It has reignited a centuries-long conversation around racism in America and the horrendous ways black people are often treated by police. And it came amid a pandemic that is disproportionately impacting people of color.
On May 25, Floyd, who had recently lost his job as a restaurant bouncer due to coronavirus-related closures, died after being pinned down under a police officer’s knee for several minutes. That officer, Derek Chauvin, ignored Floyd’s pleas of distress as three other officers looked on and bystanders begged Chauvin to remove his knee from Floyd’s neck.
A video taken by a bystander and posted online spread quickly on social media. It shows that by the time Chauvin stopped holding Floyd down, he was silent and motionless. According to a criminal complaint filed against Chauvin, an officer on the scene checked for Floyd’s pulse before Chauvin removed his knee and could not find it. Floyd was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Chauvin and the three other officers involved in the incident were fired on Tuesday, and on Friday, Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
The incident has rightly prompted outrage across the country, and thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Minneapolis — and in cities across America. While many of these protests have been peaceful, some have turned violent, with police clashes, burning buildings, and looting.
The protests have been focused on policing, but come during a 2020 that has been acutely painful for people of color. The coronavirus crisis has disproportionately affected black and Latino Americans, who have become sick and died of Covid-19 at higher rates than whites. The economic turmoil brought on by stay-at-home measures has also hit people of color especially hard — they’ve lost more jobs, and they were less likely to be financially stable in the first place.
Add to that a cascade of headlines of black Americans whose lives have been cut short by white violence and by police in recent weeks — Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and, most recently, Floyd. As Americans were grappling with these tragic headlines, a video of a white woman feigning an attack by a black man bird-watching in New York’s Central Park after he asked her to leash her dog went viral. It was a reminder that beyond concerns over state violence, systematic racism creates potentially dangerous situations for black Americans doing even the most mundane things.
The protests spawned by the deaths of Floyd and others are hardly a new development in the United States — the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, and countless others have led to significant public outcry in recent years. Four years before Floyd’s fatal arrest in Minneapolis, Philando Castile was shot to death during a traffic stop in a nearby Minnesota suburb. Floyd told the officer who kept his knee on his neck, “I can’t breathe,” echoing the words of Eric Garner who died after being held in a chokehold in a police encounter in New York in 2014.
If it feels like we’ve seen this crisis before, it’s because we have. And still so many things haven’t changed.
Floyd died on Monday; Chauvin was charged on Friday
Floyd grew up in Houston and moved to Minneapolis in 2014 to look for work, according to CBS Minnesota. He got a position as a security guard at a Salvation Army store downtown, and then later began to work two jobs as a truck driver and a bouncer. He had a 6-year-old daughter who still lives in Houston with her mother. In the weeks before his death, he’d been laid off due to Minnesota’s stay-at-home order.
Vox’s Catherine Kim explained the circumstances of his May 25 encounter with police following a purchase at a convenience store and, ultimately, his death, as shown by video footage captured of the incident:
Although the video doesn’t capture the moments leading to the arrest, the Minneapolis Police Department said they were responding to a call that a man was trying to use a $20 counterfeit bill, according to the Star Tribune. In a statement, the police department said officers arrived at the scene to find Floyd — who matched the description of the suspect — sitting on a car and appearing to be intoxicated. They added that Floyd physically resisted the police and seemed to be “suffering medical distress,” which is why they had called for an ambulance.
The police’s excessive use of force seemingly has no excuse: The department does not permit the technique that was used to pin Floyd’s head to the ground, according to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.
The four officers involved were fired on Tuesday, May 26, and the next day, Mayor Frey called for Chauvin to face criminal charges. Local officials on Thursday said they were investigating Floyd’s death “as expeditiously, as thoroughly, and as completely as justice demands” and asked for patience from the public. On Friday, Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, and the Justice Department said it would investigate Floyd’s death as well. Chauvin’s wife has filed for divorce, and his bail has been set at $500,000.
The day the officers involved were fired, the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis said in a statement that all video of the incident should be reviewed, and called for waiting on the medical examiner’s report. “Officers’ actions and training protocol will be carefully examined after the officers have provided their statements,” the federation said.
According to the criminal complaint against Chauvin released on Friday, Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, including two minutes and 53 seconds during which Floyd was “non-responsive.” Officer J.A. Keung — another of the four officers fired — tried to find Floyd’s pulse shortly after he became unresponsive, and could not.
