A video captured by a member of a local NGO shows Rohingya refugees fleeing from a camp in southeastern Bangladesh as thick columns of smoke rise above shanty homes. Duration:00:33
A video captured by a member of a local NGO shows Rohingya refugees fleeing from a camp in southeastern Bangladesh as thick columns of smoke rise above shanty homes. Duration:00:33
A former pro-independence group member has been jailed for 12 years for his role in Hong Kong’s biggest seizure of explosives in two decades, the heaviest sentence handed down on charges relating to the 2019 civil unrest. During sentencing at the High Court on Friday, Mr Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai said the deadly materials were intended to create “terror among citizens” in pursuing the city’s separation from mainland China during the anti-government protests. Louis Lo Yat-sun had pleaded guilty to one count of keeping explosives with intent to endanger life or property over 1kg of triacetone triperoxide, also known as TATP, seized in an industrial building in Tsuen Wan in July 2019.Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. The 29-year-old appeared calm upon hearing the sentence. He waved goodbye to his family and friends before being taken away by prison officers. Despite a lack of evidence linking Lo to the civil unrest, Chan held the defendant had intended to use the explosives to subvert the government and push for the city’s independence, given the political propaganda found in the industrial flat, his residence and on his mobile phone. “The defendant in this case was going after the HKSAR government, the stability of the region, with the intention of creating fear and terror among citizens within society,” the judge said. Lo, a former human resources manager at a logistics company, was a member of the Hong Kong National Front (HKNF) until the group was dissolved in June 2020, just ahead of the promulgation of the Beijing-imposed national security law. He was the first defendant to plead guilty to charges arising from the 2019 unrest at the High Court, where no sentencing cap applies. His offence is punishable by 20 years’ imprisonment under the Crimes Ordinance. The prosecution said Lo had stored the TATP in multiple batches inside a rented studio in the Lung Shing Factory Building. Police found the explosives during a raid on July 19, 2019. Officers also discovered 10 petrol bombs, materials used to promote Hong Kong independence, and large amounts of equipment used by protesters, including helmets, masks and body shields. Bomb disposal officers detonated the TATP in a controlled explosion on the building’s rooftop after concluding the material was unstable and could cause considerable damage if it went off accidentally. The entire building as well as nearby streets were cordoned off that day. Further investigation found that Lo had rented the premises in February of that year by using the name of a friend as the tenant. Lo had told the friend he would use the space to store material for the HKNF. However, following Lo’s arrest, the front issued a statement denying any knowledge of the explosives seized. While police had earlier suggested links between the seized TATP and an anti-government march on July 21, 2019, prosecutors were unable to ascertain Lo’s motive, as he refused to say how exactly he planned to use the powerful explosives. Initially accusing Lo of producing the explosives, prosecutors agreed to amend the charge to one of keeping explosives given his guilty plea.More from South China Morning Post:Large-scale counterterrorism drill staged at Hong Kong airport to strengthen city’s response to bomb attacks, marauding knifemenHong Kong protests: woman injured during intense clashes loses legal fight over police access of her medical recordsThis article Hong Kong protests: pro-independence group member jailed for 12 years over explosives find wanted to ‘create terror’ in city, judge says first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
Lawrence Wong has been appointed Singapore's new Finance Minister, taking over from former PM-designate Heng Swee Keat, by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a Cabinet reshuffle barely a year since his team took office.
The Chinese public is crowing on social media after French fashion brand Chanel lost a trademark dispute to telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies this week.The dispute was over an application filed by Huawei to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) to register a trademark for a brand for computer hardware featuring two vertical interlocking semi-circles, similar to the iconic Chanel logo.After examining the visual, phonetic, and conceptual aspects of the logos, the General Court of the European Union said found that, while they shared some similarities, their “visual differences are significant”, according to a press release issued on Wednesday. On Chinese social media, supporters of Huawei called Chanel “pengci” – a Chinese slang meaning to intentionally pose as a victim to receive compensation. The phrase was coined when people in China deliberately fell in front of moving cars to pretend they were hit to extort medical fees and payment from drivers.“It’s classic pengci. They are not similar at all. You can not look at one logo and think of the other,” said one online user.They also claimed that Chanel was trying to tarnish Huawei’s international reputation.“Chanel’s sign is horizontal, Huawei’s is vertical, that’s such an obvious difference, even my three-year-old niece knows,” someone said on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service. “If you want to pick a fight with Huawei, just say so!”