Tag Archives: Chinese

Meng Wanzhou: Canadian court frees detained Chinese Huawei executive

Meng Wanzhou: Canadian court frees detained Chinese Huawei executiveA judge has granted bail to detained Chinese telecom executive Meng Wanzhou, potentially preventing the escalation of an international row between China and the US. The detention of the executive had threatened to further complicate relations between the US and China, which Donald Trump has previously threatened with a trade war. China had threatened severe consequences unless Canada released Ms Meng immediately.



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The Latest: Lawyer for Chinese exec seeks monitored release

The Latest: Lawyer for Chinese exec seeks monitored releaseVANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — The Latest on the arrest in Canada of Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou. (all times local):



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Gene-editing babies a violation of Chinese law, says official

Gene-editing babies a violation of Chinese law, says officialA Chinese government official has declared the research of scientist He Jiankui, who said he created the world’s first gene-edited babies, a violation of Chinese law, and called for all related work to be halted. “The genetically edited infant incident reported by media blatantly violated China’s relevant laws and regulations,” Xu Nanping, a vice-minister for science and technology, told Chinese state broadcaster CCTV Thursday evening. “It has also violated the ethical bottom line that the academic community adheres to. It is shocking and unacceptable.” Earlier this week, national and local authorities said investigations had been launched into Mr He’s work and conduct after videos and interviews from him and his lab were published on Youtube, and by two prominent Western media outlets. The shocking claims have yet to be independently verified by experts and published in a journal, though if true, would represent a monumental leap in biomedical research. Mr He spoke Wednesday in Hong Kong, defending his work at a global industry summit and describing years of secret, self-funded research. He also revealed a second woman was potentially pregnant as a result of his work, though had suspended further work at the moment given international outcry over the disclosure of his research. How Crispr works So far, he’s claimed to have produced two gene-edited baby girls, dubbed “Lulu” and “Nana”, whose DNA was altered to be more resistant to HIV. All couples he recruited for this study had an HIV-positive father, and a non-infected mother. By using a method called Crispr-Cas9, Mr He was able to target specific blocks of DNA with pinpoint precision. While the technology to change DNA has existed for decades, it has improved vastly in recent years allowing scientists to make very targeted changes. Still, that practice is surrounded by intense ethical debate, questions on the regulation of safety and is governed by laws in some countries; in the UK, it is illegal to gene edit human embryos over 14 days old. In China, where scientists have forged ahead with astonishing speed, regulations are still catching up. Globally speaking, the field is so new and cutting edge that experts simply don’t know the full impact and risk involved for a gene edited embryo as it develops into adulthood, and how changed DNA might pass into future generations. In the future, such technology could be used to eradicate inherited illnesses, but it could also pave the way for “designer babies” engineered to have certain traits like hair colour or intelligence. After news of Mr He’s work came to light earlier this week, Chinese scientists were quick to denounce it, as was his institution, the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen. Then university has said it wasn’t involved in the study, though documents available online about the work included the name of the institution. US professor Michael Deem is also now under investigation by his institution, Rice University, for his involvement in Mr He’s research. Mr Deem advised Mr He’s graduate work at the university. A non-governmental HIV/AIDS organisation, Baihaulin, has acknowledged that it helped Mr He spread the word to recruit participants for his trials, according to state media. Bai Hua, the founder of the group, hung up on repeated calls from the Telegraph on Thursday for comment.



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Chinese scientist claims to have created 'world's first genetically edited babies'