The county medical examiner’s preliminary autopsy findings say there were “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation” and said that the “combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions, and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.” Floyd’s family is seeking an independent autopsy.
The reaction to Floyd’s death has been massive
The public reaction to Floyd’s death has been swift and enormous.
Politicians, celebrities, athletes, and multiple other public figures have spoken out. Former President Barack Obama released a lengthy statement calling for the country to work for a “new normal” for black Americans. “This shouldn’t be normal in 2020 America,” he wrote.
Former Vice President Joe Biden called the moment a “national crisis” and one that necessitates “leadership that will bring everyone to the table so we can take measures to root out systemic racism.” President Donald Trump expressed his condolences to Floyd’s family and said he spoke with them.
Even members of law enforcement spoke out condemning the circumstances in which Floyd was killed. “To be honest with you, it was very difficult to watch,” Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith told local news outlet WBRC. He continued, “It degrades the trust in all law enforcement, not just one area. When things like this happen, it spreads throughout the country. It makes all of us go back and check our relationships and make sure we are doing things the right way.”
Protests have been ignited in Minneapolis — and across the country — as people express their outrage not only about Floyd’s death, but about the underlying racism and inequality that renders being black in America dangerous, particularly at the hands of police.
Minneapolis has seen days of unrest. There have been a number of peaceful protests, but some businesses there have also been looted, including Target and TJ Maxx; other businesses have been vandalized, and police stations and other buildings burned down. Demonstrations have become increasingly volatile as local officials have asked the public for peace. The governor has called for the full mobilization of the Minnesota National Guard.
Uprisings have also spread across the country. On Friday, protests in Atlanta grew tense and violent — cars were set ablaze, and windows at the CNN building were smashed in. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms pleaded with protesters for calm: “If you care about this city, then go home,” she said at a press conference.
Rapper Killer Mike, in a speech at the same press conference, struck a similar tone. “I am duty-bound to be here to simply say that it is your duty not to burn down your own house for anger with an enemy,” he said.
Protesters and police also clashed in Brooklyn on Friday evening. Cars were set on fire and windshields were smashed, and both protesters and police were harmed. According to ABC 7, there were more than 200 arrests reported. Some disturbing videos emerged online of the evening, including one of an officer pushing a woman to the ground and another of a police car door hitting a protester.
In San Jose, California, Miami, Chicago, Dallas, and dozens of cities across the country, protests and arrests are taking place. Crowds of protesters have gathered outside of the White House as well. In Louisville, police officers shot pepper balls at a reporter.
Some of the details of the protests have been a little bit murky. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Saturday said that about 80 percent of people arrested were from outside the region, and Mayor Frey said many people protesting are not from the city as well. But media reports cast doubt on claims that most of those arrested were from out of state. There has been some suggestion that white supremacists or cartels may be involved, but that hasn’t been confirmed.
“Let’s be very clear, the situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd,” Walz said on Saturday.
New York Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who took part in the Brooklyn, New York, protests on Friday, noted he saw “non-black allies in particular” escalating the situation. “That decision should not be yours to make,” he warned. He also spoke out about the “heavy police presence” at the outset of the protests on Friday, before anyone was outside. “We are dealing with people who are grieving and who are angry. The response to that cannot be a show of force,” he said.
Some states have mobilized the National Guard to respond, and mayors have enacted curfews to try to tamp down demonstrations. It is not clear how effective these will be at stemming the protests — a Friday night curfew in Minneapolis was ignored by many, for example.
President Trump isn’t exactly helping the situation. Overnight on Thursday, Trump tweeted out an apparent threat to protesters declaring, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” mirroring language used by segregationist law enforcement officials during the civil rights era. In the same tweet, the president called demonstrators “THUGS.” Twitter put a warning on the tweet saying it glorifies violence, fueling the fire of the president’s battle with the social media platform.
Trump later walked back the tweet, saying he was trying to warn that looting could lead to shootings because it intensifies the situation.
Into the weekend, the president weighed in online on the protests, suggesting they’re driven by antifascists and the “Radical Left,” and lashing out at CNN for its coverage of the demonstrations. He also commended the Secret Service for protecting him from White House protests — and suggested Saturday night should be “MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE.”
