Bernie Sanders World Isn't Preparing For A Convention Fight Just Yet

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) earned the distinction of front-runner in the Democratic presidential field on Tuesday night when he edged out his competition in New Hampshire, just over a week after a popular vote win in the Iowa caucuses.

The win, predictably, has handed him the most coveted ― if least quantifiable ― gift in politics: momentum. Days after the victory, Sanders sped past former Vice President Joe Biden in an average of national polls. The local Culinary Workers Union, one of the most powerful forces in Democratic politics in Nevada and a critic of Sanders’ “Medicare for All” plan, announced Thursday that it is choosing not to endorse a candidate in Nevada’s Feb. 22 caucuses. And on Friday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio endorsed Sanders, announcing plans to campaign for him in the Silver State.

But the narrowness of Sanders’ win in the Granite State ― he bested former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg by a little more than a percentage point ― and the apparent failure of an overall increase in voter turnout to redound to his benefit, according to exit polls, spooked some Sanders partisans.

“Bernie campaign it’s time to talk to the rural and old parts of the coalition,” Michael Brooks, host of a popular left-wing podcast, tweeted as the primary results were coming in. 

Some hard-core Sanders supporters went further, though, imagining a scenario in which the party could deny the Vermont senator the nomination if he arrived at the convention in Milwaukee this July with a bare plurality of pledged delegates. Reforms to the nominating process that Sanders pushed the Democratic National Committee to adopt  prevent the elite group of elected officials and party insiders known as superdelegates from breaking with their state’s pledged delegates on the first round of voting. But all bets are off on the second ballot, when superdelegates, who are almost uniformly opposed to Sanders, reassume their freedom to vote their conscience.

Michael Kinnucan, a Brooklyn-based member of the Democratic Socialists of America, which has endorsed Sanders, laid out just such a doomsday outcome in a Facebook post on Tuesday night warning that the “results are frankly pretty discouraging for the left.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) addresses supporters in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Tuesday. The narrowness of his win there has spooked some supporters. (Photo: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

Kinnucan, whose lengthy Facebook commentaries have a following in socialist circles, envisioned an optimistic scenario in which Sanders accelerated enough to win an outright majority, a pessimistic case where a centrist won a majority instead, and a middle ground he called “both the likeliest and scariest” in which Sanders arrives at the convention with a plurality, but his ideological enemies collectively have more delegates than he does.

“The centrists legitimately think the party isn’t behind Bernie’s politics, the leftists legitimately feel like Bernie deserves the nomination, and whatever results from that ― probably a centrist getting the nomination ― is brutally divisive and puts us in a situation where some idiot shill like Buttigieg is going up against Trump in a context where a good chunk of the base think he stole the primary,” Kinnucan wrote.

Kinnucan’s fears are not baseless. The statistics-heavy election analysis site FiveThirtyEight now ranks Sanders as the second most likely person to win the Democratic presidential nomination after “no one” ― the site’s shorthand for a situation where there is no winner of a majority of pledged delegates going into the convention.

The Sanders campaign did not respond to inquiries about whether it is planning for some kind of a contested nominating convention, and if so, what it has in mind.

But several of Sanders’ top surrogates dismissed the worries of some grassroots supporters as premature, even as they provided different reasons for their confidence in Sanders’ path to the nomination. 

Given the crowded nature of the field, multiple candidates were only ever going to be able to win pluralities of the contested Democratic primary vote, according to Jim Zogby, a Democratic National Committee member and executive director of the Arab American Institute.

“The votes aren’t there for anyone to be the decisive nominee,” he said.

The question, Zogby argued, is whether the party will rally behind Sanders once it nominates him. He warned Democratic strategists and commentators against disparaging him in the way they did to George McGovern in 1972, depriving him of the support he needed to compete against Richard Nixon.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), a co-chair of Sanders’ campaign with ties to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Silicon Valley donors, was likewise not worried about entering the convention with less than 50% of pledged delegates.

“People are overthinking this,” Khanna said. “We will nominate the candidate who has the plurality lead.”

