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China launches counter-mechanism to US sanctions list


China said Saturday it had launched a mechanism enabling it to restrict foreign entities, a much-anticipated move seen as retaliation to US penalties against Chinese companies such as telecom giant Huawei.

An announcement by the Ministry of Commerce did not mention any specific foreign entities, but broadly spelled out the factors that could trigger punitive measures, which may include fines, restrictions on import-export business or investment in China, and the entry of personnel or equipment into the country.

It covers “foreign enterprises, other organisations and individuals”, it said.

The launch of the “unreliable entities list” ups the ante in the escalating commercial fight with the Trump administration, which has used its own “entity list” to bar Huawei from the US market on national security grounds.

The announcement also came a day after the United States ordered a ban on downloads of popular video app TikTok and effectively blocked the use of the Chinese super-app WeChat on similar grounds, which prompted a threat by China to strike back.

Beijing would consider sanctions on entities whose activities “harm China’s national sovereignty, security, and development interests” or violate “internationally accepted economic and trade rules”.

That language closely tracks wording that Beijing has used to repeatedly denounce US actions against Chinese companies.

The ministry said that if an entity is suspected of violating the provisions, an investigation would be launched under China’s cabinet, the State Council.

The foreign party in question would have an opportunity to defend its conduct to the Chinese investigators.

Chinese enterprises that rely on business with the targeted organisations also will be allowed to apply for exemptions from any ban on doing business with them, as the US system allows.

The United States and China are engaged in an escalating trade battle centring on technology.

Huawei, the world’s leading supplier of telecoms networking equipment, has been a particular target.

Washington has used its own entity list to essentially ban Huawei from the US market and prevent American companies from doing any business with it or with Huawei-affiliated organisations.

The United States says Huawei could be used by Chinese state security to infiltrate communications networks.

China’s government and Huawei deny that, saying the US has offered no evidence supporting the claim.

Under a US order on Friday, the Tencent-owned WeChat app would lose functionality in the United States from Sunday. TikTok users will be banned from installing updates but could keep accessing the service through November 12.

China has for years blocked or restricted big US tech companies from operating in its market, including Facebook, Twitter, and Google.

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TikTok’s Proposed Deal Seeks to Mollify U.S. and China


Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. Ross, who are both playing a prominent role in reviewing ByteDance’s proposal, have come to favor a solution that would reduce national security and data risks by moving some of TikTok’s key operations out of China, rather than killing the company outright, those people said. There are few strong voices in the administration speaking out against such a deal, with the trade adviser Peter Navarro, a China hawk and one of TikTok’s more vocal critics, playing a minimal role in recent discussions.

ByteDance’s carefully designed proposal and the shifting views of Mr. Trump’s advisers indicate how they are more willing to compromise to mitigate an increasingly fractious situation over a video app that is beloved by American teenagers and influencers. On Sunday, ByteDance rejected a deal from Microsoft, in which Microsoft had proposed essentially taking over control of TikTok’s algorithm.

“This way D.C. is happy, Beijing’s happy with no algorithm being sold, and ByteDance and TikTok, along with Oracle, all have smiles on their faces,” said Daniel Ives, a technology analyst at Wedbush Securities. “This is a very tight balancing act for ByteDance because they’re trying to, by the thread of a needle, keep their company as a stand-alone.”

In its statement on Monday, TikTok said the proposal that was in front of the Treasury Department would “enable us to continue supporting our community of 100 million people in the U.S. who love TikTok for connection and entertainment.” Oracle confirmed that it was “part of the proposal submitted by ByteDance to the Treasury Department,” but declined to elaborate.

Mr. Mnuchin described on CNBC on Monday how Oracle would be a “trusted technology partner” for TikTok and said the software company had made “many representations for national security issues.” The White House declined to comment, and the Department of Commerce did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Other parties may still be interested in participating in a deal. Walmart, which had been working on a TikTok bid with Microsoft, said on Sunday in a statement that it “continues to have an interest in a TikTok investment and continues discussions with ByteDance leadership and other interested parties.”



