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Analysts Hopeless Over the Trade Talks Between the U.S. and Chinese Government

“It depends on how big Washington’s expectations are and how big its demands for reform and opening up of the Chinese market,” Liao says. “China will make some concessions, but if Washington’s appetite is too big, that will be tough for Beijing to accept.”

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US billionaire investor Warren Buffett said on Saturday that the world depends on the US and China for progress, dismissing concerns that the two countries' trade tensions could potentially escalate into a trade war.
US-China Meeting, wikimedia commons
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A high-level U.S. trade delegation has begun talks with Chinese officials in Beijing as Washington tries to address deep concerns about China’s economic policies. The meeting is seen by some as a positive step, as the two sides attempt to avoid the possible outbreak of a trade war. Analysts say it is unlikely their differences will be resolved during the meetings but a decision to keep talking would be welcome progress.

President Donald Trump said on Twitter U.S. officials are “trying to negotiate a level playing field on trade.”

Raymond Yeung, a senior economist for Greater China at the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, says if the two sides can at least agree to keep talking with each other that would be big progress.

The policy clearly sets goals for domestic industries to dominate over foreign players in the Chinese market and globally.
Donald Trump, Wikimedia Commons

“I think it is too demanding to expect that both sides can come up with an agreement or an announcement or sign a deal,” Yeung said. “But if they are able to promise that they are willing to sit down and continue the dialogue and try and resolve their differences, at least that would signal that the relationship between the two governments is warming up.”

Differences over trade policy and market access have been a persistent concern for the United States and other foreign investors in China. In recent weeks, the debate has become even more heated with President Trump threatening to slap a long $50 billion list of tariffs on Chinese goods to punish Beijing for what his administration calls its unfair trade practices: forced technology transfer, intellectual property rights and state subsidies for technology development.

Beijing has denied Washington’s accusations and insists its market is opening. It recently pledged to do away with a 25 percent tariff on imported foreign cars, albeit by 2022. The Chinese government has also responded with threats of its own, saying that if the U.S. presses ahead with tariffs it will respond in kind.

The seven-member U.S. delegation is led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and is meeting with a group of Chinese officials led by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, a close aide to China’s president, Xi Jinping.

Although it is difficult to predict how the meetings will turn out, Liao Qun, chief economist at China CITIC Bank International, says it is a positive sign that both sides have a desire to sit down and negotiate. How much can be accomplished, depends on Washington, he says.

“It depends on how big Washington’s expectations are and how big its demands for reform and opening up of the Chinese market,” Liao says. “China will make some concessions, but if Washington’s appetite is too big, that will be tough for Beijing to accept.”

Beijing has characterized President Trump’s threats to tax exports and attack the government’s policies as an attempt to contain China and force the Chinese market to become more open, something that officials and state media have repeatedly stressed will never happen.
Xi Jinping, wikimedia commons

Since Xi Jinping rose to power in 2012, China has taken big steps to increase the central government and the communist party’s control over the economy and business, even as Beijing pledges to continue to further open its markets.

In 2015, the government unveiled a key policy plan called Made in China 2025, a plan that aims to make China dominant in 10 major next generation industries from robotics to electric cars, artificial intelligence, bio-tech and aerospace, among others. An investigation by the Trump administration into China’s unfair trade practices mentions the policy more than 100 times.

The policy clearly sets goals for domestic industries to dominate over foreign players in the Chinese market and globally. Beijing has characterized President Trump’s threats to tax exports and attack the government’s policies as an attempt to contain China and force the Chinese market to become more open, something that officials and state media have repeatedly stressed will never happen.

Bridging such a huge gap during two days of talks will be difficult, says Christopher Balding, a professor at Peking University’s HSBC Business School.

“I would be somewhat surprised if there was any real change in the negotiating stance of either party. Specifically China, they don’t want to open their markets, that’s the fundamental point,” Balding says.

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He says the best that could be hoped for is that the two can find enough room to compromise to not go forward with the trade war. But these disputes are unlike any other in recent history, he adds.

“This is about how disputes are settled: About how one country views the international system as compared to the other. This is about how one country views how a country should be run and how they have conflicting views of those two things,” Balding says. (VOA)

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Hurricane: Development of Beachfront areas Not Safe in US

US Beach Building Persists Despite Nature’s Grip

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FILE - Homes severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy are seen along the beach in Mantoloking, N.J., April 25, 2013. Mantoloking and Ocean City, N.J., planned to go to court to seize control of narrow strips of beachfront land from property owners blocking a desperately needed protective dune system along New Jersey's 127-mile coast. (VOA)

When a hurricane comes ashore, few images are more iconic than a million-dollar beach house collapsing into the sea.

