The Ministry of Health confirmed five new COVID-19 cases in Singapore on Thursday (26 November), taking the country’s total case count to 58,195.
a day agoEU will not be snubbed by Beijing, Chinese ambassador assures GermanyChina’s top diplomat to Germany has dismissed concerns that Beijing will rely less on the European Union as a result of focusing more on its internal market after signs of rapprochement between the EU and US since the American electionAn assurance on Tuesday from Beijing’s ambassador Wu Ken that the bloc will still be a key partner of China – along with a telephone call between the nations’ leaders Angela Merkel and Xi Jinping – came as China and Germany face difficult bilateral challenges, including completing a major EU investment deal and facing falling public opinion of China in Germany.Addressing German and Chinese business leaders and politicians during the Belt and Road Economic Dialogue, held online on Tuesday, Wu sought to explain Beijing’s economic strategy after concerns that it would lead to China turning inward and relying less on imports.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.“Germany and Europe will gain more momentum from China’s new ‘dual circulation’ development pattern,” Wu said, referencing a phrase used in Chinese policy circles since September.Dual circulation, or developing “internal circulation” and “external circulation” in tandem, has been billed as a means to boost China’s internal market growth.Wu said the policy would not mean decoupling from the global economy.“The internal circulation is not to be developed behind closed doors, but to further revitalise and release China’s market potential, promote a higher level of opening up, and make better use of both domestic and international markets,” he said. “China will continue to expand and open up. This is China’s basic national policy.”Following the US election, EU leaders are looking to US president-elect Joe Biden to work with Europe to counter Beijing, with Germany and France calling for unity in opposing countries such as China, Russia and Iran.In a rare joint opinion piece, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his German counterpart Heiko Maas outlined their call in The Washington Post in mid-November, saying the US and the EU should “consult each other” to coordinate their approach to China on human rights, digital infrastructure and fair trade.China has been one of the largest buyers of goods from the export-dependent German economy. Last year, China was Germany’s third-largest export market, and second-largest source of imports, according to official Chinese statistics.Wu added that China and the EU were both increasing the pace of negotiations for a long-awaited bilateral investment treaty, scheduled to be completed before the end of the year.The pressure is on for both sides to produce concrete results with the political leadership about to change in both the US and Europe, according to Ding Chun, an expert in China-Germany relations at Fudan University in Shanghai.“There’s a very short window,” he said. “Merkel will probably be leaving soon, and Germany is drawing near to the end of its rotating term in the EU presidency. There’s enormous pressure for both sides to make good on their promise to complete the investment agreement.”Thomas Gnocchi, head of the EU’s office in Hong Kong and Macau, said both the EU and China maintained their objective of concluding negotiations by the end of the year. China must deliver on opening up promises ahead of ‘last chance’ EU summit“These ongoing negotiations, we believe it’s very important to finalise them,” Gnocchi said at an event at Hong Kong’s Baptist University on Wednesday.The deal was mentioned in Tuesday’s phone call between Xi and Merkel, according to a brief statement from Germany’s foreign ministry. Along with progress on the deal, the two also discussed vaccine development and joint efforts to combat climate change, the statement said.There are unfavourable opinions of China in Germany, according to new polling data in a study of 13 nations released last week by Sinophone Borderlands, a research organisation in the Czech Republic. It found that more than 60 per cent of Germans viewed China either negatively or very negatively.More detailed data from the German polling in the report was released this week, and showed that close to half of Germans felt their perception of China had got worse over the past three years.Additional reporting by Kristin HuangMore from South China Morning Post: * China reminds EU to chart its own course as European leaders reach out to Biden * China must strike a balance between opening up and protecting its markets, EU diplomat saysThis article EU will not be snubbed by Beijing, Chinese ambassador assures Germany first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
