US rap queen Nicki Minaj delighted fans Monday by announcing she is pregnant.
The Hong Kong government has fired back at Britain’s decision to suspend their extradition agreement, accusing the former colonial ruler of double standards, gross interference in China’s internal affairs and violating international law.The strongly worded pushback came after UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab formally announced on Monday the cut in ties he had signalled over the weekend, along with restrictions on arms sales and reviews of exchange programmes for judges and police officers.The United Kingdom joined Five Eye alliance partners Canada and Australia in suggesting that human rights concerns prompted by the national security law Beijing imposed in Hong Kong on June 30 had opened the door for potential misuse of the extradition agreement.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.In strongly opposing the suspension, a Hong Kong government spokesman on Tuesday said every country “has laws and the duty to safeguard its national security and sovereignty”, citing the UK’s own Treason Felony Act, Official Secrets Act, Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act, and Security Service Act. Hong Kong national security law: read the full text“The UK’s unilateral suspension of the agreement on surrender of fugitive offenders with Hong Kong for political purposes, using China’s enactment of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR as an excuse, is absolutely a political manipulation of double standards,” he said.“It is also a gross interference in China’s internal affairs and a grave violation of international law and basic norms governing international relations, thereby knowingly allowing criminals to evade justice,” the spokesman added.He said the UK would be “answerable to the rule of law and the international community” because the country might become a legal loophole for fugitives wanted by Hong Kong.Separately, a spokesman from the Chinese Embassy in the UK urged London to “immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs”.“The UK will bear the consequences if it insists on going down the wrong road,” he said.Ahead of Monday’s announcement, senior government advisers and officials had already suggested the suspension could turn the UK into a “haven” for fugitives involved in the anti-government protests of the past year. Immigration firms report rush of Hong Kong BN(O) renewal interestEarlier, the UK announced it was also poised to grant wider residence rights to the city’s BN (O) passport holders, which could pave the way for citizenship. The details of that plan would be revealed before its parliamentary summer recess, Raab said on Monday.Raab, however, stopped short of imposing sanctions on Chinese or Hong Kong officials involved in introducing the national security law, and noted the importance of continued engagement with China in future.“It’s very important that these targeted sanctions are done right, not quick,” Raab said. “If you do them too quickly, they will be legally challenged.”Since July, two anti-government protesters wanted for assaulting police officers have been stopped at Hong Kong International Airport while attempting to hop on a London-bound flight.One was accused of jumping bail for assaulting a police officer in a mall in September. The other allegedly stabbed a police officer on July 1 during a protest against the national security law.According to Security Bureau figures, Hong Kong sent eight fugitives to Britain between 1997, the year the former colony was returned to Chinese sovereignty, and 2018. Over the same period, the UK sent back 10.Among those, the government spokesman said, only three were handed to the UK between 2010 and now, while the UK has surrendered no fugitives over the past decade.After announcing the suspension would be “immediate and indefinite”, Raab said: “We would not consider reactivating those arrangements, unless, and until [there are] clear and robust safeguards which are able to prevent extradition from the UK being misused under the national security legislation.”Hong Kong opposition activist Nathan Law Kwun-chung, who moved to the UK after quitting his political group Demosisto following the adoption of the national security law, said Monday’s move marked a tougher stance from the West against China.He said in a Facebook post that he had recently met with shadow ministers in the UK to urge for Magnitsky Act-style sanctions on Hong Kong officials and police officers. The 2012 legislation gave the United States government the authority to sanction perceived human rights offenders.London and Beijing also crossed swords on Monday before the extradition announcement. