Tajikistan starts easing COVID-19 restrictions

June 15, 2020 / 8:29 AM / Updated 44 minutes agoTajikistan starts easing COVID-19 restrictions

DUSHANBE (Reuters) – Tajikistan announced on Monday the first easing of restrictions introduced due to the coronavirus pandemic, as it allowed malls, bazaars, restaurants, hotels and other service providers to reopen after a two-month shutdown.

State borders will remain closed, the government said in a statement, and so will mosques and mass transit facilities such as railways. The Central Asian nation bordering China has confirmed 5,035 COVID-19 cases with 50 deaths.

France’s Macron says Europe needs to be less dependent on China, U.S.

June 14, 2020 / 6:42 PM / Updated 3 hours agoFrance's Macron says Europe needs to be less dependent on China, U.S.

A family watch French President Emmanuel Macron during a televised address to the nation, as the country eases lockdown measures taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Paris, France, June 14, 2020. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday he would work to build a Europe that was less dependent on China and the United States, as France gradually emerges from an eight-week lockdown.

The coronavirus crisis has exposed how reliant France and the rest of Europe is on supply chains with China and elsewhere.

“This ordeal has exposed flaws and fragilities: our dependence to other continents to get our hands on some goods,” the president said in a televised address to the nation. “I want us to draw all the lessons from what we have learned.”

China reports 11 new confirmed, 7 asymptomatic COVID-19 cases for June 12

June 13, 2020 / 1:20 AM / Updated 8 hours agoChina reports 11 new confirmed, 7 asymptomatic COVID-19 cases for June 12

FILE PHOTO: A thermometer and a sanitising gel are seen outside a classroom during a government-organised media tour at a high school as more students returned to campus following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Shanghai, China May 7, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China reported 11 new COVID-19 cases and seven asymptomatic cases for June 12, the national health authority said on Saturday.

The National Health Commission (NHC) said in a statement that five of the new confirmed patients were so-called imported cases involving travelers from overseas.

The six locally transmitted cases were all in Beijing, the statement said.

The NHC reported seven confirmed cases and one asymptomatic case a day earlier.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 83,075, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634. China does not count asymptomatic patients, who are infected with the virus but do not display symptoms, as confirmed cases.

China says U.S. should address North Korea’s concerns

June 12, 2020 / 7:41 AM / Updated 2 hours agoChina says U.S. should address North Korea's concerns

BEIJING (Reuters) – China said on Friday the United States should take concrete measures to address North Korea’s concerns, amid escalating tensions between Pyongyang and Washington.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters during a daily briefing that one reason for the deterioration in bilateral relations since a summit in Singapore in 2018 was because North Korea’s legitimate concerns had not been resolved.

North Korea sees little use maintaining a personal relationship between its leader, Kim Jong Un, and U.S. President Donald Trump if Washington sticks to hostile policies, state media reported on Friday – the two-year anniversary of the leaders’ first summit.

China urges Australia to safeguard Chinese citizens’ safety

June 11, 2020 / 7:29 AM / in 2 hoursChina urges Australia to safeguard Chinese citizens' safety

BEIJING (Reuters) – China said on Thursday its advisories warning students and traveller about risks they could face in Australia are based on facts and called on Canberra to take measures to safeguard Chinese citizens’ safety in the country.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the remarks during a briefing when asked about Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s comments that he will not be intimidated or give into coercion from Beijing amid an escalating bilateral dispute between the two countries.

Taiwan scrambles to ready for influx from Hong Kong protests

June 11, 2020 / 6:31 AM / Updated 2 hours agoTaiwan scrambles to ready for influx from Hong Kong protestsYimou Lee, Jessie Pang

TAIPEI/HONG KONG (Reuters) – Taiwan is gearing up to welcome Hong Kong people fleeing their city as China tightens its grip, but the island has little experience of handling refugees and is scrambling to prepare and to keep out any Chinese spies who might try to join the influx.

FILE PHOTO: Hong Kong anti-government protesters attend a rally in support of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen outside the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) headquarters in Taipei, Taiwan, January 11, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Year-long anti-government protests in Hong Kong have won widespread sympathy in democratic and Chinese-claimed Taiwan, which has welcomed those who have already come and expects more.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen last month became the first government leader anywhere to pledge measures to help Hong Kong people who leave due to what they see as tightening Chinese controls, including newly introduced national security legislation, smothering their democratic aspirations.

China denies stifling Hong Kong’s freedoms and has condemned Tsai’s offer.

Taiwan, for decades just as wary of the mainland as many in the former British colony of Hong Kong are, is working on a humanitarian relief plan for the expected arrivals, officials say.

“Hong Kong no doubt is a priority for Tsai,” a senior government official familiar with the president’s thinking told Reuters, adding that the administration was setting aside resources to handle Hong Kong people.

The plan would include a monthly allowance for living and rent and shelter for those unable to find accommodation, said a second person with direct knowledge of the preparations.

It is too early to gauge how many might come but Taiwan does not expect the number to be more than the thousands of people who came from Vietnam from the mid-1970s, most fleeing the communist takeover of what had been U.S.-backed South Vietnam.

Nearly 200 Hong Kong people have fled to Taiwan since protests flared last year and about 10% have been granted visas under a law that protects Hong Kong people who are at risk for political reasons, said Shih Yi-hsiang of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights.

For now, anyone thinking of making the move has to wait as Taiwan has barred Hong Kong people as part of its effort to block the novel coronarvirus but Shih expects the number to jump once the ban is lifted.

‘VERY COMPLICATED’

With little experience of refugees since the 1970s and with worries that China could infiltrate spies posing as activists, the government was urgently looking for experts to vet backgrounds, the second source said.

“This is a very complicated scenario that Taiwan government has never dealt with,” said the source who declined to be identified as the information about plans has not been made public.

“We didn’t think such things would happen in Hong Kong even in our dreams.”

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office did not respond to a request for comment.

A Taiwan government panel including security officials would scrutinise applications and issue visas allowing Hong Kong people to study or work in Taiwan, the second source said.

Shih said the government also needed experts in areas from case management to counselling.

A senior Taipei-based Western diplomat said Taiwan was most likely to get the most radical protesters and the less well-off, as those with the means would probably choose to go to countries such as Canada or Britain.