Larry Cohen, a DNC member and former head of the Communication Workers of America labor union, expressed some concern. He had been in discussions with supporters of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) about finding a way for Sanders and Warren to forge a delegate-swapping deal in the event that neither one achieves an outright majority prior to the convention. 

But with Warren faltering, he is now countenancing the more precarious situation where Sanders goes into the convention with a plurality and Warren has few delegates to offer against the moderate candidates.

In that situation, he believes a compromise assuring Sanders the nomination on the first ballot, though not ideal, would still be possible. He cited as a potential model the horse-trading between then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and then-New York Sen. Hillary Clinton in 2008 that reportedly helped facilitate Clinton’s formal withdrawal from the presidential primary after Obama clinched enough national delegates to win. She went on to halt the roll call vote and call for Obama’s nomination by acclamation in a daytime spectacle at the August 2008 convention that was designed to avoid intraparty acrimony.

“The centrists have lots of things that they want to see,” Cohen said, likening it to the kind of give-and-take involved in assembling a governing coalition in parliamentary democracies. “Somebody gets this, somebody gets that, and together they have a majority.”

Before the deal-making begins, though, Sanders would be in the unusual position of having partisan shame at his disposal as a weapon to wield against wayward Democratic officials. 

Because establishment Democrats blame Sanders for Clinton’s loss in the 2016 election and he has maintained his independent status, he has been asked constantly to affirm his support for whomever the Democratic presidential nominee ends up being. He would ironically have the opportunity to demand the same of his Democratic adversaries if he arrived at the convention with a plurality of convention delegates.

“The argument that’s been thrown at him for the last four or five years ― he would need to make that case plainly: that to maintain party unity, he’s the leader now,” said Shant Mesrobian, a Democratic communications consultant who worked on the Obama 2008 campaign. “The way I would put it is that whoever is the delegate leader is the unity candidate of the Democratic Party. And if you don’t see it that way, you’re asking to lose to Donald Trump again.”

But if Sanders’ many antagonists in the Democratic Party will heed that appeal eventually, his victories to this point have not been enough to get them to admit it.

When the Miami Herald asked three Democratic congresswomen from Florida this week if they’d support Sanders as the nominee, they refused to even entertain the premise of the question.

“He’s not going to be the nominee,” Rep. Donna Shalala told the Herald.

In the meantime, Sanders’ allies believe they can expand his coalition beyond his racially diverse, but largely young, core of supporters in time to lock up a majority of delegates.

For Khanna, that means emphasizing that Sanders’ version of democratic socialism is, by his own admission, simply an extension of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s beloved New Deal. Khanna tried out the line in an interview with MSNBC anchor and Sanders skeptic Chris Matthews on Monday, calling Sanders “an FDR Democrat.”

Sanders is running on “completing the work of the New Deal ― a new New Deal for the 21st century,” Khanna told HuffPost. “We want to make sure people can stay with their families and where they grew up and still get good jobs.”

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    Reuters

    Japan traces new coronavirus outbreak linked to Tokyo theatre

    Tokyo health officials appealed on Tuesday for more than 800 theatregoers to get tested for the novel coronavirus after a production starring Japanese boy-band members was found to be the source of at least 20 cases. As the number of virus infections continues to rise in Japan's capital city, the Tokyo government said it was focussing on a 190-seat theatre in the Shinjuku entertainment district, where infections have also been traced to cabaret clubs. Japan is pushing ahead with opening up parts of the country, with plans to reopen a runway at one of the country's biggest airports, even as infections persist in major cities, rural areas and U.S. military bases.

  • Australia tightens restrictions amid fresh COVID-19 outbreaks
    News
    Reuters

    Australia tightens restrictions amid fresh COVID-19 outbreaks

    Australian states on Tuesday tightened restrictions on movement as authorities struggle to contain a fresh outbreak of COVID-19 in the country's southeast that is starting to spill into other areas. With growing fears of a second coronavirus wave nationally, two states extended border restrictions and Australia's most populous state imposed limits on the number of people allowed in large pubs. The changes come as scores of new cases were uncovered in Victoria, the country's COVID-19 hotspot, despite a return to lockdown last week for nearly 5 million people in state capital Melbourne.