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Last 2 journalists working for Australian media leave China


The last two journalists working for Australian media in China have left the country after police demanded interviews with them and temporarily blocked their departures, the Australian government, and their employers said Tuesday.

Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s Bill Birtles and The Australian Financial Review’s Michael Smith landed in Sydney after flying from Shanghai on Monday night, both news outlets reported.

Both had sheltered in Australian diplomatic compounds in recent days.

GORDON CHANG WARNS CHINA ‘CONFIGURING ITS MILITARY TO KILL AMERICANS’

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the closing session of China's National People's Congress in Beijing in May. (AP)

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the closing session of China’s National People’s Congress in Beijing in May. (AP)

The journalists left after Australia revealed last week that Australian citizen Cheng Lei, a business news anchor for CGTN, China’s English-language state media channel, had been detained.

Both journalists were told they were “persons of interest” in an investigation into Cheng, The Australian Financial Review reported. Seven uniformed police visited each journalist’s home in Beijing and Shanghai at 12:30 a.m. Thursday, the newspaper said.

Australian Embassy officials in Beijing told Birtles last week that he should leave China, ABC reported.

Birtles was due to depart Beijing on Thursday and was holding a farewell party on Wednesday when police came to his apartment and told him he was banned from leaving the country, ABC said. He was told he would be contacted on Thursday to organize a time to be questioned about a “national security case,” his employer said.

Birtles went to the Australian Embassy, where he spent four days while Australian and Chinese officials negotiated. Smith had similarly holed up at the Australian Consulate in Shanghai.

Birtles and Smith both agreed to give police a brief interview in return for being allowed to leave the country.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne confirmed that her government had provided consular support to the two journalists to assist their return to Australia.

“Our embassy in Beijing and consulate-general in Shanghai engaged with Chinese government authorities to ensure their well-being and return to Australia,” she said.

Australia’s travel warning of the risk of arbitrary detention in China “remains appropriate and unchanged,” she added.

ABC news director Gaven Morris said Birtles was brought back to Australia on the Australian government’s advice.

“This bureau is a vital part of the ABC’s international news-gathering effort and we aim to get back there as soon as possible,” Morris said.

INDIAN LAWMAKER ACCUSES CHINESE BORDER TROOPS OF ABDUCTING 5 CIVILIANS

“The story of China, its relationship with Australia and its role in our region and in the world is one of great importance for all Australians and we want to continue having our people on the ground to cover it,” he added.

The newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Michael Stutchbury, and editor, Paul Bailey, described the situation as “disturbing.”

“This incident targeting two journalists, who were going about their normal reporting duties, is both regrettable and disturbing and is not in the interests of a co-operative relationship between Australia and China,” they said in a statement.

Relations between China and Australia were already strained by Australia outlawing covert interference in politics and banning communications giant Huawei from supplying critical infrastructure. They have worsened since the Australian government called for an independent inquiry into the origins of and international responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

Australia’s journalist union, Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, said China was no longer safe for foreign reporters.

“These outrageous attacks on press freedom place any foreign correspondents reporting from China at risk,” union president Marcus Strom said in a statement.

Birtles told reporters at Sydney’s airport that his departure was a “whirlwind and … not a particularly good experience.”

HONG KONG COPS CRITICIZED INTERNATIONALLY FOLLOWING VIOLENT ARREST OF 12-YEAR-OLD GIRL

“It’s very disappointing to have to leave under those circumstances and it’s a relief to be back in a country with genuine rule of law,” Birtles said.

Smith told his newspaper: “The late-night visit by police at my home was intimidating and unnecessary and highlights the pressure all foreign journalists are under in China right now.”

Smith said at the airport that he had felt “a little bit” threatened in China.

“It’s so good to be home, so happy, I can’t say any more at the moment, it’s such a relief to be home, so really happy,” Smith said.

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“It was a complicated experience but it’s great to be here,” he added.



