US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping arrived in San Francisco on Tuesday on the eve of an eagerly awaited meeting between the leaders of the world’s two largest economies.
The pair will huddle on the sidelines of the APEC summit in California for their first encounter in a year as trade tensions, sanctions and the question of Taiwan have fueled quarrels between Washington and Beijing.
Biden characterized the meeting as a chance to right ties that have floundered in recent years.
“We’re not trying to decouple from China. What we’re trying to do is change the relationship for the better,” Biden told reporters at the White House before heading to San Francisco.
Asked what he hoped to achieve at the meeting, he said he wanted “to get back on a normal course of corresponding; being able to pick up the phone and talk to one another if there’s a crisis; being able to make sure our (militaries) still have contact with one another.”
But Biden also warned that the United States was wary of investing in China due to Beijing’s business practices.
“I’m not going to continue to sustain the support for positions where if we want to invest in China, we have to turn over all our trade secrets,” he said.
The two presidents are expected to meet for several hours Wednesday on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco.
The forum brings together 21 economies, which together account for about 60 percent of the world economy.
They are both also expected to meet major business leaders, and hold a number of other bilateral meetings.
– Spy balloon –
Positive momentum from November 2022 talks between Xi and Biden in Bali was derailed when the United States shot down what it said was a Chinese spy balloon, delaying a planned visit to Beijing by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Since then, a flurry of high-level diplomacy, including Blinken’s eventual trip to China in June, has signaled a willingness on both sides to mend ties.
Asked about Beijing’s expectations for the summit, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry was vague, mentioning “in-depth communication” and “major issues concerning world peace.”
China routinely warns it will not budge on issues it considers “red lines,” such as Taiwan, a self-ruling island off its coast that Beijing claims as its own territory, and its expansion into the South China Sea.
But Washington and Beijing have recently made some progress on trade and economic relations, and climate change talks.
The United States and its Western allies once viewed emerging China as a friend in waiting, believing that as it became wealthier, it would become more liberal and fit in with the US-dominated global order.
But over the last decade that view has all but disappeared in Western capitals as the openness that heralded its hosting of the 2008 Olympic Games has faded.
Beijing has become more authoritarian under Xi, and has increasingly begun to throw its weight around on the international stage, including spending hundreds of billions of dollars on infrastructure development in third countries as part of its “Belt and Road” initiative.
At the same time, making nice with China has fallen out of favor in Washington, as domestic politics have taken on an increasingly protectionist bent.
That tendency accelerated under former president Donald Trump, who delighted his base by imposing punitive sanctions on Chinese imports in what he said was a bid to re-shore US manufacturing.
But the mood music has sweetened slightly in recent months, and Biden said Tuesday a less confrontational relationship with China would benefit both sides.
“If in fact the Chinese people, who are in trouble right now economically, if the average homeowner, if the average citizen in China, was able to have a decent paying job — that benefits them, and benefits all of us,” Biden said Tuesday.
Xi will have dinner with top US business leaders on his trip, and is expected to push for a relaxation of US trade curbs in his talks with Biden.
UAE sought to use COP28 to advance oil deals: report
The United Arab Emirates planned to exploit meetings with foreign governments arranged due to its COP28 hosting role to strike fossil fuel deals, according to leaked documents obtained by the BBC.
The leaked briefing notes, obtained by journalists at the Centre for Climate Reporting (CCR) working alongside the British broadcaster, were prepared by the UAE’s COP28 team for summit president Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber ahead of meetings with foreign governments between July and October this year.
Leaked “talking points” prepared for a meeting with China said that ADNOC, the UAE’s state oil company, was “willing to jointly evaluate international LNG (liquefied natural gas) opportunities” in Mozambique, Canada and Australia.
Briefing notes prepared for meetings with Colombia, Germany and Egypt suggested that ADNOC “stands ready” to support each country develop fossil fuel projects.
The documents showed the UAE prepared talking points for meetings with 20 countries, including the United States, UK and Germany, on commercial opportunities for state renewable energy company Masdar.
COP28 president Al Jaber is also CEO of ADNOC and Masdar.
A COP28 spokesperson told AFP that the documents cited by the BBC “are inaccurate and were not used by COP28 in meetings. It is extremely disappointing to see the BBC use unverified documents in their reporting.”
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the body responsible for the COP28 summit, which starts on Thursday, told the BBC that the “cardinal principle” for hosts was “the obligation of impartiality”.
Climate campaigners have raised concerns about the influence of fossil fuel interests at the talks in Dubai, noting Jaber’s role as head of an oil company.
In an interview with AFP on Saturday, Jaber defended the large presence of heavy emitting industries including the oil and gas sector.
“Everyone needs to be part of this process and everyone needs to be held responsible and everyone needs to be held accountable,” he said.
