DETROIT – US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao exchanged barbs on trade, investment and export policies in talks on Thursday described by Ms Raimondos office as candid and substantive.
Their meeting in Washington was the first US-China Cabinet-level exchange in months, after a string of trade and national security irritants derailed plans for re-engagement between the worlds two largest economies.
The two had candid and substantive discussions on issues relating to the US-China commercial relationship, including the overall environment in both countries for trade and investment and areas for potential cooperation, the US Commerce Department said in a statement.
Secretary Raimondo also raised concerns about the recent spate of PRC (Peoples Republic of China) actions taken against US companies operating in the PRC, it added.
Mr Wang raised key concerns about United States policies towards China, including on semiconductors, export controls and reviews of foreign investments, a Chinese Commerce Ministry statement said.
Both sides agreed to establish and maintain open communication channels, with Ms Raimondos office saying that would help responsibly manage the relationship.
Chinas Commerce Ministry said the communications would allow exchanges on specific economic trade concerns and cooperation matters.
Mr Wang is also expected to meet US Trade Representative Katherine Tai on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation trade ministers meeting in Detroit that wraps up on Friday.
US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged more frequent communication at a Group of 20 summit in Indonesia last November to avoid US-China tensions from spilling into a new Cold War.
But those plans suffered several setbacks, starting with the downing of an alleged Chinese spy balloon in US coastal waters.
These irritants continued through on Sunday, when Group of Seven (G-7) leaders pledged to resist Chinas economic coercion and Beijing responded by declaring US memory chipmaker Micron Technology a national security risk, banning its sales to key domestic industries.
The ban followed a series of raids on American consultancies in China.
On Monday, Mr Wang met representatives of American companies in Shanghai, including Johnson & Johnson, 3M, Dow, Merck and Honeywell, according to Chinas Commerce Ministry, telling them that China will continue to welcome US-funded enterprises to develop in China and achieve win-win results.
China has complained about the growing number of US export restrictions on advanced semiconductors and high technology goods that could have military applications and security reviews that discourage Chinese investment in the US.
Mr Wangs trip to the US comes after Group of Seven (G-7) leaders met in Hiroshima, Japan, at which Mr Biden and other G-7 leaders said they would de-risk without decoupling from the worlds second-largest economy in everything from chips to minerals.
Ms Raimondo, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have all expressed interest in visiting China. REUTERS More On This Topic Biden sees thaw in US-China ties shortly, says G-7 wants to de-risk, not decouple US and China not in Cold War, reality is more complex: Experts at Singapore forum
Eamonn Holmes claims there was ‘total cover-up’ over Phillip Schofield’s affair with younger man
Eamonn Holmes has claimed there was a “total cover-up” over Phillip Schofield’s affair with a younger male colleague on This Morning while he was married.
Holmes, 63, who also presented on the show, has accused Schofield of “toxicity” amid the furore over the culture on the ITV daytime programme.
Host Schofield, 61, admitted last Friday to an “unwise, but not illegal” affair with a younger male colleague on the show and has now quit the commercial broadcaster and been dropped by his talent agency YMU.
Schofield on Monday hit back at critics, saying on Instagram there was “no toxicity” on the programme, adding: “I hope you have noticed that it’s the same handful of people with a grudge against me or the show who seem to have the loudest voice.”
ITV said there had been an investigation in early 2020 when “rumours of a relationship between Phillip Schofield and an employee of ITV first began to circulate” but said it did not find “any evidence of a relationship beyond hearsay and rumour”.
A statement from the commercial broadcaster on 27 May said: “Both parties were questioned and both categorically and repeatedly denied the rumours as did Phillip’s then agency YMU.
“In addition, ITV spoke to a number of people who worked on This Morning and were not provided with, and did not find, any evidence of a relationship beyond hearsay and rumour… He lied to people at ITV, from senior management to fellow presenters, to YMU, to the media and to others over this relationship.”
But Holmes told GB News presenter Dan Wootton: “It’s a total cover-up.
“Those in authority had to know what was going on and they thought they would dodge a bullet with this.
“Which they do and they do constantly because with Schofield talking about those who speak out against him, namely me, Amanda Holden and you [Dan Wootton], you’ll be included in the toxicity that goes on… Dr Ranj [Singh] of course as well.
“And you simply sit there and think ‘no mate, you’ve had it all your way for too long’.”
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Referring to Schofield’s comments on Instagram, Holmes said: “I think that Phillip is absolutely right about toxicity.
“But my friend, the toxicity is not with me, Dan Wootton, or anyone else, the toxicity is with you.”
Phillip Schofield and Eamonn Holmes social media statements in full
Just before 10am on Monday, Phillip Schofield posts a statement on his Instagram stories.
“Now I no longer work on @thismorning I am free to say this. I hope you have noticed that it’s the same handful of people with a grudge against me or the show who seem to have the loudest voice.
“This morning IS the best show to work on, with the best people. In all the years I worked there there was no toxicity. You can listen to those persistently loud voices if you like.
“But the thousands of guests over the years, thousands of staff and crew, hundreds of presenters and contributors all know, it IS a family of wonderful, talented, kind, hard working people.”
At 11.10am Eamonn Holmes tweets a response.
“Schofield has just put out a delusional statement. Like Holly he puts it on Insta Stories so if it goes wrong there is no record after 24 hrs.
“I’m reluctant to give the liar any more publicity but believe me Pip if u r looking for a fight , u have picked on the wrong person !”
