China trade talks, Putin visits Saudi Arabia, Extinction Rebellion protests  | FT

China trade talks, Putin visits Saudi Arabia, Extinction Rebellion protests | FT

Here are some of the top
stories The Financial Times will be watching this week. The US and China start
the latest rounds of talks about trade tariffs. Russia’s Vladimir Putin
goes to Saudi Arabia as part of his project
to strengthen Moscow’s influence in the Middle East. Climate change activists
Extinction Rebellion are set to stage protests across
the world about the threat of global warming. And embattled Canadian Prime
Minister Justin Trudeau enters the first debates
with opposition parties in the country’s
election campaign. First, the ongoing trade
war between the US and China enters its next phase this week,
when top Chinese negotiators are expected to visit
Washington for face to face talks with US officials,
including Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The discussions take place
just days before high tariffs are set to kick in on about
$250bn worth of Chinese imports on October the 12th. The ongoing trade war has
seen manufacturing activity across advanced economies
suffer and renewed fears about the health
of the global economy. While Mr Trump had pledged
to end manufacturing job losses by tearing up
trade deals that he said are unfair to
America the latest data show the domestic manufacturing
sector fell to a 10-year low in September. The data heaped fresh pressure
on the president whose attempts to renegotiate trade
with China have been complicated by an
impeachment investigation. There are fears that the
probe will pressure Mr Trump into striking some sort
of limited deal with China and that it could then be
seized upon by Democrats as evidence of Mr
Trump’s weakness. Mr Trump had hardened his
posture ahead of the trade discussions, suggesting he is
not keen on an interim truce. But a strong market
reaction and political woes for both the president and
China have muddied the outlook. Russian President Vladimir
Putin is planning to visit Saudi Arabia this week, aiming to
strengthen ties over energy, oil, and defence, reflecting
a strategy to build influence in the region, which has hugely
increased since his backing of the regime of Bashar
al-Assad in Syria, and since a more cautious
strategy from the US of involvement in
the Middle East. Mr Putin’s visit
really is a reflection of the warming ties between
Saudi Arabia and Russia, and also Russia’s growing
influence in the Middle East. What put Russia at the
heart of the Middle East was its intervention in Syria. It quickly became the most
influential foreign power in the country, which is at
the centre of the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and Russia,
you know, for years, there was a level of
mistrust, but they seem to have got over
that, particularly on oil. It’s actually very
interesting last year as well, because in October,
when Jamal Khashoggi, the veteran Saudi journalist,
was murdered in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, and
yet a couple of months later in December, Mohammed bin
Salman went to the G20 summit, there was Mr Putin
practically high-fiving him, shaking his hand, smiling. So that must mean a very
important symbolic message for the crown prince at a time
when many people were blaming and still blame him
for this awful murder. Road-blocking Extinction
Rebellion protesters are hoping to bring
traffic in capitals around the world to a halt.
Thousands of activists plan to shut down parts
of central London, targeting government buildings
for at least two weeks. They promise bigger protests
than those in April, when over 1,000
people were arrested and parliament declared
a climate emergency. Disruptive protests
are expected to take place in more than 60 cities
around the world on Monday which are being organised by
climate change activist group Extinction Rebellion. The protest group, which made
headlines earlier this year after it shut down busy UK
streets and disrupted traffic, is calling for
people to take part in what is being called an
international rebellion. The group said it plans
to demonstrate peacefully for at least two weeks
across the 60 cities to demand that more
be done to tackle global warming and
the climate emergency. In recent months, many
Extinction Rebellion protesters have allowed themselves to be
arrested by police in the UK, and more than 50
defendants had hearings scheduled for this week alone. The group’s rising
prominence has accompanied growing public
concern about climate change. While some disagree with
Extinction Rebellion’s methods, others think the
disruptive action is the best way to highlight
a problem that governments worldwide are running
out of time to solve. Finally, in Canada, Prime
Minister Justin Trudeau is under great pressure
as the federal election campaign gets under way. His liberal party is
hoping for re-election on October the 21st, but Mr
Trudeau’s carefully crafted image as a progressive
politician has come under fire. Canadian Prime
Minister Justin Trudeau has had a terrible
election campaign. It started with the legacy
of the SNC-Lavalin scandal. He was accused of improperly
interfering in a corruption case involving one of
Canada’s biggest employers in order to preserve
votes in Quebec, where the company is based. As the campaign kicked off he
was hit by another scandal when pictures of him as a young
teacher were released that showed he had black-faced,
colouring his face using brown make-up for a costume ball. That raised questions
whether his claims to be more diverse
and progressive than any other prime minister
in history we’re just branding and not reality. Mr Trudeau can still
win the election. His advantages include the fact
that his opponents are also dealing with their own
credibility issues with voters. At the same time,
strategically he’s been quite clever in that
he’s focused on areas where he has major
vote banks that are still favourable to him
and to the Liberal party. And that’s what the week ahead
looks like from The Financial Times in London.

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