Here are the reasons for Trump’s economic war with China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWS)

 

Here are the reasons for Trump’s economic war with China

On Friday the US president ‘hereby ordered’ companies to halt business with China, among other attacks – how did we get here?

Donald Trump and Xi Jinping in Osaka, Japan, on 29 June.
 Donald Trump and Xi Jinping in Osaka, Japan, on 29 June. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Even by Donald Trump’s standards his Twitter rant attacking China on Friday was extraordinary. In a series of outbursts Trump “hereby ordered” US companies to stop doing business with China, accused the country of killing 100,000 Americans a year with imported fentanyl and stealing hundred of billions in intellectual property.

The attack marked a new low in Sino-US relations and looks certain to escalate a trade war already worrying investors, manufacturers and economists who are concerned that the dispute between the two economic superpowers could trigger a recession.

Not so long ago Trump called China’s president, Xi Jinping, “a good friend”. Now he is an “enemy”. How did we get here?

China, China, China

On the campaign trail Trump railed against China accusing it of pulling off “one of the greatest thefts in the history of the world” and “raping” the US economy.

Trump repeated the word China so often it spawned a viral video of him saying it over and over again. The attacks were a hit with voters and helped get him elected. He has continued lambasting China – to cheers – at rallies ever since.

Pinterest

His main beef? The trade deficit.

Trade deficit

The US imported a record $539.5 bn in goods from China in 2018 and sold the Chinese $120.3 bn in return. The difference between those two numbers – $419.2 bn – is the trade deficit.

That deficit has been growing for years as manufacturing has shifted to low-cost China and, according to Trump, it explains the hollowing out of US manufacturing.

For Trump, and especially for his adviser Peter Navarro, who once described China as “the planet’s most efficient assassin”, trade deficits represent an existential threat to US jobs and national security. China makes up the largest part of the US trade deficit but those fears are also behind his disputes with the EU, Canada and Mexico.

His detractors argue these deficit worries are hyperbole and a result of the US’s stronger economy, which allows consumers to buy goods at cheaper prices.

The truth is probably somewhere in between.

While it’s true that unemployment is at record lows and consumers continue to prop up the economy, manufacturing jobs have been lost (automation is also to blame for this) and with them wage growth (although the hollowing out of unions plays a part here).

But it is not just deficits that concerns Trump.

Thieves

China has a deserved reputation for intellectual property theft. On Friday, Trump estimated China robs the US of “hundreds of billions” a year in ideas.

In March, a CNBC poll found one in five US corporations had intellectual property stolen from them within the last year by China.

According to the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property, the theft costs $600bn a year.

Beijing bucks

Like Tesla, Nio, a Chinese electric vehicle (EV) company, is suffering as subsidies for EVs are phased out. Unlike Tesla, Nio has Xi. China is pumping $1.5 bn into the company to keep it on the road, the latest in a series of handouts that the Trump administration believes are unfair.

Cheap steel and aluminium, subsidized by the Chinese government, are the origins of this trade dispute. According to the White House, last year alone China dumped and unfairly subsidized goods including steel wheels, tool chests and cabinets and rubber bands on to the US market.

To be fair the US too is more than willing to bail out its industries (see: the banks or the automakers) at the taxpayers’ expense. But at this point “fair” is not up for discussion.

Currency manipulator

Earlier this month the US officially accused China of manipulating its currency “to gain unfair competitive advantage in international trade”.

It was the first time since 1994 that such a complaint has been made official and comes as the dollar has strengthened against world currencies. The dispute adds another layer of tension to a complex situation.

China disputed the charge accusing the US of “deliberately destroying international order” with “unilateralism and protectionism”.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) appears to be on China’s side, arguing the devaluation of the yuan is largely in line with worsening economic conditions in China.

What happens next?

The US has now slapped billions of dollars on tariffs on Chinese goods. China retaliated, again, on Friday with more levies on US goods. China’s economic growth has slowed to levels unseen since 1992; US economic forecasts have also been cut.

American farmers were the first to feel the result, as China has canceled orders, and manufacturers are increasingly gloomy. So far US consumers have not felt the pinch but JP Morgan estimates the average US household will end up paying $1,000 a year for goods if the latest set of tariffs go through.

The unanswerable question is whether any of this will sway Trump. If his supporters continue to see a trade war with China – and the pain it will cause – as the necessary price to Make America Great Again, then the answer is probably no.