a day agoCoronavirus: Sinopharm applies for regulatory approval from China to launch vaccine, state media reportsA front runner among China’s coronavirus vaccine developers has filed for approval to officially launch its product, after rival vaccines in the United States and Britain got a head start in proving the high efficacy of their candidates.China National Pharmaceutical Group, known as Sinopharm and whose subsidiary company China National Biotec Group is developing two inactivated coronavirus vaccines, has filed for regulatory approve to launch the vaccines, Xinhua Finance reported on Tuesday, citing Sinopharm’s vice-general manager, Shi Shengyi.The brief report did not specify which – or even how many – of the candidates would be reviewed. The two candidates, developed by different institutes under CNBG, have been testing for broad safety and efficacy, or how protective they are against unvaccinated groups, in 10 countries across South America and the Middle East. The safety and efficacy data has not been published.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.But a senior CNBG executive, who preferred anonymity because the matter was sensitive, said the report by Xinhua Finance was “inaccurate” and the company had yet to file for an official launch. He also said the phase 3 data review had not been completed.CNBG was contacted for official comment about the application to launch its product but did not respond.The report came days after two US vaccines – one by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, and the other by Moderna – announced their candidates were about 95 per cent effective in protecting against Covid-19. Coronavirus vaccine race: where are we and how far?Last Friday, Pfizer also disclosed it had applied to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use and Moderna indicated it would soon follow suit. Meanwhile, another coronavirus vaccine developed by drug maker AstraZeneca and Oxford University is seeking regulatory approval for emergency use from the British drug regulator.Russia is the only country to have approved its vaccine for general use.The National Medical Products Administration, China’s drug regulator, granted emergency use authorisation in July for the two CNBG vaccine candidates to be used on high-risk groups based on data from early-stage trials. Nearly 1 million people have since been given the jab under the scheme.Early-stage trials showed that the vaccines could generate antibodies, an indicator of immunity, without serious side effects. However, vaccine developers will need to submit data from phase 3 trials to apply for their vaccine to be authorised for general use and CNBG is yet to release that data.CNBG was one of the earliest developers to push for human trials and the world’s first to enter the final stage. It has recruited more than 50,000 participants for a phase 3 trial and was set to review the data to assess whether the vaccine could protect participants against Covid-19, CNBG chairman Yang Xiaoming said last Friday.Two weeks ago, Sinopharm said its phase 3 trial was “in the sprint stage” and all related data “beat expectations”. Fifth Chinese Covid-19 vaccine candidate ready to enter phase 3 trialsSinopharm chairman Liu Jingzhen also spoke about the safety of the candidates in an interview with a media outlet in Sichuan, saying the company had not received a single report of a severe adverse event and that there were only cases with “some mild symptoms”.He also suggested that the vaccines were highly protective, saying that of the 56,000 people who had been given the CNBG coronavirus vaccine jab before heading to work and study in 150 countries, none had developed Covid-19.And in an overseas office, 81 employees were given the CNBG vaccine and none were infected, but of the 18 staff who were not given the jab, 10 were infected, Liu was quoted as saying in the interview.The two biosafety-rated facilities built by CNBG to make Covid-19 vaccines could manufacture 100 million doses this year and production capacity could be increased to 1 billion doses next year, Liu said this month.More from South China Morning Post: * Pfizer applies for US emergency approval of coronavirus vaccine * Coronavirus: AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine ‘offers up to 90 per cent’ protection in trials * Moderna says its Covid-19 vaccine is 94.5 per cent effective based on clinical trials * Coronavirus: 1 million Chinese injected with Sinopharm vaccine under emergency use schemeThis article Coronavirus: Sinopharm applies for regulatory approval from China to launch vaccine, state media reports first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
a day agoSouth China Morning PostHong Kong policy address key takeaways: cutting through Carrie Lam’s 30,000-word blueprint to put city ‘back on track’Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s fourth policy address was her most overtly political yet – and the lengthiest, tying Leung Chun-ying’s record for longest policy blueprint ever.Over some two hours and 15 minutes, Lam drove home what she characterised as the need to save Hong Kong’s constitutional order from “chaos”, while also laying out a long list of economic and social measures – more typical fodder for a policy address – that will rely heavily on the assistance and coordination of Beijing if they are to help the city pull out of the economic downturn triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.Here are the five key takeaways from Tuesday’s speech.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China. As it happened: Carrie Lam’s policy address hails Beijing’s staunch support1\. Restoring the constitutional orderHong Kong represented a “gaping hole” in China’s national security, and restoring constitutional order and protecting the political system from “chaos” would be “urgent” priorities, Lam said.While peace had been “restored” in Hong Kong since the imposition of the Beijing-drafted national security law on June 30, she added, efforts should be made to ensure national security was “comprehensively” protected.The government would make better use of the annual National Constitutional Day and National Security Education Day to conduct public education on a large scale, Lam continued, while two pieces of legislation would be amended to strengthen procedures surrounding lawmakers, judges and civil servants’ pledges of allegiance to the city and to the Basic Law.Meanwhile, Lam