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China Lodges Objection on Telephone Conversation of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s Call with Taiwan’s first Female President Tsai Ing-wen

Taiwan Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee and Tsai’s National Security Advisor, Joseph Wu, were present during the call

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FILE - This combination of two photos shows U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaking during a "USA Thank You" tour event in Cincinatti, Dec. 1, 2016, and Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, delivering a speech during National Day celebrations in Taipei, Taiwan, Oct. 10, 2016. Trump spoke Dec. 2, with Tsai, a move that will be sure to anger China. VOA

China said Saturday it has lodged an objection to the telephone conversation U.S. President-elect Donald Trump had with Taiwan’s first female president Tsai Ing-wen.

“We have already made solemn representations about it to the relevant U.S. side,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “It must be pointed out that there is only one China in the world. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory.”

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China claims democratically ruled Taiwan is part of its territory and has never renounced the use of military force to bring the island under Beijing’s control. The U.S. broke diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979.

Trump brushed off criticism of breaking diplomatic protocol, responding in a message on his Twitter account, saying, “The president of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency.”

Later, Trump said on Twitter “interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.”

Trump’s phone conversation with the president of Taiwan was roundly seen as an unconventional move that could risk raising tensions with China.

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The call is believed to be the first such contact between a U.S. president or president-elect and a Taiwanese leader since the United States broke diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

In the phone call, Tsai expressed her hope that the U.S. would continue to support Taiwan’s participation and contribution in international issues, according to a statement released late Friday by Taiwan’s Presidential Office.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (center) along with her National Security Adviser Joseph Wu (left) and Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee speak by phone with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, Dec. 2, 2016. (Office of the President, Taiwan), VOA
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (center) along with her National Security Adviser Joseph Wu (left) and Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee speak by phone with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, Dec. 2, 2016. (Office of the President, Taiwan), VOA

“They also exchanged views on the regional situation in Asia, as well as the future relationship between Taiwan and the United States. The president [Tsai] looks forward to strengthening bilateral contacts and to closer cooperation,” said Taiwan’s government.

Trump’s spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway said the president-elect is “well aware” of what U.S. policy has been on Taiwan.

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“President-elect Trump is fully briefed and fully knowledgeable about these issues on an ongoing basis, regardless of who is on the other end of the phone,” Conway told CNN Friday.

Tsai speaks perfect English and no interpreter was needed in the call that lasted more than 10 minutes.

Taiwan Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee and Tsai’s National Security Advisor, Joseph Wu, were present during the call as well.

White House, State Department

The White House was not told about the call until after it happened, a senior administration official told The New York Times.

It said, however, there was “no change” to the United States’ longstanding “one China” policy after Trump’s discussion with Tsai.

“We remain firmly committed to our ‘one China’ policy,” Ned Price, a national security spokesman for President Barack Obama, told Reuters. “Our fundamental interest is in peaceful and stable cross-Strait relations.”

The State Department declined to comment if it was notified or asked to brief the transition team on current U.S. policy toward China and Taiwan prior to the phone call.

“Our job is to offer support whether that’s in terms of facilitation, translation, or context, which we have done and will continue to do,” said State Department spokesman John Kirby on Friday.

“But the degree to which it’s utilized is really for the transition team to decide, and it’s really more appropriate for them to speak to,” Kirby added.

Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee who was named by Trump as White House chief of staff, met with Tsai last October while leading a Republican delegation to Taiwan.

A game changer?

Experts said the conversation between Trump and Tsai shows a clear break with the so-called pivot to Asia and could be a “game-changer.”

“While one phone call certainly can’t replace a clear strategy for Asia or the rest of the world, President-elect Trump has shown guts in shaking up the status-quo on foreign policy issues that are of supreme importance,” Harry Kazianis, director of the Center for the National Interest Defense Studies, said.

John Bolton, who was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during former president George H.W. Bush’s administration, met with Trump Friday.

Bolton, who emerged as a contender for the next secretary of state, had advocated for “an upgrade” of Taiwan’s relations with the U.S.

“The new U.S. administration could start with receiving Taiwanese diplomats officially at the State Department; upgrading the status of U.S. representation in Taipei from a private ‘institute’ to an official diplomatic mission; inviting Taiwan’s president to travel officially to America; allowing the most senior U.S. officials to visit Taiwan to transact government business; and ultimately restoring full diplomatic recognition,” according to a commentary article Bolton wrote for the Wall Street Journal earlier this year.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump (L) and Vice President-elect Mike Pence (R) greet retired Marine General James Mattis in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., Nov. 19, 2016. VOA
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump (L) and Vice President-elect Mike Pence (R) greet retired Marine General James Mattis in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., Nov. 19, 2016. VOA

Trump priorities

Trump also talked by phone Friday with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and Philippines President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

He also promised to have most of his Cabinet posts filled by the coming week, calling his nominees “tremendous people.”