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Why the West Needs to Stop its Moralising against China


The great German philosopher Leibniz put it well over three centuries ago. Writing in his `Discourse on the Natural Theology of the Chinese’ he stated, `I did not want to examine to what extent the manner of worship of the Chinese could be condemned or justified… I only wanted to investigate their doctrines.’  These days, the issue of what to think, and in particular, what to feel about China has become entangled in the domestic politics of Europe and America to such an extent that attempts to do precisely as Leibniz did so long ago and simply describe and understand without being seen as validating and condoning become next to impossible. Finding a reasonable, critical space to look in all directions has seldom been harder.

Hong Kong is one issue where this is particularly true. The UK has historic links to the city. The capitalist world has always thought of it as a benign place, despite the fact that since 1997 it has been part of the sovereign territory of a Communist country. Everyone had feelings towards this remarkable, hybrid, and unique place. Perhaps that is why it arouses such strong, possessive feelings. It might not belong to you, but it is still, in some ways, a place everyone can feel is theirs.

If there was a time in recent history when the words of solicitude and concern could, and should, have been expressed with the maximum of force and conviction, that was the 31st of July when Chief Executive of the city, Carrie Lam, declared that local Legislative Council elections due in September would be delayed for a year. Ms Lam, calling it the `most difficult decision I’ve made over the past seven months’, went on to say that `this postponement is entirely made based on public safety reasons, there were no political considerations.’The COVID19 virus, which has raged across the region and the world over the last six months, was the reason for this unprecedented decision, she said. But even the least cynical would have had a hard time ignoring the fact that in the weeks and months building up to this moment, from the passing by Beijing of a new security law covering the city coming into effect on 1st July to the refusal to allow some pro-democracy party candidates to stand, even if the government was not avoiding the elections, it was doing a remarkable job of looking like that was precisely what it was up to.

Declarations followed, from the UK , the European Union and the US. Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State in the US, issued one of the most curt and forceful responses on 1 August: ` The elections should be held as close to the September 6 date as possible and in a manner that reflects the will and aspirations of the Hong Kong people,’ the statement said. `If they aren’t, then regrettably Hong Kong will continue its march toward becoming just another Communist-run city in China.’

There is nothing wrong with the US statement. The concerns it expressed all needed to be said. But the context in which it was issued could not have been more tragically symptomatic of the mismatch between word and deed that has all but stymied anything currently put out on China by the administration Pompeo is a key member of, and of those that try to follow it. Only a day before the announcement in Hong Kong, the leader of the free world, Pompeo’s boss, President Trump, tweeted that the imminent November presidential election in the US should be delayed. `With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good),’ he tweeted, `2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA,’ he wrote. ‘Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???’. This was despite the fact that everyone, including senior members of his own party, agreed that he had no constitutional right to demand this, or bring it about. Only Congress is able to do that. Nor that his claims about possible voter fraud are almost wholly unproven and not backed up by serious evidence.

This extraordinary example of a mismatch between word and deed is, however, not an isolated one. It is the culmination of a long, lamentable process in which the Enlightenment powers (multi-party developed democracies like the US, countries in Europe, and inclusive of others like Australia and New Zealand) have slowly, but surely, lost their moral stature. One of the many outcomes of this is to have reduced the force of words directed at China to, at best, political rhetoric, much of it performed for domestic constituencies in their home country with no real impact intended or actually achieved on the supposed target. In this situation, the conclusion is a sobering one. At a time when the outside world should speak strongly in order to uphold its values, the Hong Kong postponed election example cited above is symptomatic of how the US, UK, Europe and other democracies have never been in a weaker position. Beset by the sort of divisions seen in the protests in Portland, Oregon over the last few weeks or in the UK over Brexit in the last few years, it would be a brave leader in Beijing who would stand up to their own colleagues on the grounds that the West still offered a model attractive enough for them to consider emulating in terms of its ability to deliver stability and consensus.

