China will never pursue hegemony, President Xi Jinping said as global concerns persist over the country’s growing economic influence. During a speech to mark 40 years of market reforms, Xi repeated China’s commitment to a multilateral trading system and further opening of its economy. However, he did not announce any new initiatives to counter a slowing economy and trade frictions with the United States.
The Chinese leader said China would not develop “at the expense of other countries’ interests.”China’s expanding footprint worldwide — from Asia-Pacific to Africa and beyond through a broad network of infrastructure projects called the Belt and Road Initiative — has led some nations to raise the alarm over what they call China’s long arm of influence, which has been criticized for being political as well as economic.
While Xi said China is “increasingly approaching the center of the world stage,” he also noted that the country pursues a defensive national defense policy. “China’s development does not pose a threat to any country,” Xi said. “No matter how far China develops, it will never seek hegemony.”
Google, Twitter and Facebook (which also owns Instagram) were described by researchers as having “evaded” and “misrepresented” themselves and the extent of Russian activity on their sites. The companies were also criticized for not turning over complete sets of data about Russian manipulation to the Senate. The tech companies’ foot-dragging was described in a pair of reports that the Senate Intelligence Committee, in what were the most detailed accounts to date about how Russian agents have wielded social media against Americans in recent years.
The data they did provide “lacked core components that would have provided a fuller and more actionable picture,” said one of the reports, which was written by New Knowledge, a cybersecurity company, along with researchers at Columbia University and Canfield Research. The report added: “Regrettably, it appears that the platforms may have misrepresented or evaded in some of their statements to Congress.” The studies renewed questions about whether social media companies have withheld data on Russian activity and how willing they really are to address the issue.
The British cabinet discussed whether to ramp up preparations for a no-deal Brexit amid uncertainty over the fate of Theresa May's proposed EU exit deal. Ministers will set out how much money each department is being given to prepare, should the UK leave the EU on 29 March without a formal agreement. MPs will not vote on the PM's deal until the third week in January.
Labour, which has tabled a motion of no confidence in the PM, has accused Mrs May of trying to "run down the clock". Number 10 dismissed the motion - which is unlikely to be debated until early next year - as "silly political games". With 100 days left until Brexit and many MPs still opposed to the government's withdrawal agreement, ministers are due to consider a paper on plans for leaving the EU without a deal. But a no-deal Brexit is also opposed by many MPs.
New Zealanders will vote on legalising recreational cannabis in a referendum during the 2020 general election, the country's justice minister said. A vote was promised by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's Labour Party last year during cross-party talks, which helped to form a coalition government. It comes a week after lawmakers gave medicinal cannabis the green light. An opinion poll last year suggested two thirds of New Zealanders favoured legalisation.
"We know when it will be, we have a commitment that it will be binding, and now it is just a question on filling in the detail from there," said Justice Minister Andrew Little, following a decision by the country's cabinet on Monday. New Zealand's left-wing Labour Party is part of a three-way coalition government, with the centrist Green Party and populists New Zealand First (NZF). The partnership was formed after inconclusive elections last year led to a hung parliament.