FILE PHOTO: Hong Kong anti-government demonstrators gather at Liberty Square in Taipei to mark the 31st anniversary of the crackdown of pro-democracy protests at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989, Taiwan, June 4, 2020. REUTERS/Ann Wang/File Photo

Tyrant Lau, 26, released last month from an eight-month sentence in Hong Kong for possession of weapons, welcomed Tsai’s offer and said he aimed to make Taiwan home because of its democracy and low cost of living.

“It’s the only hope for protesters who can’t afford moving to other places,” Lau said in Hong Kong as he waits for the border to open.

“I hope I can live a normal life in Taiwan. I’ve forgotten what a normal life is like.”

Japan wants to take lead for G7 statement on Hong Kong: Abe

June 10, 2020 / 1:11 AM / Updated an hour agoJapan wants to take lead for G7 statement on Hong Kong: Abe

FILE PHOTO – Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at a news conference on Japan’s response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Tokyo, Japan May 25, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/Pool

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan wants to take the lead among Group of Seven nations on issuing a statement about the situation in Hong Kong, where China is imposing a new security law, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday.

“Obviously, we acknowledge the G7 has a mission to lead the global public opinion and Japan wants to take a lead in issuing a statement based on ‘one nation, two systems’ in Hong Kong,” Abe told parliament.

Japan had already issued an statement independently expressing serious concern about Beijing’s move on May 28, the day China passed the law, and called in the Chinese ambassador to convey its view.

Tokyo is in a sensitive situation regarding U.S.-China tensions over Hong Kong, as it plans for a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, originally set for April but postponed due to the coronavirus crisis.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters during a daily briefing that Beijing expressed “grave concerns” to Japan about Abe’s remarks and said Hong Kong is “entirely China’s internal affair.”

“The relevant country should abide by international laws and basic principles of international relations,” she said.

The United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Canada have criticised China for moving to impose the security law on Hong Kong, which they said would breach the 1984 Sino-British agreement on the former colony and threaten its freedoms.

China says it hopes North Korea, South Korea will cooperate through dialogue

June 9, 2020 / 7:29 AM / Updated 2 hours agoChina says it hopes North Korea, South Korea will cooperate through dialogue

BEIJING (Reuters) – China said on Tuesday it hopes North Korea and South Korea will cooperate through dialogue, amid renewed tensions after Pyongyang said it will cut hotlines with Seoul.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the remarks during a daily briefing.

Hong Kong leader warns protesters that city cannot afford more ‘chaos’

June 9, 2020 / 2:32 AM / Updated 2 hours agoHong Kong leader warns protesters that city cannot afford more 'chaos'

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam warned on Tuesday the city could not afford further “chaos” as activists marked a year of sustained pro-democracy rallies with lunchtime protests in several shopping malls.

FILE PHOTO: Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, wearing a face mask following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, holds a news conference in Beijing, China, June 3, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

The global financial hub is on alert for unrest with larger gatherings planned for the evening to mark the first anniversary of a mass rally that galvanised the pro-democracy movement.

That first rally, which drew an estimated more than one million protesters in a city of 7.5 million people, was spurred by proposed legislation to allow people to be extradited to mainland China, where the courts are controlled by the Communist Party.

Lam later withdrew the bill but the legislation triggered widespread concern that the central government in Beijing was stifling freedoms in the former British colony despite promises it would retain a high level of autonomy, sparking months of often-violent protests.

“All of us can see the difficulty we have been through in the past year, and due to such serious situations we have more problems to deal with,” Lam said during her weekly media conference.

“We need to learn from mistakes, I wish all lawmakers can learn from mistakes – that Hong Kong cannot bear such chaos.”

Almost 9,000 people, aged between 11 and 84, were arrested in relation to protests over the past year, police said late on Monday. More than 600 were charged with rioting.

After a relative lull in protests during the coronavirus outbreak, demonstrators have returned to the streets as Beijing drafts national security laws activists fear will further undermine freedoms.

Dozens of people gathered in several shopping malls across Hong Kong at lunchtime on Tuesday, chanting slogans such as “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times,” before dispersing peacefully after about an hour.

Some protesters held placards reading “We can’t breathe! Free HK” and “Young lives matter”, in a nod to the U.S. protests against police brutality sparked by the death of black man George Floyd after a white police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck.

Activists were planning larger evening protests and have also said they intend to hold a referendum on Sunday about whether to launch a city-wide strike against the national security laws proposed last month.

Authorities have insisted the legislation will focus on small numbers of “troublemakers” who pose a threat to national security and would not curb freedoms or hurt investors. Lam cautioned against the activists’ plans to hold a strike referendum.

“RESIST AND DEFY”

Prominent pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong said the world had borne witness to “the deteriorating situation in Hong Kong, with Beijing tightening its grip over the city’s liberties.”

“I have strong confidence in Hongkongers that we will have ways to resist and defy,” Wong posted on Twitter. “Moreover, I hope the world can stand with Hong Kong and protect the city from falling.”

Human Rights Watch also urged other countries to pressure China on the issue.

FILE PHOTO: Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks to the media over an extradition bill in Hong Kong, China, July 9, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

“For the past year, Hong Kong people have made clear their peaceful demands for freedom and autonomy,” Sophie Richardson, the group’s China director, said in a statement. “But the authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong choose to respond with ever-greater repression and violence.”

The United States, the European Union and others have made public their concerns about the proposed national security legislation, which Beijing has decried as foreign meddling in internal affairs.

A Chinese official this week suggested that the degree of autonomy that Hong Kong would have when the post-colonial agreement on its high degree of autonomy runs out in 2047 could depend on how the city behaves until then.

Japan’s stance on Hong Kong praised by other G7 nations – Suga

June 8, 2020 / 3:38 AM / Updated 6 hours agoJapan's stance on Hong Kong praised by other G7 nations – Suga

FILE PHOTO: Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga speaks at a news conference at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s official residence in Tokyo, Japan September 11, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan was among the first nations to express its concern about China imposing a new security law, and its stance has been praised by other Group of Seven nations, chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Monday.

Officials from the United States, Britain and others were cited in a report by Kyodo news agency on Sunday saying that Japan had decided not to join them in issuing a statement scolding China for imposing the new law, which observers fear could endanger Hong Kong’s special autonomy and freedoms.