Chinese scientist claims to have created 'world's first genetically edited babies'A Chinese researcher claims he helped make the world's first genetically edited babies – twin girls whose DNA he said he altered with a powerful new tool capable of rewriting the very blueprint of life. If true, it would be a profound leap of science and ethics. A US scientist said he took part in the work in China, but this kind of gene editing is banned in the United States because the DNA changes can pass to future generations and it risks harming other genes. Many mainstream scientists think it's too unsafe to try, and some denounced the Chinese report as human experimentation. The researcher, He Jiankui of Shenzhen, said he altered embryos for seven couples during fertility treatments, with one pregnancy resulting thus far. He said his goal was not to cure or prevent an inherited disease, but to try to bestow a trait that few people naturally have – an ability to resist possible future infection with HIV, the Aids virus. He said the parents involved declined to be identified or interviewed, and he would not say where they live or where the work was done. There is no independent confirmation of He's claim, and it has not been published in a journal, where it would be vetted by other experts. He revealed it on Monday in Hong Kong to one of the organisers of an international conference on gene editing that is set to begin on Tuesday, and earlier in interviews with The Associated Press. "I feel a strong responsibility that it's not just to make a first, but also make it an example," He said. "Society will decide what to do next" in terms of allowing or forbidding such science. How Crispr works Some scientists were astounded to hear of the claim and strongly condemned it. It's "unconscionable … an experiment on human beings that is not morally or ethically defensible," said Dr. Kiran Musunuru, a University of Pennsylvania gene editing expert and editor of a genetics journal. "This is far too premature," said Dr. Eric Topol, who heads the Scripps Research Translational Institute in California. "We're dealing with the operating instructions of a human being. It's a big deal." However, one famed geneticist, Harvard University's George Church, defended attempting gene editing for HIV, which he called "a major and growing public health threat." "I think this is justifiable," Church said of that goal. In recent years scientists have discovered a relatively easy way to edit genes, the strands of DNA that govern the body. The tool, called CRISPR-cas9, makes it possible to operate on DNA to supply a needed gene or disable one that's causing problems. It's only recently been tried in adults to treat deadly diseases, and the changes are confined to that person. Editing sperm, eggs or embryos is different – the changes can be inherited. In the US, it's not allowed except for lab research. China outlaws human cloning but not specifically gene editing. He Jiankui, who goes by "JK," studied at Rice and Stanford universities in the US before returning to his homeland to open a lab at Southern University of Science and Technology of China in Shenzhen, where he also has two genetics companies. Targeted genome editing | What does it all mean? The US scientist who worked with him on this project after He returned to China was physics and bioengineering professor Michael Deem, who was his adviser at Rice in Houston. Deem also holds what he called "a small stake" in – and is on the scientific advisory boards of – He's two companies. The Chinese researcher said he practised editing mice, monkey and human embryos in the lab for several years and has applied for patents on his methods. He said he chose to try embryo gene editing for HIV because these infections are a big problem in China. He sought to disable a gene called CCR5 that forms a protein doorway that allows HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, to enter a cell. All of the men in the project had HIV and all of the women did not, but the gene editing was not aimed at preventing the small risk of transmission, He said. The fathers had their infections deeply suppressed by standard HIV medicines and there are simple ways to keep them from infecting offspring that do not involve altering genes. Instead, the appeal was to offer couples affected by HIV a chance to have a child that might be protected from a similar fate. He recruited couples through a Beijing-based Aids  advocacy group called Baihualin. Its leader, known by the pseudonym "Bai Hua," said it's not uncommon for people with HIV to lose jobs or have trouble getting medical care if their infections are revealed. He describes the work The gene editing occurred during IVF, or lab dish fertilization. First, sperm was "washed" to separate it from semen, the fluid where HIV can lurk. A single sperm was placed into a single egg to create an embryo. Then the gene editing tool was added. When the embryos were 3 to 5 days old, a few cells were removed and checked for editing. Couples could choose whether to use edited or unedited embryos for pregnancy attempts. In all, 16 of 22 embryos were edited, and 11 embryos were used in six implant attempts before the twin pregnancy was achieved, He said. Tests suggest that one twin had both copies of the intended gene altered and the other twin had just one altered, with no evidence of harm to other genes, He said. People with one copy of the gene can still get HIV, although some very limited research suggests their health might decline more slowly once they do. Several scientists reviewed materials that He provided to the AP and said tests so far are insufficient to say the editing worked or to rule out harm. They also noted evidence that the editing was incomplete and that at least one twin appears to be a patchwork of cells with various changes. "It's almost like not editing at all" if only some of certain cells were altered, because HIV infection can still occur, Church said. Church and Musunuru questioned the decision to allow one of the embryos to be used in a pregnancy attempt, because the Chinese researchers said they knew in advance that both copies of the intended gene had not been altered. "In that child, there really was almost nothing to be gained in terms of protection against HIV and yet you're exposing that child to all the unknown safety risks," Musunuru said. The use of that embryo suggests that the researchers' "main emphasis was on testing editing rather than avoiding this disease," Church said. Even if editing worked perfectly, people without normal CCR5 genes face higher risks of getting certain other viruses, such as West Nile, and of dying from the flu. Since there are many ways to prevent HIV infection and it's very treatable if it occurs, those other medical risks are a concern, Musunuru said. There also are questions about the way He said he proceeded. He gave official notice of his work long after he said he started it – on November 8, on a Chinese registry of clinical trials. It's unclear whether participants fully understood the purpose and potential risks and benefits. For example, consent forms called the project an "AIDS vaccine development" programme. The Rice scientist, Deem, said he was present in China when potential participants gave their consent and that he "absolutely" thinks they were able to understand the risks. Deem said he worked with He on vaccine research at Rice and considers the gene editing similar to a vaccine. "That might be a layman's way of describing it," he said. Both men are physics experts with no experience running human clinical trials. The Chinese scientist, He, said he personally made the goals clear and told participants that embryo gene editing has never been tried before and carries risks. He said he also would provide insurance coverage for any children conceived through the project and plans medical followup until the children are 18 and longer if they agree once they're adults. Further pregnancy attempts are on hold until the safety of this one is analysed and experts in the field weigh in, but participants were not told in advance that they might not have a chance to try what they signed up for once a "first" was achieved, He acknowledged. Free fertility treatment was part of the deal they were offered. He sought and received approval for his project from Shenzhen Harmonicare Women's and Children's Hospital, which is not one of the four hospitals that He said provided embryos for his research or the pregnancy attempts. Some staff at some of the other hospitals were kept in the dark about the nature of the research, which He and Deem said was done to keep some participants' HIV infection from being disclosed. "We think this is ethical," said Lin Zhitong, a Harmonicare administrator who heads the ethics panel. Any medical staff who handled samples that might contain HIV were aware, He said. An embryologist in He's lab, Qin Jinzhou, confirmed to the AP that he did sperm washing and injected the gene editing tool in some of the pregnancy attempts. The study participants are not ethicists, He said, but "are as much authorities on what is correct and what is wrong because it's their life on the line." "I believe this is going to help the families and their children," He said. If it causes unwanted side effects or harm, "I would feel the same pain as they do and it's going to be my own responsibility."



