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Australian prime minister to bring up China, Trans-Pacific trade deal during Trump talks

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China’s rising power and a resurgent Trans-Pacific trade pact will be at the top of the agenda when Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and U.S. President Donald Trump meet in Washington this week, an Australian official said on Thursday.

The meeting comes as both leaders seek to repair a relationship damaged last year by a row over asylum seekers, in which Trump lambasted Turnbull over a resettlement arrangement that he labelled a “dumb” deal.

Washington will honour the deal to take up to 1,250 asylum-seekers held in Australian detention centres on remote Pacific islands. So Trump and Turnbull will now seek to find common ground on China and the Trans-Pacific trade pact, which aims to cut barriers in some of the region’s fastest-growing economies.

“The prime minister is travelling with a large delegation of business leaders and he is very keen to talk trade opportunities, while China will obviously be an important element of the talks,” said the Australian government official, who declined to be identified because he is not authorised to talk to the media.

Trump threw the original 12-member Trans-Pacific Partnership into limbo last year when he withdrew the United States to concentrate on protecting U.S. jobs.

Turnbull is still keen to promote the pact, the official said, even though it is likely to receive a lukewarm reception from Trump.

The remaining 11 members published an amended agreement on Wednesday that suspends or changes more than 20 provisions from the original pact, many of which had been inserted into the “TPP 12” at the insistence of U.S. negotiators. The revised deal is expected to be signed on March 8.

As an incentive, Turnbull will also propose spending an unspecified amount of Australia’s pension pool to fund Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan, the official said.

The White House wants to use $200 billion in federal funding to try to encourage infrastructure improvements over 10 years, by relying on state and local governments as well as the private sector.

Turnbull and executives from several Australian pension funds will address a meeting of U.S. governors on Saturday.

“Infrastructure in a growing and secure economy like the United States is often attractive for those funds,” said Andrew Shearer, senior adviser on Asia Pacific Security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Regional security is also set to dominate talks, with a particular focus on China, the Australian official said.

Trump, a harsh critic of China’s trade policies, named U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral Harry Harris, known for his hawkish views on Beijing’s military expansion, earlier this month as the next U.S. ambassador to Australia.

Australia’s approach to China, easily its largest trading partner, has typically been more circumspect.

However, Sino-Australia relations soured in December when Turnbull said his government would introduce new laws to clamp down on improper interference by Beijing in Australian politics.

China denies the claim, and lodged an official complaint against the allegation.

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Samsung related shares plunge after heir Jay Y Lee is sentenced to jail again

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Jay Y. Lee, co-vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, center, wears a protective mask as he is surrounded by members of the media while arriving at the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul, South Korea, on Monday, June 8, 2020.

SeongJoon Cho | Bloomberg via Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Shares of groups related to South Korean-conglomerate Samsung Group plunged on Monday after Samsung heir Jay. Y Lee was sentenced to two and a half years in jail by a South Korean court on Monday.

By Monday’s market close in South Korea, shares of industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics fell 3.41%. after dipping more than 4% earlier in the session.

Samsung C&T’s stock also saw heavy losses, and dropped 6.84%. Meanwhile, Samsung SDI declined 4.21% while Samsung Heavy Industries fell 2.74%. and Samsung Life Insurance slipped 4.96%.

Samsung related shares dragged down South Korea’s broader index, and the Kospi fell 2.33% by the close of the trading day.

Lee’s return to prison came after a retrial of a bribery case involving former President Park Geun-hye, according to local news agency Yonhap.

“In this case, a company’s freedom and right to wealth were violated due to the abuse of power by the former president,” Lee’s lead attorney said in a statement given by Samsung Electronics, according to a CNBC translation.

The 52-year-old Samsung scion was unexpectedly freed from jail in 2018 after a South Korean appeals court suspended his prior jail sentence. He was previously charged with giving 29.8 billion Korean won (around $27 million) worth of bribes and promising to give more, Yonhap reported.

Former president Park recently had her 20-year prison sentence on graft charges upheld, according to Reuters.

— CNBC’s Chery Kang contributed to this report.

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China says it will sanction U.S. officials for ‘nasty’ behavior on Taiwan

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A Chinese and U.S. flag at a booth during the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai, November 6, 2018.

Johannes Eisele | AFP | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — China will impose sanctions on U.S. officials who displayed “nasty” behavior over the issue of Taiwan, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Monday.

The decision was revealed by the foreign ministry’s spokewoman, Hua Chunying, in response to a reporter’s question on what China would do in response to the U.S. lifting restrictions on its relations with Taiwan.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had earlier this month announced that his country will no longer limit contact between its officials and their Taiwanese counterparts. China slammed the decision and vowed to fight back.

China claims Taiwan — a democratic and self-ruled island — as its territory that must one day be reunited with the mainland, and insists that the island has no right to participate in international diplomacy of its own. The Chinese Communist Party has never governed Taiwan.

Experts have warned that Taiwan will remain a contentious issue in the bilateral ties between the U.S. and China. Former Australian Kevin Rudd, a long-time China watcher, told CNBC last week that Pompeo’s move could upend a major foundation underpinning U.S.-China relations.

Rudd was referring to the “one China policy,” the principle in which the U.S. and the international community recognize that there’s only one central Chinese government — under the Communist Party of China in Beijing.

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Electric carmaker Xpeng releases driverless features to rival Tesla

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Xpeng CEO He Xiaopeng stands next to the company’s P7 electric sedan as he addresses media at the 2020 Beijing auto show.

Evelyn Cheng | CNBC

GUANGZHOU, China — Chinese electric carmaker Xpeng Motors has announced a new autonomous driving feature designed to work on highways, as it ramps up its challenge to domestic rivals as well as Tesla.

The feature — called Navigation Guided Pilot or NGP — will allow the company’s flagship P7 sedan to automatically change lanes, speed up or slow down, or overtake cars and enter and exit highways.

It is part of the next generation of Xpeng’s XPILOT 3.0 so-called advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) which the company expects to launch in the first quarter of this year. ADAS refers to a system with some autonomous features but where a driver is still required.

Xpeng is one of China’s electric vehicle start-ups looking to race ahead in the country’s growing market as it battles other upstarts such as Nio and Li Auto, as well as U.S. electric car giant Tesla.

Mass deliveries of Xpeng’s P7 sedan, a direct rival to Tesla’s Model 3, began last June. Xpeng delivered 27,041 vehicles in 2020 — more than double from a year ago. 

The NGP is a challenge to Tesla’s autonomous ADAS called Autopilot. One of Autopilot’s features is called Navigate on Autopilot, which has similar functions to Xpeng’s NGP.

China’s electric vehicle companies are looking to add more autonomous features to their cars. Nio has its own system called NIO Pilot.

How Xpeng’s system works

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