“Does Chanel not want the Chinese market anymore? It’s a piece of cake for us to drive you out. We’ll give you a warning for this time,” another said. In China, public support for Huawei has hinged on nationalistic sentiment and pride in the company being a homegrown brand with global reach.During the saga of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei became a patriotic symbol of China’s unfair treatment on the global stage. Meng is the daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei and chief financial officer of the company. She is under house arrest in Canada and is fighting an extradition request by the US.Huawei also became the most high-profile corporation caught in the US-China trade war after the Trump administration targeted the company with a series of restrictions, including cutting off its ability to access chips made with US technology.These high-profile geopolitical events have, in turn, helped the brand increase its popularity in the domestic market. Huawei’s 2020 revenue grew by 3.8 per cent compared to 2019.Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. The trademark dispute with Chanel dates back to September 2017, when Huawei filed the application.In December that year, Chanel filed a notice of opposition claiming Huawei’s mark “bore similarities to its own mark registered for perfumes, cosmetics, costume jewellery, leather goods and clothes”.In 2019, the EUIPO rejected Chanel’s application, declaring Huawei’s mark was not similar to Chanel and that Chanel’s mark had a reputation and the public was not likely to be confused about it.The luxury brand then challenged the ruling at the Luxembourg-based General Court, which upheld the previous decision this week.“In particular, Chanel’s marks have more rounded curves, thicker lines and a horizontal orientation, whereas the orientation of the Huawei mark is vertical,” the court statement said.The ruling can be appealed to the EU Court of Justice. It is unclear at the moment whether Chanel will take a further step. More from South China Morning Post:A new Huawei Mate V foldable phone might be on the wayUS-China tech war: Huawei pushes licensing of 5G mobile technology amid struggles with Washington’s trade sanctionsHSBC takes to WeChat social network to deny ‘framing’ Huawei in US investigations as it comes under attack in Chinese mediaChanel loses EU trademark court fight with Huawei over logoThe real reason Louis Vuitton and Chanel are raising their prices? Brands aren’t just weathering the pandemic – luxury goods only get more desirable when they’re less accessibleThis article Mocking jubilation on Chinese social media as Chanel loses trademark dispute to Huawei first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
Singapore’s private property prices increased 3.3% in the first three months, higher than the preliminary estimate of 2.9%, the Urban Redevelopment Authority said.
Taiwan has vowed to safeguard its own security as it sought to play down remarks by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga that there was no possibility of committing Japanese forces to help defend the island. “It is an unshirkable duty for us to safeguard our own national security, and Taiwan will shoulder the responsibility by itself to protect its people’s homes and defend the country,” Joanne Ou, spokeswoman for Taiwan’s foreign ministry, said on Thursday. Suga on Tuesday told the Diet, Japan’s legislature, that a reference to Taiwan in a joint statement released after his meeting with US President Joe Biden last Friday “does not presuppose military involvement at all”. Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. He was responding to a question from an opposition politician about the possibility of Japan joining the United States in sending forces to help Taiwan in the event of an attack by Beijing, which claims sovereignty over the democratic island and vows to bring it into its fold by force if necessary. In the joint statement, the US and Japan underscored the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encouraged a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues. That was the only reference to Taiwan in the statement, which covered a host of regional and global issues as well as mutual defence and bilateral cooperation. The reference was the first since Tokyo switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing from Taipei in 1972, and was reported prominently by the Japanese media as a sign of Japan taking a hawkish stance towards Beijing. It triggered strong protest from Beijing, which warned Japan and the US to stay out of what it considers “internal affairs” involving Taiwan. On Thursday, Taiwan’s foreign ministry said in a separate statement that the US-Japan defence alliance was the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, and that the reference in the joint statement reflected the two countries’ strong consensus over security in the Taiwan Strait and Indo-Pacific. Did Japan ignore alternatives to dumping contaminated Fukushima water? It noted that Suga had previously told the Diet that Japan’s position was to have the cross-strait dispute resolved by peaceful means. “We welcome concerns from international society on cross-strait peace and stability … and it is our own responsibility to safeguard our national security,” the statement said. Taiwan would continue to communicate and cooperate closely with the US, Japan and other like-minded countries in upholding cross-strait stability and maintaining security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, it said. More from South China Morning Post:Can Japan afford Suga’s military spending promise to Biden?Biden, Suga call for ‘peace and stability across Taiwan Strait’‘Uncomfortable signal to China’: Japan’s Suga raises Hong Kong, South China Sea, Xinjiang in phone call with India’s ModiThis article Taiwan vows to defend itself after Yoshihide Suga qualifies Japan’s stance first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
A Singaporean woman who wanted to buy items from outside the barricade of Geylang Serai market during Phase 2 of the COVID-19 reopening was spotted by a safe distancing ambassador (SDA).