This isn’t about the protests, it’s about what the protests are about
Beyond the debates about the tactics demonstrators are using and who is and isn’t involved, there is a much deeper issue here that must remain in focus: the way black people are treated in the United States.
Of course the protests are about George Floyd’s death. Political leaders fear violence at the protests — and any destruction of property or bodily harm is, of course, worrisome — but their concerns actually demonstrate the fundamental asymmetry that the protesters are pushing back against. The state has a monopoly on legitimate violence, and it is often directed at young black people like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice — the list goes on. When they die, the police officers responsible too frequently face no repercussions because they are protected by the law. If the men who killed George Floyd go to prison for their actions, they will be exceptions that prove that longstanding rule.
As Scott lays out, there are countless data points on how black Americans are targeted and mistreated by law enforcement. Black men have 1 in 1,000 odds of being killed by the police. Black people are twice as likely as whites to be pulled over by police, and they’re likelier to be searched. When they’re murdered, their murders are less likely to be solved. They’re sent to prison more often, and they are given longer prison sentences.
And for black Americans, these aren’t data points — they are real and lived situations each and every day.
And racial disparities are not just limited to criminal justice. Inequities are present in so many aspects of American life. Just look at the coronavirus crisis: The disease is disproportionately sickening and killing people of color, and it’s hitting in areas where minorities live harder. That’s true in Minnesota, where Floyd lived. Women of color are disproportionately essential workers who are putting themselves at risk, often for low-paid jobs with no health insurance. Black and Hispanic people are likelier to be laid off or furloughed during the pandemic. That’s what happened to Floyd.
In the flurry of news around the protests of Floyd’s death, on top of everything else, it can be easy to lose sight of the real problem: The centuries of racism in the bedrock of American society continue to do enormous damage. And that damage is borne in large part by black Americans.
Egypt said that it is willing to resume negotiations with Sudan and Ethiopia over the filling of a controversial mega-dam that has been a source of tension between all three Nile basin countries.
“Egypt is always ready to enter into negotiations and participate in upcoming meetings ... to reach a fair, balanced and comprehensive agreement,” the foreign ministry said.
The ministry said the agreement would have to take into account “Egypt’s water interests as well as those of Ethiopia and Sudan”.
Cairo’s thawing stance comes after Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok held a virtual meeting with his Ethiopian counterpart Abiy Ahmad earlier Thursday to hammer out a deal.
The online meeting comes after Addis Ababa said it would not delay filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which it began constructing in 2011.
In April, Ahmad proposed proceeding with the “first stage filling” that would collect 18.4 billion cubic metres of water in the dam’s reservoir over two years.
But both Egypt and Sudan fear the reservoir, which has a capacity of 74 billion cubic metres, will trap their essential water supplies.
Hamdok and Abiy’s talks were the first after a diplomatic spat that broke out between Egypt and Ethiopia reached the UN Security Council.
Filling and operating the dam “would jeopardise the water security, food security, and indeed, the very existence of over 100 million Egyptians, who are entirely dependent on the Nile River for their livelihood,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in a letter to the UN Security Council dated May 1.
In a response dated May 14, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew accused Egypt of being obstructionist.
“Ethiopia does not have a legal obligation to seek the approval of Egypt to fill the dam,” Gedu said.
Egypt wants Ethiopia to endorse a draft agreement emerging from the talks earlier this year facilitated by the US Treasury Department, which stepped in after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sissi put in a request to his ally US President Donald Trump.
But Ethiopia skipped the most recent round of those talks and denies any deal was agreed upon.
Cairo’s heavily worded letter to the Security Council raised the spectre of the possibility of armed conflict stemming from the dam deadlock.
U.S. and Chinese negotiators are nearing a trade deal, but President Trump isn't ready to sign off, White House economic adviser Lawrence Kudlow said.
The two sides are "getting close" to an agreement, Mr. Kudlow said Thursday during a question-and-answer event at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Negotiators for the U.S. and China have been working to come up with a written "phase one" trade deal in which Beijing would commit to buying American farm products and the U.S. would agree to roll back tariffs it has imposed on Chinese imports.
