Huge Hong Kong protest expected in last push to scrap extradition bill

Huge Hong Kong protest expected in last push to scrap extradition bill

HONG KONG (Reuters) – At least half a million people in Hong Kong are expected to brave sweltering heat on Sunday to press the government to scrap a proposed extradition law that would allow suspects to be sent to China to face trial, organizers of the march said.

Students chain up themselves as they protest to demand authorities to scrap a proposed extradition bill with China, in Hong Kong, China June 8, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

A committee of pro-democratic groups has raised turnout estimates and are now eyeing the biggest single-day rally since 2003, when a similar number of protesters forced the government to shelve tighter national security laws.

The march will end at the city’s Legislative Council, where debates start on Wednesday into sweeping amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance. The extradition bill is due to be passed by the end of the month.

After weeks of growing local and international pressure, the protest is expected to reflect the broad range of opposition to the bill, with many saying they simply cannot trust China’s court system or its security apparatus.

The city’s independent legal system was guaranteed under laws governing Hong Kong’s return from British to Chinese rule 22 years ago, and is seen by the financial hub’s business and diplomatic communities as its strong remaining asset amid encroachments from Beijing.

Concerns have spread from the city’s democratic and human rights groups to secondary school students, church groups and media lobbies as well as corporate lawyers and pro-establishment business figures, some usually loathe to contradict the government.

(For the most recent stories on the extradition debate, click on. For a story explaining the issues, see)

Veteran Democratic Party lawmaker James To told Reuters that he believed a big turnout on Sunday could finally sway Hong Kong’s embattled government.

“It could really force a severe re-think by the government,” he said.

“There is everything to play for….People really sense this is a turning point for Hong Kong.”

That concern has mounted despite extensive efforts by Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam and her senior officials, both in public and private, to insist that adequate safeguards are in place to ensure that anyone facing political and religious persecution or torture would not be extradited.

Similarly, anyone facing a death penalty would not be extradited, but legislative oversight of extradition arrangements has been removed under the bill.

While the chief executive has to sign off on any extradition, court hearings and appeals must first be exhausted and the government has insisted judges will play a key “gatekeeper” role.

Some senior judges have expressed deep-set fears over the changes, however.

The march will cap an intense political week for the city, with an estimated 180,000 people holding a candle-lit vigil on Tuesday to mark 30 years since the Tiananmen Square crackdown and a rare rally by the city’s lawyers on Thursday.

It follows an earlier protest by more than 100,000 people in late May.

Commercial lawyer and commentator Kevin Yam said he expected many people who attended the recent rallies would turn out on Sunday.

He said it was the first time since the handover that the government had ignored both the concerns of the international community and the local business community at the same time.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his British and German counterparts have spoken against the bill, while 11 European Union envoys met Carrie Lam to formally protest.

On Saturday, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department reiterated U.S. concerns.

“The United States is closely monitoring and concerned by the Hong Kong government’s proposed amendments to the law,” she said. “Continued erosion of the ‘One country, Two systems’ framework puts at risk Hong Kong’s long-established special status in international affairs.”

Slideshow (4 Images)

Influential U.S. Republican Senator Marco Rubio has expressed repeated concern about the bill and a spokeswoman for his office said he was expected to again reintroduce his bipartisan “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act”, which would update a 1992 law that has afforded Hong Kong trade and economic privileges not enjoyed by mainland China.

The act would require the U.S. secretary of state to certify annually that Hong Kong is sufficiently autonomous before enacting any new laws or agreements granting Hong Kong such different treatment. It would also allow the secretary to waive the certification on national security grounds.

Yam said the issue had moved beyond politics at this point. “It is about not doing something stupid,” he said.

Reporting By Greg Torode and James Pomfret; Additional reporting by Jessie Pang in Hong Kong and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Kim Coghill and David Gregorio

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China warns about ‘unwavering resolve’ to fight US ‘bullying’ –

China warns about ‘unwavering resolve’ to fight US ‘bullying’ –

China could retaliate against the U.S. after President Donald Trump blacklisted Huawei Technologies Co., the Chinese ambassador to the European Union said.

Trump upped the ante in his trade dispute with China last week, announcing moves to curb Huawei’s business that are starting to have ramifications for other companies around the world.

“This is wrong behaviour, so there will be a necessary response,” Zhang Ming, China’s envoy to the EU, said in an interview in Brussels on Monday. “Chinese companies’ legitimate rights and interests are being undermined, so the Chinese government will not sit idly by.”

Trump on Friday signed an order that could restrict Huawei and fellow Chinese telecommunications company ZTE Corp. from selling their equipment in the U.S. The Trump administration, which says Chinese companies are obliged to aid Beijing in espionage, also put Huawei on a blacklist that could forbid it from doing business with American companies.

Calling the moves “politically motivated” and an “abuse of export-control measures,” Zhang said “the U.S. government is trying to bring down Huawei through administrative means.”

‘Wrong Path’

He added that China would “make the best possible effort to defend the legitimate right and interests of Chinese companies” and urged Washington “not to go further down the wrong path, to avoid further disturbances to China-U.S. relations.”

At a regular news briefing in Beijing, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang earlier Monday said to “wait and see” with regards to what countermeasures the Chinese government and enterprises could take in response to the U.S. measures against Huawei.