This is not a recent phenomenon. Historians will probably trace this decline to the moment when the US and its allies and their values looked at their peak, around 1991 and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Under Bush the elder and then Clinton, the unipolar moment dawned. Russia descended into chaos. The Chinese also underwent their less dramatic but equally profound soul searching after the uprising of June 1989. Communism was no longer a viable option. The capitalist, free market West knew how to make people prosperous, strong, and happy. No wonder the 1990s now evoke so much nostalgia.

And yet the divisions were soon visible. Perhaps the shock of September 11th, 2001 was the most dramatic moment. But it built on simmering resentments on the one hand, and complacency on the other, that allowed the management of its aftermath to cause the US and China to paper over their differences and wage a war on terror that meant the State Department Pompeo now heads allowed two Xinjiang groups to be put on an international terrorist list. From that first, albeit small, act of complicity, many others flowed.

The Chinese and others watched as the US and its most faithful allies went back into the Middle East, waging the Second Iraq War in 2003. That soon unravelled. Its grounds were spurious (no weapons of mass destruction were found, despite the use of these as the reason for going in). The war was won, but the peace became long, chaotic, and bloody. Perhaps most damaging of all, with extra renditions, enhanced interrogation techniques (for which read torture), Guantanamo Bay, and the exposure of appalling abuses in jails in Iraq itself by American soldiers, the `free world’ looked harder and harder to admire. In the end, a sort of truth prevailed. Accountability was exercised. Bush and Blair, in particular, suffered catastrophic collapse in their reputations from which they have never recovered.  But the proponents of democratic, Western based values emerged from all of this battered, and often tarnished, their moral stature diminished.

The Great Financial Crisis of 2008 only reinforced the message that the capitalist world was not even able to supply answers to the very things it still maintained the strongest claims to leadership on. As historian Adam Tooze has shown in clinical detail in his 2017 book `Crashed’, mismanagement in the first place was more than supplemented by greed, protection of vested interest, and immorality. Even more devastating, it was the Chinese and their growth after 2009 that stabilised much of the global situation. Unlike with the Gulf War debacles, however, almost none were held to account for the loss of livelihood and wealth that flowed from the collapse of markets and growth around 2008. On top of the moral collapse in geopolitics, there was an even more damaging one in the world of finance and the economy.

In all of these issues, China in particular, despite many accusations levelled at it, is not guilty. It did not remotely have a role in the reasons for the US and others getting sucked into the War on Terror – and nor did it want to see 2008, despite some economists blaming its own economy for bringing about the distortions that led to the whole event. China’s main issue, as has become clear since, is that, in both these historic areas, it was largely able to move through without any detrimental effect to itself. In fact, by accident rather than design, as the US and other powers harmed themselves, China simply carried on economically, growing stronger.  

The War on Terror and the financial crisis were political and geopolitical issues. But they have had a massive impact on the moral standing of the West and have undermined their confidence. They have created clear, and in many places tragic, divisions. No one can observe the protests that swept across the US over Black Lives Matters in mid-2020 and see people pitted against people without a deep sense of unhappiness. The US seems to be going through a terrifying breakdown, in which its most senior elected official, a person who has historically been regarded as the most important spokesperson for democratic values by the world’s most successful and important democracy, seems to be trying to undermine and denigrate the values they are meant to stand for. For all the complaints about interference by parties from Russia to China in the 2016 US election, one has to be clear about one thing. Even if these claims are true (and many probably are), no one, neither Xi Jinping or Vladimir Putin, could more forcefully and effectively undermine the values of democracy than Donald Trump has done over the last few weeks.  And it was, in the end, not Xi or Putin that put him there, but the electoral system and the electorate of the United States of America. If one does not apportion blame fairly and honestly in the right place, how can one really deal with the problems one is facing?

