After Hong Kong became part of China in 1997, the continuation of these events was always seen as a major litmus test for the city’s ongoing autonomy and democratic freedoms, supposedly guaranteed until 2047 by its de facto constitution, the Basic Law, under the principle of “one country, two systems.”
In the wake of those protests, Beijing introduced a national security law for Hong Kong, bypassing the city’s semi-democratic legislature to criminalize secession, subversion and collusion with foreign powers. That law has been used to crack down on a host of political activity, and almost every prominent pro-democracy politician and activist is either in prison — or headed there.
Offenders could face up to five years in prison, while those promoting the event could be jailed for up to 12 months, the bureau added.
Likely the safest way to remember Tiananmen will be behind closed doors — similar to how the event is marked in mainland China, by the few who still choose to remember.
- New Zealand is walking a delicate line trying to remain friendly with both China and its fellow Five Eyes countries, who are increasingly hostile towards Beijing.
- India’s monsoon season has begun, and the amount of rainfall looks to be normal, after several years of unusual weather patterns during an annual period critical for the country to stave off drought and other issues.
- A smoldering container ship is sinking off the Sri Lankan coast, heightening fears an oil and chemical spill could exacerbate one of the worst ecological disasters in the country’s history.
- Meanwhile in China, all ultra-marathons and trail-running events have been suspended indefinitely in the wake of a mountain race that saw 21 runners die in extreme weather last month.
Business of China
If China needed a sign Washington’s hostility to Beijing wasn’t going to thaw under Joe Biden, this is it.
On Thursday, President Biden expanded a Trump-era ban on American investment in dozens of Chinese firms that Washington believes are linked to China’s military.
Under the executive order, Americans are prohibited from owning or trading securities tied to 59 companies, citing the threat of Chinese surveillance technology. The original order, signed by President Donald Trump in November, applied to 31 Chinese companies that the administration said “enable the development and modernization” of China’s military and “directly threaten” US security.
Biden’s new order goes into effect on August 2.
Tech giants including smartphone maker Huawei and Hikvision, a major manufacturer and suppliers of video surveillance equipment, remain on the list, as do some of China’s biggest telecommunications firms, including China Mobile, China Telecommunications and China Unicom.
Asked Thursday in Beijing about the expected Biden announcement — the move was reported earlier by Bloomberg — China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Washington’s actions marked a “total disregard of facts” and “hurt the interests of global investors including those in the US.”
Several of the companies that have been named in both orders have previously dismissed claims that they were tied to the Chinese military as groundless.
The move suggests that Washington isn’t rushing to make amends with Beijing. Analysts have previously said that while Biden will likely strike a more predictable and diplomatic tone with China than Trump did, they don’t expect the administration to ease up on tech and trade policy.
Even so, the countries are restarting talks on some issues. Beijing said Thursday it is now having “normal communication” with Washington on trade and the economy, citing recent discussions between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen as “professional, frank and constructive.”
— By Jill Disis and Kyle Blaine
China will stay shut until 2022
Life in China has been relatively normal for months now, and vaccinations are roaring along — some 40% of the population is now inoculated against Covid-19 and it shouldn’t be long until China reaches herd immunity level.
“I don’t think we’ve got to that point — if we try to open even when 60% or 80% of population are vaccinated, it could still lead to a severe outbreak,” Feng said Thursday at a conference in the eastern city of Qingdao, the news outlet reported. “It largely depends on the technical considerations, societal consensus and political concerns.”
This curse of success has become something of a pattern across Asia, with territories that excelled in the early response to the pandemic — Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia — now struggling with vaccines, while some places in the West race ahead. Part of the problem is that when there is little risk of catching Covid, people are less willing to get vaccinated, which makes authorities more wary about opening up.
After a rocky start, China has had one of the best responses to the pandemic globally, but that could come to haunt the country if officials are nervous to test that success by op.
Quoted and noted
“There is reasonable ground for suspecting that the publication of (2021hkcharter.com) is likely to constitute offences endangering national security.”
Photo of the day
On this site, in 1989: The scene outside Beijing’s Tiananmen Gate in the early hours of June 4, 2021.