The president-elect made the statement in an interview aired on Fox NewsFriday, a day after naming Marine Corps General James Mattis as defense secretary, an appointment that will be made formal on Monday.

Meanwhile, Vice President-elect Mike Pence was quoted Friday in a Wall Street Journal article as saying the Trump administration will focus on illegal immigration, abolishing and replacing Obamacare (the Afordable Care Act – health care reform signed into law during the Obama administration), strengthening the military and filling the vacant post on the nation’s Supreme Court.

“Washington, D.C., is going to get an awful lot done in a short period of time,” Pence told the Journal.

Heavily armed police officers stand guard in the rain outside Trump Tower, Nov. 29, 2016, in New York. VOA
Heavily armed police officers stand guard in the rain outside Trump Tower, Nov. 29, 2016, in New York. VOA

New York security costs

Also Friday, two members of the New York City Council began an online petition, asking Trump to provide federal funds to reimburse the city for the increased security costs — $1 million a day — to protect his family.

Trump lives – and his transition team is working out of – Trump Towers in Manhattan.

“We ask you to commit the necessary federal funds to reimburse New York for all costs of protecting you and your family, both before and after your inauguration as president of the United States of America,” the petition said.

Police have used barricades and dump trucks filled with sand to help fortify the area around Trump’s building.

The city has estimated, according to the petition, that the cost of security at the New York residence could reach $4 billion by the end of a four-year term. (VOA)

 

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40.7 Million American Workers Seek Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment has increased worldwide as bussinesses remain shut due to COVID-19 pandemic

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People who lost their jobs are reflected in the door of an Arkansas Workforce Center as they wait in line to file for unemployment following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Fort Smith, Arkansas. VOA
By Ken Bredemeier

 

Applications for unemployment compensation eased again in the U.S. last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday, as some employers started to reopen businesses after the coronavirus pandemic forced their closure.

Even so, another 2.1 million more workers sought cash benefits after being laid off as other businesses curtailed their operations in the face of the continuing threat from the virus and less demand for their products.

In all, since mid-March, 40.7 million workers have now sought unemployment compensation, nearly a quarter of the U.S. labor force of more than 164 million.

However, the current actual number of jobless workers is unknown since some who sought unemployment benefits in previous weeks have now been called back to work by their employers. All 50 state governors have begun to ease restrictions on businesses opening in a patch-work array of directives that varies widely throughout the country.

The U.S. death toll from the virus topped 100,000 on Wednesday and health experts predict tens of thousands more will die in the coming months. But President Donald Trump, facing a November re-election contest against former Vice President Joe Biden, is predicting the country will have a robust economic recovery.

“States should open up ASAP,” Trump said on Twitter this week as the stock indexes advanced sharply. “The Transition to Greatness has started, ahead of schedule. There will be ups and downs, but next year will be one of the best ever!”

But the coronavirus has had a major effect on U.S. commerce, with 27 companies already filing for bankruptcy protection in May and some companies announcing they were closing permanently.

The official April unemployment rate was 14.7%, with Trump economic advisers acknowledging that the May figure, when it is announced in early June, is likely to be 20% or more. They say the rate could remain in double digits on Election Day Nov. 3 and could still be about 10% at the end of 2021.

Unemployment
White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow talks to reporters. VOA

The government at first said the national economy dropped 4.8% in the first quarter, but that was before the full impact of the pandemic became apparent. It raised the figure to 5% on Thursday and economists expect a further decline in the April-to-June quarter.

Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, told the Washington Post recently that there are some “small glimmers of hope” in the economy. But he also acknowledged the ongoing difficulties the coronavirus pandemic poses to the world’s largest economy.

“Look, it’s really hard to model a virus, a pandemic, the likes of which we have not seen for 100 years,” Kudlow said. “The numbers coming in are not good. In fact, they are downright bad in most cases. But we are seeing some glimmers, perhaps … there’s a lot of heartbreak here. There’s a lot of hardship here. There’s a lot of anxiety here. It’s a very difficult situation.”

Numerous states still require social distancing of at least two meters between people in stores and some major retail outlets are requiring their employees and customers to wear face masks. Some governors are limiting restaurants to half capacity.

But in other states, the restrictions have been significantly lifted and crowds have quickly emerged to resume life, shopping or enjoying a day at Atlantic and Pacific beaches, often ignoring the admonitions of health experts to maintain a safe distance from others or to wear a face mask.

Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell has warned that the American economy could endure a multi-year recession if more aid is not authorized for workers. He said that 40% of American households earning less than $40,000 a year lost jobs in March.