In this context, COVID19 carries deep symbolic weight. As of August 2020, China, where most believe the virus started, has managed to control the spread of the infection and is now emerging from the initial phase of economic downturn by reporting a 3.2 percent GDP rise in the second quarter of the year. As this happens, Europe is moving into a deep recession, with fears of a second spike in infections and fatalities. The UK has shrunk by a fifth of GDP in the first three months of the year while suffering one of the worst levels of death from the disease. By the end of June, America had lost around 12 million jobs and saw its GDP contract by 4.8 per cent, with a 30 per cent contraction predicted, the worst figure ever recorded. It, too, is still fighting the disease, with issues like the wearing of masks politicised and fought over.

This is not to denigrate the efforts these countries have made to deal with the pandemic. It is to acknowledge that no one has found this vast challenge easy to handle. In the very early part of the year, there were criticisms made of China being unfit to deal with an issue like this because of its governance system. This was going to be, in the words of one analysis, the country’s Chernobyl moment. And yet, others quickly became consumed in events that showed their own decision making processes and governance capacity were also, albeit for different reasons, imperfect and chaotic. Had COVID19 been like the SARS crisis of 2003, it would have neatly fitted the narrative of a regional China-centric problem, and one that showed why this area and its values and governance were a problem. Any sober analysis of COVID19 would need to recognise that, in different ways, and for different reasons, almost everyone has a problem. This pandemic has been a great leveller. The narrative has clearly changed.

That means that the most prudent response should be one of humility. No one knows what sort of world we are moving into. The economic impact of the pandemic will produce a politics it is hard to predict for governments no matter what their structure and nature. The worst outcomes – high job losses, disappearance of growth – are too terrible to contemplate. At best, there needs to be more unity, more joint purpose, and far less parochial political point scoring in order to confront this vast shared problem.  The need for humility and a more circumspect tone in order to achieve that have never been clearer. Instead, there have been almost toxic levels of anger and blame that have boiled over from this towards China, particularly in the US and to some extent in Britain, Australia and other democracies. The desire by some political figures, from Trump downwards, to clamber on a moral high ground that has long since disappeared for them has simply proved too hard to resist.

In 2020, there is an important moment to stand back from the chaos we all see unfolding and do two things fundamentally differently. The first is to purge our language, outside China, of the constant desire to urge it to become like us, and to be constantly wanting to preach and urge it to reform and change in ways that will, we assume, make it more like us. I write as someone who in the past did think that was what we should do. Events in the last decade or so have shown that the situation is far too complex and the variables culturally and politically in China far too great, for one to start projecting on it templates and models from elsewhere that we have no idea will really work. These range from the rise of a highly autocratic leader like Xi Jinping against some expectations that China would move in a more liberal direction, to the constant predictions that the country is about to implode. It is a difficult thing to say and cuts against our usual desire to be idealistic, but at the moment, and probably far in the future, the best we can hope from China is simply to be stable. We no longer have the luxury of our own stability and its track record to sit on when making judgements about the People’s Republic. The harsh fact, and one that needs to be honestly and candidly recognised, is that in the last two decades, it is the US and its allies who have been the source of more instability than China!

That doesn’t mean that on issues like Hong Kong and the postponed, even cancelled, elections that the democratic world shouldn’t speak out. But the most powerful thing it should do is to start living up to its own values and in that way, being the best advert for their desirability and attractiveness. That means an acknowledgement that, in the last few years, this has not been the case. Europe and the US have often been internally divided, fractious, and angry. They have acted much of the time almost as though they didn’t really believe in the values they were espousing. It is no good blaming Moscow and Beijing for this. The deepest wound were the self-inflicted ones. Consensus was lost in our societies. 2020 should be the moment when that gets rebuilt. Otherwise, we will be living proof that our values are just for speaking about, not living up to. And finally, there is the second thing we can all do: inculcate the idea of a responsible attitude towards China. It is fine that, for instance, politicians in the UK now feel because of COVID19 that they have to have an attitude and an opinion about China. But it would be good if they were to also avail themselves as much as possible of some knowledge and understanding available.

