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Delhi The Buzz

ED arrests 2 Chinese nationals in money-laundering case


New Delhi, January 17

The ED has arrested two Chinese nationals in connection with its money laundering probe linked to an alleged hawala racket worth an estimated Rs 1,000 crore that involved shell or dubious firms, official sources said on Sunday.

The central probe agency arrested Charlie Peng alias Luo Sang (42) and Carter Lee under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on January 15. They were produced before a local court here on Saturday that sent them to 14 days custody, they said.

The ED case against Peng stems from an Income Tax Department investigation of last year and an FIR filed by the Delhi Police special cell against him in 2018.

Peng’s name had cropped up last year in connection with the detention of two persons in Himachal Pradesh who were allegedly tracking Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama’s movement on his direction.

The Chinese national and some of his alleged associates, including bankers, were raided by the Income Tax Department in August.

Peng, sources had alleged, had a fake Indian passport. Tax officials had claimed that he created a “web of sham companies to launder hawala funds to and from China” in the past two-three years.

The sources had said his front or showcase business was import and export of medical and electronic goods and some other items.

Peng, the sources said, was arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police in September 2018 on charges of fraud and forgery and was allegedly running an illegal money changer.

Both ED and I-T department, sources had said, are also probing allegations if Peng was “bribing” some Tibetans living in Delhi.

In a statement in August last year, the CBDT had, without identifying the entities involved, stated that its searches were based on “credible inputs that a few Chinese individuals and their Indian associates were involved in money laundering and hawala transactions through a series of shell entities.”

It had said the “subsidiary of Chinese company and its related concerns have taken over Rs 100 crore bogus advances from shell entities for opening businesses of retail showrooms in India”.

“Search action revealed that at the behest of Chinese individuals, more than 40 bank accounts were created in various dummy entities, entering into credits of more than Rs 1,000 crore over the period,” the CBDT had said.

“Incriminating documents of hawala transactions and money laundering with the active involvement of bank employees and Chartered Accountants have been found as a result of the search action,” it said.

Evidence of foreign hawala transactions involving Hong Kong and US dollars have also been unearthed, the CBDT had said.

Similar charges are being probed against Lee by the ED, they said. PTI





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Technology US

Trump administration blacklists Xiaomi as a ‘Communist Chinese military company’

With six days left in office, the Trump administration has decided to put one more Chinese electronics giant in its sights: Xiaomi, the world’s number three phone manufacturer. The US Department of Defense is now designating Xiaomi as a “Chinese Communist military company,” meaning it’s now vulnerable to Trump’s executive order that bans the US from investing in such companies — and might force US companies and other US investors to divest in Xiaomi on November 11th, 2021, as reported by Reuters.

While a Biden administration might overturn the order before then, it’s interesting to see an electronics company like Xiaomi on the list at all. Most of the other companies on the list are more industrially oriented, specializing in aviation, aerospace, shipbuilding, chemicals, telecommunications, construction, and other forms of infrastructure. Huawei, the world’s number two phonemaker, is also on the list, but Huawei builds large-scale telecommunications equipment too; US lawmakers have been specifically worried about Huawei being part of the nation’s cellular infrastructure (also see: ZTE).

This list isn’t the same as the US Commerce Department’s “entity list,” by the way, which typically keeps US companies from exporting technology to companies that have been blacklisted, like dronemaker DJI. But some Chinese companies like Huawei (and Chinese chipmaker SMIC) are on both lists now.

Speaking of the Commerce Department, it’s moving ahead to try to block six entire countries, now designated as “foreign adversaries,” from providing communications equipment to the United States at all, including China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and the government of Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro.

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Headline USA

Chinese socialite who rubbed shoulders with Hillary Clinton and Rita Ora ‘jumped to her death naked’

American-Chinese socialite, 34, who rubbed shoulders with Hillary Clinton ‘jumps to her death naked from her Hong Kong penthouse while holding five-month-old daughter’

  • Luo Lili, 34, allegedly plunged from her penthouse naked in Hong Kong last week
  • She was holding her five-month-old daughter who also died, local reports said
  • The socialite was said to be the only daughter of a Chinese real estate tycoon
  • She was often spotted with famous figures, such as Hillary Clinton and Rita Ora

An American-Chinese socialite has reportedly died in Hong Kong after plunging from her penthouse naked while carrying her five-month-old daughter in her arms.

Luo Lili, 34, who had rubbed shoulders with the likes of Hillary Clinton and Rita Ora, reportedly jumped to her death with her baby after suffering post-natal depression, according to multiple reports from local media.

