China is trying to exploit the global crisis triggered by the novel coronavirus outbreak by wresting control of companies such as Imagination Technologies and changing the way the internet works, a senior British lawmaker said on Wednesday.

Britain International Trade Secretary Liz Truss announced that Britain on Thursday signed a free trade deal with Singapore covering 17.6bn dollars.

“Today I signed a deal with Singapore covering 17.6bn [pounds sterling] of trade – the 2nd biggest agreement we’ve signed in #AsiaPacific,’’ Truss wrote on Twitter.

A photo showed Truss alongside Singapore’s trade minister Chan Chun Sing.

The agreement came as British and EU negotiators begin a final push to salvage chances of a post-Brexit trade deal.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen held crunch Brexit talks in Brussels on Wednesday.

They had decided on Sunday as a deadline for a decision over their severely jammed trade talks.

In a statement sent to reporters minutes after Johnson was pictured leaving the EU Commission’s headquarters in Brussels, a senior Number 10 source said the pair had a “frank discussion” but significant obstacles in the negotiations remained.

“Very large gaps remain between the two sides and it is still unclear whether these can be bridged,’’ the source said. (dpa/NAN)

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