Suga told a news conference that in addition to issuing a statement on May 28, the day China’s parliament approved the law, saying Tokyo was “seriously concerned,” it had also expressed its opinions directly to Chinese officials.

“We’ve expressed our opinions this way directly and promptly to China at a high level and have made our opinions quite clear to international society,” he said.

“The United States, Britain, and other nations have praised our response,” Suga said, adding that Japan remains in close contact with other nations on the issue.

Tokyo is in a complicated position amid tension between China and the U.S. over the Hong Kong issue as Japan plans for a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Originally set for early April, the visit has been postponed because both nations have agreed to prioritize contain the outbreak of the coronavirus.

China to strengthen global cooperation in COVID-19 vaccine trials

June 7, 2020 / 3:01 AM / Updated 4 hours agoChina to strengthen global cooperation in COVID-19 vaccine trials

BEIJING (Reuters) – China will strengthen international cooperation in future COVID-19 clinical vaccine trials, building on earlier collaboration in vaccine development, the science and technology minister said on Sunday.

China is expending great efforts in the global scramble to develop a vaccine for the new coronaries epidemic that began in its central city of Wuhan, with Chinese researchers conducting five separate clinical trials on humans, or half of all such trials globally, according to the data compiled by the World Health Organization.

President Xi Jinping vowed last month at the World Heath Assembly, the WHO’s governing body, that vaccines China’s develops will become a “global public good” once they are ready for use, and it will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.

Developing “a vaccine is still the fundamental strategy in our effort to overcome the new coronavirus,” Science and Technology Minister Wang Zhigang told a news conference in Beijing.

But vaccine development is very difficult and takes time, he said, when asked how China would initially prioritise shots by country when a vaccine is found.

“The rigour of vaccine development has been compared by some scientists to a dance involving precise steps and rehearsals,” Wang said.

In a white paper unveiled by the State Council Information Office at the news conference, the government urges global cooperation, saying the international community should resist finger-pointing and politicising the virus. It did not name any country.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has accused China of cover-ups and lack of transparency regarding the pandemic. Beijing has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying it has been keeping the world informed from the start.

Slideshow (2 Images)

The head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention briefed his U.S. counterpart by phone on the then-unknown virus as early as Jan. 4, according to the white paper.

In the white paper, the Chinese government said the medical cost of all the coronavirus patients in China totalled 1.35 billion yuan ($191 million) as of the end of May.

President Xi last month pledged $2 billion in financial support over the next two years to help deal with COVID-19, especially to help developing countries.

Global coronavirus deaths top 400,000 as outbreak grows in Brazil, India: Reuters tally

June 7, 2020 / 5:09 PM / Updated 4 hours agoGlobal coronavirus deaths top 400,000 as outbreak grows in Brazil, India: Reuters tallyLisa Shumaker

A woman wearing a protective mask walks past a healthcare camp set up for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Dharavi, one of Asia’s largest slums, Mumbai, India, June 7, 2020. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

(Reuters) – Global deaths from the novel coronavirus topped 400,000 on Sunday, as case numbers surge in Brazil and India, according to a Reuters tally.

The United States is responsible for about one-quarter of all fatalities but deaths in South America are rapidly rising.

The number of deaths linked to COVID-19 in just five months is now equal to the number of people who die annually from malaria, one of the world’s most deadly infectious diseases.

Global cases are approaching 7 million, with about 2 million, or 30%, of those cases in the United States. Latin America has the second-largest outbreak with over 15% of cases, according to Reuters tally.

The first COVID-19 death was reported on Jan. 10 in Wuhan, China but it was early April before the death toll passed 100,000, according to the Reuters tally of official reports from governments. It took 24 days to go from 300,000 to 400,000 deaths.

The United States has the highest death toll in the world at almost 110,000. Fatalities in Brazil are rising rapidly and the country may overtake the United Kingdom to have the second-largest number of deaths in the world.

The total number of deaths is believed to be higher than the officially reported 400,000 as many countries lack supplies to test all victims and some countries do not count deaths outside of a hospital. (Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.)

Taiwan opposition seeks distance from China after poll defeat

June 7, 2020 / 1:16 AM / Updated 2 hours agoTaiwan opposition seeks distance from China after poll defeatBen Blanchard

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s main opposition party moved to distance itself from China after one of its most senior officials lost a highly charged recall election, as attitudes harden towards Beijing on the democratic island claimed by China.

FILE PHOTO: Kuomintang party’s presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu admits defeat in presidential election in Kaohsiung, Taiwan January 11, 2020. REUTERS/Ann Wang

The Kuomintang, or KMT, was already reeling from losing presidential and parliamentary elections in January, having failed to shake off accusations from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) it wanted to sell out Taiwan to China.

On Saturday, the KMT’s defeated presidential candidate, Han Kuo-yu, lost by a wide margin a recall vote for his position as mayor of the southern port city of Kaohsiung.

Opponents portray Han and the KMT as doing China’s bidding by supporting Beijing’s “one country, two systems” model to get Taiwan to accept Chinese sovereignty. The KMT says it has never supported this.

After the recall, the KMT reasserted its opposition to Beijing, as well as a “Taiwan first” stance.

“Chairman Johnny Chiang of the KMT states firmly that the Party – opposed to communism and aimed at building a democratic, free, prosperous and united country – and its members have always put Taiwan first for the benefit of the people,” the KMT said in a statement late on Saturday.

Han – who last year visited China and met its top Taiwan-policy maker and met in Hong Kong with its leader Carrie Lam before the Chinese-ruled city was engulfed in anti-China protests – has said he was simply trying to drum up investment for Taiwan and reduce the risk of conflict.

The vote took place amid further tensions in Hong Kong over Beijing’s move last month to impose national security legislation on the city, a measure strongly opposed by all Taiwan’s main parties in a rare show of unity.

Sentiment in Taiwan towards China has soured further not only due to the Hong Kong protests, but also Chinese pressure to keep Taiwan out of the World Health Organization during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The KMT, under youthful new leader Chiang, is reviewing its policies, especially its unpopular stance of seeking closer ties with Beijing, which has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.

Adding to the KMT’s woes, the Kaohsiung city council speaker, a KMT member and strong supporter of Han’s, jumped to his death late on Saturday after the mayor lost the vote, police said.

Prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Nathan Law congratulated Kaohsiung’s people for the recall vote, saying Hong Kong’s people would be envious as they could not do the same with their own leader.

“When we have liberated Hong Kong, I hope Hong Kong will be like Taiwan is now, the envy of others.”

Global coronavirus cases near 7 million as outbreak grows in Brazil, India – Reuters tally

June 7, 2020 / 5:25 AM / Updated 4 hours agoGlobal coronavirus cases near 7 million as outbreak grows in Brazil, India – Reuters tallyLisa Shumaker

(This story corrects June 6 version of story that said cases surpassed 7 million in heading and paragraph 1.)

FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective face shields walk inside a park after few restrictions were lifted, during an extended nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New Delhi, India, May 31, 2020. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

By Lisa Shumaker

(Reuters) – Global cases of the novel coronavirus neared 7 million on Saturday, as case numbers surge in Brazil and India, according to a Reuters tally.

About 30% of those cases, or 2 million infections, are in the United States, though the fastest growing outbreak is in Latin America, which now accounts for roughly 16% of all cases.

Globally, deaths from the novel coronavirus are approaching 400,000.

The United States accounts for about one-quarter of all fatalities but deaths in South America are rapidly rising.

The number of deaths linked to COVID-19 in just five months is now equal to the number of people who die annually from malaria, one of the world’s most deadly infectious diseases.

The first COVID-19 death was reported on Jan. 10 in Wuhan, China but it was early April before the death toll passed 100,000, according to the Reuters tally of official reports from governments. It took 23 days to go from 300,000 to 400,000 deaths.

The United States has the highest death toll in the world at almost 110,000. Fatalities in Brazil are rising rapidly and the country may overtake the United Kingdom to have the second-largest number of deaths in the world.

The total number of deaths is believed to be higher than the officially reported 400,000 as many countries lack supplies to test all victims and some countries do not count deaths outside of a hospital. (Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.)

China warns against travel to Australia, citing discrimination

June 5, 2020 / 5:07 PM / in 3 hoursChina warns against travel to Australia, citing discrimination

(Reuters) – China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Friday advised the public to avoid traveling to Australia, citing racial discrimination and violence against the Chinese in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There has been an alarming increase recently in acts of racial discrimination and violence against Chinese and Asians in Australia, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the ministry said in a statement. It did not give any specific examples of such discrimination or violence.

Asians of various backgrounds have said they have been harassed since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, including in the United States. China issued a warning to tourists traveling there earlier this year after some said they were mistreated in connection with the outbreak.

(This story has been refiled to fix spelling error in first paragraph.)

Dozens in Hong Kong stage pro-democracy protest in shopping mall

June 5, 2020 / 6:45 AM / in 3 hoursDozens in Hong Kong stage pro-democracy protest in shopping mall

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Dozens of Hong Kong protesters marched through a shopping mall on Friday, chanting pro-democracy slogans a day after thousands defied a police ban to hold a vigil for the anniversary of China’s Tiananmen crackdown in 1989.

Protesters of all ages joined the march in the heart of the city’s financial district, which ended peacefully after an hour.

Some held banners that read “Hong Kong independence” and “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times,” as well as the former British colonial flag, while others chanted “Glory to Hong Kong”, the unofficial anthem of the protests.

Thursday’s anniversary of Chinese troops opening fire on student-led protests in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square was particularly sensitive this year as the central government drafts national security laws for the Asian financial hub.

It was the first time in 31 years that scuffles briefly disrupted what is usually a solemn day in Chinese-ruled Hong Kong, which traditionally organises the world’s biggest memorial for the crackdown.

Officers would not have intervened if protesters had not blocked roads in the working class district of Mong Kok, police said on Twitter on Thursday. They had rejected the application for the vigil over concerns about the coronavirus.

China lodges stern representations with UK over Hong Kong comments

June 3, 2020 / 7:46 AM / Updated 2 hours agoChina lodges stern representations with UK over Hong Kong comments

BEIJING (Reuters) – China lodged stern representations with the United Kingdom on Wednesday over its foreign secretary’s remarks on Hong Kong.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman said that Britain had no jurisdiction or supervision over the city, and that any threat to the city’s stability and prosperity comes from foreign forces.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Tuesday that China is destroying the “jewel” of Hong Kong with its crackdown.

British PM Johnson tells China: We’ll not walk away from Hong Kong people

June 3, 2020 / 5:54 AM / Updated 3 hours agoBritish PM Johnson tells China: We'll not walk away from Hong Kong people

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson appears before the Liaison Committee via Zoom from the cabinet room at 10 Downing Street, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain May 27, 2020. Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Handout via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) – The United Kingdom will not walk away from the people of Hong Kong if China imposes a national security law which conflicts with Beijing’s international obligations under a 1984 accord, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday.

“Hong Kong succeeds because its people are free,” Johnson wrote in The Times. “If China proceeds, this would be in direct conflict with its obligations under the joint declaration, a legally binding treaty registered with the United Nations.”

China’s parliament last week approved a decision to create laws for Hong Kong to curb sedition, secession, terrorism and foreign interference. Mainland security and intelligence agents may be stationed in the city for the first time.

“Many people in Hong Kong fear that their way of life — which China pledged to uphold — is under threat,” Johnson said.

“If China proceeds to justify their fears, then Britain could not in good conscience shrug our shoulders and walk away; instead we will honour our obligations and provide an alternative,” he said.

Johnson repeated Britain’s pledge to give British National Overseas passport-holders in Hong Kong a path to British citizenship – allowing them to settle in the United Kingdom.

There are about 350,000 holders of BNO passports in Hong Kong and another 2.5 million are eligible for them, Johnson said.

The newspaper said that Britain’s National Security Council agreed on Tuesday to “rebalance” Britain’s relationship with China.

Britain on Tuesday warned Beijing to step back from the brink over the national security law in Hong Kong, saying it risked destroying one of the jewels of Asia’s economy while ruining the reputation of China.

Pompeo says U.S. considering welcoming Hong Kong people, entrepreneurs

June 1, 2020 / 4:40 PM / Updated an hour agoPompeo says U.S. considering welcoming Hong Kong people, entrepreneurs

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the media at the State Department in Washington, U.S., May 20, 2020. Nicholas Kamm/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is considering the option of welcoming people from Hong Kong in response to China’s push to impose national security legislation in the former British colony, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in remarks released on Monday.