More aid to Africa and Latin America, greater funding for technology industries and a more robust US development bank were among the initiatives added on Wednesday to a landmark bill intended to improve the US’ ability to compete with China. “The issues facing us today in foreign policy, and perhaps for the entire 21st century, is going to be China, China and China,” said Jim Risch of Idaho, the senior Republican on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, in the hearing on the Strategic Competition Act of 2021. “I can’t overstate the significance of this bill.”Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. The legislation, which enjoys strong bipartisan support, represents an effort by Congress to strengthen US tools deemed necessary to counter Beijing and to bolster US capabilities as the two economic giants increasingly face off as “strategic competitors”. “China is strategic competition – not because that is what we want or what we have tried to create but because of the choices that Beijing has and is making,” said Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, the committee’s chairman. “China today is challenging the United States and international community across every dimension of power – political, diplomatic, economic, innovation, military, even cultural – and with an alternative and deeply disturbing model for global governance.” US lawmakers prepare a sweeping effort to counter China The legislation is now expected to go to the full senate for debate and a vote. While it has several steps to go before enactment, the hearing underscores its strong support and broad ambitions. Risch predicted that it could end up with as many as 80 votes in the 100-seat Senate, an extraordinary level of support amid an era in Washington of deep partisan division. Even before Wednesday’s amending, the bill was already 281 pages and is almost certain to grow. A Pew Research poll in May 2020 found that nine out of 10 Americans regard China as a competitor or an enemy, rather than as a partner. The bill as written would add new sanctions on Chinese officials accused of human rights violations in Hong Kong and Xinjiang; strengthen US ties with Taiwan; and try to further limit Beijing’s military operations and territorial claims in the South China Sea and beyond. The legislation follows a recent spike in military tensions involving the self-governing island of Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province, and in waters around the Philippines. The bill would also earmark US$10 million to “promote democracy” in Hong Kong and require a State Department report on ways that China uses Hong Kong’s unique status to circumvent US laws and safeguards. Several senators cited Beijing’s policies toward the Uygurs in the far western Xinjiang region as justification for their hardline amendments. Up to 1 million of the mostly Muslim community are detained in camps there, according to civic groups and the United Nations, with some accounts accusing China of using torture, forced labour and sterilisations. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has upheld a Trump administration determination that the abuses constitute genocide, although that wording is not included in this bill. Beijing has characterised the camps as employment and training centres, a claim that has been met with growing scepticism in the US and Europe. In a bid to bolster its case, the Chinese embassy in Washington – just as the hearing was starting on Wednesday morning – announced an online event entitled “Xinjiang is a wonderful land”. The May programme is to include a 20-minute session on “Xinjiang residents on their everyday work and life”. One addition to the bill on Wednesday would include more effective programmes to counter China’s financial aid, lending and persuasion campaigns in Africa and Latin America, with senators bemoaning shortfalls in US efforts in those regions. Ideally, senators said, those would also include attempts to ramp up vaccine distribution to counter Beijing’s “vaccine diplomacy” around the world. The problems facing US companies looking to return home from China Another amendment would add funding to make the US more competitive in countering Beijing’s bid to establish supremacy in key technologies, as outlined in its Made in China 2025 economic blueprint. This is one of dozens of US efforts and proposals to make supply chains less dependent on China, bolster US semiconductor capacity and put more research funds into science and technology. “The best thing we can do is to start by investing in ourselves,” said Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, a close ally of President Joe Biden. But Coons also warned that state and federal funding is limited in the wake of the pandemic and its related economic downturn, which would require “tough choices” on some provisions in the Menendez-Risch legislation. Another new provision strengthens the US International Development Finance Corp as it tries to compete against the China Development Bank, which has played an instrumental role in Beijing’s signature Belt and Road Initiative, a global infrastructure programme. Proposed reforms include treating equity investments as loans and raising the agency’s equity cap to US$100 billion, from US$60 billion. Senators acknowledged, however, that Chinese spending leaves the US in the dust. China’s development bank is more than 10 times the size of its US counterpart, while Beijing’s loans to developing countries totalled US$462 billion from 2008 to 2019, vastly more than Washington’s outlays, they said. “American businesses need more tools to compete with China,” said Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey. “The US is decidedly being left behind.” Several amendments did not make it into the bill, including one by budget hawks to cut financing for the National Science Foundation and the Inter-American Development Bank. Another sought to upgrade the title of Americans working at the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto US embassy on the island, from “director” to “representative”. Some also questioned the effectiveness of some spending in the bill, including a proposed “Countering Chinese Influence Fund”, that has a five-year price tag of US$1.5 billion. Weifeng Zhong, a fellow at the libertarian Mercatus Centre, said he found it “refreshing” that “US policymakers recognise the increasing importance of the US-Taiwan partnership”. However, he added, “many of the proposed uses of the fund are about making Americans aware of China’s malign influence – which they already are – while much-needed details on how policymakers would actually confront it are still lacking.”More from South China Morning Post:US and EU should join forces to check China’s influence in Africa, Indo-Pacific, Republican senator proposesChina’s strategy in Africa ‘isn’t always working’, Biden UN nominee Linda Thomas-Greenfield tells senatorsUS lawmakers urge multilateral approach to counter ChinaThis article US senators propose more programmes to help competition with China first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
Tributes poured in Friday for popular Bollywood music composer Shravan Rathod, who died in a Mumbai hospital aged 66 after being diagnosed with Covid-19.