appeared to take a somewhat softer stance on young protesters facing prosecution over last year’s unrest. Police were prepared to consider handling cases concerning arrestees under 18 who were not involved in serious offences with measures conducive to their rehabilitation, such as through caution and bind-over orders, she said. But the prerequisite was that the minors must admit their wrongdoing, she added.2\. Greater Bay Area integrationAs expected, a key focus of Lam’s policy address concerned integration into the Greater Bay Area, a plan to turn a cluster of cities in Guangdong, along with Hong Kong and Macau, into an economic powerhouse.The Stock Connect trading schemes between Hong Kong and the cities of Shanghai and Shenzhen would be enhanced, Lam said, by opening up the cross-border investment programme to loss-making biotechnology firms listed in Hong Kong, and stocks listed on the mainland’s sci-tech innovation board.The Airport Authority Hong Kong, which runs the city’s airport, will acquire more shares in Zhuhai Airport, a smaller airport in the bay area for domestic travel, to “deepen cooperation” in the aviation sector and build a “world-class aviation cluster”.Meanwhile, a youth employment scheme will be launched to encourage enterprises with operations in both Hong Kong and the bay area cities to recruit and deploy local university graduates to work on the mainland. The scheme will provide 2,000 places.3\. Bolstering the economyOne of the most immediate measures Lam vowed to take to help out local businesses hit hard by the pandemic-related downturn was the abolition of the doubled ad valorem stamp duty (DSD) on commercial properties from Thursday. Scrapping the tax would lower transaction costs on commercial real estate deals, and could trigger investment, analysts have said.Noting that Hong Kong’s GDP was expected to shrink by 6.1 per cent this year – the worst decline on record – Lam said the city would evolve in its role as a middleman between the mainland and the rest of the world. With Beijing following a new “dual circulation” economic strategy prioritising what it calls internal circulation – or fostering self-sustaining domestic demand over exports – “Hong Kong can further strengthen its intermediary role” when it comes to so-called external circulation, or engagement with outside markets, Lam said. Lam’s postponement of address ratcheted up anticipation, potential for disappointment4\. Beating back the Covid-19 pandemicSuccessfully battling the coronavirus pandemic relied on mainland help, including the central government’s pledge to reserve a certain amount of vaccines developed or produced on the mainland for use by Hong Kong people when necessary, Lam said.An important aspect of the city’s recovery is the resumption of cross-border travel, a point Lam floated to central government officials during her recent meetings on the mainland, only to be rebuffed and sternly reminded to prioritise virus control measures at home.In light of this, Lam said, a universal community testing scheme – similar to the one seen in September – might have to be brought back to achieve the target of zero local infections necessary to reopen the border with the mainland, though she offered few other details as to how this might be accomplished.5\. Increasing housing supplyUnlike with Lam’s past policy speeches, housing and land took a back seat this year. She said the government had identified 330 hectares of land on which to build 316,000 public housing units over the next 10 years.The decision to expedite the Northern Link railway project was new, and would make 90 hectares of land available to deliver over 70,000 housing units.Meanwhile, some quick relief will be provided for about 90,000 people in the long queue for public housing, including a cash allowance for low-income applicants and turning hotels and guest houses with low occupancy rates into transitional housing.Lam’s signature policy, the controversial, and gigantic, Lantau Tomorrow Vision land-reclamation scheme, will also be effectively expedited, with the government retracting from the legislature several funding requests for civil service posts that were slated to be reviewed prior to the one for Lantau. A HK$550 million (US$71 million) funding push for a preliminary study into the Lantau plan will be the next item on the agenda for the Legislative Council, now dominated by the pro-establishment camp, to vet.As part of SCMP’s commitment to providing our readers with expert coverage of the policy address, this article is free to all. Please support us on our mission to bring you quality journalismMore from South China Morning Post: * As it happened: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam’s policy address hails Beijing’s staunch support, doubles down on national security and vows to ‘relaunch city, rebuild trust’ * Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam’s postponement of policy address has ratcheted up anticipation – and the potential for disappointmentThis article Hong Kong policy address key takeaways: cutting through Carrie Lam’s 30,000-word blueprint to put city ‘back on track’ first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020. headtopics.com
a day ago1-for-1 Buffet Dining Promotions In SingaporeThere’s nothing quite as magical as these words: ‘1-for-1’. We’re talking about 1-for-1 buffet deals across Singapore’s celebrated hotels and restaurants. It’s time we helped you know where to go get these and how to save 50% or more for a sumptuous, leisurely meal with […]The post 1-for-1 Buffet Dining Promotions In Singapore appeared first on SingSaver Blog - We Compare, You Save.