As the only daughter of a real estate tycoon mother who owns multiple luxury development projects in China, Ms Luo appeared to have lived a lavish life, studying and travelling around the world from a young age.

An American-Chinese socialite has allegedly died in Hong Kong after plunging from her penthouse naked while carrying her five-month-old daughter in her arms. Ms Luo was pictured meeting with former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to her Instagram

Luo Lili, 34, who had rubbed shoulders with the likes of Hillary Clinton and Rita Ora, reportedly jumped to her death with her young child last week after suffering post-natal depression

Luo Lili, 34, who had rubbed shoulders with the likes of Hillary Clinton and Rita Ora, reportedly jumped to her death with her young child last week after suffering post-natal depression

The Hong Kong police found the bodies of a 34-year-old woman and her five-month-old daughter at the bottom of an apartment block last Wednesday in Yau Ma Tei, the police confirmed to MailOnline through an email statement.  

The officers were deployed to the scene after receiving a report from a local security guard who spotted the corpses.

‘The woman and the baby girl were certified dead at scene. Initial investigation revealed that they fell from a unit. No will note was found at scene,’ said the police said, who are still investigating the incident. 

‘Post-mortem examinations will be conducted later to ascertain the cause of deaths of the deceased.’   

The police only identified the deceased by their surname Luo. 

However, local news outlets, including HK01 and Ming Pao, have named them as the American-Chinese business woman Ms Luo and her young daughter. 

In a recent Instagram post, Ms Luo shared a photo with her daughter, Aier, while celebrating her baby girl’s 100-day birthday

Ms Luo appeared to have enjoyed a charmed life as an American-Chinese socialite

Ms Luo appeared to have enjoyed a charmed life as a socialite as she was frequently pictured with influential figures around the world including Hillary Clinton and Rita Ora

Ms Luo, a single mother, was believed to have taken her life after suffering post-natal depression, reported Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao.

She was said to have jumped to her death without wearing clothing from her 5,000-square-foot penthouse while carrying her baby in her arms.

Ms Luo appeared to have enjoyed an extravagant life as a socialite as she was frequently pictured with influential figures around the world including former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and English pop superstar Rita Ora.

In a recent Instagram post, Ms Luo shared a photo with her daughter, Aier, while celebrating her baby girl’s 100-day birthday.

The mother wrote: ‘She is God’s way to give me perspective on life. Thank you for showing up in my life my beloved daughter.’

Ms Luo was reportedly the only daughter of Luo Lin, the chairman of Jinlin Real Estate

Her father is said to have come from a doctor family who have practised Chinese traditional medicine for six generations

Ms Luo, 34, appeared to have lived a lavish life, studying and travelling around the world

Ms Luo was reportedly the only daughter of Luo Lin, the chairman of Jinlin Real Estate in south-western Chinese metropolis Chengdu, who owns multiple luxury development projects across the country. 

Her father is said to have come from a doctor family who have practised Chinese traditional medicine for six generations.

Born in Chengdu, Ms Luo moved to Hong Kong at the age of four before studying in Australia and the United States. She was said to be a fluent English speaker and have worked as a translator for her mother before founding her own company in 2014.

For confidential support, call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch. See www.samaritans.org for details 

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Bollywood The Buzz

Kangana Ranaut says Twitter CEO ‘bought by Chinese propaganda, Islamist nations’ after Trump ban


Tribune Web Desk
Chandigarh, January 10

Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut on Sunday slammed Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, for “intolerance” and said he was “bought” by “Islamists nation and Chinese propaganda”.

Ranaut’s tweet came a day after US President Donald Trump was banned from the microblogging site.

Quote-tweeting Dosrey’s post from 2015, Ranuat said: “No you don’t,Islamists nation and Chinese propaganda has bought you completely, you only stand for your petty gains. You shamelessly show intolerance for anything other than what they want. U are nothing but a little slave of your own greeds. Don’t preach again its embarrassing.”

Twitter Inc deleted new tweets posted by U.S. President Donald Trump on official government account @POTUS on Saturday and suspended the account of his presidential campaign, after booting his personal account off the platform permanently.

A Twitter spokeswoman said the company had “taken enforcement action on thousands of accounts that were attempting to undermine the public conversation and cause real-world harm”.





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The Buzz

Chinese soldier strays into Indian territory, detained


Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 9

A Chinese soldier was apprehended on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh during early hours of January 8.

The PLA soldier had transgressed across the LAC, in area south of Pangong Tso lake and was taken into custody by Indian troops deployed in the area, according to official sources.

Troops from either side are deployed along the LAC since friction erupted last year due to unprecedented mobilisation and forward concentration by Chinese troops.