Indonesia's desperate search for a missing submarine and its 53 crew was focused on a signal from an unidentified object Friday, with just hours to go before the stricken vessel's oxygen reserves ran out.
Japan announced a new virus state of emergency in Tokyo and three other regions on Friday, as the country battles surging infections just three months before the Olympic opening ceremony.
The Myanmar military's crackdown on anti-coup protesters has displaced close to a quarter of a million people, a United Nations rights envoy said Wednesday.
China has kept up a sustained presence around a disputed South China Sea reef for two years, according to a Washington-based think tank – despite Beijing’s claims that its vessels were only sheltering in the area. The Centre for Strategic and International Studies’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), which tracked the vessels’ automatic identification system broadcasts, also identified 14 of the Chinese ships captured in photos and videos taken by Philippine coastguard patrols at Whitsun Reef. Whitsun is a V-shaped reef in a shallow coral region of the resource-rich Spratly Islands and is now at the centre of a deepening maritime row between Beijing and Manila.Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. According to AMTI, the 14 ships, all from southern China’s Guangdong province, were first tracked patrolling Union Banks, which includes Whitsun Reef, in early 2019 and nine of them have broadcast AIS from Whitsun several times. “As with other known militia deployments, the behaviour of these vessels defies commercial explanation. Most have remained in the area for weeks, or even months, riding at anchor in clusters without engaging in any fishing activity,” AMTI said in a report on Wednesday. “Many are trawlers which, by definition, must move to fish. And blue skies have debunked the initial excuse from the Chinese embassy in Manila that they were riding out a storm.” Tension between China and the Philippines has intensified in recent months after Manila reported more than 200 Chinese vessels near Whitsun Reef in the disputed South China Sea in early March and 44 ships from the Chinese “maritime militia” were still there despite the good weather earlier this month. Whitsun Reef row: could the Philippines lose another South China Sea feature to Beijing? Beijing insisted that at the time these ships were civilian fishing boats taking shelter from bad weather and that they had “no plans” to stay there permanently, but the Philippine government has asked Beijing to withdraw the boats. Philippine foreign secretary Teodoro Locsin warned that Manila would lodge diplomatic protests every day until “the last one’s gone, like it should be by now if it’s really fishing”. The presence of the Chinese vessels deepens concern over whether Beijing is deploying maritime militia – fishing vessels in paramilitary service as required by Chinese law – to gain control over the contested waters. On Monday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte broke his silence over the Whitsun dispute and said he was “not so much interested” in fishing but was prepared to send the military to “stake a claim” over oil and mineral resources in the South China Sea, even though “it will be bloody”. In the report, AMTI identified five out of the six Chinese vessels tied together at Whitsun Reef as members of the Yuemaobinyu fleet registered in the Bohe harbour in Maoming, Guangdong province. The Yuemaobinyu fleet caught international attention in 2019 when one of its boats, Yuemaobinyu 42212, rammed and sank a Philippine boat at Reed Bank, another disputed area in the South China Sea. The incident sparked demonstrations in Manila until Beijing gave assurances that the Chinese captain, who later issued an apology, would compensate the Philippines for the loss of the ship. China, Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan all have claims over the entire Union Banks, which includes Whitsun Reef that falls in the Philippine’s exclusive economic zone in the Spratly Islands and is about 320km (200 miles) west of the Philippine province of Palawan. ‘It will be bloody’: Duterte threatens to ‘stake a claim’ over South China Sea energy resources Citing satellite imagery from Planet Labs, AMTI said Chinese vessels appeared to frequently bounce between Whitsun and other parts of Union Banks, such as the unoccupied Kennan Reef next to the Chinese base at Hughes. “The number of vessels at Whitsun has fluctuated over this period, but never entirely disappeared,” the report said, citing an incomplete count between February of last year and April 11, which showed a peak in November when a total of 196 vessels were visible at Union Banks, including 129 at Whitsun Reef. When the Philippine coastguard documented more than 200 vessels at Whitsun in early March, it also included some Chinese and Vietnamese coastguard and navy vessels as well as Vietnamese fishing boats. “But the vast majority are Chinese fishing vessels 50 metres or more in length, which distinguishes them from their smaller Vietnamese counterparts,” it said. More from South China Morning Post:Whitsun Reef: Philippines files new diplomatic protest against ChinaChina-Philippines Whitsun Reef dispute could get worse as US chips inChina, US send warships into disputed waters as tensions rise over Whitsun ReefPhilippine defence officials deny threat to withdraw support from Rodrigo Duterte over South China Sea row with BeijingSouth China Sea: Manila gets tough on Beijing over Whitsun Reef row, earning praise from even Duterte’s criticsThis article South China Sea: Chinese boats keep up steady presence at disputed Whitsun Reef, says US ship tracker first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
A Canadian judge on Wednesday adjourned Chinese Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou's extradition hearing until August, giving her team time to review newly obtained documents from investment bank HSBC they say are key to her defense.
