Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said that the decision to withdraw an extradition bill that sparked months of demonstrations in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory was her government’s own initiative to break the impasse, and not Beijing’s directive. Lam told a news conference that China’s central government “understands, respects and supports” her government in the entire process. Withdrawal of the bill meets one of protesters’ five key demands, but activists have vowed not to yield until the government fulfills all of them. Those also include an independent investigation into allegations of police brutality during the protests, the unconditional release of those detained, not labelling the protests as riots, and direct elections of the city’s leader. The massive but peaceful demonstrations began in June against the legislation, which would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial, but clashes with police have become increasingly violent as the demands evolved into a wider call for democracy. Demonstrators threw gasoline bombs at officers last weekend protests and police retaliated with water cannons, tear gas, rubber bullets and batons. Nearly 1,200 people have been detained so far. Lam reiterated that the government cannot accede to the protesters’ other demands. She said the police watchdog agency will be impartial and best suited to investigate alleged police misconduct, and that releasing detainees without charges would be “unacceptable.” She denied making a U-turn on the bill, noting that she suspended the bill in mid-June, days after the protests began, and in July declared the
The United States and China on Sunday put in place their latest tariff increases on each other’s goods, potentially raising prices Americans pay for some clothes, shoes, sporting goods and other consumer items before the holiday shopping season. President Donald Trump said U.S.-China trade talks were still on for September. “We’ll see what happens,” he told reporters as he returned to the White House from the Camp David presidential retreat. “But we can’t allow China to rip us off anymore as a country.” The 15% U.S. taxes apply to about $112 billion of Chinese imports. All told, more than two-thirds of the consumer goods the United States imports from China now face higher taxes. The administration had largely avoided hitting consumer items in its earlier rounds of tariff increases. But with prices of many retail goods now likely to rise, the Trump administration’s move threatens the U.S. economy’s main driver: consumer spending. As businesses pull back on investment spending and exports slow in the face of weak global growth, American shoppers have been a key bright spot for the economy. “We have got a great economy,” said Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. “But I do think that the uncertainty caused by volatile tariff situation and this developing trade war could jeopardize that strength, and that growth, and that is, I think, that’s a legitimate concern,” he told ABC’s “This Week.” As a result of Trump’s higher tariffs, many U.S. companies have warned that they will be forced to pass on to
Earlier this summer, Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, submitted a report to Beijing that assessed protesters’ five key demands and found that withdrawing a contentious extradition bill could help defuse the mounting political crisis in the territory. The Chinese central government rejected Lam’s proposal to withdraw the extradition bill and ordered her not to yield to any of the protesters’ other demands at that time, three individuals with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. China’s role in directing how Hong Kong handles the protests has been widely assumed, supported by stern statements in state media about the country’s sovereignty and protesters’ “radical” goals. Beijing’s rebuff of Lam’s proposal for how to resolve the crisis, detailed for the first time by Reuters, represents concrete evidence of the extent to which China is controlling the Hong Kong government’s response to the unrest. The Chinese central government has condemned the protests and accused foreign powers of fuelling unrest. The Foreign Ministry has repeatedly warned other nations against interfering in Hong Kong, reiterating that the situation there is an “internal affair.” Lam’s report on the tumult was made before an Aug. 7 meeting in Shenzhen about the Hong Kong crisis, led by senior Chinese officials. The report examined the feasibility of the protesters’ five demands, and analysed how conceding to some of them might quieten things down, the individuals with direct knowledge said. In addition to the withdrawal of the extradition bill, the other demands analysed in the report were:
Hong Kong police fired tear gas and water cannon on Saturday as pro-democracy protesters threw petrol bombs in the latest in a series of clashes that have plunged the Chinese-ruled city into its worst political crisis in decades. Police fired round after round of tear gas as protesters took cover behind umbrellas between the local headquarters of China’s People’s Liberation Army and government HQ. Protesters also threw bricks dug up from pathways, at police. The water cannon fired blue-dyed water, traditionally used elsewhere in the world to make it easier for police to identify protesters later. Riot police then marched on foot towards the neighbouring Admiralty district, followed by about 20 police cars, where some protesters had thrown fire bombs from flyovers, some landing close to police. Others shone blue and green lasers at police lines. There were rumours of one off-duty policeman being wounded. Police fought running battles with protesters, beating them with truncheons, in the Wanchai bar and restaurant district. Reuters witnesses saw two arrests. The protests, which at one point blocked three key roads, came on the fifth anniversary of a decision by China to curtail democratic reforms in the former British colony, which returned to China in 1997. The PLA on Thursday rotated its troops in Hong Kong in what it said was a routine operation. Their Hong Kong HQ was the former base of the British military garrison. Thousands took to the streets in the afternoon on a largely peaceful, meandering rally in the rain,