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5 Beautiful Temples to Visit in China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Beautiful Temples to Visit in China

China is one of the world’s most innovative and progressive countries, yet step away from the modernity and you’ll discover a country that maintains a firm grip on its ancient cultures and spirituality. There’s hundreds of fascinating temples and shrines scattered across this great land that offer a glimpse into the centuries-old philosophies of Buddhism and Taoism. To see them all could take a lifetime, so we’ve chosen five of the most beautiful to get you started.

Dafo Temple, Gansu Province

Credit: gionnixxx/iStock

Constructed during the Western Xia dynasty, this 2nd-century temple is one of the last-surviving wooden landmarks from the era located in China. It’s often called the “Great Buddha Temple”, a reference to the 115-foot-long sleeping Buddha that greets you in the main hall. Sculptures of arhats, who are Buddhists that have gained enlightenment, surround the giant statue, as do murals of classic Chinese stories such as Journey to the West and Classic of Mountain and Seas. Legend states that a Yuan Dynasty queen lived there and gave birth to the Mongolian warrior Kublai Khan.

Hanging Temple (Xuankong Si), Shanxi Province

Credit: Dashu Xinganling/Shutterstock.com

Little can prepare you for your first sight of this series of pagodas set precariously on a cliff face at the base of Mount Heng. Time Magazine included the temple in its list of Top 10 Precarious Buildings, and it is easy to see why when studying the interconnecting walkways and long supporting stilts, which are embedded into the rocks. Despite giving the impression that it will fall at any moment, the temple has stood firm for 1,400 years. Even more impressive when it is said the foundations were laid by a solitary monk. In addition to its magnificent structure, the temple is the only place in China where Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism are all practiced.

Labrang Monastery, Gansu Province

Credit: Marcin Szymczak/Shutterstock.com

Established in 1709, Labrang Monastery plays host to the largest group of monks outside of Tibet and, at one point, provided residence for up to 4,000 of them. A great way to experience its serene beauty is to follow the inner kora, a 2.2-mile pathway of prayer wheels that pass numerous chapels and temple halls. Guided tours provide access to some halls and the chance to observe the monks’ activities first hand. Get here at sunrise to see the monks praying, or come at dusk to hear them chanting sutras.

Longmen Cave Temples, Henan Province

Credit: YinYang/iStockphoto

On an almost 1-mile long stretch of the Yi River waterfront is a collection of 2,300 caves that have existed since around 493 A.D. Each cave is etched into limestone cliffs and features some of the finest known examples of art from the Northern Wei and Tang dynasties. There’s over 110,000 statues and 60 Buddhist pagodas. Among the most striking statues are the huge Buddhas in the Guyangdong Cave and Three Binyang Cave. Such is the value of the caves that they have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Temple of Heaven, Beijing

Credit: zhaojiankang/iStockphoto

In the heart of Beijing is a masterpiece of Chinese architecture that dates back to 1406. The main temple, the triple-tier circular Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, stands magnificently on a square marble base. This square-round contrast stems from the ancient Chinese belief of a round heaven and square Earth. The four inner, 12 middle, and 12 outer columns of the hall’s brightly-colored interior symbolize the four seasons, 12 months, and 12 Chinese zodiac hours. Landscaped gardens and pine woods encompass the temple and the entire complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

5 Cities With the Largest Subway Systems

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Cities With the Largest Subway Systems

A great subway system is a badge of honor for a city. As writers at City Metric, a website devoted to exploring topics that affect the lives of city-dwellers, discovered, there are lots of ways to measure such a system. Maybe it’s by how many people ride a specific subway in a day or year, or maybe it’s by how many stations there are around a city.

For the purposes of this article, we looked at subways with the longest routes. Here are the top five largest subway systems in the world.

Seoul, South Korea

Seoul, South Korea

Credit: Savvapanf Photo/Shutterstock.com

332 km/206 miles

More than two billion people ride the particularly high-tech subway system in Seoul each year. It’s known for its tech, including screens displaying important messages and internet access on its cars. The first line was built in the 1970’s, and today the system includes 22 lines that are still being expanded. Plus, it’s relatively cheap and known for its cleanliness, and all directional signs are written in three languages, including English.

New York City, New York, U.S.A.

New York City, New York, U.S.A.