China and Russia said they would resist any attempt to create a “geopolitical turbulence belt” around the two countries as they agreed to strengthen coordination in opposing international interference and sanctions. Without naming any country, the two nations’ statement after a meeting between their respective ruling parties said they would “oppose the attempts and actions of some countries to interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign countries, impose unilateral sanctions, engage in hegemony and bullying, and create turmoil and chaos under the pretext of democracy and human rights”. China’s Communist Party and the United Russia party said they agreed at the meeting – their ninth, and held by video on Tuesday – that they would coordinate positions and increase mutual support.Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. The United States has imposed an array of sanctions on Russia and last week expelled Russian diplomats, while the US, the European Union, Britain and Canada have placed sanctions on China over alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang, in China’s far west. Song Tao, who heads the Communist Party’s international department, said during the dialogue that Beijing and Moscow should resist attempts by “some countries” who were trying to promote a “geopolitical turbulence belt” in China and Russia and their surrounding regions. Cheng Yijun, a researcher in Russian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said the “belt” referred to armed conflicts around eastern Ukraine, over which global concerns have been mounting. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Tuesday said Russia would soon have more than 120,000 troops on Ukraine’s border, and called for new Western economic sanctions to deter Moscow from “further escalation”, Reuters reported. According to reports by Chinese nationalistic tabloid Global Times, Boris Gryzlov, head of the Supreme Council of the United Russia party, told the meeting that he thought the US government was pursuing a unipolar world, and that when the US saw countries such as Russia and China not surrendering, it strengthened sanctions and increased activities in areas surrounding the two countries. “But their pressure will only make our two countries and two political parties stronger,” it quoted Gryzlov as saying. Yang Jin, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies under the CASS, said that “especially under the rising strategic containment of China and Russia from the West, not only the strategic cooperation between two countries should be strengthened but also party diplomacy”. Will Russia invade Ukraine? ‘Low to medium’ risk in next few weeks, US general says The two countries would further enhance economic cooperation, especially through connections between China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union, in responding to the sanctions, Yang said. At the meeting, United Russia also became the first foreign government or ruling party to say it would attend the Chinese Communist Party’s centenary in July, the statement said.More from South China Morning Post:China-Russia alliance can never work, despite US rivalry, observers sayRussia and China thwarting international response to Myanmar crisis, says EU foreign policy chief Josep BorrellXinjiang: will the West’s sanctions on China force the issue or unravel?This article China, Russia vow to buckle up against ‘geopolitical turbulence belt’ first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
Veteran primary school teacher Eva* will be leaving Hong Kong with her husband and child by summer to start a new life in Britain. Changes in the city’s education scene since Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong last June prompted the family’s decision to move. “My husband and I originally planned to send our child overseas while we continued working in Hong Kong, or maybe I would retire early and accompany our child there,” said Eva, whose child is in primary school. Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. She lamented that teachers now had limited autonomy in the classroom and that some educators were practising more self-censorship following guidelines issued by the authorities. Schools and universities have been told to promote national security education among their students in keeping with the new law, which bans acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, and carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Eva, who was born and raised in Hong Kong, said many of her friends had been planning to leave over the past few months, and some had already gone, along with their families. “There are so many uncertainties ahead … but I feel that I can always find another job,” said Eva, who is in her 40s and has taught general studies for more than 10 years. “Many parents like us are more worried about what kind of education our children will receive in future,” she added. The Education Bureau issued wide-ranging guidelines on national security education to schools in early February, covering aspects ranging from management issues to teaching and pupils’ behaviour, with children as young as six years old expected to be able to name the offences under the law. Teachers have been told to call police in “grave or emergency” situations, such as students chanting or displaying slogans or forming human chains on campus, acts of youthful defiance that were common during the anti-government protests of 2019. Hong Kong university head suggests security law courses could be mandatory Since the security law came into effect, two teachers have been stripped of their lifetime registration, with one accused of touching on Hong Kong independence in a class worksheet on freedom of speech. Schools, meanwhile, have been told to review their libraries and remove titles that might violate the law. Last month, education officials announced that liberal studies – a senior secondary subject that pro-Beijing politicians have blamed for radicalising youth – would be renamed “citizenship and social development”, with a new syllabus focusing on national security, identity, lawfulness and patriotism. In recent months, Beijing has laid out its vision for Hong Kong’s schools, highlighting the need for patriotic education for young people, removing “toxic” teaching materials and implementing the principle of “patriots governing Hong Kong” for educators. At the university level, fears that the national security law would lead to self-censorship and affect academic freedom had already come to