There needs to be much more support for basic education about China and for knowledge-based engagement with it. The posture of the Johnson government, on the surface at least, is to be data driven. And yet, on China, there is scant evidence of even a decent level of understanding amongst most politicians, opinion formers, and commentators. This was recognised in a report recently by Professor Rana Mitter of Oxford  and Sophia Garston for the British Foreign Policy Group issued on the fateful day Carrie Lam made her declaration in Hong Kong on July 31.  Knowledge, humility, and honesty will be the things that help the outside world deal with the historic challenge of China’s rise. Without those, it is hard to see how any impact will be made on the leaders of a country that currently see in the politicians facing them from Canberra, to Berlin, London and Washington the precise opposite.

Further Reading on E-International Relations




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China set for historic Mars rover launch


China is making preparations to send its Tianwen-1 Mars rover to the Red Planet.

The rover, which will be China’s first to reach the Martian surface, will be carried into space on a Long March-5 rocket.

The carrier rocket has been moved into position and is due to blast off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center, in the southern island province of Hainan, in late July or early August, according to scientists involved in the project.

NASA’S MARS 2020 PERSEVERANCE ROVER: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Citing unofficial estimates, Space.com reports the launch could occur around July 23.

In this Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 file photo, a Mars lander is lifted during a test for its hovering, obstacle avoidance and deceleration capabilities at a facility at Huailai in China's Hebei province.

In this Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 file photo, a Mars lander is lifted during a test for its hovering, obstacle avoidance and deceleration capabilities at a facility at Huailai in China’s Hebei province.
(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Tianwen means “questions to heaven” and is the name of a poem by ancient Chinese poet Qu Yuan.

“The Tianwen-1 probe, with a mass (including fuel) of about 5 tonnes, comprises an orbiter and a lander/rover composite,” explains the mission’s chief scientist and his team in a recent paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy. “The orbiter will provide a relay communication link to the rover, while performing its own scientific observations for one Martian year.”

A Martian year lasts 687 days.

UAE MAKES MARS LAUNCH, SENDS HOPE ORBITER TO THE RED PLANET

The probe is expected to reach Mars seven months after its launch. “The lander/rover will perform a soft landing on the Martian surface some 2–3 months after arrival of the spacecraft, with a candidate landing site in Utopia Planitia,” the chief scientist explains in the paper. In 1976, NASA’s Viking 2 Lander also landed in Utopia Planitia.

In this Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 file photo, the Mars lander's hovering, obstacle avoidance and deceleration capabilities are tested at a facility at Huailai in China's Hebei province.

In this Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 file photo, the Mars lander’s hovering, obstacle avoidance and deceleration capabilities are tested at a facility at Huailai in China’s Hebei province.
(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

In 2011, China launched its Yinghuo-1 Mars exploration mission, but the orbiter was stranded in near-Earth orbit following a malfunction on the Russian Phobos-Grunt mission carrying it into space. NASA noted that the Chinese and Russian spacecraft reentered Earth’s atmosphere on Jan. 15, 2012.

This is a busy time for Mars launches. The United Arab Emirates recently launched its Amal orbiter to the Red Planet. Amal, which is Arabic for Hope, will not land on Mars, but is the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission.

NASA’S NEXT MISSION TO MARS WILL HONOR THOSE FIGHTING AGAINST COVID-19

NASA is also getting ready to launch its Mars 2020 Perseverance rover on an epic mission to the Red Planet. The launch window for the spacecraft that will carry the Perseverance rover to Mars opens on July 30 and closes on Aug. 15 of this year.

Launched atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, the rover is scheduled to land on Mars’ Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021. The mission’s duration on the Red Planet’s surface is expected to last at least one Martian year.

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So far, the U.S. has been the only country to successfully put a spacecraft on Mars, doing it eight times. Two NASA landers are operating there, InSight and Curiosity. Six other spacecraft are exploring the planet from orbit: three U.S., two European and one from India.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers





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What Does Closer Cooperation between China and Iran Mean?