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would adopt a calibrated response to China, and was going “to be tough on some things, but also going to continue to engage”. Hong Kong extradition treaty partners wait to see how national security law plays outChinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, meanwhile, accused the UK of serious interference in China’s domestic affairs. “We call on the UK [United Kingdom] not to go further down the wrong path to avoid further damage to Sino-UK relations. China will take resolute countermeasures for moves that interfere in its domestic affairs,” he said.Canada and Australia suspended their extradition treaties with Hong Kong earlier this month, citing a fear of political persecution. The US was said to be preparing a similar move last week, while New Zealand, the other Five Eyes member, was reassessing the legal instrument as part of a “deliberate, considered review” of its relations with Hong Kong.Rebel City: Hong Kong’s Year of Water and Fire is a new book of essays that chronicles the political confrontation that has gripped the city since June 2019. Edited by the South China Morning Post's Zuraidah Ibrahim and Jeffie Lam, the book draws on work from the Post's newsrooms across Hong Kong, Beijing, Washington and Singapore, with unmatched insights into all sides of the conflict. Buy directly from SCMP today and get a 15% discount (regular price HKD$198). It is available at major bookshops worldwide or online through Amazon, Kobo, Google Books, and eBooks.com.More from South China Morning Post: * Britain suspends Hong Kong extradition treaty over national security law * Hong Kong extradition treaty partners wait to see how national security law plays outThis article National security law: Hong Kong government slams ‘double standards’, ‘interference’ as Britain suspends extradition deal first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
European Union leaders agreed on a massive stimulus plan for their coronavirus-blighted economies at a pre-dawn meeting on Tuesday after a fractious summit that lasted almost five days. Key to the deal is a new element in EU policymaking: the European Commission will borrow massively on the market and then grant much of the cash, rather than lend it, to countries most in need of economic stimulus. The plans also have to make economies greener and more digital and be in line with the Commission's annual recommendations.
EU leaders emerged from a marathon four-day and four-night summit Tuesday to celebrate what they boasted was a historic rescue plan for economies left shattered by the coronavirus epidemic. The 750-billion-euro ($858-billion) deal was sealed after intense negotiation that saw a threats of a French walkout and a Hungarian veto -- and fierce opposition from the Netherlands and Austria to too generous a package. "These were of course, difficult negotiations in very difficult times for all Europeans," EU Council Chief Charles Michel, whose job was to guide the tortuous talks over more than 90 hours.
President Donald Trump changed his tune in favor of face masks as a tool to combat the coronavirus in the United States, as European leaders on Tuesday agreed on a massive aid package for their pandemic-ravaged economies. The virus has infected more than 14.6 million people and killed over 600,000 of them since it first emerged in China, with fresh alarm being sounded over its accelerating spread in Africa.
Hong Kong recorded another two Covid-19 fatalities and at least 70 more confirmed infections on Tuesday, according to a medical source, as the Hospital Authority warned the city may run out of first-tier isolation beds this week.Describing the capacity situation as critical, the authority said it had already transferred about a dozen confirmed patients in a stable condition to second-tier isolation wards to create room for those newly infected, as it scrambles to open new facilities in the community to cope with the worsening coronavirus crisis. Hong Kong lockdown warning as Covid-19 cases spike, with 73 new infectionsThe first of the deaths revealed on Tuesday involved a 77-year-old patient living in Tsz Wan Shan, where clusters of outbreaks have been reported.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.He was admitted to Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam on July 14 with fever. His situation worsened on July 16 and he passed away this morning, according to the Hospital Authority.An 87-year-old from the Kong Tai Care for the Age Centre Limited at Tsz Wan Shan became the third resident there to die after contracting the coronavirus. He had been admitted to the hospital on July 9 with fever.Those deaths push the number of coronavirus-related fatalities in the city to 14, after the infected tally hit 1,958 on Monday, a sharp increase of more than 600 cases over two weeks.A medical source said that at least 70 confirmed cases were recorded on Tuesday.Isolation beds in public hospitals are becoming limited and the situation is critical.Ian CheungThe surge of new cases continued on Tuesday after the Hospital Authority issued a dire warning over the impact of Hong Kong’s third wave of infections on the city’s health care system.