pass, according to some students and teachers. Some institutions have begun looking into making national security a mandatory subject for all students. Hong Kong schools told to do more to promote national security education In February, Chinese University effectively severed ties with its student union over concerns that its electoral platform possibly breached the national security law. On Monday, Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily lashed out at the University of Hong Kong’s student union following its criticisms of the security law, calling it “a malignant tumour” that should be removed. Earlier this month, local pro-Beijing media attacked Polytechnic University’s student union, accusing it of “beautifying” the 2019 protests by setting up street counters to promote an exhibition showcasing photographs from the months of social unrest. On April 15, Hong Kong schools marked their first National Security Education Day since the law’s passage, with many holding flag-raising ceremonies and some kindergartens teaching pupils as young as three about the legislation. School heads have until August to tell education authorities what they have done on national security education and describe future plans, which Eva described as a rushed campaign that had put more pressure on teachers and schools, while the guidelines themselves were overly strict. “Many guidelines have been introduced abruptly, and there is simply no way for schools to get around them,” she said. Guidelines from the bureau include inserting elements of national security education into various other subjects, such as Chinese language, general studies and civic education at the primary level, and biology, physics, history, geography and economics at the secondary level. For example, the bureau said, older primary pupils could learn to appreciate the importance of national security by understanding campus security, as well as being taught about historical events and the geography of mainland China. Hong Kong schools mark first National Security Education Day since law imposed Despite all the advice from the bureau, Eva said many teachers were still uncertain about the boundaries resulting from the security law and what they should look out for. “We wonder what can be taught and what is banned, and how far and deep we can go in approaching a topic,” she said. “We also don’t know what pupils will tell their parents about what they’ve learned at school. And what if some parents have strong political affiliations?” She said at least 10 of her friends and colleagues were either planning to leave or have already emigrated with their families as of last month. Dozens of pupils have also withdrawn from her school over the past six months, including many who moved overseas. A recent survey of 98 schools by the city’s biggest secondary school principals group found that the number of teachers who resigned to emigrate doubled last year compared to 2019. At least 37 educators quit and emigrated between July and November last year, compared with 18 over the same period of 2019, according to the Hong Kong Association of the Heads of Secondary Schools. More than 723 secondary school students withdrew from the 98 schools to move overseas, a 52 per cent increase from 2019. Teachers should ‘take police advice’ to comply with Hong Kong security law Secondary school principal Tony* said many schools had seen one or two teachers resigning in the middle of the school year – something that did not happen before. “In the past, most teachers usually would not resign in such a hurry,” he said. “But now, many are leaving immediately, or after giving just one month’s notice.” Taking care to avoid ‘red lines’ Some of the dozen teachers and school heads who spoke to the Post said they noticed increased scrutiny of school-based teaching materials this year. Concerned about the national security law, at least one school decided to do away with commemorative events such as talks marking the anniversary of Beijing’s crackdown on student protesters at Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. But education minister Kevin Yeung Yun-hung this month dismissed teachers’ concerns about the security law, saying they “need not worry” as long as they “love the country”. Asked if teachers could still tell their pupils about events such as the June 4 crackdown or discuss corruption in mainland China, he said teachers could use their professional judgment to decide. In one of his blog posts, Yeung said the fact that many teachers and students were arrested during the 2019 protests showed the need to strengthen concepts pertaining to national identity in schools. Official figures showed about 40 per cent of more than 10,000 people arrested were university or secondary school students, and more than 100 educators were detained. Hong Kong’s liberal studies to be renamed ‘citizenship and social development’ In October 2019, at the peak of the protests, as many as 350 secondary school student concern groups were formed with the aim of pushing for greater democracy. But with the introduction of the national security law, many have dissolved or disbanded, fearing reprisals from authorities. One of the most active groups, Ideologist, helped to organise at least two citywide class strikes along with other concern groups and urged their peers to stage campus protests. Spokesman Carson Tsang Long-hin, a Form Six student, said members discussed last June whether the group should stop operating but voted to carry on. “Even if we disbanded, the authorities could still arrest us if they wanted to,” said Tsang, 17. “Perhaps taking one step at a time and playing it by ear might be another way forward.” The group has about 10 members, all senior secondary school students. Tsang said the national security law had affected how they went about their activities now, as they had become cautious about crossing “red lines”. “When writing social media posts, we are now more careful and check for any wordings that might violate the security law,” he said. School materials must be ‘correct, impartial’; education minister pledges oversight University staff, students more cautious too Under the security law, universities also have to promote national security, although they have more leeway than primary and secondary schools and have not been issued specific guidelines by the authorities. The University of Hong Kong recently proposed forming a committee to probe alleged violations of academic freedom under the legislation, an idea one senior staff member described as “well