The PLA soldier is being dealt with as per laid-down procedures and the circumstances under which he had crossed the LAC are being investigated. Further details are awaited, sources said.

This is the second known instance of a PLA soldier straying across the LAC since the stand-off began about 19 months ago.

Earlier, the PLA soldier was repatriated within a few days as per protocol.

There was also an instance where a few civilians had inadvertently crossed over to the Chinese side in Arunachal Pradesh late last year. The Chinese had handed them over later.





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Technology US

Chinese search giant Baidu to make electric cars

Chinese search giant Baidu plans to make electric vehicles with help from Geely, the country’s largest private automaker, according to a new report from Reuters. It’s the latest Chinese conglomerate to venture into the flourishing electric vehicle market, following shopping giant Alibaba and ride-hailing behemoth Didi Chuxing.

Making electric vehicles would also represent a broadening of Baidu’s ambition to branch into transportation. Baidu has already spent years working on self-driving technology and is the leading Chinese company in the autonomous vehicle space.

Baidu will likely form a new joint venture with Geely for the EV effort, Reuters reports, and will develop software for the vehicle while Geely focuses on the hardware. Specifically, Baidu and Geely are in talks to use the latter’s scalable electric vehicle platform that it announced late last year. But Baidu will own a majority stake in the new company and will therefore control its direction.

The Chinese government has spent years focusing its biggest companies on developing green technology in an attempt to beat other world powers to the punch. Beijing has insinuated that a gas car ban was on the horizon since 2017 (before ultimately putting a policy in place late last year) and announced generous subsidy policy for clean vehicles, leading to an incredible boom in electric vehicle startups.

The country’s biggest tech companies have spent that time eyeing the best way into the market. At first, they simply placed bets. Alibaba funded XPeng, an electric vehicle startup that first made headlines by copying Tesla’s designs. Tencent backed Nio, one of the first (and now biggest) EV startups in China. But recently they’ve made more concrete moves. Alibaba formed an electric vehicle joint venture with SAIC, which is China’s largest carmaker. Didi Chuxing is working with Chinese automotive giant BYD to make electric ride-hailing vehicles. Baidu’s partnership with Geely is the latest example of this concentrated effort.

Geely has big ambitions itself. The company already owns Volvo and has a partnership with Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler. But it also has its hand in everything from passenger drones, to a high-speed rail, to a newly proposed satellite network.

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Headline USA New York Politics

Chinese tech billionaire Jack Ma has not been seen in public for TWO MONTHS 

The Chinese tech billionaire behind Asia’s version of Amazon has reportedly not been seen in public for more than two months after falling foul of President Xi Jinping.

Jack Ma, one of China’s most successful and outspoken tycoons, criticised the country’s ‘pawnshop’ financial regulators and state-owned banks in an incendiary speech in Shanghai in October.

He called for reform of a system that ‘stifled business innovation’ and likened global banking regulations to an ‘old people’s club’. 

The speech angered the Chinese government, which viewed Ma’s criticisms as an attack on the authority of the Communist Party, and led to its extraordinary clampdown on Ma’s business activities. 

In November, officials in Beijing ‘dressed down’ Ma and suspended the blockbuster $37billion initial public offering of his Ant Group on the direct order of President Xi, the Wall Street Journal reports.

They then advised Ma to remain in China before launching an anti-monopoly investigation into Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding on Christmas Eve, according to Bloomberg. Beijing also ordered Ma’s financial tech company Ant Group to scale back its operations. 

Ma then mysteriously disappeared from his Dragons’ Den-style TV show Africa’s Business Heroes just before the November final, while his photo was scrubbed from the show’s judging panel webpage. 

A spokesperson for Alibaba told the Financial Times that Ma could no longer be part of the judging panel ‘due to a schedule conflict’. 

Ma is thought to have fallen foul of President Xi Jinping personally

Jack Ma, one of China’s most successful entrepreneurs, criticised the country’s financial regulators and its state-owned banks in an incendiary speech in Shanghai in late October. Ma is thought to have fallen foul of President Xi Jinping personally

His calls for reform of a system which he claimed was stifling innovation are thought to have angered government leaders who viewed the speech as an attack on the Communist Party

His calls for reform of a system which he claimed was stifling innovation are thought to have angered government leaders who viewed the speech as an attack on the Communist Party

But weeks before the final, Ma tweeted that he ‘couldn’t wait’ to meet the contestants. There has been no activity since then on the father-of-three’s Twitter account, one that had regularly seen several tweets a day.  

