Archive February 2019

State Councilor Wang Yi said Sino-US trade negotiations

have once again made concrete progress and provided positive pro

spects for bilateral relations and the global economy. Wang, also minister of foreign affa

irs, made the remark at an event on Monday, according to a statement issued by the ministry.

Yao Yang, dean of the National School of Development at Peking University, said, “It is encouraging that both sides have begu

n to work on the text of an agreement, which indicates a speeding up toward sealing a trade deal.”

“The progress also showed that effective economic diplomatic meas

ures can help resolve cumbersome issues and reduce confrontation between two nations,” Yao said.

After tit-for-tat exchanges of hefty import tariffs, President Xi Jinping and hi

s US counterpart, Donald Trump, agreed in December to halt new tariffs for 90 days to a

llow for talks. Since then, negotiations have been conducted on a wide array of topics.

Early Sunday afternoon in Washington, Trump tweeted that he “will be delaying” the incr

ease of tariffs on Chinese imports scheduled for March 1, due to “very productive” trade talks between the two countries.

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Green Book’ wins on Oscar night marked by inclusiveness

  ”Green Book” won best picture at the Oscars, marking the final twist on a night of historic firsts, filled with suspense until the final prize.

  Despite controversies surrounding the film, and many outspoken critics, the per

iod drama about race relations in the 1960s felt like a more conventional best-picture choi

ce than its two top rivals, both of which had to overcome key hurdles: “Black Panther” represented the fi

rst superhero movie to earn such recognition, while “Roma” not only would have been the first foreign-lan

guage winner, but was likely hobbled by those who still see its distributor, Netflix, as an upstart in the movie world.

  The Oscars compensated for a host-free ceremony with a nigh

t of breakthroughs, moving briskly through the categories in a concerted effort to sh

orten the run time, amid a night marked by greater inclusiveness and that spread the wealth among the nominees.

  Award voters extended honors to a number of blockbusters, including “Black Panther,” which

earned several technical awards; and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the biography of Queen and the band’s fron

tman, Freddie Mercury, earned four Oscars — the most of any film — including Rami Malek’s first for the central role.

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ike Lee jumps in the arms of Actor Samuel L. Jackson as

  Marvel’s “Black Panther” looked like a contender by claiming a pair of early awards, and made

history in the process: Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Beachler became the first African-American w

omen to win for costume design and production design, respectively. The film was also honored for its musical score.

  ”Roma” didn’t walk away empty handed, earing best foreig

n-language film. Its director, Alfonso Cuaron, was honored for directing and cin

ematography for the black-and-white period drama, a deeply personal look back at the women who raised him.

  Cuaron’s marks the fifth time a Mexican director has won that

award in the past six years, a stretch that includes his previous win for “Gravity” in 2014.

  Guillermo Del Toro — who presented the statuette to Cuaron — was t

he victor last year for “The Shape of Water.” The third member of the “Three Amigos,” as the

y are affectionately known, is Alejandro G. Iñárritu, a winner for “Birdman” and “The Revenant.”

  Mahershala Ali received his second Oscar in three years for “Green Book,” and the film al

so won for original screenplay, despite separate controversies related to its director and w

riter. With his prior award for “Moonlight,” Ali becomes only the second African-American actor with multiple Os

cars, joining Denzel Washington. A tearful Regina King took the first award of the night, winning supporting actress f

or “If Beale Street Could Talk,” director Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of the James Baldwin novel.

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Rudolph, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler introduced Sunday’s

  telecast, following Queen and Adam Lambert’s opening performance of “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Cham

pions.” The “Saturday Night Live” alums riffed off the messy build-up to this year’s awards.

  An abundance of drama surrounded the build-up to this year’s Osca

rs, even before getting around to the nailbiting best-picture finish.

  The contenders reflected the gamut of an evolving movie industry, with “Roma” representing Netflix’s arrival in mo

vies, after the streaming service’s model-bending impact on the TV business.

  On the flip side, “Black Panther” embodied the blockbusters upon which the studios have come to rely, and the th

ird-highest-grossing US release of all time at $700 million, nearly doubling that total worldwide.

  A number of individual nominees registered breakthroughs for women and people of color, only

a few years after lack of diversity among the acting categories birthed the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag.

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photo shared by MP John Lamont showed a smiling Berger

  snapping a selfie of the group as they took their seats in the House of

Commons. But non

e of the group asked a question of the Prime Minister, as she appeared before MPs for her weekly grill

ing, and the defections were barely addressed. The mood in the House of

Commons seemed more subdued than usual.

  The closest May came to acknowledging the issue was when she attacked Corbyn over anti-Semitism in

his party, cited as a reason for some of the defectors leaving his party.

  May said she never thought she would see the day when “a once proud

Labour party was accused of institutional Semiti

sm by a member of that party,” or,

equally, when Jewish people in the UK “were concerned about their future.”

  Responding to those accusations, Corbyn said that “anti-Semitism ha

s no place whatsoever in any of our political parties, in our lives, in our society,” be

fore laying into the Prime Minister for “pretending to negotiate” a Brexit deal with just 37 days to go.

  May, who will travel to Brussels later in the day, maintained that she was still working on alternative arrangements on the

Irish backstop — an insurance policy designed to avoid a hard border between

Northern Ireland and the Republic of Irel

and. She also reiterated her position that a no-deal exit from the EU could only be taken off the table by agreeing a deal.