Credit: William Perugini/Shutterstock.com

373 km/232 miles

The much older New York City subway system opened in 1904. Nearly six million people utilize the transit system every day, at about 470 stations — more than any other system in the world. Most of those stations operate 24 hours a day.

London, England

London, England

Credit: andrea flisi/Shutterstock.com

402 km/250 miles

The London Underground, sometimes called the Tube, opened in the 1860’s. Despite the name, most of the lines were built just below the surface with the “cut and cover” method, and many of the newer tracks are above ground. The system includes 11 lines and about 200 stations, and carries about five million daily passengers today.

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Beijing, China

Beijing, China

Credit: ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock.com

527 km/327 miles

With almost 11 million daily riders, this is the world’s busiest subway system. It first opened in 1969 and had only two lines for decades, before undergoing a rapid expansion in 2002. And those 11 million daily riders are expected to expand to 18 million by 2021. By then, the subway will account for 60 percent of the city’s public transit ridership.

Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China

Credit: Arwin Adityavarna/iStock

548 km/341 miles

The largest subway system in the world by route length is still expanding, with plans to add seven new lines by 2025. It’s a system that links provinces and provides inter-city transportation — or at least, it will soon. On a regular day, 10 million people use the system. The most recent expansions to the system opened in December.

China to counter any new US tariffs

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China to counter any new US tariffs

Shine

China’s Commerce Ministry said on Thursday that the country would have to take countermeasures if the United States imposes new additional tariffs on Chinese goods.

This came after the United States threatened an additional tariff of 10 percent on about US$300 billion of Chinese imports.

China’s position is consistent and clear. “Trade wars produce no winners. China does not want a trade war, but it is not afraid of one, and it will fight one if necessary,” Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng told a press conference.

Although the United States announced a plan to postpone the tariff hike on some Chinese goods, any new US tariff hike will lead to an escalation of trade frictions unilaterally, Gao said.

“If the United States acts arbitrarily, China will have to take countermeasures,” he said.

The tariff measures will damage the interests of both China and the United States, and may also have a recessionary impact on the global economy, Gao said.

“If the United States goes ahead willfully, it will have a serious negative impact on US businesses and consumers,” Gao said.

“Some US financial institutions have predicted that the tariffs would cost an ordinary US family US$1,000 a year on average.

“At the same time, the delay in imposing tariffs on some goods fully demonstrate that there are no winners in a trade war,” he said. “If the trade frictions escalate, US consumers and businesses will suffer heavy losses.”

Gao expressed the hope that the US side would stop its erroneous practice of imposing tariffs, meet halfway with China, and find a solution to the problem based on equality and mutual respect.

He said that the US move would pose certain challenges to China’s exports and economy, but the impact is fully controllable in general.

“The Chinese side is confident, determined and capable of meeting various challenges and maintaining the sound and stable development of its economy and foreign trade,” he added.

Chinese and US chief trade negotiators held a phone conversation on August 13 and agreed to hold another phone conversation in two weeks.

“The two negotiating teams have maintained communication,” Gao said.

US and Chinese negotiators are due to meet in September in Washington. The last round of talks in Shanghai in July ended with no indication of progress.

Gao also said Beijing is working on a planned corporate blacklist of “unreliable entities” that might face curbs on their operations but gave no timeline.

China announced plans for that list after Washington imposed curb on sales of US technology to telecom equipment producer Huawei Technologies Ltd.

The United States has imposed 25 percent tariffs on US$250 billion of Chinese products.

China retaliated with its own penalties on US$110 billion of goods from the United States.

Twitter, Facebook accuse China of using fake accounts to undermine Hong Kong protests

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Twitter, Facebook accuse China of using fake accounts to undermine Hong Kong protests

Both Twitter and Facebook are blocked in mainland China by the government but available in Hong Kong

WORLD Updated: Aug 21, 2019 09:35 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

Anti-extradition bill protesters react as they watch a documentary protest video during a protest outside Siu Hong station in Hong Kong, China, August 20, 2019.
Anti-extradition bill protesters react as they watch a documentary protest video during a protest outside Siu Hong station in Hong Kong, China, August 20, 2019.(REUTERS)

Social media giants Facebook and Twitter accused China of using fake accounts to undermine Hong Kong protests. Beijing hit back, saying it had a right to put out its own views.