Both countries were initially working toward a deal that Mr. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping could sign at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Chile, but the summit was canceled because of rioting in Chile. The cancellation, combined with difficulties at the bargaining table, has disrupted the time frame.
Mr. Trump has said that China has agreed to buy up to $50 billion in U.S. farm goods annually, but The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that China was balking at making a specific dollar commitment.
The expected rollback of tariffs has emerged as a major stumbling block, with China pushing the U.S. to remove all levies while the U.S. has pushed for a limited or phased rollback as leverage to ensure China lives up to its promises.
The U.S. Commerce Department is expected to extend a reprieve given to Huawei Technologies that permits the Chinese firm to buy supplies from U.S. companies so that it can service existing customers, two sources familiar with the situation said.
The "temporary general license" will be extended for Huawei for 90 days, the sources said.
Commerce initially allowed Huawei to purchase some American-made goods in May shortly after blacklisting the company in a move aimed at minimizing disruption for its customers, many of which operate networks in rural America.
An extension will renew an agreement set to lapse on August 19, continuing the Chinese company's ability to maintain existing telecommunications networks and provide software updates to Huawei handsets.
The situation surrounding the license, which has become a key bargaining chip for the United States in its trade negotiations with China, remains fluid and the decision to continue the Huawei reprieve could change ahead of the Monday deadline, the sources said.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to discuss Huawei in a call this weekend, one of the sources said.
Huawei did not have an immediate comment. China's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.
When the Commerce Department blocked Huawei from buying U.S. goods earlier this year, it was seen as a major escalation in the trade war between the world’s two top economies.
The U.S. government blacklisted Huawei alleging the Chinese company is involved in activities contrary to national security or foreign policy interests.
As an example, the blacklisting order cited a criminal case pending against the company in federal court, over allegations Huawei violated U.S. sanctions against Iran. Huawei has pleaded not guilty in the case.
The order noted that the indictment also accused Huawei of “deceptive and obstructive acts”.
At the same time the United States says Huawei's smartphones and network equipment could be used by China to spy on Americans, allegations the company has repeatedly denied.
The world's largest telecommunications equipment maker is still prohibited from buying American parts and components to manufacture new products without additional special licenses.
Many Huawei suppliers have requested the special licenses to sell to the firm. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters late last month he had received more than 50 applications, and that he expected to receive more.
Out of $70 billion that Huawei spent buying components in 2018, some $11 billion went to U.S. firms including Qualcomm, Intel and Micron Technology.
The Commerce Department late on Friday declined to comment, referring to Ross’s comments to CNBC television earlier this week in which he said the existing licenses were in effect until Monday.
Asked if they would be extended he said: “On Monday I'll be happy to update you.”
Google and its operations in China have come under the spotlight in the past few days.
Billionaire investor Peter Thiel last week accused the U.S. technology giant of working with the Chinese military and called for the U.S. government to investigate Google. In response, President Donald Trump said his administration will “take a look” into Google.
The tech giant has denied working with the Chinese military.
Still, the controversy has sparked interest in what Google is doing in China. CNBC took a closer look at Google’s business dealings in China.
Google ended its search product in China in 2010 and is effectively blocked in the country. However, a report emerged last year that the search giant was looking to launch a censored version of its search app in China. The initiative, which the company acknowledged publicly, was in its early stages. In China, all internet services are required to censor information which the government deems sensitive.
However, Vice President for Government Affairs and Public Policy at the company, Karan Bhatia, said this week that Google had abandoned plans for “Project Dragonfly,” the name of its China search product initiative.
So right now, Google is still blocked in China and can only be accessed via a virtual private network (VPN), which helps mask a user’s internet location.
One of Thiel’s accusations is that Chinese spies have infiltrated Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) projects, but he did not provide any evidence.
Google does have AI projects in China though. In 2017, the company opened up an AI research center in China.
On its website, Google says AI research in China is focused on education and so-called natural language understanding — which refers to an AI technique focused on getting machines to understand human language. Google is looking to apply AI to auctioning so that the bidding process for ads can be more efficient. This could be important for Google, which operates an advertising marketplace.
In China, the work is also contributing to AI products that Google makes available globally, such as TensorFlow. This is an open source library that can help other companies develop AI products.