“Isolation beds in public hospitals are becoming limited and the situation is critical,” said Ian Cheung Tsz-fung, the Hospital Authority’s chief manager of cluster performances.“As there are more elderly patients in this wave, we might use up our isolation beds much sooner than we did in March. This week is the key.”First-tier isolation wards offer higher levels of infection control than second-tier ones, with the former prioritised for those most seriously ill.Up to 77 per cent of the first-tier beds are currently in use, just short of the maximum capacity for Covid-19 patients of around 80 per cent.Cheung said on a radio programme on Tuesday the remaining isolation rooms were reserved for coronavirus testing and critical patients with other illnesses.As a contingency measure, services at specialist outpatient clinics and surgeries will be reduced, so that more general wards can be turned into second-tier isolation facilities. How did Hong Kong’s third wave of Covid-19 infections start?So far, all patients confirmed with the coronavirus have been treated in public hospitals, where there are 1,200 first-tier and 500 second-tier beds.The Post is asking private hospitals what extra help they could offer amid the new wave of infections.The authority earlier announced that some community facilities would be used to treat those coronavirus patients who were in a stable condition.Cheung added that such facilities might have to start operations as early as this week to ease the burden on overstretched public hospitals.The first facility to be deployed for that purpose, Lei Yue Mun Park and Holiday Village in Chai Wan, is one of four quarantine centres currently in use for close contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases and people arriving from high-risk areas.Speaking on the same programme, Dr Arisina Ma Chung-yee, president of the Hong Kong Public Doctors’ Association, said the sudden surge of cases not only created pressure for facilities but also for health care workers, including staff in testing laboratories.She repeated warnings that the public and private companies should not rush for coronavirus tests if they were not close contacts or were without symptoms.“I heard that some private companies require staff who live in some buildings with some other infected patients to do the tests before they can go to work. I would appeal to these companies to allow staff to work from home instead,” she said, adding that many of the labs had reached their testing capacity as well.The Centre for Health Protection’s Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan made a similar appeal on Monday amid a recent surge in the number of Hongkongers seeking virus tests at public or private hospitals“I urge those who do not have symptoms and are not linked to infected persons … do not rush to go take a test, as they will rob other urgent patients of the ability to get screenings,” she said.The Hospital Authority said more than 4,000 Hongkongers visited emergency departments and general clinics in public hospitals seeking tests over the past week, despite the authority not providing certificates of health for asymptomatic individuals.Queues were also seen at some private hospitals, including St Teresa's Hospital near Kowloon City, while some others have already announced their testing quotas were full for the day.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: * Hong Kong third wave: authorities weigh lockdown after 73 new Covid-19 cases reported * Hong Kong third wave: how did city’s scariest surge in Covid-19 cases start, and what did authorities miss?This article Hong Kong third wave: two more Covid-19 deaths, at least 70 new confirmed infections, source says, as Hospital Authority warns of ‘critical’ situation on isolation wards first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
European Union leaders had hoped the relief of seeing each other face-to-face after five months apart under coronavirus lockdown would ease their fraught debate. It did not turn out that way -- despite beginning with cheerful elbow bumps and birthday gifts for 66-year-old Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor and a veteran of Brussels' conference rooms. When the 27 leaders emerged into the dawn light on Belgium's national day on Tuesday to unveil their post-virus recovery plan, they had been locked in a formal summit for four days and nights -- more than 90 hours of horsetrading.
The Philippines said on Tuesday it would ramp up testing for the novel coronavirus amid a sharp rise in infections and deaths since a lockdown was eased in June, while President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to arrest anyone not wearing a mask. The government aimed to test 32,000 to 40,000 people a day compared with the current 20,000 to 23,000, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said in a televised meeeting with Duterte. The Philippines has tested nearly 1.1 million people so far, but Duque said the aim was for 10 million people - or nearly a tenth of the population - to be tested by the second quarter of next year.