This expert-driven national-security insight can’t be generated for free.  We invite you to support quality content by becoming a  Cipher Brief Level I Member .  Joining this experienced security-focused community is only $10/month (for an annual $120/yr membership). It’s a great and inexpensive way to stay ahead of the national and global security issues that impact you the most.

 

 

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Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong quits pro-democracy group as China passes security law – National



Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong said on Tuesday he is stepping down as leader of his democracy group Demosisto, just hours after local media reported that Beijing had passed national security legislation for the Chinese-ruled city.

Read more:
Chinese lawmakers pass controversial security law for Hong Kong: reports

Wong has said he will be a “prime target” of Beijing’s national security law, which critics fear will crush freedoms in the former British colony.

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“If my voice will not be heard soon, I hope that the international community will continue to speak up for Hong Kong and step up concrete efforts to defend out last bit of freedom,” Wong wrote in a tweet.

-With a file from Global News








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Galwan Valley: Satellite images ‘show China structures’ on India border


A satellite image shows close up view of road construction near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) border in the eastern Ladakh sector of Galwan Valley, 22 June, 2020.Image copyright
Maxar Technologies/Reuters

Image caption

New satellite images show the area near Patrol Point 14 where a clash between Indian and Chinese forces took place on 15 June.

China has built new structures near the site of a Himalayan border clash that left 20 Indian troops dead earlier this month, fresh satellite images suggest.

Bunkers, tents and storage units for military hardware are visible in an area where last month there were none.

Fighting between the nuclear-armed powers over their disputed frontier has prompted alarm. Chinese casualties were also reported but not confirmed.

The latest images were published as the sides hold talks to defuse tensions.

The fresh satellite images, dated 22 June, are from space technology company Maxar. The structures which appear to have been built by China overlooking the Galwan River were not visible in aerial photographs earlier in June, Reuters reported.

Neither India nor China has commented.

The clash in the Galwan Valley, in the disputed Himalayan territory of Ladakh, took place on 15 June, weeks after high-level military commanders from both nations agreed to “peacefully resolve the situation in the border areas in accordance with various bilateral agreements.”

Since the clash, and amid spiralling rhetoric, the two nations have tried to publicly calm tensions.

A statement released by the India’s foreign ministry on Wednesday said that India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and the Chinese Foreign Minister HE Wang Yi “reaffirmed that both sides should sincerely implement the understanding on disengagement and de-escalation that was reached by the senior commanders on 6 June”.

What do the images show?

Ajai Shukla, a leading Indian defence analyst, tweeted that “there is a large Chinese camp in the Galwan Valley, 1.5km into the Indian side of the LAC [Line of Actual Control]”.

Local media have also quoted sources in the Indian army as saying that the additional build-up by China seemed to have taken place between the 15 June clash and commander-level talks prior to that.

Satellite imagery from May shows no structures in the disputed area near where the clashes took place.

Former Indian diplomat P Stobdan, an expert in Ladakh affairs, told the BBC the construction was “worrying”.

“The [Indian] government has not released any pictures or made a statement, so it’s hard to assess. But the images released by private firms show that the Chinese have built infrastructure and have not retreated,” he said.

Image copyright
Maxar Technologies/Reuters

Image caption

The images suggest Chinese construction in the Galwan Valley came after talks between army commanders

The situation in the region is described as still “very tense”.

Meanwhile, India’s Army Chief Gen MM Naravane is scheduled to visit a forward location along the border on Thursday. He visited other forward areas on Wednesday and reviewed operational preparedness, the army said.

What happened in the Galwan Valley?

Media reports said troops clashed on ridges at a height of nearly 4,300m (14,000 ft) on steep terrain, with some Indian soldiers falling into the fast-flowing Galwan river in sub-zero temperatures.

At least 76 Indian soldiers were reportedly injured in addition to the 20 dead. China has not released any information about Chinese casualties.

The fighting took place without any firearms because of a 1996 agreement barring guns and explosives from the area.