Technology giants such as Alibaba and Tencent dominate the cloud market in China. So Google’s tactic is to try to sell its cloud products to Chinese firms that have international operations in Southeast Asia and elsewhere.
A search of Google job postings in China showed the company is looking for cloud computing engineers, data managers, sales and business development roles across Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.
The company is also hiring people to target customers in specific industries — from media and entertainment to manufacturing.
Google sells a number of hardware products including smartphones, smart speakers and thermostats, under the Nest brand that it owns. Some of that is manufactured in China.
The company is currently advertising roles for engineers to test products and for manufacturing and supply chain managers. On LinkedIn, a number of Google employees in Shenzhen, a key technology hub in China, listed their jobs as hardware-related.
However, Bloomberg reported in June that Google was moving the production of some Nest thermostats and server hardware out of China to avoid tariffs from the U.S.
App developers and the Google Play Store
The Google Play Store, the company’s app store, is blocked in China. So Google is trying to work with app developers in China to help them bring their products onto the Play Store in international markets.
Under its job listings, Google advertised for two roles for a business development manager related to the play store.
“As a Business Development Manager of Google Play, you will empower developers to build successful businesses on Play/Android globally, and inspire the ecosystem to innovate on/invest in Android and Play,” the job description reads.
Google also has individual roles for the gaming section of the Google Play store. Games are a huge part of its app store.
Advertising is a core part of Google’s revenue but because its services are blocked in China, it can’t really sell ads on those platforms there. So the company focuses on Chinese businesses looking to advertise on Google platforms abroad, whether that is on its search engine, YouTube or something else.
One job that’s being advertised is for a business development consultant in Shanghai who will be “responsible for driving business growth and attracting new medium to large size advertisers for Google.” There are also people focused on getting advertisers from specific industries like retail or entertainment.
Overall, Google’s business in China is mostly aimed at getting Chinese companies to use its products outside of China.
Credit: CNBC AFRICA
The United States and China agreed on Saturday to restart trade talks after President Donald Trump offered concessions including no new tariffs and an easing of restrictions on tech company Huawei in order to reduce tensions with Beijing.
China agreed to make unspecified new purchases of U.S. farm products and return to the negotiating table. No deadline was set for progress on a deal, and the world's two largest economies remain at odds over significant parts of an agreement.
The last major round of talks collapsed in May.
Financial markets, which have been rattled by the nearly year-long trade war, are likely to cheer the truce. Washington and Beijing have slapped tariffs on billions of dollars of each other's imports, stoking fears of a wider global trade war. Those tariffs remain in place while negotiations resume.
"We're right back on track," Trump told reporters after an 80-minute meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies in Osaka, Japan.
"We're holding back on tariffs and they're going to buy farm products," Trump said, without giving details about the purchases.
Trump tweeted hours later that the meeting with Xi went "far better than expected."
"The quality of the transaction is far more important to me than speed," he tweeted. "I am in no hurry, but things look very good!"
The U.S. president had threatened to slap new levies on roughly $300 billion of additional Chinese goods, including popular consumer products, if the meeting in Japan proved unsuccessful. Such a move would have extended existing tariffs to almost all Chinese imports into the United States.
In a lengthy statement on the two-way talks, China's foreign ministry quoted Xi as telling Trump he hoped the United States could treat Chinese companies fairly.
"China is sincere about continuing negotiations with the United States ... but negotiations should be equal and show mutual respect," the foreign ministry quoted Xi as saying.
Trump offered an olive branch to Xi on Huawei Technologies Co [HWT.UL], the world's biggest telecom network gear maker. The Trump administration has said the Chinese firm is too close to China's government and poses a national security risk, and has lobbied U.S. allies to keep Huawei out of next-generation 5G telecommunications infrastructure.
Trump's Commerce Department has put Huawei on its "entity list," effectively banning the company from buying parts and components from U.S. companies without U.S. government approval.
But Trump said on Saturday he did not think that was fair to U.S. suppliers, who were upset by the move. "We're allowing that, because that wasn't national security," he said.
CHEERS FROM CHIP MAKERS
Trump said the U.S. Commerce Department would study in the next few days whether to take Huawei off the list of firms banned from buying components and technology from U.S. companies without government approval.
China welcomed the step.
"If the U.S. does what it says, then of course, we welcome it," said Wang Xiaolong, the Chinese foreign ministry's envoy for G20 affairs.