For 15 years, Yalqun Rozi skillfully navigated state bureaucracies to publish textbooks that taught classic poems and folk tales to millions of his fellow minority Uighurs in China’s far western region of Xinjiang. That all changed three years ago when the ruling Communist Party launched what it says is a campaign against ethnic separatism and religious extremism in Xinjiang. Suddenly even respected public figures like Rozi were being arrested, caught up in a crackdown that critics have said amounts to cultural genocide. An estimated 1 million Uighurs have since been detained in internment camps and prisons across the region, and advocacy groups say that includes more than 400 prominent academics, writers, performers and artists. Critics say the government is targeting intellectuals as a way to dilute, or even erase, the Uighur culture, language and identity. After being taken away by police in 2016, Rozi, 54, was sentenced to more than a decade in prison on charges of incitement to subvert state power. As one of the first prominent people to be detained, Rozi’s story illustrates how even Uighurs who toed the party line and were accepted by the government have been rebranded enemies of the state amid the widening campaign of surveillance and detention underway in Xinjiang. “He had many friends among government officials. He was able to use his connections to sell his books,” said Abduweli Ayup, a linguist who knew Rozi through a Uighur bookstore Ayup once ran. “Those books sold very well.” China’s 11 million Uighurs are
Japan hosts development talks with African leaders this week, looking to boost its presence on the continent and offer an alternative to investments by an increasingly assertive China. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he wants the latest round of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to help “launch impactful Japanese action” on the continent. And the meeting, held around every five years since 1993 in Japan or an African country, comes against the backdrop of expanding investment in China, which announced $60 billion in development funding for Africa last year. That figure is twice as much as Japan pledged at the last TICAD meeting in 2016. But analysts said Tokyo is unlikely to try to out-pledge China at this year’s talks, which start on Wednesday and run until Friday. It will seek instead to position itself as a partner of “quality”, offering high-impact loans and other assistance without the sometimes-controversial strings attached to money doled out by Beijing. Japan wants to drive Africa’s growth “with its high-quality infrastructure development, science technology and innovation”, Abe said recently. TICAD is a good opportunity for Japan to send a message about “its practical, well-planned lending”, said Sawaka Takazaki, deputy director of the Middle East and Africa division at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), a government-backed trade-promotion body. ‘Quiet’ diplomacy China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative, which offers hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese financing for massive infrastructure projects, has been eagerly embraced in many parts of Africa.
Hong Kong protesters threw bricks and gasoline bombs at police, who responded with tear gas, as chaotic scenes returned to the summer-long anti-government protests on Saturday for the first time in nearly two weeks. Hundreds of black-clad protesters armed with bamboo poles and baseball bats fought with police officers wielding batons on a main road following a march against “smart lampposts” that was sparked by surveillance fears. The chaotic scenes unfolded outside a police station and a nearby shopping mall as officers in riot gear faced off with protesters who set up makeshift street barricades. The violence interrupted nearly two weeks of calm in Hong Kong, which has been gripped by a turbulent pro-democracy movement since June. Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd after repeated warnings “went futile,” the government said in a statement. By early evening, most of the protesters had dispersed, though clashes flared up in other neighborhoods. Earlier in the day, some protesters used an electric saw to slice through the bottom of a smart lamppost, while others pulled ropes tied around it to send it toppling and cheered as it crashed to the ground. The protest march started peacefully as supporters took to the streets to demand the removal of the lampposts over worries that they could contain high-tech cameras and facial recognition software used for surveillance by Chinese authorities. The government in Hong Kong said smart lampposts only collect data on traffic, weather and air quality. The protesters chanted slogans calling for the
China lashed out at Taiwan on Monday over its offer of political asylum to participants in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protest movement, a day after hundreds of thousands of people marched peacefully in the latest massive demonstration in the Chinese territory. The government of Taiwan, a self-ruled island that China considers its own territory, strongly supports the protests, and Hong Kong students in Taiwan held events over the weekend expressing their backing. Taiwan’s president made the asylum offer last month, though it’s not clear if requests have been received. Taiwan lacks a formal legal mechanism for assessing and granting asylum requests, although it has granted residency to several vocal opponents of the Chinese government. On Monday, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the Chinese Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said Taiwan’s offer would “cover up the crimes of a small group of violent militants” and encourage their “audacity in harming Hong Kong and turn Taiwan into a “heaven for ducking the law.” Ma demanded that Taiwan’s government “cease undermining the rule of law” in Hong Kong, cease interfering in its affairs and not “condone criminals.” Organizers said at least 1.7 million people participated in Sunday’s Hong Kong rally and march, although the police estimate was far lower. Police said the protest was “generally peaceful” but accused a large group of people of “breaching public peace” afterward by occupying a major thoroughfare and using slingshots to shoot “hard objects” at government headquarters and pointing lasers at police officers. The protests have at times been marked