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US will not Send High-Level Officials to Attend China’s Belt and Road Summit in Beijing

"We will not send high-level officials from the United States," a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said in answer to a question from Reuters

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FILE - Journalist take pictures outside the venue of a summit at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, May 15, 2017. VOA

The United States will not send high-level officials to attend China’s second Belt and Road summit in Beijing this month, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said on Tuesday, citing concerns about financing practices for the project.

China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, said on Saturday that almost 40 foreign leaders would take part in the summit due to be held in Beijing in late April. He rejected criticisms of the project as “prejudiced.”

The first summit for the project, which envisions rebuilding the old Silk Road to connect China with Asia, Europe and beyond with massive infrastructure spending, was held in 2017 and was attended by Matt Pottinger, the senior White House official for Asia.

There are no such plans this year.

“We will not send high-level officials from the United States,” a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said in answer to a question from Reuters.

china belt and road summit
The first summit for the project, which envisions rebuilding the old Silk Road to connect China with Asia, Europe and beyond with massive infrastructure spending, was held in 2017 and was attended by Matt Pottinger, the senior White House official for Asia. Wikimedia

“We will continue to raise concerns about opaque financing practices, poor governance, and disregard for internationally accepted norms and standards, which undermine many of the standards and principles that we rely upon to promote sustainable, inclusive development, and to maintain stability and a rules-based order.

“We have repeatedly called on China to address these concerns,” the official added.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative has proven controversial in many Western capitals, particularly Washington, which views it as a means to spread Chinese influence abroad and saddle countries with unsustainable debt through non-transparent projects.

On Saturday, Yang called such criticisms “prejudiced,” saying China has never forced debt upon participants and the project was to promote joint development.

On Saturday, he did not name the 40 leaders he said would attend, but some of China’s closest allies have already confirmed they will be there, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

china road summit
President Donald Trump poses for photos with G7 leaders at the Ancient Greek Theater of Taormina during the G7 Summit, May 26, 2017, in Taormina, Italy. VOA

The United States has been particularly critical of Italy’s decision to sign up to the plan this month, during a visit by Xi to Rome, the first for a G7 nation.

Washington sees China as major strategic rival and the Trump administration has engaged Beijing in a tit-for-tat tariff war.

The world’s two biggest economies have levied tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of bilateral trade since July 2018, raising costs, disrupting supply chains and roiling global markets.

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White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Tuesday said the countries “expect to make more headway” in trade talks this week, while the top U.S. business lobbying group said differences over an enforcement mechanism and the removal of U.S. tariffs were still obstacles to a deal. (VOA)

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Snake is the Most Probable Wildlife Animal Reservoir of Novel Coronavirus: Study

Snake was one of the animals being sold in Wuhan's Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market before its closure.

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Snake is the most probable wildlife animal reservoir for the novel coronavirus that had caused 17 deaths in central China's Hubei Province. (Representational Image). Pixabay

A study published on Wednesday in the Journal of Medical Virology showed that snake is the most probable wildlife animal reservoir for the novel coronavirus that had caused 17 deaths in central China’s Hubei Province.

Scientists from Peking University Health Science Center School of Basic Medical Sciences, the First affiliated Hospital of Guangxi University of Chinese Medicine, Ruikang Hospital Affiliated to Guangxi University of Chinese Medicine, Ningbo University’s School of Medicine, and Wuhan University of Bioengineering carried out a comprehensive analysis on the existing sequences of the newly identified coronavirus, the Xinhua news agency reported.

They used a method called “relative synonymous codon usage” (RSCU) bias to compare RNA sequences of different animal species.

Snake was one of the animals being sold in Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market before its closure. The market is believed to be related to most of the infected cases.

Snake
Snake was one of the animals being sold in Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market before its closure. The market is believed to be related to most of the infected cases. Pixabay

Results obtained from the analyses suggested that the new virus 2019-nCoV appeared to be a recombinant virus between the bat coronavirus and an origin-unknown coronavirus.

The recombination occurred within the viral spike glycoprotein, which recognizes cell surface receptor. Additionally, their findings suggested that snake is the most probable wildlife animal reservoir for the 2019-nCoV based on its RSCU bias resembling snake compared to other animals.

Taken together, the research results suggested that homologous recombination within the spike glycoprotein may contribute to cross-species transmission from snake to humans.

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Glycoprotein is a group of conjugated proteins containing small amounts of carbohydrates.

Chinese health authorities have posted the full genome of 2019-nCoV in the genetic sequence database of U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (IANS)