  • China's scandal-hit Luckin Coffee ousts chairman
    Business
    AFP News

    China's scandal-hit Luckin Coffee ousts chairman

    China's would-be Starbucks rival Luckin Coffee has removed its co-founder and chairman after a scandal involving fake sales figures that resulted in the company being delisted from the US Nasdaq and the ouster of two top executives. Luckin's billionaire founder Charles Zhengyao Lu has been replaced as chairman by Jinyi Guo, previously the acting CEO, the embattled coffee chain said in a statement on its website dated Monday. The announcement came days after company directors had voted to keep Lu on the board despite an internal investigation that found the company had inflated its 2019 sales revenue by some 2.12 billion yuan ($311 million).

  • Beijing accuses US of ‘stirring division’ over South China Sea claims
    News
    South China Morning Post

    Beijing accuses US of ‘stirring division’ over South China Sea claims

    Beijing has urged the US to stop stirring up division between China and its Southeast Asian neighbours after Washington described Chinese claims to the resource-rich waters of the disputed South China Sea as “unlawful”.A Chinese embassy spokesperson in the US said the statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – which aligned with a 2016 tribunal ruling by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) rejecting most of China’s claims – was intended to “sow discord between China and other littoral countries” in the region.“We advise the US side to earnestly honour its commitment of not taking sides on the issue of territorial sovereignty, respect regional countries’ efforts for a peaceful and stable South China Sea and stop its attempts to disrupt and sabotage regional peace and stability,” the spokesperson said on Tuesday.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.In a policy shift for Washington, which has no claims in the region, the US has formally said it opposes a swathe of Chinese claims to the waters within the so-called “nine-dash line” encompassing roughly 85 per cent of the South China Sea, in line with the 2016 ruling.The Obama administration welcomed but did not officially endorse the ruling, which favoured the Philippines and ruled that China's nine-dash line claims and accompanying claims to historic rights had no validity under international law.While Pompeo did not specifically say Washington was taking sides in the sovereignty dispute, he clearly rejected China’s claims to submerged features – including Mischief Reef, Second Thomas Shoal, James Shoal, Vanguard Bank and Natuna Besar – and described Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea as “completely unlawful”.Pompeo’s remarks add to a growing number of intensifying confrontations between China and the US over trade, Covid-19, human rights in Xinjiang and the national security law in Hong Kong.Earlier this month, the US sent two aircraft carriers, the USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz, and four other warships to the South China Sea for “exercises”, while China was holding its own exercises around the Paracel Islands in the sensitive waters. US issues direct challenge to Beijing’s South China Sea claimsThe Chinese embassy spokesperson’s statement accused the US of interfering in the disputes between China and other claimants. “Under the pretext of preserving stability, it is flexing muscles, stirring up tension and inciting confrontation in the region,” the statement said.“Under the pretext of endorsing rules, it is using UNCLOS to attack China while refusing to ratify the convention itself. Under the pretext of upholding freedom of navigation and overflight, it is recklessly infringing on other countries’ territorial sea and airspace and throwing its weight around in every sea of the world.”The increased activity in the South China Sea by Beijing and Washington has raised the chance of conflict in the region.While Beijing has said it is working closely with the 10 members of Asean over a code of conduct that aims to regulate behaviour in the waters, there have been growing uncertainties, particularly as negotiations have been postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.Meanwhile, China’s neighbours are hardening their stance. A statement issued by Vietnam on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations last month said a 1982 UN oceans treaty should be the basis of sovereign rights and entitlements in the South China Sea, in one of the bloc’s strongest remarks opposing China’s vast claim on historical grounds.Purchase the 100+ page China Internet Report 2020 Pro Edition, brought to you by SCMP Research, and enjoy a 30% discount (original price US$400). The report includes deep-dive analysis, trends, and case studies on the 10 most important internet sectors. Now in its 3rd year, this go-to source for understanding China tech also comes with exclusive access to 6 webinars with C-level executives. Offer valid until 31 August 2020. To purchase, please click here.More from South China Morning Post: * Beijing’s claims in South China Sea ‘unlawful’, says US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo * Japan accuses China of pushing territorial claims, spreading propaganda during coronavirus pandemic * US military South China Sea moves are ‘futile and its allies risk harm’: Chinese colonel * Chinese think tank rejects reports of planned South China Sea air defence identification zoneThis article Beijing accuses US of ‘stirring division’ over South China Sea claims first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.