European Union leaders reached a deal on a massive stimulus plan for their coronavirus-blighted economies at a pre-dawn meeting on Tuesday after a fractious summit that went through the night and into its fifth day. Summit chairman Charles Michel tweeted "Deal" shortly after the 27 leaders reached agreement at a 5.15 a.m. (0315 GMT) plenary session. Officials said the deal, which came after Michel presented compromises on a 750 billion euro recovery fund, is critical to dispel doubts about the bloc's very future.
Berlin museums might house the iconic Nefertiti bust, the Ishtar gate of ancient Babylon or Rembrandt masterpieces, but they still trail global counterparts in popularity -- and the coronavirus is making things worse. Millions of euros have been poured into the institutions, yet the 19 museums managed by the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK) attracted just 4.2 million visitors last year, while the Louvre alone drew 9.6 million. Alarmed by lacklustre public interest, Germany is planning a major shake-up after a report commissioned by Chancellor Angela Merkel's government slammed the foundation as dysfunctional, outdated and out of touch.
U.S. President Donald Trump's re-election campaign ramped up expenditure in June as the presidential race intensified, spending more than $50 million - about twice the amount spent the month before. Trump's Democratic opponent in the Nov. 3 general election, Joe Biden, spent considerably less - about $37 million. The two campaigns finished the month with roughly the same amount of money in the bank - around $110 million each, according to disclosures filed on Monday with the Federal Election Commission.
South Korea's first-ever military communications satellite has been successfully launched by private operator SpaceX, Seoul said Tuesday, as it looks to build up its defence capabilities. A Falcon 9 rocket carrying the satellite blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, Seoul's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said in a statement.
Florida's main teachers union on Monday sued Governor Ron DeSantis and other authorities to stop schools from reopening in August, as the state has become a US epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Florida Education Association, which represents 140,000 teachers, says the state constitution asserts that schools must provide a "safe and secure" environment, but that the COVID-19 resurgence "is remarkable and out of control." Florida reported 10,347 new COVID-19 cases and 90 deaths on Monday, bringing the total death toll to 5,072.
After almost four months of treating coronavirus patients in the western Romanian city of Timisoara, doctor Virgil Musta is not only facing a surge in new daily cases, but also a string of conspiracy theories. In a country where doctors rarely speak out, Musta has become a constant presence on social media and the local press, talking about his work at Victor Babes hospital. "I have to act on two fronts -- the professional one where I treat patients and the informational one where I try to explain the facts to people," said Musta, who is also head of Timisoara's infectious disease department.
Hopes for a virus vaccine helped push Asian equities higher Tuesday after promising results from two clinical trials, while traders were also keeping tabs on an EU summit aimed at hammering out a stimulus package for the bloc.
Britain on Monday risked worsening strained ties with China, as it suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in protest at a controversial new security law in the territory. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed the widely expected move in parliament, despite Chinese warnings that Britain was making a grave foreign policy error and risked reprisals.
Two studies offered new hope of a potential vaccine for the novel coronavirus on Monday, as the World Health Organization warned about a possible acceleration of the disease in Africa. Seven months after COVID-19 was first identified in China and has since killed more than 600,000 people worldwide and battered economies, there is growing alarm over fresh outbreaks of the disease. Until recently, Africa had remained relatively unscathed by the pandemic compared to other parts of the world.
With monikers as divergent as the "Professor" and the "Destroyer", the Islamic State group's new head has a reputation for brutality, but otherwise remains largely an enigma. Amir Mohammed Said Abd al-Rahman al-Mawla replaced Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi after his death in a raid by US special forces last October. Mawla was initially presented to the world by the Islamic State (IS) as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi -- a man about whom America and Iraq had little intelligence.