U.S. microchip makers also applauded the move.
"We are encouraged the talks are restarting and additional tariffs are on hold and we look forward to getting more detail on the president's remarks on Huawei," John Neuffer, president of the U.S. Semiconductor Association, said in a statement.
Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, however, tweeted that any agreement to reverse the recent U.S. action against Huawei would be a "catastrophic mistake" and that legislation would be needed to put the restrictions back in place if that turned out to be the case.
Last month, Rubio and Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Warner urged Trump to not use Huawei as a bargaining chip for trade negotiations.
Huawei has come under mounting scrutiny for over a year, led by U.S. allegations that "back doors" in its routers, switches and other gear could allow China to spy on U.S. communications.
The company has denied its products pose a security threat. It declined to comment on the developments on Saturday.
The problems at Huawei have filtered across to the broader chip industry, with Broadcom Inc warning of a broad slowdown in demand and cutting its revenue forecast.
Trump said he and Xi did not discuss the extradition proceedings against Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer, who was arrested in Canada in December on charges alleging she misled global banks about Huawei's relationship with a company in Iran.
RELIEF AND SCEPTICISM
Scores of Asia specialists, including former U.S. diplomats and military officers, urged Trump to rethink policies that "treat China as an enemy," warning that approach could hurt U.S. interests and the global economy, according to a draft open letter reviewed by Reuters on Saturday.
Investors, businesses and financial leaders have for months been warning that an intractable tit-for-tat tariff war between the United States and China could damage global supply chains and push the world economy over a cliff.
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde on Saturday urged G20 policymakers to reduce tariffs and other obstacles to trade, warning that the global economy had hit a "rough patch" due to the trade conflict.
Although analysts cheered a resumption of talks between Washington and Beijing, some questioned whether the two sides would be able to build enough momentum to breach the divide and forge a lasting deal.
"Translating this truce into a durable easing of trade tensions is far from automatic ... especially as what's in play now extends well beyond economics to include delicate national security issues of both immediate- and longer-term nature," said Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz.
The United States says China has been stealing American intellectual property for years, forces U.S. firms to share trade secrets as a condition for doing business in China, and subsidizes state-owned firms to dominate industries.
China has said the United States is making unreasonable demands and must also make concessions.
The negotiations hit an impasse in May after Washington accused Beijing of reneging on reform pledges made during months of talks. Trump raised tariffs to 25% from 10% on $200 billion of Chinese goods, and China retaliated by raising levies on a list of U.S. imports.
Mexican and U.S. officials were preparing on Sunday for upcoming talks aimed at averting a major trade clash after U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to impose punitive tariffs on all Mexican goods in an intensifying dispute over migration.
Mexican Economy Minister Graciela Marquez said on Sunday she would meet with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in Washington on Monday, as the two governments begin holding talks to resolve the issue in the U.S. capital in the coming week.
Trump says he will apply tariffs of 5% on Mexican goods on June 10 if Mexico does not halt the flow of illegal immigration, largely from Central America, across the U.S.-Mexican border.
The U.S. president lashed out on Twitter on Sunday morning, calling Mexico an "abuser of the United States, taking but never giving," and repeating his tariff threats. He doubled down a few hours later.
"Mexico is sending a big delegation to talk about the Border. Problem is, they've been 'talking' for 25 years," Trump wrote. "We want action, not talk. They could solve the Border Crisis in one day if they so desired. Otherwise, our companies and jobs are coming back to the USA!"
The tariffs will gradually rise to 25% if Mexico does not comply with Trump's demands. That threatens major economic damage to Mexico, which sends about 80% of its exports to the United States.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador hinted on Saturday that his government could agree to tighten migration controls to defuse Trump's threat, and said he expected "good results" from the talks in Washington.
Speaking on Sunday afternoon at an event to mark the start of construction on an oil refinery in southern Mexico, Lopez Obrador did not refer directly to the trade dispute, but said he wanted to send a "memorandum" to the American people.
"The Mexican government is a friend of the United States government. The president of Mexico wants to stay friends with President Donald Trump. But above all, we are friends of the American people," Lopez Obrador said.
In words directed at the U.S. public, he added: "We want nothing and no one to break our beautiful and sacred friendship."
Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard is heading the Mexican delegation, which includes Marquez. Marquez said she spoke to Ross during the inauguration of El Salvador's new president on Saturday, without giving details.
Ebrard is expected to meet U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for talks on the crisis on Wednesday, although Mexican officials say they will be holding other meetings beforehand.
Trump's ultimatum has hurt Mexican financial assets and global stocks, but it met resistance from U.S. business leaders and lawmakers worried about the impact of targeting Mexico, one of the United States' top trade partners.
In his Sunday Twitter broadside, Trump also hit out at U.S. companies operating in Mexico.
"Our many companies and jobs that have been foolishly allowed to move South of the Border, will be brought back into the United States through taxation (Tariffs)," Trump wrote. "America has had enough!"
Lopez Obrador said on Saturday that Mexico would not engage in a trade war, but noted that his government had a "plan" in case Trump did apply the tariffs, without providing details.
He also noted that Mexico reserved the right to seek international legal arbitration to resolve the dispute.
Some Mexican business groups have urged the government to strike back against any Trump tariffs.
On Friday, Mexico's top farm lobby said Lopez Obrador should target agricultural goods from states that support Trump's Republican Party if the U.S. president carries out his threat.
Apprehensions at the U.S. border with Mexico have surged in recent months, although Mexican data also show more deportations and detentions at Mexico's southern border with Guatemala, mostly of Central Americans trying to reach the United States.
The bulk of migrants are fleeing widespread violence and poverty in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Many seek asylum in the United States when they cross the border.
Trump is pushing Congress to change U.S. law to make it more difficult for the migrants to claim asylum.
China will never surrender to external pressure, the government said on Monday, though stopped short of announcing how Beijing will hit back after Washington renewed its threat to impose tariffs on all Chinese imports in an escalating trade dispute.
The trade war between the world's top two economies jumped up a gear on Friday, with the United States hiking tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods after President Donald Trump said Beijing "broke the deal" by reneging on earlier commitments made during months of negotiations.
Trump also ordered U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to begin imposing tariffs on all remaining imports from China, a move that would affect about an additional $300 billion worth of goods.
Beijing has vowed to respond to the latest U.S. tariffs, but has announced no details yet.
"As for the details, please continue to pay attention. Copying a U.S. expression - wait and see," foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing.
"We have said many times that adding tariffs won't resolve any problem. China will never surrender to external pressure. We have the confidence and the ability to protect our lawful and legitimate rights," Geng added, responding to a question on Trump's threat of putting duties on all Chinese imports.
State media also kept up a steady drum beat of strongly-worded commentary on Monday, reiterating that China's door to talks was always open, but vowing to defend the country's interests and dignity.
"At no time will China forfeit the country's respect, and no one should expect China to swallow bitter fruit that harms its core interests," China's top newspaper, the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, said in a commentary.
State television said in a separate commentary that the effect on the Chinese economy from the U.S. tariffs was "totally controllable".
"It's no big deal. China is bound to turn crisis to opportunity and use this to test its abilities, to make the country even stronger."
Ahead of talks last week, China wanted to delete commitments from a draft agreement that Chinese laws would be changed to enact new policies on issues from intellectual property protection to forced technology transfers. That move dealt negotiations to resolve the trade dispute a major setback.
Trump has since defended the tariff hike and said he was in "absolutely no rush" to finalize a deal.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Sunday that there was a "strong possibility" Trump will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping at a G20 summit in Japan in late June.
China's Huawei Technologies called on Washington to drop the "loser's attitude" and once again rubbished U.S. allegations its gear could be used by Beijing for spying, as its network business weakened amid mounting global scrutiny.
"The U.S. government has a loser's attitude. It wants to smear Huawei because it cannot compete against Huawei," Guo Ping, rotating chairman of the world's top producer of telecoms equipment and No.3 maker of smartphones, said on Friday.
"I hope the U.S. can adjust its attitude," Guo said at a press briefing that was attended by more than 100 journalists from across the world.
The U.S. embassy in China declined to comment.
Huawei reported a slower pace of profit growth for 2018 as its network business saw its first drop in revenue in two years, overshadowing a robust 45 percent jump in its smartphone unit.