Beijing has a history of ruthless action against its internal critics and in March a property tycoon disappeared after he called President Xi a ‘clown’ for his handling of the coronavirus crisis.  

Friends of Ren Zhiqiang said they could not contact him and six months later he was sentenced to 18 years in prison after he ‘voluntarily and truthfully confessed’ to various crimes of corruption.

Xian Jianhua, a billionaire financier, was snatched from a Hong Kong hotel in 2017 and taken to the mainland. 

He is said to remain under house arrest more than three years later, with no official word of his location.  

The anti-monopoly investigation caused Alibaba’s shares to drop by a quarter since their peak shortly after the October speech, wiping more than $10billion from Ma’s paper fortune. 

It knocked Ma into third place on the list of China’s richest people, behind Pinduoduo chief executive Colin Huang and Tencent Holdings’ Pony Ma Huateng. 

Ma now has an estimated current net worth of $63.1billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.       

In the wake of the speech, Ma was 'dressed down' by officials in Beijing and the blockbuster $37billion initial public offering (IPO) of his company Ant Group was suspended, reportedly by President Xi personally, according to the Wall Street Journal (pictured, singing a song during an event to mark the 20th anniversary of Alibaba in Hangzhou)

In the wake of the speech, Ma was ‘dressed down’ by officials in Beijing and the blockbuster $37billion initial public offering (IPO) of his company Ant Group was suspended, reportedly by President Xi personally, according to the Wall Street Journal (pictured, singing a song during an event to mark the 20th anniversary of Alibaba in Hangzhou)

Xi Jinping speaks during a conference with European leaders from Beijing on Wednesday

Xi Jinping speaks during a conference with European leaders from Beijing on Wednesday

On Wednesday, shares of Nasdaq-listed Pinduoduo rose 7.77 per cent in New York, lifting its market capitalisation to nearly $220billion. 

It marked the second day in a row that the five-year-old start-up passed the $200billion mark in value. 

Huang’s wealth in China is now behind only Zhong Shanshan, the chairman of bottled water giant Nongfu Spring that recently completed a record-breaking $87billion Hong Kong IPO in September. 

The fate of the country’s largest e-commerce, delivery and social media platforms has been in limbo since Beijing drafted a document to crackdown on the ‘platform economy’ in early November. 

Despite being one of China’s most successful businessmen, Mr Ma has increasingly clashed with the regime over his preferences for more of an open and market-driven economy. There is no suggestion so far that he has come to physical harm.

Until recently he had been a leading light of China’s unique approach to generating wealth by unleashing market forces within a tightly-controlled communist framework.  

Alibaba founder Jack Ma speaks during the Alibaba 20th Anniversary Party at Hangzhou Olympic Center Stadium on September 10, 2019

Alibaba founder Jack Ma speaks during the Alibaba 20th Anniversary Party at Hangzhou Olympic Center Stadium on September 10, 2019

Ma, who is married to Cathy Zhang (pictured), 55, has completely disappeared from public view ¿ a sudden change all the more remarkable given his previously huge public profile

Ma, who is married to Cathy Zhang (pictured), 55, has completely disappeared from public view – a sudden change all the more remarkable given his previously huge public profile

The English-teacher-turned-business-magnate commanded near-rock star status and even played an unconquerable kung fu master in a star-studded 2017 film. 

And even while tensions between the US and China were deepening, Mr Ma was able to extend an olive branch by donating 2,000 ventilators to New York with his right-hand man Joe Tsai, prompting a ‘thank you’ from Donald Trump.

But the stock market launch of Ma’s payments firm Ant was scuppered by regulators in what many saw as a retaliatory move for his explosive speech in Shanghai in October.

Since then, regulators have met with executives from Ant and ordered it to improve its corporate governance, its compliance with regulation and its habit of using its size to push competitors out of the market. 

In the process Mr Ma, who is married to Cathy Zhang, 55, has completely disappeared from public view – a sudden change all the more remarkable given his previously huge public profile.  

Categories
Delhi Jammu and Kashmir The Buzz

Chinese company bags vital contract for first rapid rail project


Sandeep Dikshit

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 3

The Centre’s strained financial position has compelled it to award a contract to a Chinese company for a vital section of the Delhi-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS).

India has so far borrowed $ 1.5 billion (over Rs 10,000 crore) from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Manila, and the New Development Bank, Shanghai for the Delhi-Meerut RRTS, the first of its kind in the country on which sleek, aerodynamic trains will attain top speeds of 180 kmph.

Both banks make it conditional that its members must get to participate in the tenders. As China is a member of both NDB and ADB, Shanghai Tunnel Engineering Company Limited was permitted to compete and won the tender for the construction of a 5.6-km underground stretch, from New Ashok Nagar to Sahibabad.

