- US – China Relations: Biden holds first call with Xi
- Yellen: Cryptocurrencies and abuse of virtual assets is a growing problem
- Two more new coronavirus mutations identified in the UK
US-China Relations: Biden Holds First Call with Xi
President Joe Biden spoke with China’s President Xi Jinping late Wednesday, according to a senior administration official, their first call since Biden took office. US President Joe Biden, who met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, expressed that he is concerned about human rights violations and “coercive and unfair economic practices” in China’s Xinjiang province.
Biden planned to “indicate that this isn’t just about American values, it’s about universal values,” the senior official said before the phone call.
According to the statement, Biden expressed his determination to Xi to protect the security and welfare of the American people and to ensure that it remains free and open in the Indo-Pacific region.
“President Biden highlighted Beijing’s fundamental concerns over oppressive and unfair economic practices, pressure in Hong Kong, human rights violations in Xinjiang, and growing claims in the region, including Taiwan,” the statement said.
According to the statement, the two leaders mutually expressed their views on topics such as the fight against Covid-19, global health security, climate change and preventing the spread of weapons.
It was also stated in the statement that Biden will follow a “practical and result-oriented” approach in relations with China, taking into account the interests of the American people.
The Biden administration had announced that it fully accepted the decision taken by the Donald Trump administration, “China imposes genocide on Uighur Turks in Xinjiang.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that they will closely follow China’s human rights violations in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet, and also object to Beijing’s unfair practices in the global economic system.
US President Biden announced yesterday during his visit to the Pentagon that they established a new unit under the “Chinese Task Force” and that they will closely monitor China’s military steps in this unit.
The China-US relationship is crucial to both sides and the wider world, with Beijing repeatedly calling on the new administration in Washington to improve relations which had deteriorated under Donald Trump. After the call, Mr. Biden stated that:
“I spoke today with President Xi to offer good wishes to the Chinese people for lunar new year,” said Biden. “I also shared concerns about Beijing’s economic practices, human rights abuses, and coercion of Taiwan. I told him I will work with China when it benefits the American people.”
Yellen: Cryptocurrencies and Abuse of Virtual Assets is a Growing Problem
The US Treasury Department held a roundtable on financial sector innovation policy. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stated that the abuse of cryptocurrencies and virtual assets is a growing problem, adding that “responsible innovation” is needed.
In the statement made by the Ministry of Treasury, it was stated that the meeting was brought together by policy makers, regulators and experts from the private sector, and focused on technology solutions to protect the integrity of the American financial system.
In her speech at the opening of the meeting, Treasury Minister Yellen pointed out that we are in the midst of an explosion of risks related to fraud, money laundering, terrorist financing and data privacy. Pointing out that the coronavirus epidemic carries a large part of life online, Yellen noted that the crimes also act with it.
“As the pandemic has moved more of life online, crime has moved with it. We’re seeing more and more sophisticated cyberattacks aimed at institutions that hold up our society: hospitals, schools, banks, and even our government,” Yellen said during the inaugural US Financial Sector Innovation Policy Roundtable.
“The misuse of cryptocurrencies and virtual assets is a growing problem, too. I see the promise of these new technologies, but I also see the reality: cryptocurrencies have been used to launder the profits of online drug traffickers; they’ve been a tool to finance terrorism. From my time at the Fed, I know the crucial role your institutions play in combating crimes like these. The private sector invests enormous resources, finding ways to stop bad actors from misusing existing technologies. You also develop new ones,” she added.
She cited the Anti-Money Laundering Act passed last December by Congress, a part of the National Defense Authorization Act that allows the U.S. government to amend its anti-money laundering/countering terrorism financing (AML/CFT) regulations. The current regulatory structure was established in the 1970s and has not been changed much since, Yellen said.
“The update couldn’t have come at a better time. As this group knows very well, we’re living amidst an explosion of risk related to fraud, money laundering, terrorist financing, and data privacy,” she said.
This is the third time Yellen has talked about cryptography in public this year. During her January confirmation hearing, she told the Senate Finance Committee that “a particular concern” was the use of crypto in terrorism. However, she softened her tone later stating that cryptocurrencies could also support the current financial system.
Two More New Coronavirus Mutations Identified in the UK
British experts have identified two more new mutations of Covid-19 in the country, reports The Sun. One of the new strains was found in Bristol and Manchester, the second in Liverpool.
The two new mutations of coronavirus found in Bristol and Liverpool have been reclassified as “variant of concern” and “variant under investigation” respectively by the British government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG). Both the variants contain E484K mutation that has been located in the South African and Brazilian variants and can make the Covid-19 vaccine ineffective.
“This variant originated directly from the Kent strain. It allows the virus to resist the effects of vaccines,” as was stated.
The Liverpool variant of the infection has so far been classified as being studied. To date, 76 cases of infection with Bristol and Liverpool strains have been identified in the UK.
Doctors said there are now four mutations of the coronavirus in the UK that are classified as “of concern.” In addition to the Kent and Bristol variants, they include strains from South Africa and Brazil.
Meanwhile, the CEO of the American corporation Johnson & Johnson Alex Gorsky said on the air of CNBC that due to the emergence of new strains of coronavirus, annual vaccinations may be required. In his opinion, changes in the virus can affect the effectiveness of vaccines.
“I think, in the majority opinion, over the next few years we will get the coronavirus vaccine in the same way we do the flu vaccine. I believe we do not yet know what exactly these vaccines will include,” said Alex Gorsky.
“Unfortunately, as the virus spreads it can also mutate,” he told CNBC’s Meg Tirrell during a Healthy Returns Spotlight event. “Every time it mutates, it’s almost like another click of the dial so to speak where we can see another variant, another mutation that can have an impact on its ability to fend off antibodies or to have a different kind of response not only to a therapeutic but also to a vaccine.”
In addition, the British government is expected to confirm that travelers arriving in the UK from abroad will have to undergo two coronavirus tests while in quarantine.
“Enhancing our testing regime to cover all arrivals while they isolate will provide a further level of protection and enable us to better track any new cases which might be brought into the country, and give us even more opportunities to detect new variants,” a spokesman was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
Under new lockdown rules, travelers coming from 33 countries, including South Africa and all South American nations are banned from entering the UK.