  Speaking at a press conference later, Allen, Wollaston and Soubry said the Prim

e Minister had been bullied by hard-line Brexiteers onto the brink of a no-deal Brexit.

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In Iran’s ski resorts, for instance, signs admonish female

  to “obey Islamic affairs,” but many swap their headscarves for ski hats. The morality police

who for years were said to chase transgressors down the slopes on skis, have a dwindling presence in these areas.

  The penalty for breaking hijab rules is also being reduced, with fines of around $15 becoming more common than arrests.

  For commentators and activists, the incident in Tehran may be a sign of more acts of rebellion against the morality police to come.

  ”Iranians are very angry with morality police these days,” tweeted Masih Alineja

d, the Iranian activist behind the “White Wednesday” social media campaign against mandatory hijabs.

  Update: This article has been updated to remove a tweet containing images that CNN c

ould not independently verify. This is a developing story and will continue to be updated.

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Desperate and alone, Saudi sisters risk everything

  It was September 6, 2018. The two Saudi sisters were on a family vacation in Colombo, Sri Lanka. For weeks, they had helped their mother organize the trip, feigning

excitement at the possibility of two weeks away from Riyadh, but knowing that if all went to plan, they’d never go back.

  Failure was not an option. Every step of their escape from Saudi Arabia carried the threat of severe punishment or death.

  ”We knew the first time, if it’s not perfect, it will be the last time,” Reem says.

  CNN has changed the sisters’ names and is not showing their faces, at their request for their safety.

  The sisters say years of strict Islamic teaching and physical abuse at home had convinced them that they had no future in a socie

ty that places women under the enforced guardianship of men, and limits their aspirations.

  ”It’s slavery, because whatever the woman will do it’s the business of the male,” Rawan says.

  That’s why they say they renounced Islam.

  And that’s why aged 18 and 20, they stole back their own passports, hid their abayas under the b

edcovers, snuck out of their holiday home and boarded a flight from Colombo to Melbourne, via Hong Kong.

  The Hong Kong stopover was supposed to take less than two hours.

  Two hours has turned into five months.

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This photo was taken in a restroom in an airport during a

  ”Good girls” do what they’re told, are quiet, don’t argue or risk embarrassing their families. Reem and Rawan say they had turned being “good girls” into a fine art.

  ”In our house, we (were) always the good girls they wanted us to be. So, if they want us to

clean, we will clean. If they want us to cook, then we will cook,” 18-year-old Rawan says.

  ”The last two years it was really bad, because I just forget who I am, I am just pretending (to be) like an Islamic girl,” says her 20-year-old sister, Reem.

  They went to school, studied hard and avoided confrontation. Of course, the same rules d

idn’t apply to their brothers. Beat your sisters, the siblings say their brothers were told, it’ll make you better men.

  Reem and Rawan are reluctant to talk about the abuse at the hands of their family. They say it

didn’t happen all the time, just enough to remind them of the rules. And enough to fill them with terror ab

out what might happen if anyone found out about their plan or, worse still, caught them carrying it out.

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Leaving Saudi Arabia is not a simple undertaking for women

  who rebel against the system. Permission is needed from a male guardian for many basic activities, including international travel.

  Reem and Rawan say they had been planning their escape in secret for two years. They didn’t dare discuss it in case they were

overheard, so, instead, they swapped WhatsApp messages, even while alone at night in their shared room.

  Before they fled, the Sri Lanka vacation was just like any other. They wore their niqabs

to the beach and sat away from the surf while their brothers swam and joked. They cooked the meals, and

spent most of their days inside. It was humid. Their niqabs stuck to their skin and made it hard to see.

  ”We travel to move from a box to another box. From home to hotel, nothing will change,” Rawan says. “They will go o

ut, they will live freely, the men, of course we will sit away, watching them doing what they want.”

Their five-year-old sister played in the sand, but their 12-year-old sister, like them,

didn’t. She too was learning that it’s OK to be a girl in Saudi Arabia — until you grow up.

During the trip, Rawan turned 18. The timing was no accident. The vacation was planned with gentle persuasion to co

incide with a birthday that, unbeknown to their mother, allowed Rawan to apply for an Australian tourist visa.

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hinese Vice Premier Liu He will visit the US on Thursday and

Friday to continue high-level trade negotiations. His new title as Chinese President Xi Jinpi

ng’s special envoy indicates the importance and authoritativeness of the talks. As pre

paration for the event, consultations at vice-ministerial-level between China and the US were recovered on Tuesday.

The world’s stock markets surged Monday due to the optimistic prospects on the deals that Beijin

g and Washington are expected to make. US President Donald Trump praised “big progress” in the

trade deal on Twitter. His words further stoked the stock markets of the US, which reached the highest in two m

onths and so increased pressure on the Trump administration to close the deal with China.

Analysts believe that if the two countries couldn’t come to an agreement, and as a result the US imposes more tariffs on Chinese prod

ucts while China responds with fiercer countermeasures, it would be a catastrophic strike to global stock markets.

In terms of avoiding such blows, the Trump administration is probably the most pres

sured. Thus in general, by the end of the trade negotiations, China and the US have become more psychologically equal.

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