Undermined by the ferocity of water, shifting sands and sometimes bad construction, waterfront development takes a beating each time a powerful storm barrels into the Eastern Seaboard.

So why do people keep building on the beach?

“Development of beachfront areas is controversial,” writes Florence Duarte of Georgia State University in the report Responsible Beachfront Development. “On one side, a growing human population demands the use of such areas for recreation and work. On the other, environmentalists and biologists hope to preserve these habitats.”

Beach
Sandbags surround homes on North Topsail Beach, N.C., Sept. 12, 2018, as Hurricane Florence threatens the coast. (VOA)

A balance

The balance between the human desire to work and play on the water — and developing the waterfront responsibly — often is tested during hurricane and storm season. Despite increased intensity and frequency of storms, rising sea levels and other weather catastrophes, the beach remains the most desirable of destinations: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that more than half the U.S. population lives along a coast, and 180 million people visit each year.

Housing and rental prices along East Coast beaches in Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York’s Long Island and Cape Cod in Massachusetts exceed the national average because of the views, fresh air and access to water activities. The point of sitting for hours in traffic on a hot, summer Friday is to get away from developed, urban, asphalt centers for the weekend.

Development tapped out

But many resort destinations are reaching maximum development.

In Ocean City, Maryland, a 14-kilometer-long barrier island that is home to about 7,000 permanent residents in the off-season, swells to more than 300,000 vacationers in the summer and on holidays.

“The development has pretty much tapped out,” said J.D. Wells, a Realtor and lifelong Ocean City resident. “The oceanfront is completely developed. Any new construction being done is replacing a tear-down that was already there.”

Properties that sit along the waterfront or have a view of the ocean can fetch more than double equivalent properties inland, Wells said.

Building
FILE – People walk along a beach near damaged beachfront homes, March 11, 2018, in Marshfield, Mass. The Northeast is bracing for its third nor’easter in fewer than two weeks. (VOA)

Views and taxes

Towns and cities collect substantial tax revenue from those waterfront and water-view properties, sometimes charging homeowners tens of thousands of dollars more in taxes for the luxury of owning beachfront property. In many areas that have seasonal ebbs and flows, tax revenue from those properties can fill municipal coffers that benefit permanent residents, many of whom cannot afford the waterfront prices of seasonal residents.

“Over the past few decades, society’s wealth, attitude and desires have shifted and floodplains are now being developed in more upscale ways,” said Andy Coburn, associate director for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina.

“We can’t overlook the demand for coastal land, no matter how vulnerable or risky,” he added.

To protect beachfront properties, some towns have pushed back on nature by replacing sand stolen by storms. And while beach replenishment is expensive — Virginia Beach, Virginia, set aside $10 million for six years of sand replenishment — it is not permanent. The ocean is supposed to pound away at the beach, dragging it back out to sea.

In New Jersey, the state earmarked $1.2 billion for projects that reduce hurricane and storm damage, manage coastal storm risk and replenish the beaches that generate nearly half of the state’s $45.4 billion in annual tourism dollars.

Beach
FILE – The remnants of a home leveled by Hurricane Matthew sit along the beachfront as Chief of Police George Brothers talks on the radio after Hurricane Matthew hit Edisto Beach, S.C., Oct. 8, 2016. (VOA)

Building codes for new construction require windows and doors that can withstand high winds and hold back flooding. Wells explained that seawalls and sand dunes are erected as barriers. But nature is mighty.

Powerful even on a normal day, the Atlantic Ocean, when combined with the energy of an extreme storm, can cut through solid land. Residents of Ocean City, Maryland, wandered out after a storm in 1933 to find that a 15-meter wide, 2.5-meter-deep inlet had been sliced into the south end of their barrier island, opening a convenient channel for fishing and pleasure craft between the ocean and the bay.

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Likewise, the ocean created an inlet in Chatham, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, while snatching vintage, brown-shingled cottages into the sea in 2009, according to the Boston Globe newspaper.

“A compromise needs to be found that is responsible to both demands. Rational, sustainable usage of these areas is possible if people are willing to spend time and money in planning,” Duarte wrote.

“Bounded by water, coastal and waterfront communities are challenged to make the best use of limited land while protecting critical natural resources from the potentially damaging effects of growth,” says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in its SmartGrowth report. “These communities must consider a common set of overarching issues when managing growth and development.” (VOA)