Speaking to the American Enterprise Institute on Friday, Pompeo gave no details about immigration quotas or visas, and merely said: “We are taking a look at it.”

President Donald Trump on Friday ordered his administration to begin the process of eliminating special U.S. treatment for Hong Kong to punish China, but stopped short of immediately ending privileges that have helped the territory remain a global financial center.

Last week, Britain has said it was prepared to offer extended visa rights and a pathway to citizenship for almost 3 million Hong Kong residents.

Asked if Washington was considering following suit to “welcome Hong Kong people to come here and bring their entrepreneurial creativity,” Pompeo replied:

“We are considering it. I don’t know precisely how it will play out. The British have, as you know, a different relationship. A lot of these folks have British national passports. There’s a long history between Hong Kong and the United Kingdom; it’s very different. But we’re taking a look at it.”

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Last year, Trump signed legislation stating that Hong Kong residents may not be denied visas because they have been subjected to politically motivated arrest, detention, or other “adverse” government action.

On Friday, Trump also issued a proclamation suspending entry of Chinese nations identified as potential security risks, something sources said could affect thousands of Chinese graduate students.

In a statement on Monday, Pompeo said the move would apply only to graduate students and researchers “targeted, co-opted and exploited” by the Chinese government, representing “only a small subset” of such applicants.

Chinese envoy to Britain says Beijing is not suppressing Hong Kong activists

June 1, 2020 / 8:21 PM / Updated an hour agoChinese envoy to Britain says Beijing is not suppressing Hong Kong activists

FILE PHOTO: Chinese Ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming talks to the crowd following the Chinese Lunar New Year parade through central London, Britain January 26, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

LONDON (Reuters) – Any responsible government has to take measures against violence, the Chinese ambassador to London said on Monday, when asked about Beijing’s response to protests in Hong Kong against it imposing national security laws on the city.

Asked on Sky News whether China was suppressing the activists, Liu Xiaoming said: “It is not Chinese suppression, what is going on in Hong Kong is violence. It is a risk to the national security … any responsible government has to take measures.”

Britain will not ‘look away’ from Hong Kong responsibilities, says Raab

May 31, 2020 / 9:26 AM / in 2 hoursBritain will not 'look away' from Hong Kong responsibilities, says Raab

FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Secretary of State for Foreign affairs Dominic Raab arrives in Downing Street, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, May 21, 2020. REUTERS/John Sibley

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will not look away from its responsibilities to Hong Kong, foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday, repeating London’s offer of extended visa rights in response to China’s push to impose a new law in the former British colony.

“If China follows through with this national security legislation … we will give those people who hold BNO passports (British National Overseas’ passports) the right to come to the UK,” Raab told the BBC, adding that only “a fraction of them would actually come”.

“We are not going to turn a blind eye, we are not going to look away from our responsibilities to the people of Hong Kong.”

(The refiled story fixes spelling error in first paragraph)

China says 2 new coronavirus cases, asymptomatic case on German charter

May 31, 2020 / 1:58 AM / Updated 2 hours agoChina says 2 new coronavirus cases, asymptomatic case on German charterStella Qiu, Ryan Woo

BEIJING (Reuters) – China announced on Sunday two new confirmed cases of coronavirus and four new asymptomatic cases, including one person without symptoms of COVID-19 on a chartered flight from Germany.

FILE PHOTO: A foreign traveller wearing a mask walks past a departures information board at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, China as the country is hit by an outbreak of the new coronavirus, February 1, 2020. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

The two confirmed cases in Shandong province on Saturday compared with four cases the day before, data from the country’s health authority showed.

The National Health Commission (NHC) confirmed three new asymptomatic cases on Saturday.

On Sunday, the Chinese city of Tianjin confirmed one asymptomatic person, a passenger arriving from Frankfurt on a chartered Lufthansa flight, LH342, to Tianjin. This case was discovered between midnight and 6 a.m. local time on Sunday, the city’s daily statements show.

These charter flights are part of an accelerated entry procedure offered by Beijing as China and Germany seek to reignite their economies after months of lockdown. The flight to Tianjin carried about 200 passengers, mostly German business executives.

Lufthansa has another charter flight scheduled for Shanghai on Wednesday.

A 34-year-old German engineer tested positive for the coronavirus after arriving in Tianjin but he does not have any symptoms, the Tianjin government said on its official social media platform Weibo.

The asymptomatic patient has been transferred to a local hospital to be placed under medical observation, the Tianjin government said, adding that the whole process was a “closed loop”, meaning posing no great risk to the Chinese public.

The number of confirmed cases in the mainland as of May 30 stood at 83,001, data form NHC showed.

With no new deaths reported, the death toll in the country remained at 4,634.

Trump postpones G7 summit, seeks to add countries to invitation list

May 31, 2020 / 12:24 AM / Updated 3 hours agoTrump postpones G7 summit, seeks to add countries to invitation listSteve Holland

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday he would postpone a Group of Seven summit he had hoped to hold next month until September or later and expand the list of invitees to include Australia, Russia, South Korea and India.

U.S. President Donald Trump, with U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), speaks to reporters aboard Air Force One while returning to Washington from Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S. May 30, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One during his return to Washington from Cape Canaveral in Florida, Trump said the G7, which groups the world’s most advanced economies, was a “very outdated group of countries” in its current format.

“I’m postponing it because I don’t feel that as a G7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world,” Trump said.

It was unclear whether Trump’s desire to invite the additional countries was a bid to permanently expand the G7. On several previous occasions, he suggested Russia be added, given what he called Moscow’s global strategic importance.

Russia was expelled from what was then the G8 in 2014 when Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, was U.S. president, after Moscow annexed the Crimea region from Ukraine. Russia still holds the territory, and various G7 governments have rebuffed previous calls from Trump to readmit Moscow.

White House spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said Trump wants the countries to discuss China at the summit.

Trump has attacked Beijing over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which began in China, and on Friday he ordered his administration to begin the process of ending special U.S. treatment for Hong Kong in retaliation for China’s decision to impose a new security law on the former British colony.