Image copyright
Maxar Technologies/Reuters

Image caption

An image from May shows no structures in the area overlooking the Galwan River

How tense is the area?

The Line of Actual Control, as the disputed border between the two nations is known, is poorly demarcated. The presence of rivers, lakes and snowcaps means the line can shift.

The soldiers on either side – representing two of the world’s largest armies – come face to face at many points. India has accused China of sending thousands of troops into Ladakh’s Galwan valley and says China occupies 38,000sq km (14,700sq miles) of its territory. Several rounds of talks in the last three decades have failed to resolve the boundary disputes.

The two countries have fought only one war so far, in 1962, when India suffered a humiliating defeat.

In May, dozens of Indian and Chinese soldiers exchanged physical blows on the border in the north-eastern state of Sikkim. And in 2017, the two countries clashed in the region after China tried to extend a border road through a disputed plateau, Doklam.

Tensions have also risen over a road built by India in Ladakh.

There are several reasons why tensions are rising now – but competing strategic goals lie at the root, and both sides blame each other.

India’s new road in what experts say is the most remote and vulnerable area along the LAC in Ladakh. The road could boost Delhi’s capability to move men and materiel rapidly in case of a conflict.

Analysts say India’s decision to ramp up infrastructure seems to have infuriated Beijing.



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China news: Beijing denies 40 soldiers died in fierce Indian border clash | World | News


China has sought to dismiss those figures. This is despite officials from both countries talking to help resolve tensions. Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said: “I can tell you responsibly that it is false information.”

Mr Zhao did confirm the meetings between officials.

He explained: “The meeting indicated that China and India are willing to appropriately handle the disputes through dialogue, manage the situations and lower tensions.

“We also agreed to continue the dialogue and work together to promote peace and stability in the border areas.”

Indian media reported the meeting lasted 10 hours by video conference.

There were suggestions it was attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

Mr Lavrov told Associated Press: “We never had a goal to help India and China develop their bilateral ties.

“India and China have every opportunity to tackle and solve any problems in relations between them.”

Some reports claim Mr Jaishankar did not mention the border conflict.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson urged to prioritise a trade deal with the US

Media reports last week saw troops clashed at heights of 14,000ft.

Some reports suggest soldiers feel into the fast-moving Galwan River at subzero temperatures.

At least 76 Indian soldiers were injured, in addition to 20 dead.

A 1996 agreement barred guns and explosives from the disputed area.

A weapon passed to the BBC by an Indian officer claims to be a Chinese used iron rod covered in nails.

The two sides went to war in 1962.

The war lasted little over a month and resulted in a Chinese victory.

Skirmishes have broken out between the two since.

Donald Trump has offered to mediate the current tensions: “They have got a big problem there. They have come to blows and we’ll see what happens. We are trying to help them out.”





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Canada has power to end Meng extradition, bring Canadians home from China, Kovrig’s wife says


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Since January, China has prevented Canadian diplomats from visiting Kovrig and Spavor, citing COVID-19 restrictions.

Trudeau rejected suggestions that Canada should intervene to resolve the Meng case in an attempt to free Kovrig and Spavor.

“We continue to stand up both for the independence of our judicial system and Canadian interests and values,” the prime minister said. “We work behind the scenes and in public to ensure that everyone understands we will continue to work extremely hard to get these Canadians home.”

Garnett Genuis, the Conservative critic on Canada-China Relations, was critical of former Liberal cabinet minister John Manley and Eddie Goldenberg, a former aide to ex-prime minister Jean Chrétien, for advocating for a prisoner exchange to free Kovrig and Spavor.

“Conservatives continue to call on Justin Trudeau to respect the independence of Canada’s judicial system and reject this position by senior Liberal insiders,” said Genuis.

Meng, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, is living in a luxury Vancouver home while her extradition case wends its way through a British Columbia court.

The United States wants to prosecute Meng for fraud, alleging she lied to banks about her company’s connections with Iran, which could possibly violate U.S. sanctions.



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