National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC), which awarded the tender to the lowest bid among five competitors, suggested that the ADB’s procurement guidelines for lending do not permit discrimination to companies of its member countries in the bidding process.

The Shanghai-based NDB has five members with equal membership of five countries and China is a prominent member. As NDB has also extended a $ 241 million loan for the Mumbai metro project, Chinese companies will be expected to participate in the tenders.

The New Ashok Nagar to Sahibabad tender was a closely fought affair. The Chinese company’s quote was a few crore less than that of the Turkish company Gulermak.

Despite South Block’s political estrangement with Ankara over the Kashmir lockdown, Gulermak has completed the Lucknow Metro and is executing two major projects for Pune Metro. Turkey is also a member of ADB and its companies will be in the race for contracts for all projects for which the Manila-based bank extends loans.

A statement by the NCRTC spokesperson said, “Approvals have to be taken at various levels for bids that are funded by multilateral agencies. This bid was also awarded following the set procedure and guidelines.

“Now, all the civil work tenders of the 82-km Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut corridor have been awarded and the construction is going on in full swing to commission the project in time.’’

While the Delhi-Meerut RRTS leg has taken off with the award of tenders, the Delhi-Panipat leg is still in the formative stage. The Haryana government has approved its contribution of Rs 4,699 crore for the project. It will facilitate easy access to Panipat Institute of Engineering, IITM Group of Institutions, Ashoka University, Park Hospital and AIIMS.





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Canada

Coronavirus: Egypt clears Chinese vaccine for Sinopharm

Egypt has authorized the use of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Chinese laboratory Sinopharm, Egyptian Minister of Health and Population Hala Zayed said.

“The Egyptian Medicines Authority approved China’s Sinopharm vaccine on Saturday,” Zayed told MBC Masr that same evening.

After a first batch of vaccine, comprising 50,000 doses and delivered in December, Egypt is due to receive a second batch of the same quantity “in the second or third week of January”. “And as soon as he arrives, we will start the vaccination,” said the minister.

The ministry had announced that the first beneficiaries would be members of medical teams.

In total, according to Zayed, Egypt plans to purchase 40 million doses of the vaccine from Sinopharm.

The Chinese laboratory announced on Wednesday that its vaccine, which is to be distributed in China and developing countries, is 79% effective.

This figure is lower than that of the American-German vaccine Pfizer / BioNTech (95%) and that of the American biotechnology company Moderna (94.1%).

Britain’s AstraZeneca, associated with the University of Oxford, for its part claimed an effectiveness rate of 70%, but which could reach 100% with two doses.

Zayed also announced that a first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines should arrive “in the third or fourth week of January” and that a contract with the British firm is “in the process of being finalized”.

In addition, “negotiations are underway with Pfizer,” she added.

Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world with some 100 million people, has recorded more than 140,000 cases of Covid-19, including nearly 7,800 deaths.

After a brief lull, infections increased drastically during the fall, from around 100 new cases per day in October to around 1,400 new cases per day today.

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Canada

40% of Americans believe COVID-19 came from a Chinese lab

A growing number of Americans are adhering to conspiratorial theses rejected by credible news sources: 40% of them, for example, say they believe COVID-19 was created in a laboratory in China, even though the consensus current scientist believes that the virus would come from an animal to human transmission.

The most recent NPR / Ipsos poll, conducted among 1,115 adults on December 21 and 22, also reports that a third of those polled believe that massive voter fraud allowed Joe Biden to defeat Donald Trump in the November presidential election. . The theory has been rejected in multiple ways by the system, Justice, and US election officials. Likewise, 39% of people believe a “deep state” wants to destroy the incumbent president.

A sign that even the most eccentric theories such as that of Qanon are gaining ground among our neighbors to the south, 17% of respondents are convinced that politicians and the media are controlled by a pedosatanist elite who worship Satan and operate a child trafficking network for sexual purposes.

The same proportion of people polled (17%) argue that humans do not have a huge impact on the climate, while all the studies of the last 30 years prove that human activities are the main reason for climate change.

According to Chris Jackson, an analyst for the firm Ipsos, these trends have been greatly amplified since the start of the pandemic. “More and more people are ready to say and believe things that correspond to their worldview, even if they have no basis in reality or in fact,” he said.

“What this poll is really showing me is how much people are willing to believe things that are ridiculous because they fit into a worldview that they want to believe,” Jackson added. .

Political tensions are cause for concern, as 73% of those polled expressed fear of a potential outbreak of violence in the next four years.