‘STATE-BACKED CAMPAIGN’

■ The crackdown was rare in the way that it involved a tip-off from one social media firm, Twitter, to another; Facebook.

■ Both said they took the action after observing a coordinated state-backed effort originating in China that undermined the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement in Hong Kong

■ Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher told reporters that the bulk of the Facebook accounts were created in 2018.

■ Both Twitter and Facebook are blocked in mainland China by the government but available in Hong Kong.

COMPARISON TO COCKROACHES

■ In examples provided by Facebook, posts described the protesters as cockroaches who “refused to show their faces.”

■ Examples of posts provided by Twitter included a tweet from a user pretending to be a Hong Kong resident with the comment: “…We don’t want you radical people in Hong Kong. Just get out of here!”

■ In another post cited by Facebook, the protesters in Hong Kong were likened to extremist Islamist militants

CHINA CRIES FOUL OVER CRACKDOWN

■ A Chinese minister said on Tuesday that China had a right to put out its own views.

■ Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, while declining to directly comment on the Twitter and Facebook actions, said: “What is happening in Hong Kong, and what the truth is, people will naturally have their own judgement. Why is it that China’s official media’s presentation is surely negative or wrong?”

ADS ROW

Twitter and Facebook have come under fire from users over showing ads from state-controlled media that criticised the Hong Kong protesters. Twitter said on Monday it would no longer accept advertising from state-controlled news media

First Published: Aug 21, 2019 09:29 IST

China to impose sanctions on US companies in case of arms sales to Taiwan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China to impose sanctions on US companies in case of arms sales to Taiwan

Xinhua

China on Wednesday urged the United States to immediately cancel the planned arms sales to Taiwan, saying China will take all necessary measures to defend its own interests including imposing sanctions on US companies involved in the planned sales.

The US Defense Department on Wednesday officially notified the US Congress of the plan to sell 66 F-16 fighters and relevant equipment worth around US$8 billion to Taiwan and to provide support.

“China firmly opposes the plan and has lodged solemn representations and protests to the US side,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a press briefing.

The US arms sales plan seriously violated international laws and basic norms governing international relations, as well as the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques, especially the August 17 Communique, Geng said.

“[Such a move] constitutes severe interference in China’s internal affairs, and undermines China’s sovereignty and security interests.”

The spokesman said the Taiwan question concerns China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is associated with China’s core interests. “China has firm determination to safeguard its own national sovereignty, unity and security.”

Geng urged the US side to abide by the one-China principle and relevant provisions laid out in the three China-US joint communiques, “immediately cancel the aforementioned arms sales plan, cease arms sales to Taiwan and sever military ties with the island.”

“Otherwise, all the ensuing consequences will be born by the US side,” Geng added.

China: Xi calls for preserving quintessence of Chinese culture

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

Xi calls for preserving quintessence of Chinese culture

Xinhua
Xi calls for preserving quintessence of Chinese culture

Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, visited exhibitions of relics and research results and attended a symposium with experts, scholars and representatives from cultural units in the Dunhuang Academy in Dunhuang during his inspection tour of northwest China’s Gansu Province on August 19, 2019.

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, has called for well preserving the quintessence of Chinese culture.

Xi made the remarks on Monday at a symposium at Dunhuang Academy with relevant experts, scholars and representatives from cultural units, during his inspection tour of northwest China’s Gansu Province.

Xi stressed the need to help carry forward and promote traditional culture.

He also called for more efforts in cultural exchanges with other countries and learning from the outstanding achievements of civilizations from around the world.

During the inspection tour on Monday, Xi visited the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang, a key cultural heritage site under state-level protection.

Dunhuang culture shows the Chinese nation’s confidence in its culture, Xi said. “Only a self-confident civilization can absorb and draw on the achievements of other civilizations while maintaining its own characteristics.”

Xi also encouraged workers in the cultural sector to well tell the stories of Dunhuang and China.

During his visit to the Mogao Grottoes, Xi talked with tourists there and wished them a pleasant journey.

Dunhuang is home to the Mogao Grottoes, a renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site boasting rich collections of Buddhist artwork — more than 2,000 colored sculptures and 45,000 square meters of murals — in 735 caves along a cliff.

The Mogao Grottoes, first constructed in 366 AD, symbolizes the great achievements of China’s Buddhist art from the 4th century to the 14th century. It showcases the cultural integration and mutual learning among the diverse civilizations along the ancient Silk Road.