a day agoUS leaves Taiwan wanting more with latest official visit off the menuThe fourth course of a feast of high-ranking US official visits to the self-ruled island of Taiwan has been ruled off the menu, with the indefinite postponement of US environmental chief Andrew Wheeler’s planned visit for three days in early December.He would have been the fourth senior Washington official to travel to Taipei in as many months, as the Trump administration has stepped up its ties with the island, which Beijing regards as part of its territory, to be returned by force if necessary.Speaking on Monday in anticipation of Wheeler’s arrival, Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang said the visits represented an ever-closer relationship between Taipei and Washington. “It is like a full banquet with one new dish coming after another.”Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China. US-China-Taiwan: how will Biden change the balance?The following day, Su’s dinner plans were disrupted when US Environmental Protection Agency spokesman James Hewitt said Wheeler’s visit had been postponed “due to pressing priorities at home”. The announcement followed a report in The New York Times last week which put the cost of the trip at US$45,000.The report questioned the justification for the visit – during a government transition and with Wheeler soon to leave office – as well as the cost to taxpayers which included US$25,000 in chartered flights, according to The Times.Hewitt criticised the premature exposure of Wheeler’s planned visit to Taiwan, saying “it is disturbing that a government official would leak deliberative schedules … that could jeopardise both international diplomacy and personal security, and we are referring the matter to the inspector general.”He also said there was no plan for Wheeler to make separate trips to Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic in January, as reported by The Times.Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu said there was no relation between the postponement and the hush-hush visit by an unidentified US official – believed to be Rear Admiral Michael Studeman, director of intelligence at Indo-Pacific Command – who arrived on Sunday for a three-day stay. Taiwan starts building submarine fleet amid military threats from BeijingBoth Washington and Taipei have been tight-lipped about the visit but neither denied reports that it was Studeman. The unannounced trip prompted an angry protest from Beijing, with China’s foreign ministry reiterating its opposition to any form of exchange between the US and Taiwanese officials or military.“The Chinese side will, according to how the situation develops, make a legitimate and necessary response,” spokesman Zhao Lijian said, without elaborating.Beijing reacted with similar fury to visits to Taipei by US health secretary Alex Azar in August and undersecretary of state Keith Krach in September, each time sending fighter jets across the Taiwan Strait close to the island.The mainland has been ramping up the pressure on Taiwan, staging war games close to the island and sending military planes into its air defence identification zone – with more than 1,760 sorties so far this year.On Wednesday, Taiwanese Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Cheng expressed regret over the postponement of Wheeler’s visit, and said Taipei respected the EPA administrator’s decision.“But Taiwan and the US will continue to deepen their long-time cooperation in environmental protection and it remains a goal for our two sides to seek to expand their exchanges in all levels and areas,” he said.More from South China Morning Post: * First of four accused Taiwanese spies sentenced to prison in China * Furious Beijing files formal protest over US environment chief’s Taiwan visit * Taiwan visit by admiral ‘suggests two months of provocation by Donald Trump’This article US leaves Taiwan wanting more with latest official visit off the menu first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
a day agoHDB BTO Launches In 2020 (Sembawang, Tengah, Bishan, Tampines, Toa Payoh – Bidadari)HDB's last BTO launch for 2020 saw 5,795 new BTO units spread over 5 locations across Singapore. HDB has just concluded its last BTO launch for 2020. Earlier in November, HDB launched 7 projects at 5 locations, namely Sun Sails at Sembawang (Non-Mature Estate), Garden […]The post HDB BTO Launches In 2020 (Sembawang, Tengah, Bishan, Tampines, Toa Payoh – Bidadari) appeared first on SingSaver Blog - We Compare, You Save.Read more: Yahoo Singapore »