China modestly increased its holdings of US Treasury securities in May, the first in three months, despite rising trans-Pacific tensions and growing talk of a financial war between the world’s two largest economies.China added US$10.9 billion of US Treasury securities in May from a month earlier, after cutting its holdings in each of the previous two months, according to a report released by the US Treasury Department last week.The modest growth came at a time when fears are growing that confrontations between Beijing and Washington over the coronavirus pandemic, the Hong Kong national security law and Xinjiang could spill over into the financial sector.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.Debate in Beijing continues over whether the United States could restrict or even cut off its access to the US dollar, while China could retaliate by dumping its holdings of US government debt, although analysts said this “nuclear option” is highly unlikely because of the damage it would do to both countries as well as the global economy.We don't have the data of [China’s] holdings of US stocks, so it’s really hard to look at this data from a particular angleZhou Hao“We don't have the data of [China’s] holdings of US stocks, so it’s really hard to look at this data from a particular angle,” said Zhou Hao, a senior emerging market economist for Commerzbank.The latest Chinese purchase of US government debt, however, showed that Beijing has yet to use its US$1 trillion holdings as a weapon, and is not being deterred by threats from some politicians in Washington that the US should disown some or all of the debt it owes China as a compensation for its perceived initial mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak.The Hong Kong Autonomy Act, signed by the US President Donald Trump last week, paved the way for some freezing of US dollar assets – including US Treasury securities – held by Chinese banks as a sanction for their involvement with individuals and institutions associated with the controversial Hong Kong national security law.China does not publish figures on its holdings of US Treasuries, meaning the US Treasury Department figure may account for only a part of the real amount as Beijing is also widely believed to use proxies to buy US government bonds.The increase of China’s holdings in May could be a result, in part, from a rise in the country’s foreign exchange reserves after it grew by US$10.23 billion to US$3.102 trillion last month, according to data of China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE). Some of the increase, though, was due to the revaluation of existing holdings and SAFE did not immediately respond to faxed questions from the South China Morning Post.China’s foreign exchange reserves also rose US$10.64 billion in June to US$3.112 trillion.Huang Qifan, the outspoken former mayor of Chongqing, said earlier this year that the US was unlikely to take the risk of losing its own credibility by freezing China’s US debt holdings, and that China would not easily take the steps towards selling its US Treasuries.“If the day of freezing comes, it would be the day of doom for the dollar empire,” he wrote in an article published at the start of May.Overall, China’s holdings of US Treasury securities stood at US$1.08 trillion at the end of May, below the US$1.1 trillion level at the end of May 2019.China remains the second largest foreign holder of US government debt after Japan with US$1.260 trillion at the end of May despite having reduced its holdings in nine of the previous 13 months before May.Foreign investors sold a total of US$27.7 billion in US Treasury bonds and notes in May, the third straight month of net sales, but bought a record US$79.7 billion of US equities amid a strong rally in risk assets, according data from the US Treasury.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: * US Autonomy Act unlikely to undermine Hong Kong dollar peg in short-run, but poses long-term risk, analysts say * US investors still piling FDI money into China despite rising political tensions * Hong Kong security law: how will US sanctions affect China’s plan to turn the yuan into a widely used global currency? * US-China decoupling is already happening, says Donald Trump’s former security chief John Bolton, also calling for open borders for Hongkongers * China debt: how big is it, who owns it and what is next?This article China bought more US debt in May despite talk of financial war amid rising trans-Pacific tensions first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
Several species, including Green turtles, Hawksbills and Leatherbacks, nest on Malaysia's coasts, where the spectacle of babies hatching and scurrying into the sea has long been a major tourist draw. "The turtles and eggs are our national treasure," Aziz, 44, told AFP, after watching a group of the reptiles emerge from the sea and lay eggs on a beach on Redang Island, in Terengganu. On the same 350-metre (1,100-foot) beach, one of the busiest nesting sites in Malaysia, baby turtles were hatching and scurrying into the waters.
Australia will extend record stimulus spending into next year, the government announced Tuesday, outlining multi-billion-dollar measures to shield the labour market from the ravages of the rolling coronavirus crisis. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that supplements both to the unemployed and businesses struggling to retain staff would continue until at least the end of the year and likely beyond. With Australia poised to enter its first recession in almost 30 years and struggling to tame double-digit unemployment, the government will increase stimulus spending on two income support programmes to around Aus$86 billion (US$60 billion).