Hong Kong Police Arrested For Beating 62 Yr Old Man Strapped Into Hospital Bed

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HILLS NEWS)

 

Hong Kong police officers arrested over video of assault on man in hospital
© Getty

Two Hong Kong police officers were arrested Tuesday in connection to a video from June which showed them hitting a 62-year-old man as he was strapped to a gurney in a hospital, The New York Times reported.

The pro-democracy lawmaker who released the footage, Lam Cheuk-ting, said while the man in question had no link to the protests across Hong Kong, the video was evidence of aggressive behavior from police.

“These few months, so many protesters have been arrested by the police,” Lam said at a news conference on Tuesday, next to two of the man’s sons, per the Times.

“Among them, how many must have been subjected to similar or even more severe abuse? Any sensible person would raise this question.”

Police spokesman John Tse said in a later press conference that the officers had been arrested on suspicion of assault.

“We absolutely do not tolerate it if officers break the law while knowing the law,” he said, per the Times.

The security camera footage from North District Hospital shows the two officers hitting the old man for more than 20 minutes in the genitals, stomach and face.

Lam said the man had been accused of attacking a police officer while drunk.

The incident is particularly significant because of the heightened tensions between police and protesters who have flooded the streets, and buildings, of Hong Kong for months seeking democratic reform.

Protests began over a proposed bill that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to China, a proposition which amplified fears of mainland China’s broadening influence in the semi-autonomous city.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam suspended the controversial bill in June, but that was not enough to quell protests.

Clashes between protesters and police escalated last week when pro-democracy activists filled Hong Kong’s airport.

The protests began peacefully, but police reportedly fired tear gas inside a subway station and charged at protesters on an escalator in another station, expanding the protest and ultimately shutting down the airport for two days.

Several international watchdog groups, like the United Nations human rights office, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have accused Hong Kong police of using excessive force and failing to follow safety standards for the use of weapons like tear gas and beanbag rounds.

A Guide To What’s Happening In Hong Kong

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

 

A Guide To What’s Happening In Hong Kong

Organizers say more than a million demonstrators gathered Sunday in Hong Kong, which has been racked by protests over extradition legislation.

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

For months, Hong Kong’s streets have seethed with discontent. Scenes from the semi-autonomous region show protesters, sometimes numbering in the hundreds of thousands, many wearing surgical masks and carrying umbrellas that have come to signify resistance.

The images are astonishing, and the issues that set them in motion are complex.

So here’s a primer breaking down the major players, why they have poured into the streets and the response so far from China.

Protesters gather for a rally Sunday in Hong Kong. Many of the pro-democracy demonstrators have brandished umbrellas in a nod to a symbol widely used during the semi-autonomous city’s massive 2014 protests.

Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP/Getty Images

Why are the protests happening?

The latest spasm of discontent traces to February, when members of Hong Kong’s government proposed an extradition bill known as the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019.

That measure would expand the range of countries where suspected offenders may be sent, beyond the list of those with which Hong Kong has mutual extradition agreements. Under the bill’s provisions, the region would be able to extradite suspects to other countries on a case-by-case basis, with the chief executive holding significant power over which cases apply.

Notably, this opens the door to extradition to mainland China, which has sought greater control over the former British colony since it was restored to Beijing in 1997 as a special administrative region with its own independent court system.

“There have been a number of serious crime cases in which the culprits have absconded to other jurisdictions to elude justice,” the region’s Security Bureau explained in a paper published in February. To illustrate the point, the security officials cited a recent incident in which a Hong Kong resident suspected of murdering someone in Taiwan could not be extradited to Taiwan to stand trial for murder.

“As a result,” the officials explained, “the court of Hong Kong could only handle the suspected money laundering offences committed by the suspect in Hong
Kong, leading to widespread public concern.”

The bill’s critics argue that it marks a clear erosion of the region’s judicial independence from Beijing and that it could nudge open the door to what some demonstrators have described as “legalized kidnapping.” Protesters fear Chinese authorities would pursue extradition of political dissidents under the guise of trumped-up charges.

YouTube

After massive protests erupted in June, the bill itself stalled. Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, indefinitely suspended the legislation and even apologized, saying that “our explanation and communication work has not been sufficient or effective.”