The decision to postpone the G7 summit is a retreat for Trump, who had sought to host the group of major industrialized countries in Washington as a demonstration that the United States was returning to normal after the coronavirus epidemic, which has killed more than 103,000 Americans to date.

Trump had canceled an in-person G7 meeting scheduled for March as the virus spread, but had recently sought to revive it.

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French President Emmanuel Macron backed the idea of an in-person meeting, according to the White House, but Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to endorse it, saying there were too many health-related questions. This week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she could not attend.

South Korea is aware of Trump’s invitation and will discuss the matter with the United States, a government official in Seoul told Reuters on Sunday.

The G7 groups the United States, Britain, France, Japan, Germany, Italy and Canada, and the European Union also attends.

Australia would welcome official invitation to G7, says government spokesman

May 31, 2020 / 5:36 AM / Updated 3 hours agoAustralia would welcome official invitation to G7, says government spokesmanLidia Kelly

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia would welcome an official invitation to the Group of Seven (G7) nations and there has been contact on the matter between the prime minister and the United States, a government spokesman said on Sunday.

“The G7 has been a topic of recent high-level exchanges,” the spokesman said in an emailed comment. “Australia would welcome an official invitation. Strengthening international cooperation among like-minded countries is valued at a time of unprecedented global challenges.”

U.S. President Donald Trump said he would postpone a G7 summit he had hoped to hold next month until September or later and expand the list of invitees to include Australia, Russia, South Korea and India.

U.S.-Australia ties have been strong, even though recent White House comments on the origins of the coronavirus outbreak have frustrated Australia’s push for an independent inquiry, sources have told Reuters. The two security partners also diverged radically in their management of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been so far one of very few world leaders to pay a state visit to Washington during Trump’s tenure, and both leaders have openly signalled their camaraderie.

Morrison, unlike some European leaders, has avoided criticising Trump publicly and has teamed up with the United States in its tougher stance against China, Australia’s main trading partner.

Relations between Canberra and Beijing have been strained amid Australian accusations of Chinese meddling in domestic affairs and concern about what Australia sees as China’s growing influence in the Pacific region.

China media, Hong Kong government bristle at Trump’s pledge of curbs, sanctions

May 31, 2020 / 2:33 AM / Updated 4 hours agoChina media, Hong Kong government bristle at Trump's pledge of curbs, sanctionsJames Pomfret, Stella Qiu

HONG KONG/BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s state media and the government of Hong Kong lashed out on Sunday at U.S. President Donald Trump’s vow to end Hong Kong’s special status if Beijing imposes new national security laws on the city, which is bracing for fresh protests.

FILE PHOTO: A pro-democracy demonstrator raises his hand up as a symbol of the “Five demands, not one less” during a protest against Beijing’s plans to impose national security legislation in Hong Kong, China May 28, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Trump on Friday pledged to “take action to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel territory”, and to impose sanctions on unspecified individuals over Beijing’s new laws on the Asian financial centre.

But China’s state media pushed back, saying this would hurt the United States more than China.

“The baton of sanctions that the United States is brandishing will not scare Hong Kong and will not bring China down,” China’s Communist Party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, wrote in a commentary. It used the pen name “Zhong Sheng”, meaning “Voice of China”, often used to give the paper’s view on foreign policy issues.

The Global Times wrote, “China has already prepared for the worst. No matter how far the U.S. goes, China will keep its company.”

A Hong Kong government spokesman expressed regret the United States continued to “smear and demonise the legitimate rights and duty of our sovereign” to safeguard national security.

In a sign of diplomatic manoeuvring, the U.S. government said it would put one of its prime Hong Kong properties up for sale – a luxury residential complex worth up to HK$5 billion ($650 million).

A spokesman for the U.S. consulate in Hong Kong said this was part of a global programme that “reinforces the U.S. government’s presence in Hong Kong” through reinvestment in other areas.

China and Hong Kong officials have justified the laws that will be directly imposed by China to restore order to a city that has been wracked by sometimes violent anti-China, anti-government protests over the past year. They said the laws will only apply to a small number of “troublemakers.”

Protesters, however, have said they are railing against China’s deep encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms despite Beijing’s promise to grant the city a high degree of autonomy under a so-called “one-country, two systems” formula since it reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

More protests are planned in the coming weeks.

Countries including the United States, Canada and Britain have expressed deep concerns about the law, with Britain saying it may grant expanded visa rights to large numbers of Hong Kongers.

Demosisto, an advocacy group led by prominent young Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong, said the security law will be “the death of freedom in Hong Kong”.

A senior Hong Kong official, Erick Tsang, said he couldn’t care less if he were sanctioned by the Washington. “I wouldn’t even go to Canada, just in case they try to catch me” there, Tsang told local radio.

Details of the laws remain unclear, even to Hong Kong officials, but are expected to be enacted by China’s parliament this summer. The laws will outlaw secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in Hong Kong, and will be imposed without any local legislative scrutiny.

Global coronavirus cases surpass 6 million

May 31, 2020 / 12:19 AM / Updated 9 hours agoGlobal coronavirus cases surpass 6 million

FILE PHOTO: Gravediggers carry the coffin of Antonia Rodrigues during her funeral who passed away from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

(Reuters) – Global coronavirus cases surpassed 6 million on Saturday, according to a Reuters tally, as Latin America reported a grim milestone of 50,000 deaths from the disease.

Countries such as Brazil, Chile and Mexico are struggling to stem the spread of the virus, which initially peaked in China in February before large-scale outbreaks followed in Europe and the United States.

The COVID-19 respiratory illness has claimed more than 367,000 lives worldwide, though the true number is thought to be higher as testing is still limited and many countries do not include fatalities outside of hospitals.

The first 41 cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Wuhan, China, on Jan. 10 and it took the world until April 1 to reach its first million cases. Since then, about 1 million new cases are reported every two weeks, according to a Reuters tally.

The pandemic has claimed more than 367,000 lives worldwide, though the true number is believed to be higher because testing is still limited and many countries do not include fatalities outside of hospitals.

Despite the continued increase in cases, many countries are opening schools and workplaces following weeks of unprecedented lockdowns that have stemmed the spread of the disease – but also hammered economies and thrown millions out of work.

