China mum on Iran deal
China's CNOOC kept silent yesterday on reports it had clinched a US$16 billion agreement to develop Iran's North Pars gas field, a deal the US said it would scrutinize for possible violations of UN sanctions. The Iranian oil ministry's official Shana Web site said the the agreement calls for CNOOC to invest US$5 billion in upstream gas field projects and US$11 billion in downstream liquefied natural gas plants. The deal was first announced in 2006. If the deal goes through, it will be the second big oil and gas deal with Iran for China in just a few months, following a US$2 billion agreement by Sinopec to develop the Yadavaran oil field.
EU suggests ethics pledge
The European Commission urged state-run investment funds to sign up to a voluntary code of conduct, stopping short of proposing to regulate the emerging financial powerhouses in Europe. "The establishment of a code of conduct for sovereign wealth funds [SWF] is a good thing to increase confidence among recipients on how sovereign wealth funds adopt decisions," EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told reporters in Brussels. The commission said SWFs now hold US$1.5 trillion to US$2.5 trillion in assets worldwide, with one estimate suggesting that could rise to US$12 trillion by 2015.
UBS approves capital hike
Embattled UBS chairman Marcel Ospel breathed a sigh of relief on Wednesday after the bank's shareholders approved a controversial capital hike aimed at making good billions of dollars in US subprime home loan losses. Under the deal, Singapore's state investment arm GIC will inject 11 billion Swiss francs (US$10.13 billion), giving it a stake of approximately 9 percent and making it the largest single shareholder, and SF2 billion will come from an unnamed Middle East investor.
Fine for Microsoft upheld
The European antitrust regulator imposed a record US$1.35 billion fine against Microsoft on Wednesday in a ruling intended to send a clear message to the world's largest software maker of the dangers of flouting Europe's competition rulings. The commission in 2004 ruled that the market dominance of Microsoft's Windows software was abusive. The ruling was upheld in September by one of the highest European courts. "Microsoft was the first company in 50 years of EU competition policy that the commission has had to fine for failure to comply with an antitrust decision," the commission's antitrust regulator Neelie Kroes said in a statement.
Germany warns of blackouts
Germany and the rest of Europe could suffer power cuts lasting several days this summer owing to a lack of power stations, the head of one of Europe's biggest generating firms was quoted as saying on Wednesday. "Power is growing short all over Europe because there are not enough power stations," Juergen Grossmann, head of German power giant RWE, told the Bild daily in comments following a massive blackout that caused chaos in Florida. "Right now, all we need is the combination of a hot, dry summer and the shutdown of more power stations for maintenance for power security to be endangered," he said.
HONG KONG SECURITY: The president blasted regulations requiring Taiwanese agents or political organizations to provide information on their Hong Kong-related activities President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday warned of countermeasures should controversial Chinese national security legislation imposed on Hong Kong undermine or harm Taiwanese interests. Article 43 of the legislation empowers the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to serve written notices to Taiwanese political organizations or individual agents to furnish information on their Hong Kong-related activities, including their personal particulars, finances, assets, expenditure and capital in the territory. Failure to comply or providing false or incomplete information can result in a fine of HK$100,000 (US$12,903) or imprisonment of six months or two years respectively. Tsai said that Taiwan would keep a close watch on how
PROBE LAUNCHED: An officer who served as a supervisor in the drill died in an apparent suicide after the accident, which was caused by unexpected waves Two marines who were on Friday injured in a military exercise in the waters off Kaohsiung passed away yesterday, Navy Command said. The marines — surnamed Tsai (蔡), 26, and a sergeant surnamed Chen (陳), 36 — were in a seven-member Marine Corps team that encountered rough seas during a simulated response to enemy forces landing on Taiwan. Their rubber craft overturned in waters off Taoziyuan (桃子園) beach in Zuoying District (左營), injuring four of the marines. They were rushed to hospital, where three of them — Tsai, Chen and a 34-year-old sergeant — were taken to an intensive care unit
MORAL COURAGE: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the global community to face China’s intention to subdue Taiwan and reject such irrational requests The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday strongly condemned the Chinese government for meddling with US officials’ interactions with Taiwan after FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed China’s efforts to discourage US officials from visiting Taiwan. The greatest long-term threat to the US’ information security and intellectual property, as well as its economic vitality, is China’s counterintelligence and economic espionage operations, Wray told a video event at the Hudson Institute in Washington. Beijing is engaged in a highly sophisticated and maligning foreign influence campaign, with methods that include bribery, blackmail and covert deals, he said. Giving an example, Wray said that when a US official
‘SIGNAL TO ALLIES’: The US Navy’s exercises are not in response to those carried out by China, the commander of the strike group led by the USS ‘Ronald Reagan’ said Two US aircraft carriers were yesterday conducting exercises in the disputed South China Sea, the US Navy said as China also carried out military drills that have been criticized by the US Department of Defense and neighboring states. China and the US have accused each other of stoking tension in the waterway at a time of strained relations over everything from COVID-19 to trade to Hong Kong. The USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan were carrying out operations and exercises in the South China Sea “to support a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the navy said in a statement. It did not say exactly