So if the bill is suspended, why have the protests continued?

That’s partly because the bill is not formally dead. Lam has refrained from withdrawing it entirely from the legislative process. That has raised suspicions among its critics that it could be revived, and these critics have staged multiple major rallies since Lam’s suspension of the bill.

“We demand that the bill be formally withdrawn now,” says Alvin Yeung, a member of the region’s Legislative Council and leader of the pro-democracy Civic Party. He also told All Things Considered that protesters are demanding “an independent inquiry to look into police misconduct and brutality.”

“That is something so simple that any open and civil society would do,” he added. “But then this government has been refusing to set up a commission to look into that. And more importantly, of course, is a democratic system.”

Yeung and others are frustrated at an electoral system that remains closed to the vast majority of Hongkongers (more on that below), and they’re alarmed by what they see as Beijing’s steady encroachment on their local affairs.

Who are the major players involved?

At the heart of the tumult is Lam, who was elected chief executive in 2017 by a pro-Beijing committee. In Hong Kong, the chief executive is determined not by a general vote, but by a group of about 1,200 people, consisting of prominent professionals and members of the Legislative Council.

Lam developed a strong relationship with Beijing during protests in Hong Kong that erupted in 2014. At the time, she was second in command and had proposed another series of controversial changes that would have allowed Chinese authorities to select the candidates for chief executive. Her proposal foundered in the face of massive demonstrations and eventually was withdrawn.

Lam has been backed by pro-Beijing lawmakers, who enjoy a majority in the region’s Legislative Council, and by activists who have recently held counter protests of their own in Hong Kong as well as in cities ranging from Vancouver to London.

Behind them is the police force in Hong Kong, which has come down hard on demonstrators, using tear gas, rubber bullets and what some — including the Hong Kong Bar Association — have criticized as “wholly unnecessary force against largely unarmed protesters.” Opposition lawmakers on Tuesday released a CCTV video showing two officers in a hospital beating a detained man, reportedly in his 60’s, appearing to punch him repeatedly in the crotch and stomach while he was still on a gurney.

Shortly after the video’s release — and about two months after the incident occurred — the Hong Kong government said in a statement that authorities are “highly concerned” and investigating it as a criminal matter.

On the side of the opposition are lawmakers such as Yeung, whose Civic Party has pushed back hard against the extradition bill. It also includes a pro-democracy group known as the Civil Human Rights Front, which has published protesters’ demands and organized several of the biggest protests, such as one last Sunday which it says attracted 1.7 million people out of a region of some 7.5 million.

Last month, the Hong Kong Bar Association also strongly urged authorities to “withdraw the bill for a full and proper consultation.”

How has Beijing reacted?

The reaction on mainland China has shifted generally from indifference to outright hostility, with authorities first ignoring the protests, then misrepresenting them and lately rejecting them entirely.

“Beijing [now] sees the unfolding crisis as something that is really destabilizing and challenges its rule, its control,” China specialist Adam Ni told NPR’s Emily Feng earlier this month.

“The recent protests and demonstrations in Hong Kong have turned into radical violent behaviors that seriously violate the law, undermine security and social order in Hong Kong, and endanger local people’s safety, property and normal life,” Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at a news conference earlier this month.

He said Beijing “firmly supports” Lam and the police “in strictly enforcing [the] law.” To this point, Chinese authorities have not indicated whether they plan to intervene in the situation more directly.

“I need to reemphasize a plain truth,” he added less than a week later. “Hong Kong is part of China, and its affairs are entirely China’s internal affairs.”

Beijing’s effort to cultivate a counter-narrative ran into some push-back by social media companies, though. On Monday, Twitter said it was suspending nearly 1,000 accounts suspected of being linked with China and part of a “coordinated state-backed operation,” and Facebook announced the removal of several pages and accounts “involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior as part of a small network that originated in China and focused on Hong Kong.”

Have any other countries gotten involved?

At least to this point, foreign intervention has been limited to words of caution and condemnation.

Most notably, President Trump, whose administration is embroiled in a deepening trade war with China, has encouraged Beijing to “work humanely with Hong Kong” and even suggested that Chinese leader Xi Jinping meet personally with the protesters.

Chinese officials have bristled suggestions such as these, repeatedly asserting that “Hong Kong affairs are entirely China’s internal affairs” and that, effectively, the rest of the world needs to mind its own business.