Huawei's outlook has come under a cloud over the past year with the United States voicing concerns that its equipment could be used for espionage. Washington has also urged its allies to ban Huawei from building next-generation 5G mobile networks.
The latest blow for the company came on Thursday when Britain rebuked it for failing to fix long-standing security flaws in its mobile network equipment and revealed new "significant technical issues".
For 2018, the Shenzen-based firm reported a net profit of 59.3 billion yuan (£6.9 billion), up 25 percent from a year ago, versus a 28 percent rise in 2017. Revenue from its carrier business fell 1.3 percent to 294 billion yuan, which it blamed on telecommunications industry investment cycles.
However, the surge in its consumer business sales to a record 348.9 billion yuan, driven by demand for its premium smartphone models such as the P series and Mate series, helped push global revenue to above $100 billion for the first time.
Its total revenue rose nearly 20 percent to about 721 billion yuan, marking the fastest pace of growth in two years. The performance of consumer business was in line with what Huawei flagged in January, when it also said it could become the world's biggest-selling smartphone vendor this year.
Guo said he expects all three business groups - consumer, carrier and enterprise - to post double-digit growth this year, although he did not provide a specific number. The company has previously said it was targeting total revenue of $125 billion this year, a record high.
"Moving forward, we will do everything we can to shake off outside distractions, improve management and make progress towards our strategic goals," Guo said.
Huawei has "prepared some inventories for uncertainties" that has reduced its net cash position, Guo added, without giving any details.
SPYING WOULD BE "SUICIDE"
To fight global concerns over its gear, Huawei has launched an unprecedented media blitz by opening up its campus to journalists and parading its typically low-key founder, Ren Zhengfei, in front of media.
It has stepped up the campaign in recent months after Meng Wanzhou, Huawei CFO and Ren's daughter, was arrested in Canada in December at U.S. behest on charges of bank and wire fraud in violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran. She denies wrongdoing.
The company has said the spying concerns are unfounded.
"Spying would be equal to suicide," said Song Liuping, Huawei's chief legal officer.
"We have no intention of committing suicide."
Huawei derived 48.4 percent of its business from overseas markets in 2018, versus 49.5 percent a year earlier. The company's fastest growing region was Europe, Middle East and Africa with a growth of 24.3 percent, followed by Americas with a growth of 21.3 percent.
A top company executive said earlier this week that the U.S. campaign against Huawei was having little impact on its sales and that it was unlikely many countries would heed the U.S. call to ban its gear.
U.S. President Donald Trump said he had asked China to immediately remove all tariffs on U.S. agricultural products because trade talks were progressing well.
He also delayed plans to impose 25 percent tariffs on Chinese goods on Friday, as previously scheduled.
“I have asked China to immediately remove all Tariffs on our agricultural products (including beef, pork, etc.) based on the fact that we are moving along nicely with Trade discussions,” Trump said on Twitter, pointing out that he had not raised tariffs on Chinese goods to 25 per cent from 10 per cent on March 1 as planned.
“This is very important for our great farmers – and me!” Trump said.
Farmers are a key constituency for Trump’s Republican Party, and the U.S. president’s trade war with China has had a heavy impact on them. Beijing imposed tariffs last year on imports of soybeans, grain sorghum, pork and other items, slashing shipments of American farm products to China.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said this week that U.S. trade negotiators had asked China to reduce tariffs on U.S. ethanol, but it was not immediately clear whether Beijing was willing to oblige.
Trump’s post on Twitter came several hours after the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said that it would delay the scheduled hike in tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.
The notice, due to be published in the Federal Register next Tuesday, says it is “no longer appropriate” to raise the rates because of progress in negotiations since December 2018. The tariff would remain “at 10 percent until further notice.”
In a statement on Saturday, China said it welcomed the delay.
Speaking at a separate briefing in Beijing, a Chinese government official said both countries were working on the next steps, though he gave no details.
“China and the United States reaching a mutually-beneficial, win-win agreement as soon as possible is not only good for the two countries but is also good news for the world economy,” said Guo Weimin, spokesman for the high profile but largely ceremonial advisory body to China’s parliament.
A tariff increase to 25 percent from 10 percent was initially scheduled for Jan. 1, but after productive conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Trump administration issued a 90-day extension of that deadline.
Trump had said on Sunday he would again delay the increase because of progress in the talks.