  • Asian markets hit by new lockdown, fresh China-US tensions
    Business
    AFP News

    Asian markets hit by new lockdown, fresh China-US tensions

    Fears over a spike in infections around the world, the reimposition of containment measures and China-US tensions pushed Asian equities lower Tuesday, while oil prices were also hit by speculation top producers will begin tapering their output cuts. After hitting lows in March, markets have been surging thanks to government support and optimism that the world economy will bounce back as crippling lockdowns are eased. Meanwhile, Hong Kong on Monday announced sweeping new measures as the city suffers a relapse.

  • China’s trade economy roared back to growth in June, as coronavirus lockdowns eased abroad
    Business
    South China Morning Post

    China’s trade economy roared back to growth in June, as coronavirus lockdowns eased abroad

    China’s trade economy roared back to growth in June, with exports and imports both recovering from the coronavirus lockdown, data released on Tuesday showed.Exports from the world’s second largest economy rose by 0.5 per cent from a year earlier in June, a sharp improvement on May’s minus 3.3 per cent slump. Chinese imports rose by 2.7 per cent from June 2019’s levels, much improved on May’s minus 16.7 per cent and the first monthly import growth since December 2019.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.Both measurements were well ahead of the median forecasts of a poll of analysts conducted by Bloomberg, which had predicted exports to shrink by 2.0 per cent and imports to fall 9.0 per cent from a year earlier, respectively.China posted a trade surplus of US$46.2 billion in June, narrower than May’s balance of US$62.93 per cent, sparked by the improvement in imports.“Inbound shipments jumped the most in month on month terms in years, adding to evidence that domestic demand was strong at the end of quarter two. Exports also strengthened as slower shipments of products related to Covid-19 were more than offset by strength elsewhere,” said Martin Rasmussen, China Economist at Capital Economics.China’s traders have been boosted by economic reopening around the world, as countries begin to claw their way back to capacity after the coronavirus pandemic caused sweeping disruption to business and consumption.Tuesday’s trade data arrived ahead of Thursday’s quarterly growth release, which is expected by analysts to show that China posted low single-digit growth in the second quarter in the year, a strong recovery from the minus 6.8 per cent decline in the first three months of the year.Latest data about world’s second largest economyThe latest progression in the trade economy was telegraphed by positive purchasing managers’ indices (PMIs) for both manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors for four successive months. The export orders reading in the official manufacturing PMI for June remained negative, but improved on previous months.While waves of viral outbreaks have beset efforts to restart some economies, particularly in the United States, governments appear keen to strike a balance between viral containment and economic growth.In terms of trade with the US, imports in the first six months of 2020 dropped 4.8 per cent compared to the same period last year, while exports dropped 11.1 per cent.In June, imports from the US rose 11.3 per cent, while exports dropped 1.4 per cent year on year. China’s trade surplus with the US dropped slightly to US$29.41 billion in June compared to US$29.91 billion in June 2019.The pressure is on Beijing to buy more American goods as part of the phase one trade deal, signed on January 15. China has agreed to buy US$200 billion in additional American products over the next two years, on top of 2017’s baseline levels.US President Donald Trump dimmed hope of a “phase two” follow-up deal over the weekend, blaming China’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, which was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.“I don’t think about it now,” Trump told reporters. “They could have stopped the plague, they could have stopped it, they didn’t stop it.”US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told a webinar hosted by British think tank Chatham House last week that “I don’t know what the end goal is” with regard the trade war.“Right now we need to stop an aggressive force,” he said of China. “We have to figure out new rules – what phase one is an attempt to find those kinds of rules – and these are setting aside all the aggression in India and in Hong Kong.”At a press conference in Beijing on Tuesday, Li Kuiwen, a spokesman for China's General Administration of Customs, said “the uncertain and unstable elements faced by China's foreign trade are still increasing significantly, including the China-US trade friction”, adding that the “situation in the second half of the year is complicated”.China, meanwhile, imported 4.75 million tonnes of meat including offal in the first six months of the year, up 73.5 per cent on the same period a year ago.China imported 896,000 tonnes of meat including offal in June, the data from the General Administration of Customs showed.Purchase the 120+ page China Internet Report 2020 Pro Edition, brought to you by SCMP Research, and enjoy a 30% discount (original price US$400). The report includes deep-dive analysis, trends, and case studies on the 10 most important internet sectors. Now in its 3rd year, this go-to source for understanding China tech also comes with exclusive access to 6+ webinars with C-level executives, including Charles Li, CEO of HKEX, James Peng, CEO/founder of Pony.ai, and senior executives from Alibaba, Huawei, Kuaishou, Pinduoduo, and more. Offer valid until 31 August 2020. To purchase, please click here.More from South China Morning Post: * China’s Hainan free-trade port plan off to fast start as duty-free shopping soars in first week * In China’s manufacturing hub of Dongguan, a sock maker struggles to keep his factory from folding * Coronavirus, US-China trade war see 95 per cent of American firms wanting to ditch Chinese suppliers * China economy: latest data about world’s second largest economy * US-China trade war reaches second anniversary, with superpower relations at ‘alarming’ lowest ebbThis article China’s trade economy roared back to growth in June, as coronavirus lockdowns eased abroad first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.