Washington’s actions come as the U.S. seeks to pressure China into agreeing to a wide-ranging trade deal. After Trump this month escalated a trade war with China through tariff increases on $200 billion of Chinese goods and a plan to impose levies on all further U.S. imports from the country, Zhang accused Washington of undermining more than a year of talks on an agreement.

“The United States has been repeatedly creating troubles to the consultation, undermining the positive momentum formed in the process of hard and tough negotiations and seeking illegitimate gains through bullying and blackmail,” Zhang said.

He said China would refuse to back down in the face of such tactics while keeping the door open to dialog, citing Chinese unity with Europe and other parts of the world in defending the global trade system and asserting the U.S. is isolated as a result of its unilateralism and protectionism.

Fight Song

“China has unwavering resolve to defend its legitimate right and interests,” Zhang said. “If the U.S. wants to fight, we will accompany to the end and we will also fight earnestly. In other words, the ball is in the U.S. court.”

With anti-U.S. sentiment in China growing to the point that a privately produced Chinese trade-war fight song has gone viral in Beijing, he stressed unity and resolve in the country. He also emphasized the longevity of Chinese civilization.

“We have been holding on for 5,000 years,” Zhang said. “Why not another 5,000 years?”

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Food Delivery Apps Are Drowning China in Plastic

Food Delivery Apps Are Drowning China in Plastic

Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at and keep reading!



Food Delivery Apps Are Drowning China in Plastic (



from the growing-problem dept.

In all likelihood, the enduring physical legacy of China’s internet boom will not be the glass-and-steel office complexes or the fancy apartments for tech elites. It will be the plastic. From a report: The astronomical growth of food delivery apps in China is flooding the country with takeout containers, utensils and bags. And the country’s patchy recycling system isn’t keeping up. The vast majority of this plastic ends up discarded, buried or burned with the rest of the trash, researchers and recyclers say. Scientists estimate that the online takeout business in China was responsible for 1.6 million tons of packaging waste in 2017, a ninefold jump from two years before. That includes 1.2 million tons of plastic containers, 175,000 tons of disposable chopsticks, 164,000 tons of plastic bags and 44,000 tons of plastic spoons.

Put together, it is more than the amount of residential and commercial trash of all kinds disposed of each year by the city of Philadelphia. The total for 2018 grew to an estimated two million tons. People in China still generate less plastic waste, per capita, than Americans. But researchers estimate that nearly three-quarters of China’s plastic waste ends up in inadequately managed landfills or out in the open, where it can easily make its way into the sea. More plastic enters the world’s oceans from China than from any other country. Plastic can take centuries to break down undersea.

I’ve looked at the listing, and it’s right!
— Joel Halpern


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U.S. State Department begins social media screening for nearly all visa applicants

U.S. State Department begins social media screening for nearly all visa applicants

Yesterday the U.S. State Department began implementing its requirement that nearly all U.S. visa applicants submit their social media usernames, previous email addresses and phone numbers as part of the application process. The new requirement, which could affect up to 15 million would-be travelers to the U.S., is part of a broad expansion of enhanced screening under the Trump administration.

First proposed in March 2018, the State Department only just updated the application forms to request the additional information, according to a report from the Associated Press.

“National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveler and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening,” the department said in a statement to the AP. “We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect U.S. citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States.”

In the past, this enhanced screening information, including email, phone numbers and social media had only been required for applicants who had been identified for extra scrutiny — primarily people who had traveled to areas with a high degree of terrorist activity. Roughly 65,000 applicants per-year had fallen into that category, according to the AP.

When the State Department first filed its notice of the changes, it estimated that 710,000 immigrant visa applications and 14 million nonimmigrant visa applicants would be affected — including business and student travelers.

New questions on the visa application forms list social media platforms and require applicants to provide any account names they may have had on them for a five-year period. The forms also request phone numbers and email addresses applicants have used over the past five years, along with their international travel and deportation status and whether any family members have been involved in terrorist activities.

These new obstacles to immigration come at a time when competition for highly-skilled talent is at an all-time high. And according to data from the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development, the U.S. is no longer the top-ranked destination for highly skilled workers or entrepreneurs.

Increasingly, immigrants are turning to countries like Canada,  Norway, Switzerland, Germany, Australia and New Zealand as destinations to settle and start businesses or find work, OECD data suggests.

It’s a (not unexpected) turn of events that could have significant consequences for the country as tensions with China continue to rise.

As The Economist noted earlier this week, putting up obstacles to immigration is exactly the wrong thing for the country to do.

It would be just as unwise for America to sit back. No law of physics says that quantum computing, artificial intelligence and other technologies must be cracked by scientists who are free to vote. Even if dictatorships tend to be more brittle than democracies, President Xi Jinping has reasserted party control and begun to project Chinese power around the world. Partly because of this, one of the very few beliefs which unite Republicans and Democrats is that America must act against China. But how?

For a start America needs to stop undermining its own strengths and build on them instead. Given that migrants are vital to innovation, the Trump administration’s hurdles to legal immigration are self-defeating. So are its frequent denigration of any science that does not suit its agenda and its attempts to cut science funding (reversed by Congress, fortunately).

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