- China launches antitrust Investigation against Alibaba
- Trump vetoed US military budget draft
- Another new Covid-19 strain identified in the UK
China Launches Antitrust Investigation Against Alibaba
The Chinese government has launched an investigation into Alibaba for “suspected monopolistic practices” and called the Ant Group to a meeting on high-level financial arrangements.
For some time now, Beijing has been seeking to push back rising dominance of Alibaba, taking such steps as an effort to tighten control over the country’s fast-growing tech industries. Chinese leaders have previously said it will be an economic priority in the coming year to step up anti-monopoly regulation.
The investigation, announced on Thursday, covered many different industries, from e-commerce to logistics and social media.
The draft anti-monopoly law, published in November, contains articles broad enough to allow the government to exercise full control over entrepreneurs like Jack Ma.
Companies such as Alibaba and Tencent, once the symbols of economic development and the country, have faced increasing pressure from regulators, as they increase their number of users and are in a position that can greatly affect daily life.
Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, never appeared in public after the cancellation of Ant’s IPO last month, but in December, he was warned by the government not to leave the country.
Ant Group said it would “diligently study and strictly comply with regulatory departments’ requests”.
Alibaba shares tumbled 5.48% on the news right after the Hong Kong stock exchange opened on Thursday morning.
Trump Vetoed US Military Budget Draft
US President Donald Trump vetoed the draft FY2021 military budget approved by the United States Congress on Wednesday, December 23. This is stated in the President’s notice to the lower house of the American legislature, which was circulated by the White House press service.
President Trump said, “Unfortunately, this bill lacks critical national security issues and contradicts my national security and foreign policy actions with which I prioritized America. This bill is a gift to China and Russia.”
However, the bill, which passed the House of Representatives and Senate with more than 2 votes in 3, will return to Congress again and Trump’s veto may be overruled if it catches the same majority. It could be the first veto override of his presidency, which would pit members of his own party against him.
Pelosi, in a statement, called Trump’s veto “an act of startling recklessness” that endangers the country’s security and troops.
“The president’s veto deprives our country and allies of the tools to protect global security, including cybersecurity,” said the Speaker of the House of Representatives, adding that this veto violates US national values.
On Monday, when all eyes are watching to see how many Republicans are staying with their previous support for the bill, the House is supposed to act. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has indicated that several Republicans, despite having voted for the bill itself, would not vote to override Trump’s veto, so it is uncertain whether the override effort will be successful or whether the veto will be sustained.
Another New Covid-19 Strain Identified in the UK
Another Covid-19 strain has been identified in the UK. This was stated by the country’s health minister Matt Hancock, according to the BBC.
Matt Hancock announced that two new cases of this strain have been reported. Both people came from South Africa.
“This strain is even more infectious and seems to have mutated even more than the previous one,” said the head of the country’s Ministry of Health.
“Thanks to the impressive genomic capability of the South Africans, we’ve detected two cases of another new variant of coronavirus here in the U.K.,” Hancock told a media briefing.
“Both are contacts of cases who have travelled from South Africa over the past few weeks.”
UK imposes travel restrictions on South Africa. Additionally, everyone who has come from this country or has been in contact with those who have arrived from there over the past two weeks will be immediately quarantined.
Susan Hopkins from Public Health England, made the following statements:
“So, the new variant in the U.K., which we’ve identified, is very different to the variant in South Africa, it’s got different mutations.”
“Both of them look like they’re more transmissible. We have more evidence on the transmission for the U.K. variant because we’ve been studying that with great detail with academic partners. We’re still learning about the South African variant.”
“We have no evidence at the moment that the vaccine will not work, so actually what that means in fact is that there’s strong evidence that it will work because the vaccine produces a strong immune response and it’s broad and acts against lots of variation in the virus.”