intended”. Undersecretary for Education Choi Yuk-lin said last month the authorities would look into whether university management staff would be required to take an oath and swear allegiance to the city, after government school teachers were required to do so. Even before the institutions could roll out their plans, some have already noticed lecturers and students being more cautious in class. Lingnan University visiting assistant professor of cultural studies Ip Iam-chong said he noticed that local students appeared to have become more reticent about expressing their views on political issues in Hong Kong. “For example, last year when some mainland Chinese students were presenting about the 2019 protests … many local students were not really willing to respond, which felt weird as many of them had personally experienced the protests,” he said. Principals’ group speaks out against calls to install CCTV in Hong Kong classrooms Ip added that the university’s management had not issued teaching staff any guidelines or advice so far about teaching under the national security law. He said some of his colleagues had left Hong Kong in recent months and others were considering doing the same, worried about restricted academic autonomy under the law. Polytechnic University student union president Alan Wu Wai-kuen, a Year One student, recalled that the teacher of a class he took on Chinese politics was cautious with topics considered sensitive on the mainland, such as the Tiananmen Square crackdown and the human rights activist and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo. “He was discreet and reminded us that there were things which could be difficult to say publicly,” Wu recalled, adding that the lecturer touched on Tiananmen Square only briefly, although it was part of the course’s lecture notes. Outgoing president of Open University tells students to be engaged, but don’t cross line Hong Kong has already slipped significantly in a global ranking of academic freedom in universities for last year. Last month, the Germany-based Global Public Policy Institute’s latest index of academic freedom gave Hong Kong a score of 0.348 out of 1 (one) – down from 0.442 in 2019. This was lower than the score for Singapore, Russia and Cambodia. Scholars at Risk, a US-based network of more than 500 institutions in 40 countries that contributed to the report, cited the arrest of academics and students under the security law among concerns about the pressures on the higher education community in research and international collaboration. Those arrested include legal scholar Benny Tai Yiu-ting, as well as university lecturer and former opposition lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching. Fung Wai-wah, president of the 100,000-strong Professional Teachers’ Union, said he was concerned about the ongoing impact of the national security law on teachers and students. Not only might more of them emigrate, but fewer young people might be drawn to the education sector given the increasing restrictions and fears of “white terror”, he said. But Wong Kam-leung, chairman of the 40,000-member Federation of Education Workers and a primary school principal, disagreed, saying Hong Kong needed to plug the gap in safeguarding national security for the good of the country. “Teachers and schools, like others, have the responsibility to promote national security education,” he said. “Even though some parents may feel unnecessary fear and choose to emigrate, Hong Kong’s development is definitely going in a positive direction … Some of them might even come back.” Hong Kong teachers plan to police themselves over national security law Secondary school student and concern group leader Carson Tsang said he was among those who had no plans to leave Hong Kong, even though the future seemed gloomier now. “Many people have been put in prison for what we were fighting for [in 2019], while others had been on remand, prosecuted or fled overseas,” he said. “If I choose to emigrate at this stage only because of the negative mood, I would feel guilty. I would not want to give up at this stage.” *Names changed at the interviewees’ request More from South China Morning Post:Hong Kong marks National Security Education Day with anti-terrorism drills, weapons displays for students as top official urges resolve in defending ‘bottom line’Hong Kong schools under the national security law: no political songs, slogans, human chains, but what else is prohibited?Older Hong Kong students to learn about national security when studying range of subjects, including accounting, chemistry and even physicsThis article Will national security law force exodus of Hong Kong’s teachers, students over fears of shrinking academic freedom? first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Tuesday downplayed the possibility of getting militarily involved in the Taiwan issue after angering Beijing with a call for “peace and stability” across the strait. Suga made the call with US President Joe Biden on Friday during talks at the White House, the first reference to Taiwan – which Beijing claims as its territory – in a joint statement in over 50 years. The two leaders also said they would counter China’s “intimidation” in the Asia-Pacific region. Asked by an opposition lawmaker on Tuesday whether Japan would get militarily involved in issues related to the Taiwan Strait, in line with US strategy on China, Suga told parliament that the joint statement “does not presuppose military involvement at all”.Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. Beijing – which has not renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control – has been wary of Japan’s growing alliance with the United States under the Biden administration, particularly after US and Japanese defence chiefs agreed in March to cooperate closely if Beijing decided to attack Taiwan. According to Kyodo news agency, Tokyo has been looking at the feasibility of issuing an order for its Self-Defence Forces to protect US warships and military planes in the event of a crisis between mainland China and Taiwan, given their proximity to Japan and the possibility that an armed conflict could affect the safety of Japanese citizens. Japan has meanwhile voiced concerns over China’s new coastguard law that allows its quasi-military force to use weapons against foreign ships that Beijing sees as illegally entering its waters. Takashi Terada, a professor of international relations at Doshisha University in Kyoto, said Suga’s remarks on Tuesday suggested there was not a strong expectation for military