  • From the Moon to Mars: China's march across space
    Science
    AFP News

    From the Moon to Mars: China's march across space

    After sending humans into orbit and landing a probe on the Moon, China is aiming for another milestone in its space ambitions with the launch of a Mars rover next week. China is among a trio of nations, with the United Arab Emirates and the United States, sending a mission to the Red Planet this month, as Mars is closest to Earth during this period. Beijing's space programme has made huge strides in recent years as it scrambles to compete with the US.

  • Huawei’s revenue rises 13.1 per cent in first half of 2020 despite coronavirus pandemic and US ban
    Business
    South China Morning Post

    Huawei’s revenue rises 13.1 per cent in first half of 2020 despite coronavirus pandemic and US ban

    Huawei Technologies said its revenue grew 13.1 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2020 despite the global coronavirus pandemic and ongoing sanctions from the US.The Shenzhen company generated 454 billion yuan (US$64.8 billion) in revenue in the first six months of the year, up from 401.3 billion yuan during the same period in 2019, according to the statement from Huawei released on Monday night.The net profit margin was 9.2 per cent in the first six months, up from 8.7 per cent in the same period last year. Huawei’s key business segments – consumer, carrier and enterprise – produced revenue of 255.8 billion yuan, 159.6 billion yuan and 36.3 billion yuan respectively with positive growth.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.“As countries around the globe are grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic, information and communications technologies (ICT) have become not only a crucial tool for combating the virus, but also an engine for economic recovery,” Huawei said in the statement.Huawei also reiterated its commitment to working with carriers and industry partners to maintain stable network operations, accelerate digital transformation, and support efforts to contain local outbreaks and reopen local economies. Huawei’s first quarter revenue growth hit by coronavirus, US sanctionsThe Chinese tech giant’s results came ahead of an expected announcement on Tuesday by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on banning Huawei from Britain’s 5G network.Britain’s National Security Council (NCSC), chaired by Johnson, will meet on Tuesday morning to discuss Huawei. Media Secretary Oliver Dowden will then announce a decision to the House of Commons later in the day.In January, the British government approved the limited use of Huawei’s equipment in the country’s roll-out of 5G mobile infrastructure, although placed a 35 per cent cap on what it called “high-risk vendors’” access to the non-sensitive parts of networks.The NCSC review – which comes amid deteriorating diplomatic relations since the coronavirus outbreak in January – could lead to a reversal of that decision and see the UK government ban the use of Huawei’s 5G network gear.“The complex external environment makes open collaboration and trust in global value chains more important than ever,” said Huawei in its statement on Monday night.“Huawei has promised to continue fulfilling its obligations to customers and suppliers, and to survive, forge ahead, and contribute to the global digital economy and technological development, no matter what future challenges the company faces.”Purchase the 120+ page China Internet Report 2020 Pro Edition, brought to you by SCMP Research, and enjoy a 30% discount (original price US$400). The report includes deep-dive analysis, trends, and case studies on the 10 most important internet sectors. Now in its 3rd year, this go-to source for understanding China tech also comes with exclusive access to 6+ webinars with C-level executives, including