COP28, which will be held until December 12, is due to be attended by 167 world leaders, including King Charles III and Pope Francis.
Alberta proposes more open definition of software engineer in new bill
Tech companies and the APEGA feud as the Alberta government prioritizes tech growth
Software engineers build technical programs — but not unless they’re regulated and certified. At least, that has been the stance of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA).
Tech companies in Alberta like Neo Financial and Helcim recently petitioned to Premier Danielle Smith for a more open interpretation of the job title “software engineer,” as they were faced with lawsuits over job ad verbiage from the APEGA.
It seems the government listened.
Fast forward to November 2023? The Government of Alberta has proposed changes to legislation, specifically the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act, to open up the legal definition of software engineer, as many tech companies use the title without actually seeking a professional engineer’s professional designation or certification.
The proposed changes fall under the new Bill 7, which has generated approval from the tech industry:
“This is an important development for the innovation sector in the province and will give companies and their employees the freedom to use titles that have long been universally accepted in the tech industry.”
- Sam Pillar, Chief Executive, Jobber
However, the APEGA sees the initiative as a threat to public safety:
“Title protection is vital to preserving public safety and maintaining high standards of practice and ethics.”
- Jay Nagendran, Registrar, APEGA
Sure, tech companies could retitle job descriptions to “software developer” instead; however, studies show that these job ads receive significantly less applicants and interest than those titled with “software engineer.” The main goal? Supporting the tech industry in attracting and retaining top talent.
Experts predict similar issues will arise in the ever-evolving tech industry. For example, growing popularity of generative AI like Chat-GPT will create a demand for “prompt engineers” — see the dilemma? The legislative changes (if passed) are thought to foster tech company growth, improve the economy, and reduce red tape.
Learn more about the proposed bill here.
Veronica Ott is a freelance writer and digital marketer with a specialization in finance and business. As a CPA with experience in the industry, she’s able to provide unique insight into various monetary, financial and economic topics. When Veronica isn’t writing, you can find her watching the latest films!
Nissan accelerates UK electric car production
Japanese auto giant Nissan announced Friday it would invest up to £2 billion in UK electric car manufacturing, which the government touted as a sign of confidence in the sector.
Nissan said it will produce electric models of two best-selling cars, Juke and Qashqai, at its facility in Sunderland, northeast England, which is its biggest factory in Europe, building on UK net zero plans to switch away from dirty fossil-fuel vehicles.
The carmaker will plough £1.12 billion ($1.4 billion) into its UK operations and wider supply chain for research and development and manufacturing of the two new models, it added in a statement.
That will also spark further investment in infrastructure projects and the supply chain, including another electric car battery factory, bringing total investment to as much as £2 billion ($2.5 billion).
Nissan’s investment will support its UK workforce of 7,000 employees — and 30,000 jobs in the nation’s broader supply chain.
– Carbon neutrality plans –
“Exciting, electric vehicles are at the heart of our plans to achieve carbon neutrality,” said Nissan President and CEO Makoto Uchida.
“With electric versions of our core European models on the way, we are accelerating towards a new era for Nissan, for industry and for our customers.”
Uchida declared in September that there was “no going back” on the group’s electrification plans as it aims for 98 percent of European sales to be electric vehicles by 2027.
The news comes as Britain looks to take a leading role in the production of electric cars as companies and governments shift away from high-polluting automobiles.
The UK government confirmed Friday that it has awarded £15 million of funding towards a collaborative R&D project for zero-emission vehicles led by Nissan.
“Nissan’s investment is a massive vote of confidence in the UK’s automotive industry, which already contributes a massive £71 billion a year to our economy,” said British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who will attend a formal announcement at the site later on Friday.
“This venture will no doubt secure Sunderland’s future as the UK’s Silicon Valley for electric vehicle innovation and manufacturing.
“Making the UK the best place to do business is at the heart of our economic plan.”
Finance minister Jeremy Hunt pledged Wednesday in his budget update to invest £4.5 billion in strategic sectors including the auto industry.
– Net zero targets –
However, earlier this year Sunak softened policies aimed at reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, delaying a ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars by five years to 2035.
That still means however that the country’s largely foreign-owned car manufacturing sector must switch to producing fully-electric vehicles.
Nissan had previously warned that a no-deal Brexit would threaten the Sunderland site, but committed to its future after the government agreed a trade deal.
Yet the nation’s car industry has warned that automakers will soon face a damaging 10-percent hike in customs duties on electric cars crossing the Channel.
Britain left the European Union in 2021 after clinching a last-gasp free trade agreement which removed tariffs on cars.
But under the deal, from January 1, 2024, at least 45 percent of the value of car parts must originate from Britain or the European Union to be exempt from customs duties.
That hits electric carmakers because their batteries often originate from China, despite UK efforts to establish production.
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