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VOA Asia Weekly: Biden Quadruples Tariffs on Chinese EVs

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Sailors taken captive return to Bangladesh. Cambodia and China begin joint military drills. China's Xi and Russia's Putin meet in Beijing. Detroit Chinatown's crispy culinary legacy.

U.S. President Joe Biden announces a new round of tariffs on Chinese-made technology, including EVs.

Welcome to VOA Asia Weekly. I'm Chris Casquejo in Washington. That story is just ahead, but first, making headlines:

62 people are dead and 20 missing after flash floods in West Sumatra Indonesia. Searchers are clearing debris and using police dogs to find survivors along the rivers. Heavy rain last weekend triggered mud slides, flash flooding and cold lava flows from Mount Marapi, one of the island’s most active volcanoes.

23 sailors held hostage on board the MV Abdullah finally returned to Bangladesh Tuesday after 65 days in captivity. Their families greeted them with flowers and warm welcomes at the Chittagong Port Authority. Somali pirates captured the ship off the coast of Somalia as it approached Dubai on March 12th. It took 33 days to negotiate their release on April 14th.

Cambodia and China began 15-day military exercises on Thursday as questions grow about Beijing’s increasing influence in the Southeast Asian nation. About 1,315 Cambodian military personnel and 760 Chinese are participating in the regular “Golden Dragon” ground and sea maneuvers, including three Chinese and 11 Cambodian ships.

Russian President Valdimir Putin met with Chinese President Xi Jinping for two days this week. It was Putin’s first foreign visit since his reelection in March. Beijing said the goal of Putin’s visit was to discuss bilateral ties and international and regional issues of common concern. This visit also highlighted the two countries’ “no limits” partnership.

This week, President Joe Biden announced a major tariff hike on Chinese electric vehicles plus new levies on computer chips, solar cells and lithium-ion batteries.

Chinese EVs will face a tariff hike quadrupled to a 100% rate. Solar cell and semiconductor imports from China will be subject to a 50% tariff, double the current rate. The rate on certain steel and aluminum imports will increase to 25%, more than triple the current level.

These tariff increases will cover $18 billion in Chinese products.

U.S. officials say the moves are designed to offset China’s unfair practices and subsidies.

"When you make tactics like these, you're not competing. It's not competition, it's cheating."

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson told reporters in Beijing Tuesday “this is nothing but bullying.”

The U.S. Midwestern city of Detroit once had a thriving Chinatown. And while that historic neighborhood has disappeared, one culinary legacy is well remembered and remains a favorite among locals.

Chinese American Gary Mui opened his own restaurant in 2020 after working in kitchens most of his adult life.

During all that time, he’s been making a battered and fried chicken dish, topping it with soy sauce, oyster sauce and chicken stock gravy, served with white rice over a bed of lettuce and almond slivers.

“Put it all together, it becomes, like, a magical flavor, where the lettuce soaks up the grease from the chicken and the rice blends well with it together.”

Native Detroiters call it almond boneless chicken, or ABC. It’s not quite as common in other areas of the U.S., and many who have moved away dream of it.

“I know very well the only place you can get it is back home.”

But the origins of war su gai, as it’s also known, are up for debate. The dish appears on restaurant menus from Detroit’s historic Chinatown dating back to the 1960s.

Curtis Chin wrote a book about growing up in his family’s restaurant. He has his own theory of why the dish took hold in a city with a large Black population.

“It might have been the adaptation of a traditional Chinese dish called almond pressed duck, which was duck, you know, breaded and fried. But then changed to accommodate a more Black palate, or people from the South, which had fried chicken, because it really is just a fried chicken dish with an Asian gravy.”

Detroit’s Chinatown faded away by the early 2000s, but the area may be due for a revival. The Peterboro restaurant opened in 2016 on a site that once housed a Chinese grocery. Almond boneless chicken is one of its bestsellers.

“And I think it is absolutely a nod to the area, to Chinatown.”

Chin thinks ABC is so good, it’s destined to move beyond its point of origin.

“I don't see any reason why almond boneless chicken can't be a national craze. I mean, it's basically fried chicken with gravy. Who doesn't love that?

A Detroit signature food that might no longer be kept under local wraps.

Visit for the most up-to-date stories.

I’m Chris Casquejo.

We leave you now at a carabao parade in the Philippines, a centuries-old ritual to bring a good harvest.

Thanks for watching VOA Asia Weekly.