1. Senior Chinese official cautions US over tariffs
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He has told US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that China is ready and capable of safeguarding its national interests.
China's state-run Xinhua news agency says Liu spoke with Mnuchin by phone on Saturday.
Their call came after US President Donald Trump's decision on Thursday to impose 25 percent tariffs on a broad range of imports from China. Trump claims that the country's trade practices violate US intellectual property rights.
The duties, which will go into force under Section 301 of the Trade Act, are expected to be levied on around 10 percent of Chinese imports, worth about 50 billion dollars.
Xinhua says Liu told Mnuchin that the measure violates global trade rules, and is detrimental to the interests of China, the United States, as well as the whole world.
But Liu expressed the hope that the 2 sides will stay rational and work together to maintain the overall stability of their economic and trade relations.
Xinhua says Liu and Mnuchin agreed to stay in communication on the issue.
2. US study group: N.Korea nuclear activity slows
US researchers analyzing satellite imagery of a nuclear test site in North Korea report slower activities, which is noteworthy amid the country's recent desire for dialogue. But the researchers do not rule out possibility of a temporary suspension.
A Johns Hopkins University team on Friday released satellite imagery taken on March 17th of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in the country's northeast region.
Nuclear tests have been conducted in an underground tunnel complex at Punggye-ri. The research team said excavation work was underway in the West Portal tunnel complex after the country's 6th nuclear test last September.
The US researchers say that as recently as March 2nd, work was observed at the site, with multiple mining carts observed near the tunnel, and newly dug sand piled up.
They say no such work could be confirmed in the March 17th photo, in which no mining carts are seen, and they noted the absence of freshly excavated sand.
The US team says the March 2nd imagery confirmed people moving around outside military accommodations and other facilities. But they say no such activity was seen on March 17th.
3. Tokyo stocks close at 5-month low
Share prices in Tokyo suffered their second biggest single-day loss this year over concerns about intensifying trade tensions between the United States and China.
The benchmark Nikkei Average lost more than 1,000 points at one time in trading on Friday.
The index finished at 20,617, down 974 points from Thursday's close. It's the first time since October that the index has closed below 21,000.
The TOPIX index of all first-section issues closed at 1,664, down 62 points.
The slide came after the US government announced heavy tariffs on Chinese imports and China said it would prepare countermeasures.
Market sources say investors are increasingly worried that the frictions may intensify, affecting Japanese companies.
They say investors are waiting to see if the US will add Japan to the list of countries that are exempted from steep tariffs on steel and other products.
Mar. 23, 2018 - Updated 20:21 UTC
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