Graphic – Tracking the novel coronavirus in the U.S.: here

Graphic – Where coronavirus cases are rising in the United States: here

Graphic – World-focused tracker with country-by-country interactive: here

Hong Kong leaders say Trump ‘completely wrong’ for curbing ties

May 30, 2020 / 1:03 AM / Updated 4 hours agoHong Kong leaders say Trump 'completely wrong' for curbing tiesJessie Pang, Greg Torode

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Senior Hong Kong government officials lashed out on Saturday at moves by U.S. President Donald Trump to strip the city of its special status in a bid to punish China for imposing national security laws on the global financial hub.

Speaking hours after Trump said the city no longer warranted economic privileges and some officials could face sanctions, security minister John Lee told reporters that Hong Kong’s government could not be threatened and would push ahead with the new laws.

“I don’t think they will succeed in using any means to threaten the (Hong Kong) government, because we believe what we are doing is right,” Lee said.

Justice minister Teresa Cheng said the basis for Trump’s actions was “completely false and wrong”, saying the need for national security laws were legal and necessary.

In some of his toughest rhetoric yet, Trump said Beijing had broken its word over Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy from Beijing, by proposing the national security legislation and that the territory no longer warranted U.S. economic privileges.

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“We will take action to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel territory from the rest of China,” Trump said, adding that Washington would also impose sanctions on individuals seen as responsible for “smothering – absolutely smothering – Hong Kong’s freedom.”

Trump told reporters at the White House that China’s move on Hong Kong was a tragedy for the world, but he gave no timetable for the moves, leaving Hong Kong residents, businesses and officials to ponder just how far his administration will go.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said Saturday marked “a sad day” for China’s freest city.

“This is an emotional moment for Americans in Hong Kong and it will take companies and families a while to digest the ramifications,” AmCham President Tara Joseph said in a statement.

“Many of us … have deep ties to this city and with Hong Kong people. We love Hong Kong and it’s a sad day,” she said, adding the chamber would continue to work with its members to maintain Hong Kong’s status as a vital business centre.

U.S. President Donald Trump makes an announcement about U.S. trade relations with China and Hong Kong as National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin listen in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 29, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

(For an explainer on how important Hong Kong is to China as a free finance hub, please click.)

China’s parliament this week approved a decision to create laws for Hong Kong to curb sedition, secession, terrorism and foreign interference. Mainland security and intelligence agents may be stationed in the city for the first time – moves critics say put the city’s extensive freedoms at risk.

Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong insist the legislation will target only a small number of “troublemakers” who threaten China’s national security. They say such action is urgently needed after months of sometimes violent anti-government protests rocked the city last year.

Protests are simmering again as Hong Kong emerges from its coronavirus shutdown. Demonstrators are expected to take to the streets on Sunday.

Trump did not name any sanctions targets but said the announcement would “affect the full range of agreements we have with Hong Kong”, including the U.S.-Hong Kong extradition treaty to export controls on dual-use technologies and more “with few exceptions”.

China’s Global Times, published by the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party, said Trump’s decision was a “recklessly arbitrary” step.

U.S. President Donald Trump makes an announcement about U.S. trade relations with China and Hong Kong in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 29, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The Hong Kong government has had a long history of working ties with U.S. counterparts, distinct from Beijing, with cooperation on counter-terrorism, trade and money laundering.

More than 1,300 U.S. firms have offices in Hong Kong and provide about 100,000 jobs. In the past decade, the U.S. trade surplus with Hong Kong has been the biggest among all its trading partners, totalling $297 billion from 2009 to 2018.

Timeline: Key dates in Hong Kong’s anti-government protests

May 30, 2020 / 5:04 AM / Updated 4 hours agoTimeline: Key dates in Hong Kong's anti-government protests

HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s decision to impose national security laws on Hong Kong has exacerbated public and international concerns over the erosion of freedoms in the city and has rekindled anti-government protests in the financial centre.

FILE PHOTO: Anti-government demonstrators scuffle with riot police during a lunch time protest as a second reading of a controversial national anthem law takes place in Hong Kong, China May 27, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

The national security legislation prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to move ahead and strip the financial hub of the special treatment Washington affords it that is seen as key to its success as a finance hub.

Following is a timeline of the key dates around Hong Kong’s protest movement triggered by a now-abandoned extradition bill:

2019

February – Hong Kong’s Security Bureau proposes amendments to extradition laws that would allow extraditions to mainland China and other countries not covered by existing treaties.

March 31 – Thousands take to the streets to protest against the proposed extradition bill.

April 3 – Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam’s government introduces amendments to the extradition laws that would allow criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial.

April 28 – Tens of thousands march on Hong Kong’s Legislative Council to demand the scrapping of the proposed amendments.

May 11 – Scuffles break out in the legislature between pro-democracy lawmakers and those loyal to Beijing.

May 30 – Concessions to the extradition bill are introduced but critics say they are not enough.

June 6 – More than 3,000 Hong Kong lawyers dressed in black take part in a rare protest march.

June 9 – More than half a million people take to the streets.

June 12 – Police fire rubber bullets and tear gas during the city’s largest and most violent protests in decades. Government offices are shut.

June 15 – Lam indefinitely delays extradition law.

July 1 – Protesters storm the Legislative Council on the 22nd anniversary of the handover from British to Chinese rule, destroying pictures and daubing walls with graffiti.

July 9 – Lam says the extradition bill is dead and that government work on it had been a “total failure”.

July 21 – Men in white T-shirts, some armed with poles, storm a train at rural Yuen Long station, attacking passengers and passersby, after several thousand activists surrounded China’s representative office. The pivotal attack triggers a massive backlash against the police, who were accused of being slow to respond.

July 30 – Forty-four activists are charged with rioting, the first time the charge has been used during the protests.

Aug. 9 – China’s aviation regulator demands Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific suspend personnel who have taken part in the protests. The airline suspends a pilot, one of the 44 charged, the next day.

Aug. 14 – Police and protesters clash at Hong Kong’s international airport after flights were disrupted.

Aug. 21 – Alibaba, China’s biggest e-commerce company, delays its Hong Kong listing of up to $15 billion.

Sept. 2 – Lam says she has caused “unforgivable havoc” and would quit if she had a choice, according to a recording of remarks to business people.

Sept. 4 – Lam announces the extradition bill will be withdrawn. Critics say it is too little, too late.