This isn’t the first time Hong Kong has seen this kind of unrest, is it?

Far from it.

Hong Kong is less than five years removed from another wave of massive protests in 2014 collectively known as the Umbrella movement. For nearly three months Hong Kong saw a series of sit-ins, rallies and road-clogging demonstrations. Several of the protest movement’s organizers were sentenced to prison time earlier this year for their role in the demonstrations.

In fact, Hong Kong has seen several spasms of unrest since the U.K. handed the region back to China in 1997. The agreement specified that Hong Kong was to be a “special administrative region” within Communist China, enjoying a “high degree of autonomy” — including the freedom to maintain its own economic and legal systems. In a word, Hongkongers were promised “one country, two systems.”

It hasn’t exactly worked out that way, however.

Hongkongers have complained of encroachment by Beijing virtually since the region’s handover. Those complaints have grown louder in recent years, particularly after a spate of Hong Kong booksellers disappeared only to turn up later in police custody in mainland China. Critics of the extradition bill believe such incidents presage what the future might look like if the measure were ever to become law.

What’s with all those umbrellas?

This one, at least, is really rather simple. They’re for protection — and not just from the elements. Protesters have been using umbrellas to shield themselves against police cameras and the deployment of pepper spray and tear gas to disperse the crowds.

Their near-ubiquitous use in 2014 lent a name to that 79-day movement. And now that people have returned to the streets, the umbrellas have, too.

India studying early Chinese proposals on boundary issue

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

India studying early Chinese proposals on boundary issue

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is evaluating the “early harvest” proposals sent by Beijing to build trust between the two sides ahead of the meeting.

INDIA Updated: Aug 18, 2019 08:15 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, Beijing/ New Delhi
Senior Chinese diplomats said Beijing was very serious about getting the longstanding boundary issues with both India and Bhutan out of the way.
Senior Chinese diplomats said Beijing was very serious about getting the longstanding boundary issues with both India and Bhutan out of the way. (HT File Photo )

The 22nd round of the India-China Special Representatives dialogue on the boundary issue will take place in New Delhi in mid-September. National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is evaluating the “early harvest” proposals sent by Beijing to build trust between the two sides ahead of the meeting.

Dates for the meeting between Doval and Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi, the interlocutors, haven’t yet been finalized, Hindustan Times learns from Chinese and Indian diplomats.

The foreign ministers dialogue on August 11-13 in Beijing and the Special Representative talks are precursors to the October 11-12 informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in India for which Varanasi is being considered as the potential venue.

Senior Chinese diplomats said Beijing was very serious about getting the longstanding boundary issues with both India and Bhutan out of the way, and that Wang had sent “early harvest” proposals to India.

Neither side is willing to share the contents of the proposals. However, Beijing, as indicated by HT’s conversations with Chinese diplomats, is showing no signs of changing any positions with New Delhi, be it India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) or full political support to its “all weather ally” Pakistan.

The trust factor between the two sides has also taken a hit after China, joined by the United Kingdom, still living in its imperial past, supported Pakistan in the informal United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting on Monday against the Narendra Modi government’s decision to nullify Article 370 and Article 35 A of the Indian Constitution pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir.

The overall sense from the UNSC meeting was that both countries were hopelessly outnumbered and out maneuvered in their quest for a formal outcome by the remaining 13 members led by the US and France.

In his meeting this month in Beijing with State Councillor Wang, who is also foreign minister, external affairs minister S Jaishankar had made it very clear that both countries should be sensitive to each other’s core concerns. “If Beijing wants India to support One China that includes Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong, then it also must support One India,” said a top official.

Indian diplomats based in the US said the latest Chinese move in support of Pakistan on Kashmir will lead to a cooling of ties; Article 370 and Article 35 A have nothing to do with beaching either the UN Charter or the 1972 Simla Agreement between India and Pakistan, they say. Despite Chinese diplomats vehemently denying it, Beijing wants to play elder brother to South Asia as the dominant power in the region and will support Pakistan for its own economic and strategic interests.

In the circumstances, mutual trust between the two countries can only be built if President Xi, or Xi Dada (elder brother as he is called), can overrule the status quoits in Beijing and opt for a mutually beneficial and mutually acceptable solution to the long-pending dispute over the boundary.

First Published: Aug 18, 2019 07:07 IST