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U.S. charges Chinese intelligence officers for jet engine data hack

U.S. charges Chinese intelligence officers for jet engine data hackChinese intelligence officers conspired with hackers and company insiders to break into private companies’ computer systems and steal information on a turbo fan engine used in commercial jetliners, according to a U.S. indictment unsealed on Tuesday. The indictment said at the time of the hacks, a Chinese-state owned aerospace company was working to develop a comparable engine for use in aircraft manufactured in China and in other countries. The 10 people charged conspired to steal sensitive data “that could be used by Chinese entities to build the same or similar engine without incurring substantial research and development expenses,” the indictment released by the U.S. Department of Justice said.



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Trump adviser says wants U.S.-Russia strategic talks on Chinese threat

Trump adviser says wants U.S.-Russia strategic talks on Chinese threatU.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton said on Friday that the United States wanted to hold strategic talks with Russia about China’s belligerent activity. Bolton made the comments in an interview with Reuters in Tbilisi, the capital of ex-Soviet Georgia, where he was holding talks with senior government officials. Bolton said that Chinese missile capabilities posed a threat to Russia as the “Russian heartland” was in striking distance of such missiles.



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Asian stocks gain after Chinese assurances over slowdown

Asian stocks gain after Chinese assurances over slowdownSINGAPORE (AP) — Asian markets advanced Monday, lifted by Chinese benchmarks after officials put a positive spin on the country's slowing economy.



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Chinese ambassador says dealing with Donald Trump is 'very confusing'

Chinese ambassador says dealing with Donald Trump is 'very confusing'Foreign diplomats based in Washington find dealing with Donald Trump's inner circle "very confusing", the Chinese ambassador to the United States revealed yesterday (Sunday). Cui Tiankai said he had spoken with ambassadors to other nations who also share his concerns about the difficulty of working with top members of the administration. During an interview with US TV, he said it was often hard to know who was in charge of what. "Honestly, I’ve been talking to ambassadors of other countries in Washington, DC, and this is also part of their problem," said Ambassador Tiankai. "They don’t know who is the final decision-maker. Of course, presumably, the president will take the final decision, but who is playing what role? Sometimes it could be very confusing." His comments came as tensions over trade tariffs between the two super powers reach fever pitch and ahead of a likely meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mr Trump at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina next month. The ambassador also described the presence of US warships in the South China Seas as being "on the offensive" after a destroyer almost collided with an aggressive Chinese military vessel earlier this month. He said: "Where the incident took place, you were right to say it was in South China Sea. So it’s at China’s doorstep.  "It’s not Chinese warships that are going to the coast of California, or to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s so close to the Chinese islands and it’s so close to the Chinese coast. So who is on the offensive? Who is on the defensive? This is very clear." And on Mr Trump's accusations that China routinely steals the intellectual property of Americans, the high-ranking diplomat said: "I think all of these accusations about how China has developed are groundless and not fair to the Chinese people."



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Asian markets mixed on strong Chinese trade data

Asian markets mixed on strong Chinese trade dataSINGAPORE (AP) — Asian stocks were mixed on Friday as better-than-expected Chinese trade data gave some markets a breather from worries about the impact of punitive tariffs.



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US arrests alleged Chinese national for targeting major aviation companies

US arrests alleged Chinese national for targeting major aviation companiesThe FBI calls the case against a Chinese intelligence officer "unprecedented."



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