Sept. 17 – Lam pledges to hold talks with the community to try to ease tensions.

Sept. 26 – Protesters trap Lam in a stadium for hours after her first “open dialogue”.

Oct. 1 – City rocked by the most widespread unrest since the protests began as China’s Communist Party rulers celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic. Police shoot an 18-year-old protester in the shoulder.

Oct. 4 – Lam invokes colonial-era emergency powers to ban face masks, sparking violent protests. A police officer shoots a 14-year-old boy in the thigh.

Oct. 16 – Lam abandons her policy speech amid lawmakers’ jeers. Prominent rights activist Jimmy Sham is beaten by four men wielding hammers and knives.

Oct. 23 – Extradition bill is withdrawn.

Oct. 29 – Authorities disqualify pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong from standing in upcoming district elections.

Oct. 31 – Preliminary data shows Hong Kong slid into recession for the first time in a decade in the third quarter.

Nov. 2 – Protesters vandalise China’s official Xinhua news agency, smashing doors, setting fires and throwing paint.

Nov. 3 – A man with a knife bites off part of a politician’s ear and slashes several people after a shopping mall rally turns into a conflict with police.

Nov. 4 – University student Chow Tsz-lok, 22, falls from the third to the second floor of a parking lot as police disperse protesters.

Nov. 6 – A knife-wielding man attacks pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho.

Nov. 8 – Chow dies, the first student death during the protests.

Nov. 11 – Police fire live rounds at protesters on the eastern side of Hong Kong island, one person wounded.

Nov. 17-29 – Protracted, at-times fiery siege at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University as police surround campus after students and activists barricaded themselves inside. More than 1,100 mostly young activists arrested in what was widely seen as the police’s first major success against the movement.

2020

Jan. 1 – A march drawing tens of thousands on New Year’s Day spirals into chaos as police fire several rounds of tear gas and water cannon at crowds, including families, before halting event.

April 17 – Beijing’s top representative office in Hong Kong says it is not bound by a law restricting interference by mainland Chinese bodies, stoking concerns over China’s encroachment.

April 18 – Police arrest 15 activists, including Democratic Party founder Martin Lee, 81, and millionaire publishing tycoon Jimmy Lai, 71, in the biggest crackdown on the pro-democracy movement since protests escalated in June.

May 8 – Rival lawmakers scuffle in the legislature over electing the chairman of a key committee.

May 21 – Beijing says it is moving to impose national security legislation on Hong Kong, following the often violent anti-government unrest last year.

May 24 – Police fire tear gas and water cannon to disperse thousands as protests over the national security laws pick up with the easing of coronavirus curbs on gathering.

May 27 – Riot police fire pepper pellets as protesters rally in the heart of the business district amid demonstrations over the national security laws and a bill that would criminalise disrespect of China’s national anthem.

May 28 – China’s parliament overwhelmingly approves imposing national security legislation on Hong Kong to tackle secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference.

May 28 – President Donald Trump orders his administration to begin the process of eliminating special U.S. treatment for Hong Kong, but stops short of calling an immediate end to privileges that have helped the territory remain a global financial centre.

UK, US, Australia and Canada scold China over Hong Kong law

May 28, 2020 / 1:26 PM / in 37 minutesUK, US, Australia and Canada scold China over Hong Kong lawGuy Faulconbridge, William James

LONDON (Reuters) – The United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Canada criticised China on Thursday for imposing a new security law on Hong Kong that they said would breach the 1984 Sino-British agreement on the former colony and threaten its freedoms.

FILE PHOTO: A general view of skyline buildings in Hong Kong, China May 28, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

“Hong Kong has flourished as a bastion of freedom,” the four countries said in a joint statement expressing their deep concern over Beijing’s move.

The security law would “curtail the Hong Kong people’s liberties, and in doing so, dramatically erode Hong Kong’s autonomy and the system that made it so prosperous,” they said.

China’s parliament approved a decision to go forward with national security legislation for Hong Kong that democracy activists, diplomats and some in the business world fear will jeopardise its semi-autonomous status and its role as a global financial hub.

“We urge China to step back from the brink,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters during a daily briefing in Beijing on Friday that China firmly opposed the statement, adding that it had lodged representations with the four countries.

Raab said that unless China suspended the law, Britain would change the status of British national overseas (BNO) passport holders so that they could come to the United Kingdom for longer than six months – a pathway to eventual citizenship.

The British flag was lowered over Hong Kong when the colony was handed back to China in 1997 after more than 150 years of British rule.

Zhao told reporters on Friday that Beijing reserved the right to take countermeasures if Britain moved to offer such a pathway to citizenship.

Hong Kong’s autonomy was guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” agreement enshrined in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration signed by then Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Canada said the new legislation would directly conflict with its obligations under the handover agreement.

CHINESE POWER

When asked if a tightening of control was inevitable, the last British governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten said: “No.”

“What has changed is Xi Jinping: Xi Jinping is a very different sort of dictator and he is one who wants to export what he thinks is China’s power.”

Hong Kong was rocked by months of violent pro-democracy demonstrations last year over an unsuccessful bid to introduce a law governing extradition to China, and protests have broken out again after a lull during the coronoavirus epidemic.

“We are also extremely concerned that this action will exacerbate the existing deep divisions in Hong Kong society,” the UK-US-Canadian-Australian statement said.

China says the legislation will aim to tackle secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in the city but the plan, announced in Beijing last week, triggered the first big protests in Hong Kong for months.

They urged Beijing to work with the government and people of Hong Kong to find a solution that honoured the terms of the handover agreement.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the European Union agreed that Hong Kong’s autonomy should not be undermined and it expected the “one country, two systems” principle to be respected.

China says Canada is an accomplice of U.S. in Huawei case

May 29, 2020 / 8:36 AM / Updated an hour agoChina says Canada is an accomplice of U.S. in Huawei case

FILE PHOTO: Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou leaves her home to attend a court hearing in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada May 27, 2020. REUTERS/Jennifer Gauthier

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s foreign ministry said on Friday that Canada is an accomplice to the U.S. government’s efforts to bring down Chinese tech giant Huawei and said Canada should immediate release Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

Meng has been under house arrest in Canada and trying to avoid extradition to the United States.