Huawei says it doesn’t cooperate with Chinese military — after report says its employees did

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Image: A man tries out a remote control machine with 5G technology at a Huawei stand during the Mobile World Congress introducing next-generation technology at the Shanghai New International Expo Center

A news report said Huawei’s workers had cooperated with various parts of China’s People’s Liberation Army on research including on artificial intelligence and radio communications.

PARIS (Reuters) – Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National rode a wave of nationalist sentiment to win the most votes in France’s election to the European Parliament on Sunday, but the margin of victory over President Emmanuel Macron’s party was narrow.

Macron, who formed his own movement to run for the French presidency in 2017, shattering the traditional centre-right and centre-left blocs, had never contested a European election before. He portrayed the vote as a battle between pro-EU “progressives” such as himself and anti-immigration nationalists such as Le Pen and Salvini.

Reacting to the results, an Elysee official called them “disappointing” but not punishing. Another said Macron would not deviate from his reformist agenda as a result.

But some analysts said the vote highlighted the scepticism at his pro-business economic agenda felt by a large chunk of voters and played out in the streets over the past six months during anti-government ‘gilets jaunes’ protests.

“He risks having even more limited room for manoeuvre in his reforms and getting locked into a head-to-head confrontation with the RN, which has established itself as the main opposition party, until the next presidential election,” said Christopher Dembik, economist at Saxo Bank.

Others criticised the performance of Macron’s campaign flagbearer, former Europe minister Nathalie Loiseau.

FAR-RIGHT RISES, AGAIN

An Elabe poll projected the RN would get 24 seats in the European parliament compared with 23 percent for Macron’s party.

For Macron, the question will be whether his ambitions to lead in Europe will be dented by his second place in France.

He has opposed Germany’s Manfred Weber from the centre-right European People’s Party group as the lead candidate to become European Commission president. Instead, he backs France’s Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator.

Macron aims to forge a centrist alliance with liberal, pro-European parties, a bloc currently known as ALDE but which may change its name. The leader of ALDE in the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, said Macron would join forces with the group.

The group is expected to have around 100 seats in the 751-seat European Parliament, which would make it the third-strongest bloc and potentially a “kingmaker”.

Because no single group will have a majority in the parliament, alliances will be necessary to secure the 376 seats needed to carry a vote on decisions such as the next Commission president. Macron has said he will aim to build an alliance with the centre-left Socialists and Democrats, the Greens, and potentially centre-right Christian Democrats.

Trump threatens tariffs against ‘foolish’ Macron

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The Californian trying to make wine like the French

Any digital company with revenue of more than €750m ($850m; £670m) – of which at least €25m is generated in France – will now be subject to the tax, which will be retroactively applied from early 2019 and is expected to raise about €400m in revenue this year.

Earlier on Friday, President Trump warned US tech giant Apple that it would not be given any tariff relief on parts made in China. “Make them in the USA, no Tariffs!” he wrote.

Why target tech giants?

At present, they are able to pay little or no corporate tax in countries where they do not have a large physical presence. They declare most of their profits where they are headquartered.

The European Commission estimates that on average traditional businesses face a 23% tax rate on their profits within the EU, while internet companies typically pay 8% or 9%.

France has long argued that taxes should be based on digital, not just physical presence. It announced its own tax on big technology firms last year after EU-wide efforts stalled.

An EU levy would require consensus among members, but Ireland, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Finland raised objections. France’s new 3% tax will be based on sales made in the country, rather than on profits.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire criticised US threats of retaliation

Defending the new tax on Thursday, Mr Le Maire had said France was “sovereign and decided its own tax rules”.

“I want to tell our American friends that this should be an incentive for them to accelerate even more our work to find an agreement on the international taxation of digital services,” he said.

About 30 companies will pay it – mostly US groups such as Alphabet, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft. Chinese, German, Spanish and British firms are also affected, as well as the French online advertising firm Criteo.

The French government says the tax will end if a similar measure is agreed internationally. The big tech companies have argued they are complying with national and international tax laws.

Prior to Mr Trump’s tweet on Friday, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had announced an investigation into the French tax, arguing that France was “unfairly targeting the tax at certain US-based technology companies”.

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