engagement over Taiwan. “Japan expects China to find a peaceful (non-military) solution, [so] it would be contradictory if Japan stressed the military element in its approach to this,” Terada said. He said the joint statement on Taiwan was already a “big step” demonstrating Japan’s alliance with the US, and there was no point in Tokyo taking steps that would aggravate Beijing further. But Xing Yuqing, an economics professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo, said Japan would be obliged to assist the US if a conflict erupted with China over the Taiwan Strait due to a defence policy shift made under the previous administration of Shinzo Abe. The change in 2014 saw the government reinterpret the pacifist constitution to allow troops to fight overseas for the first time since 1945. “Japan has agreed to the US request to address Taiwan in the joint statement because it wants to demonstrate its position on this matter,” Xing said. “But more importantly, it wants to express the hope not to get involved in a potential military conflict in the Taiwan Strait.” Hong Kong-based military commentator Song Zhongping said he believed Japan would still take a position of “ambiguity” on the issue of a possible conflict over Taiwan. “Japan’s strategy is still vague on whether or not it’s committed to assisting the US to protect Taiwan – Japan doesn’t want to take a clear stand because that would be a huge threat to its own security,” Song said. “Even the US hasn’t clarified its strategic ambiguity on Taiwan, so Japan must also take that approach.” Washington recognises a single China but will come to Taiwan’s defence – without spelling out what that means – and will not pressure Taipei to settle with Beijing, a policy short-handed as “strategic ambiguity”.More from South China Morning Post:China conducts aerial bombing drill after US-Japan statement on TaiwanJapan troops won’t get involved if China invades Taiwan, PM Yoshihide Suga saysChina may hit back against Japan over Taiwan issue but economic action unlikely, analysts sayThis article Japan expected to take position of ‘ambiguity’ on Taiwan issue first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
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A judge denied bail to a former opposition lawmaker charged with subversion under the national security law after learning he had received repeated invitations from the United States consulate in the city asking him to meet up “for coffee”, Hong Kong’s judiciary has revealed. In four sets of rulings published by the judiciary on Thursday, Madam Justice Esther Toh Lye-ping of the High Court explained her decisions last month to revoke bail previously granted to former Civic Party legislator Jeremy Tam Man-ho, release two opposition district councillors and dismiss a bail bid by a third councillor. The four were among 47 politicians and activists accused of breaching the national security law for their roles in an unofficial Legislative Council primary election last summer.Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. US ‘considering’ measures to let Hongkongers settle in the country in wake of security law In one of the rulings, Toh said Tam had called for sanctions from Washington by signing a letter in September 2019, urging the US Congress to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. The judge observed that Tam had remained a person of interest to foreign powers, which was exemplified by three emails from the US consulate between September last year and February this year, inviting him to “catch up” with the consul general. The invitations were submitted by Tam’s assistant as evidence he had cut ties with foreign governments by ignoring the offers, but the judge thought otherwise and felt the conversations showed how influential he was. “I am satisfied that there are no sufficient grounds for believing that [Tam] will not continue to commit acts endangering national security if bail is granted,” she concluded. The prosecution has called the primary election “a massive and well-organised scheme” to paralyse the government and topple the city’s leader by winning a controlling majority in Legco. US diplomats will need Beijing’s permission to meet Hong Kong officials The defendants’ ultimate objective, they argued, was to achieve “mutual destruction” as proposed by legal scholar Benny Tai Yiu-ting. After four days of marathon bail proceedings at West Kowloon Court last month, prosecutors only agreed to the decision to release four of the 15 accused, pending trial on a single charge of conspiracy to commit subversion, while seeking to overturn the bail for the 11 others. Toh, a judge designated to oversee security law proceedings, endorsed the bail granted to seven defendants but revoked bail of the remaining four. No reasons for her decisions could be spelt out by the media because of statutory restrictions on reporting bail proceedings. But the judge explained her decisions in writing and lifted reporting restrictions upon application from several media outlets, including the Post. She had previously laid down her grounds to release five defendants while revoking bail of three others. On Thursday, Toh said she decided to reinstate bail previously granted to district councillors Sze Tak-loy and Lee Yue-shun as she acknowledged their efforts in cooperating with the government over community affairs, despite their participation in the primary. But she turned down the bail application by district councillor Andy Chui Chi-kin, who was among 32 defendants remanded in custody by the lower court. Toh said Chui continued to pose a threat to national security by pointing to a YouTube video posted on his channel, which the prosecution said “was filled with misleading and false news” aimed at causing fear and inciting hatred against mainland China.More from South China Morning Post:Hong Kong judiciary reveals bail decision reasons in cases linked to city’s largest national security law crackdownNational security law: three more Hong Kong defendants released on bail in city’s biggest case so far under the legislationNational security law: Hong Kong judge revokes bail for two ex-lawmakers in subversion caseHong Kong national security law: bail blow for another defendant in city’s largest prosecution under Beijing-imposed legislation, others drop their bidsThis article Hong Kong judge denied bail to ex-lawmaker charged under national security law after learning he was invited by US consulate ‘for coffee’, judiciary reveals first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.