Charles Li, CEO of HKEX, James Peng, CEO/founder of Pony.ai, and senior executives from Alibaba, Huawei, Kuaishou, Pinduoduo, and more. Offer valid until 31 August 2020. To purchase, please click here.More from South China Morning Post: * Huawei faces ban in Britain, uncertainty swirls over timing, extent * Huawei bucks downward trend to unseat Apple and take the lead in China’s tablet market amid pandemic * Huawei reports meagre revenue growth in first quarter as coronavirus, US sanctions take a toll * China’s fiscal first quarter revenue declines over 14 per cent, weighed down by coronavirus, tax relief * Founder Ren Zhengfei says Huawei ‘racing to develop’ new technologies amid coronavirus pandemicThis article Huawei’s revenue rises 13.1 per cent in first half of 2020 despite coronavirus pandemic and US ban first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.

  • Paradise regained then lost: Med mammals mourn lockdown end
    Science
    AFP News

    Paradise regained then lost: Med mammals mourn lockdown end

    When Europeans retreated into their homes to observe strict stay-at-home rules to contain the coronavirus, dolphins and whales on the Mediterranean coast basked and thrived in a hitherto unknown calm. Nowhere is this more true then in the crystalline waters outside France's second biggest city of Marseille, a nature reserve important for wildlife but also thronged with day-trippers in the summer season. "As soon as the pleasure boaters came back, we saw footage that really annoyed us," said Marion Leclerc from the conservationist organisation Souffleurs d'Ecume (Sea Foam Blowers).

  • Japan defence review slams China's virus 'disinformation'
    News
    AFP News

    Japan defence review slams China's virus 'disinformation'

    China has been spreading "disinformation" about the coronavirus and its naval activities are a matter of "grave" concern, Japan said in its annual defence review published Tuesday. After a period of warming relations between the two Asian powers last year, ties have cooled in recent months amid international souring of sentiment on China over the virus and Beijing's imposition of a national security law on Hong Kong. The closely watched paper on Japan's defence policy accused China of "propaganda efforts... including the spread of disinformation" over the virus, which first broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

  • Macron to host downsized Bastille Day, outline crisis response
    News
    AFP News

    Macron to host downsized Bastille Day, outline crisis response

    President Emmanuel Macron will host Tuesday a Bastille Day ceremony scaled-down because of the coronavirus pandemic and also address the French in a rare television interview as fears grow over a potential second wave of infections. For the first time since 1945, authorities have called off the annual military parade along the Champs-Elysees in Paris that marks the July 14, 1789, storming of the Bastille fortress that launched the French Revolution. Just 2,000 soldiers -- half the usual number -- will gather at the Place de la Concorde.

  • China says Hong Kong opposition primary a 'serious provocation'
    News
    AFP News

    China says Hong Kong opposition primary a 'serious provocation'

    China has described a primary by Hong Kong's pro-democracy parties as a "serious provocation", warning that some campaigning may have breached a tough new security law it imposed on the city. "This is a serious provocation against the current election system," the Liaison Office, which represents China's government in the semi-autonomous city, said in a statement late Monday. More than 600,000 Hong Kongers turned out over the weekend to choose candidates for upcoming legislative elections despite warnings from government officials that the event could breach Beijing's sweeping new law.