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Asia Pacific

China to expand Shenzhen’s Qianhai zone, eyeing Hong Kong | Source: Strait Times

China announced an expansion of the Qianhai economic cooperation zone in Shenzhen. The expansion is part of a plan to further integrate Hong Kong and Macau’s economies into the Greater Bay Area, which includes Guangzhou, Shenzhen and other Pearl River Delta cities. The plan, which was shy on details, calls for the zone to further open up the financial sector and liberalise the service trade, , allowing cross-border use of the renminbi, and offering more convenient foreign exchange management.

Source: Strait Times


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Beijing wants to impose anti-sanctions law on Hong Kong | Source: Asia News

China is ready to impose its “anti-sanctions” law on Hong Kong, raising concerns among local and foreign companies. It allows Chinese companies and entities to go before Chinese courts for protection from foreign sanctions. With this law, the Chinese government could also take action against companies and foreign investors present in China that align themselves with the bans introduced by Western governments.

Source: Asia News


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Hong Kong leader advocates retaliatory sanctions against West | Source: Irish Examiner

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has backed legislation allowing retaliatory sanctions after the US and other Western governments punished city officials over the ongoing crackdown on democracy activists.

Source: Irish Examiner


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China Condemns US ‘Safe Heaven’ Offer to HK’s Anti-China Elements | Source: Fars News

China hit back at the US offering temporary “safe haven” on its soil to anti-China elements who disturb the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), saying its scheme of defaming China and destabilizing the HKSAR is doomed to fail. In a statement, the Office of the Commissioner of China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry in the HKSAR said China resolutely opposes any external interference in its internal affairs.

Source: Fars News


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Geopolitics and Terrorism

Hong Kong police arrest nine people suspected of terrorist activity | Source: TRT

Hong Kong police have arrested nine people on suspicion of terrorist activities, the latest to be targeted under a sweeping national security law Beijing imposed on the financial hub last year. They seized triacetone triperoxide (TATP, in attacks by extremists in Israel and London) in a hostel room to deploy at a cross-harbour tunnel, railways, court rooms and rubbish bins.

Source: TRT


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Australia, New Zealand Unite in ‘Concerns’ over Beijing After NZ Was Accused of Seeking ‘Fast Chinese Buck’ | Source: Fars news

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison pledged unity in standing up to various Chinese policies.

Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zeland issued a joint statement expressing concern over Beijing’s “intensification of destabilising activities” in the South China Sea and accused China of taking steps to undermine the autonomy of Hong Kong. Relations between Australia and China have deteriorated significantly since Australia called for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

Source: Fars news


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Hong Kong passes sweeping pro-China electoral rules | Source: TRT World

Pro-China lawmakers attend the second meeting of “Improving Electoral System (Consolidated Amendments) Bill 2021” at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong on May 27, 2021. (AP)

Hong Kong’s legislature has passed a bill amending electoral laws that drastically reduces the public’s ability to vote and increases the number of pro-Beijing lawmakers making decisions for the city. The number of seats in Hong Kong’s legislature will be expanded to 90, with 40 of them elected by a largely pro-Beijing election committee.

Source: TRT World


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ASIA PACIFIC

HONG KONG:

  • Hong Kong’s electoral reform bill has been introduced in the city’s legislature, setting in motion changes that will give Beijing greater control over the process while reducing the number of directly elected representatives. The bill is part of efforts to rein in political protests and opposition in Hong Kong, which is part of China but has had a more liberal political system since the 1997 handover from Britain.

SOURCE: IRISH EXAMINER


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HONK KONG:

  • The US State Department released an update to the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, identifying two dozen Chinese officials the United States accuses of reducing the former British colony’s autonomy when National People’s Congress unilaterally approved legislation last week to overhaul its electoral system.

SOURCE: UPI


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Expert Analysis

American Hypocrisy Towards Unauthorized & Violent Protests Must End

American Hypocrisy Towards Unauthorized & Violent Protests Must End

28 JANUARY 2021

American Hypocrisy Towards Unauthorized & Violent Protests Must End

Whenever American administrations change, usually only the heads of various agencies and a few folks below them are replaced. Sometimes this is substantive, other times it’s only cosmetic, but the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the members of its military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) remain the same.

The Biden Administration is following in the footsteps of the former Trump one by exercising hypocrisy towards unauthorized and violent protests. Both his and Trump’s condemned the violent storming of the US Capitol earlier this month, yet neither has any compunctions about endorsing similar destabilizations whenever they happen in Hong Kong or Russia. The former administration gleefully supported unauthorized and violent protests in China’s Special Autonomous Region against its national security legislation, while the present one is doing the exact same thing regarding imprisoned anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny.

That individual was recently detained for probation violations upon his return to Russia from Germany where he was receiving treatment after being mysteriously poisoned over the summer. He and some Western governments accuse the Russian one of attempting to assassinate him using the banned chemical weapon Novichok, a charge which Moscow vehemently denies. Navalny called for his compatriots to protest nationwide on Saturday in response to his detainment, which several tens of thousands of them did. Approximately three thousand people were detained for participating in these unauthorized protests, which quickly turned violent.

In the run-up to those riots, the Russian government strongly criticized its American counterpart for publishing the locations and times of unauthorized protests on its embassy website. It later slammed embassy spokeswoman Rebecca Ross for describing the security services’ response as a “concerted campaign to suppress free speech [and] peaceful assembly.” It should be noted that Russian media has shared footage of some participants attacking police and even beating up counter-demonstrators. Russia was also shocked that the unauthorized protests were being advertised to minors through social media.

It’s very disappointing that the Biden Administration is picking up where its predecessor left off, albeit by directing weaponized protests against Russia instead of China like Trump’s did, at least for now. America is further sacrificing its already dwindling soft power standing across the world through such blatant displays of hypocrisy. It cannot condemn similar manifestations of violence disguised as protest at home while enthusiastically supporting such instances abroad. In addition, the Biden Administration’s demand to unconditionally release Navalny and the protesters is a textbook example of meddling in another state’s affairs.

Nevertheless, this shouldn’t be all that surprising for observers. Whenever American administrations change, usually only the heads of various agencies and a few folks below them are replaced. Sometimes this is substantive, other times it’s only cosmetic, but the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the members of its military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) remain the same. This in turn ensures policy continuation in the strategic sense, though it can of course be altered depending on the political will that the president at the time has to do so, like how Trump pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal for example.

Evidently, President Biden and his team had no such will to stop their predecessor’s plans to support — and arguably even organize to a certain extent — this latest anti-Russian destabilization. They’re notorious Russophobes in the political sense who wouldn’t ever consider the pragmatism of easing pressure on Russia or the soft power benefits inherent in having a consistent stance towards unauthorized and violent protests. This is the absolutely wrong policy to practice since there’s never any excuse for violating international law. It also further erodes the country’s image abroad and could lead to unintended international consequences.

Whether someone’s protesting against national security legislation, allegedly rigged elections, or for the release of a detained blogger, they must always do so peacefully and follow the law. Illegally assembling and committing acts of violence against the security services and counter-protesters, especially while encouraging impressionable youth to de facto function as human shields, is absolutely unacceptable. It’s all the worse when a foreign power is politically supporting these events and even publicly organizing them through its embassy website. If President Biden is serious about change, then he must immediately stop these double standards.


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