpose local government bonds are

domestically rated “AAA”, the safest level. The sale to individual investors is mainly of project-link

ed special-purpose bonds, a type of local government bond vigorously promoted by the government in re

cent years. The cash flows generated from the underlying projects will be used as the primary repayment sources.

In China, there are two types of local government bonds: general bonds and special purpose bonds. According to the country’s 2019 budget repor

t, which was approved by the top legislature earlier this month, the budgeted deficit for local governments is 930 billion yuan, up 100 billi

on yuan compared with 2018, and this fund gap will be supplemented by general bonds.

In the meantime, 2.15 trillion yuan of special purpose bonds will be issued to support la

rge infrastructure projects, such as shantytown renovation projects and railways, said the ministry.

Letting individual buyers invest in local government bonds is a way to narrow the government’s financin

g gap, said Hu Yijian, a tax professor at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. The gap is expected to expand, as policym

akers decided to cut about 2 trillion yuan in taxes and fees this year while at the same time increase spending on investment.

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While May was addressing her lawmakers, MPs in the mai

n chamber debated eight other Brexit options, ranging from leaving abruptly with no deal to revoking the divorce altogether.

While there was no majority support for any, the option calling for a referendum on any depa

rture deal, and another suggesting a UK-wide customs union with the EU, won more votes than May’s deal did two weeks ago.

Oliver Letwin, a Conservative former cabinet minister who led parliament’s unusual power grab, said it ha

d been expected that none would immediately win a majority, and lawmakers would have another chance on Monday.

The uncertainty around Britain’s most significant political and economic change since W

orld War II has left allies and investors aghast. Sterling dipped after Wednesday’s events.

If May’s deal were to pass, her office said there would be a contest to replace her after May 22, when Britain would leave the EU.

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Following his visits to Spain and Portugal in late 2018, Xi

came to Europe again in his first overseas trip this year, manifesting the great importance China attaches to Europe, Wang said.

In a world of unprecedented transformations, Xi noted that a stable, strategic and reciprocal China-EU relationship is urgently needed.

Wang said during his visit, Xi had in-depth communication with the European leaders to discuss cooperation in internation

al issues and reached important consensus of adhering to multilateralism, and discarding isolationism and unilateral moves.

He also said Xi and the European leaders agreed to enhance coordination and cooperation wit

hin the UN system, give full play to the constructive role of global and regional multilateral mechanisms s

uch as the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and Group of 20 and the EU, and

actively contribute to solving international conflicts, combating climate change and promoting sustainable development.

In his keynote speech at the global governance forum, Xi raised “four deficits” in global affairs including governance deficit, tru

st deficit, peace deficit and development deficit. To address these deficits, he proposed a four-pronged approach of fairness and reas

onableness, consultation and understanding, joint efforts and mutual assistance and mutual benefit and win-win results.

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lawmakers seize Brexit agenda in bid to break deadlock

LONDON – British lawmakers seized a measure of control over the

stalled Brexit process from Prime Minister Theresa May‘s foundering governmeng up a seri

es of votes that could dramatically alter the course of the UK’s departure from the European Union.

The move came after May conceded that Parliament would defeat her twice-rejected divorce deal with the EU again if she put it to a third vote.

With Brexit delayed and the new departure date up in the air, the House of Commons v

oted to give itself temporary control of the parliamentary timetable starting on Wednesday so lawmakers can vote o

n alternatives to May’s withdrawal deal. The government usually controls the scheduling of votes in Parliament.

Lawmakers who backed Monday’s motion, which passed 329-302, hope the planned “indic

ative votes” will narrow the options down to one that can secure majority support. Possible options inclu

de a “soft Brexit” that maintains close economic ties with the EU or scrapping Britain’s departure altogether.

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Opponents of Brexit feel the political tide may be turnin

 in their favor. Hundreds of thousands of people marched through London on Saturday calling for a new referendum on whether to leave the EU or remain.

But with the deadline for a Brexit decision less than three weeks away, British poli

ticians remain divided, and increasingly despairing about the country’s political gridlock.

“Brexit is like the Death Star of politics,” Conservative legislator George Freeman said. “I always fea

red it would be like this. It’s destroying and soaking up all the prime minister’s room for maneuver and political goodwill.

“I’ve never known this country so divided, so angry and in such a dangerous state,” he said.

France is willing to support the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, with the best way forward

being to work together on a project-by-project basis, former French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin told China Daily.

In an exclusive interview ahead of the state visit of President Xi Jinping to France

on Monday and Tuesday, Raffarin said it is in France’s national interest to be part of the BRI.

“We also want our companies to propose projects which are good for the BRI, but also go

od for our enterprises,” said Raffarin, who served as prime minister from 2002 to 2005.

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The two countries should take the memorandums of underst

understanding as an opportunity to connect the BRI with Italy’s own development plans, including building seaports in northern Italy, Xi said.

He called for upgrading bilateral cooperation in such priority areas as space technology, inf

rastructure, transportation, environment and energy, and also expanding third-market cooperation in relevant fields.

Conte said he considers participation in the BRI as a historic opportunity for Italy, a

nd trusts the move will help the two countries tap potential for bilateral cooperation.

Conte added that he expected to attend the second Belt and Road F

orum for International Cooperation, which will be held in Beijing next month.

Italian economist and China expert Michele Geraci hailed the memorandum of understandi

ng signed between the two countries as “a win-win-win for Italy, the rest of Europe and China”, and said he be

lieves more European countries will follow his country’s lead and sign up to be involved in the BRI.

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State Council orders nationwide inspection as chemical pla

An additional 14 people were found dead in the latest search and rescue operation after an explo

sion in East China’s Jiangsu province, bringing the death toll to 78, local authorities said on Monday afternoon.

A total of 56 dead have been identified, local authorities said at a news conference, leaving 22 unaccounted for.

Among the 28 missing, 25 have been confirmed to be dead via DNA, with three confirmed safe.

A total of 566 injured people were still receiving medical care in the hospital on Monday, inclu

ding 13 in critical condition and 66 seriously wounded. Thirty-eight were discharged on Monday, according to the news conference.

Medical monitoring at hospitals near the blast site shows no cases of chemical poisoning, the rescue headquarters said on Monday.

In a notice released on Monday, the State Council has ordered a national inspection on poten

tial hazards of dangerous chemicals and safety assessments on all chemical industry parks across the country.

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So far, distinct fossils from the Cambrian explosion with o

outlines of soft tissue have been found at the Burgess Shale in Canada, as well as some by the Chengjiang River in Yunnan province. The

newly discovered fossils provide a completely different ecosystem of organisms that lived around the same time, the study said.

Unlike other Cambrian fossil troves, the Qingjiang biota appears to conta

in a high proportion of jellyfish and comb jellies, which are extremely rare at other sites.

Zhang Xingliang, a professor at Northwest University and co-author of the p

aper, said that compared with the Chengjiang biota in the shallow water along the coast, Qi

ngjiang biota lived in deep ocean, making the two biota complementary in their scientific significance.

“The treasure trove of the Qingjiang biota provides an exciting opportunity to explore how paleoenvironmental conditi

ons influenced ecological structuring and evolutionary drivers during the Cambrian explosion,” said Allis

on Daley, a paleontologist at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, who was not involved in the study.

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