Earlier in the day, Holmes on social media described Schofield as “delusional” and said he has “picked the wrong person… if you’re looking for a fight”.
ITV has been approached for comment by Sky News about Holmes’s claims.
GB News asked ITV’s managing director of media and entertainment, Kevin Lygo, if there was a “cover-up” and if he “protected” Schofield.
Mr Lygo told a GB News producer: “We really have no more to say.”
Holmes previously presented This Morning on Fridays with his wife Ruth Langsford.
The programme’s former resident doctor Dr Ranj Singh has hit out at the show’s “toxic” culture, saying he raised concerns about “bullying and discrimination” two years ago when he worked there and afterwards felt like he was “managed out” for whistleblowing.
Schofield quit This Morning on 20 May after more than 20 years.
Schofield originally said he was stepping down from the show because it had “become the story”, following reports of a feud between him and co-host Holly Willoughby.
It came after his brother was recently jailed for 12 years over child sex offences.
Willoughby, 41, is due to return next Monday (5 June), having gone on an early half-term holiday on 22 May.
She said that “when reports of this relationship first surfaced, I asked Phil directly if this was true and was told it was not”.
“It’s been very hurtful to now find out this was a lie,” an Instagram statement added.
Schofield has now completely resigned from ITV and been dropped by his agents.
In his statement to the Daily Mail he also admitted lying about his affair to his wife, to ITV, his agents and the media.
The controversy has raised doubts about both Willoughby’s and the show’s future, but the channel has denied reports it could be axed.
Vape advertising: Government to crack down on promotions ‘targeted at children’
Rishi Sunak has said a new government crackdown on vape marketing will stop the “unacceptable” targeting of children and young people.
Ministers have pledged to close a loophole that allows shops to offer free samples of vapes to children in England as concerns over the proportion of youngsters trying e-cigarettes mounts.
It comes days after the prime minister expressed concern about his own daughters potentially being targeted by vape marketing during an interview on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
There will also be a review into banning retailers selling “nicotine-free” vapes to under-18s, the government said, as well as a review of the rules on issuing fines to shops that illegally sell vapes to children.
The government said such reviews could make it easier for local trading standards officials to issue on-the-spot fines and fixed penalty notices.
Ministers cited NHS figures from 2021 which revealed 9% of 11 to 15-year-olds used e-cigarettes – up from 6% in 2018.
Mr Sunak said he was “deeply concerned” about the increase in children vaping, adding he was “shocked by reports of illicit vapes containing lead getting into the hands of schoolchildren”.
“Our new illicit vape enforcement squad – backed by £3m – is on the case but clearly there is more to do,” the prime minister said.
“That is why I am taking further action today to clamp down on rogue firms who unlawfully target our children with these products.”
He added that the marketing and the illegal sales of vapes to children are “completely unacceptable” and that he will do everything in his power to “end this practice for good”.
Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty called the decision to close the loophole a “very welcome step”.
He said: “Whilst vaping can be an effective quitting tool for smokers, it is important that non-smokers are not encouraged to start vaping.
“There has been a particularly worrying rise in the number of children using vapes, with companies clearly marketing these products at children using colours, flavours and cheap disposable options.
“Closing the loophole that allows companies to give out free samples of vaping products to under-18s is a very welcome step in tackling some of the harms caused by the vaping industry.”
He added: “We should continue to encourage smokers to swap to vaping as the lesser risk, whilst preventing the marketing and sale of vapes to children.”
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The health risks of vaping will now also be included in Relatonships, Sex and Health Education lessons in schools as part of the ongoing government review of the curriculum.
And the crackdown will also see dedicated police school liaison officers work to keep illegal vapes out of schools.
Health minister Neil O’Brien described any marketing of vaping products to children as “shameful”.
He said the government would “review the rules on issuing on-the-spot fines to shops that break the law by selling vapes to underage youngsters, and look into banning the sale of nicotine-free vapes to under-18s – which we know can be a gateway to using nicotine products”.
British man, 26, dies in Greece after being ‘struck by lightning while paddleboarding’
A British man has died after he was reportedly hit by lightning while paddleboarding in Greece.
The unnamed 26-year-old was in the sea during a thunderstorm in Agia Agathi, Rhodes, as his girlfriend filmed him from the beach, according to local media.
Some reports said he had been swimming at the time, rather than paddleboarding.
An investigation is now under way into the incident, which is believed to have happened shortly before 2pm on Monday local time (12pm UK time).
Greek newspaper Rodiaki reported that lightning struck the water near the paddleboarder, causing him to fall in the sea injured.
The newspaper said a passer-by, named as a Brazilian footballer who plays for a local side, waded into the sea to pull the man back to shore.
Medics then took him to a nearby hospital before he was declared dead, the publication added.
The Port Authority of Rhodes confirmed the man’s age and that he was a British national but would give no further information.
A spokesperson said: “This is an active case so we cannot give more details at the moment.”
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We are supporting the family of a British man who has died in Rhodes and are in contact with local authorities.”
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According to the swimming website oceanswims.com, when lightning strikes water the electric charge doesn’t penetrate deep into the water, but rather, it spreads across the surface, dispersing horizontally.
“This electric charge can travel as little as 10m or as much as 100m or more, depending on the power of the lightning bolt itself,” it added.
“From a swimmers’ point of view, this means the bolt of lightning doesn’t have to hit you directly for it to cause harm.”
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