USs-State-of-Reopening
In a few states, the restrictions have been significantly lifted. VOA

But Trump and Republican lawmakers are balking at approving more government assistance until it can be determined how much effect the already-approved funding is helping the economy.

Also Read: COVID-19: Samsung Exclusive Stores get ‘Suraksha’ Certified

U.S. workers filing for jobless benefits normally are paid slightly less than half their normal salaries. But these payments are currently being augmented during the pandemic with $600-a-week supplements from the federal government for four months, through July.

The peak of the unemployment benefit claims likely came in late March with 6.9 million workers filing for the jobless compensation.

The weekly pace of claims has diminished each of the last 10 weeks since then, but the millions of claims have still been unparalleled over decades of U.S. economic history, reaching back to the Great Depression in the 1930s. The number of claims has far exceeded those made during the Great Recession in 2008-2009. (VOA)

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ISKCON Devotees Recall When Donald Trump Helped Them Conduct Rath Yatra

Recalling an incident from 1976 Rath Yatra, when current US President helped ISKCON devotees

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Current US President once helped ISKCON devotees back in 1976. Pixabay

By Muskan Bhatnagar

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, abbreviated as ISKCON is a Gaudiya Vaishnava Hindu religious organisation which was founded 53 years ago, in 1966.

At present, ISKCON consists of 850 temples, ecovillages and centres worldwide, out of which India comprises of over 150 temples.

The motto of ISKCON is ‘Krsnas Tu Bhagavan Svayam‘ which headquarters in Sri Sri Radha Madhav Panchatattva Temple (ISKCON Mayapur), Mayapur, West Bengal, India.

Recalling an incident from 1976, the organisation was planning to conduct the first massive Rath Yatra in New York City with the permission to use 5th Avenue. The massive wooden carts were to be made within the reach of the starting point of the parade and hence a huge empty site was required.

ISKCON
The ISKCON devotees were not able to find a large empty site for Rath Yatra preparations. Pixabay

Everyone who was approached refused due to understandable insurance risksand whatnot.

When almost all devotees had lost hope, they were informed that Donald Trump had recently purchased the old railway yard and suggested to approach him regarding the issue.

The ISKCON devotees were not able to find a large empty site for Rath Yatra preparations. Pixabay

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The old railway yard was a perfect location for the organisation but why would Trump be any different from the dozens of people they had approached previously?

The devotees went to his office with a big basket of Maha Prasadam and a presentation package. Trump’s Secretary received the devotees and their package and warned them saying “He never agrees to this kind of thing. You can ask but he is going to say “No”.

The devotees received a call three days later from the same secretary. “I don’t know what happened but he read your letter, took a bit of food you left, and immediately said “sure, why not?”, said the secretary, adding “come on down and get his signed letter of permission.”

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Indian-American Businessman Urges Trump to Reopen with “common sense precautions”

Danny Gaekwad, Indian-American businessman has urged Trump's administration to reopen the country's economy with "common sense precautions"

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Lockdown
Reopen the country's economy with "common sense precautions", suggests Indian-American businessman. Pixabay

A prominent Indian-American businessman has urged US President Donald Trump administration to reopen the country’s economy with “common sense precautions”, highlighting the struggles America’s hoteliers were facing during the COVID-19 lockdown, the media reported.

Speaking at a roundtable of hospitality and tourism industry, hosted by Vice President Mike Pence in Orlando on Wednesday, Danny Gaekwad, Chairman of OSEM Hospitality Management, said such a move will “help our industry and our state get our economy moving again”, the American Bazaar reported on Thursday. Gaekwad was speaking as a representative of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA).

Besides Pence, the event was attended by Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and several prominent business leaders from the state. Gaekwad and other industry leaders proposed a number of steps and a phased reopening of the economy. “This pandemic hit the hotel industry particularly hard, and owners and employees alike continue to struggle,” said Gaekwad, also a prominent Republican donor, told Pence.

“Reopening our businesses with common sense precautions that prioritize the health and wellbeing of employees and guests will help our industry and our state get our economy moving again.” Gaekwad, a resident of Ocala, in central Florida, drew Pence’s attention on the liquidity crisis members of AAHOA, who own nearly one in every two hotels in the country, were facing.

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Industry leaders proposed a number of steps and a phased reopening of the economy to Trump administration. Pixabay

“If there is no guest, there is no dollar. If there is no dollar, don’t even think about liquidity. Do we have liquidity? Absolutely not,” the American Bazaar quoted the businessman as saying.

Also Read: Alarming Rate of Deforestation Threatens Biodiversity

“As an immigrant, my whole family works in a business because it does bother us. I represent here more than 20,000 (AAOHA) members. We all came with an American Dream. I thought I saw 9/11, I thought I saw the greatest recession. I have never seen this and I was never prepared for this.” (IANS)