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Worldwide condemnation as China pushes for Hong Kong security law | World News



Almost 200 political figures from around the world have added to increasing condemnation of Beijing’s proposed national security laws for Hong Kong.

Signatories include 17 members of the US Congress, as international tensions grow over the proposal to set up Chinese government intelligence bases in the territory.

China also wants to prevent a repeat of last year when Hong Kong saw months of protests triggered by a bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.

Pro-democracy activists during a rally in response to a proposal to enact new Hong Kong security legislation

Former chairperson of the Hong Kong Democratic Party, Emily Lau.

‘UK cannot abandon the people of Hong Kong’

The Chinese government says the laws are necessary to “prevent, stop and punish” such protests in the future.

But protests have already started in Hong Kong today over the new security legislation, with police using teargas to disperse large crowds, some holding signs which said “Free Hong Kong”.

Protesters march on a road during a pro-democracy rally against a proposed new security law in Hong Kong on May 24, 2020. - The proposed legislation is expected to ban treason, subversion and sedition, and follows repeated warnings from Beijing that it will no longer tolerate dissent in Hong Kong, which was shaken by months of massive, sometimes violent anti-government protests last year. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP) (Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images)

In a joint statement organised by former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten and former British foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind, 186 law and policy leaders said the proposed laws are a “comprehensive assault on the city’s autonomy and rule of law”.

They say the laws threaten “fundamental freedoms” and are a “flagrant breach” of the Sino-British Joint Declaration that returned Hong Kong to China in 1997.

Protesters march on a road during a pro-democracy rally against a proposed new security law in Hong Kong on May 24, 2020. - The proposed legislation is expected to ban treason, subversion and sedition, and follows repeated warnings from Beijing that it will no longer tolerate dissent in Hong Kong, which was shaken by months of massive, sometimes violent anti-government protests last year. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP) (Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images)

“If the international community cannot trust Beijing to keep its word when it comes to Hong Kong, people will be reluctant to take its word on other matters,” they wrote.

The legislation comes as the relationship between Washington and Beijing is at a low ebb after Donald Trump blamed China for the coronavirus pandemic.

US officials have said the Chinese legislation would be bad for the economies of both Hong Kong and China and could jeopardise the territory’s special status in US law.

China has dismissed other countries’ complaints as meddling.

Carrie Lam presser

Hong Kong to adopt China’s controversial security law

Some of the US president’s fellow Republicans – Senator Marco Rubio, acting chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Senator Ted Cruz – signed the statement.

Democratic signatories included Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Representatives Eliot Engel, head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Adam Schiff, chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.

In London, 44 MPs and eight members of the House of Lords also signed the statement, alongside figures from across Europe, Asia, Australia and North America.

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NZ limits international arrivals to stop quarantine system being overwhelmed | World News



New Zealand has joined the Australian state of New South Wales in limiting the number of international passengers arriving at its airports.

The move is due to concern about the availability of hotel quarantine places, as more New Zealanders and Australians return home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Both countries are only open to citizens, residents and their families, and all arrivals must spend 14 days in isolation or quarantine – depending on whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms – at a government-chosen hotel.

Jacinda Ardern
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she does not want quarantine facilities overwhelmed

Sydney Airport in Australia said late last week that it was limiting the number of arriving passengers to 450 per day.

That move came amid growing pressure on quarantine facilities, made worse by Melbourne’s temporary ban on international arrivals as it struggles to contain a resurgence of the virus there.

On Tuesday, New Zealand’s government said it had asked Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines to “manage” international bookings for the next three weeks to make sure quarantine facilities were not overwhelmed.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “We have people showing up at airports, and by the time they close the doors that’s when we’ll get a heads-up that we have an extra 100 people coming than we had planned for.”

Air New Zealand said it was not allowing any new bookings for the three-week period and that flights already booked could be subject to change.

Singapore Airlines spokesman Karl Schubert said they were monitoring passenger numbers and would make adjustments “to ensure we do not contribute to an overwhelming of facilities”.

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According to the Board of Airline Representatives NZ, the country sees 40 international flights per week – three-quarters of them by Air New Zealand – a big drop from more than 800 per week before the coronavirus.

New Zealand closed its borders to tourists and brought in a strict quarantine system early in the pandemic and that system is one of the main reasons for its relative success: the country has seen just 22 deaths and around 1,500 cases of the disease.

For many days the country was COVID-free but cases have started to emerge among international arrivals – 62 cases have been discovered at the border and the 22 that remain active are the only cases in the country. There is no community transmission.

But that success – as well as many New Zealanders overseas suffering job losses due to the pandemic – has seen a surge in the number of citizens wanting to return home.

New Zealand’s health minister, Chris Hipkins, said on Tuesday that there were 6,378 beds in the country’s 28 facilities and 5,787 were occupied. Another 750 places will be added in the coming weeks.

The taxpayer-funded quarantine system is also expensive – it is estimated at around $3,800 (£1,985) per person, and the government had said it expected the cost to reach $81m (£42m) by the end of June.

There have been calls to make New Zealanders pay for their quarantine costs and some have even called for them to be prevented from returning home completely, although the latter is an idea the government has repeatedly refused.

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UK to resume arms sales to Saudi Arabia following government review | Politics News



The UK government will resume arms sales to Saudi Arabia after a High Court ruling put a temporary suspension on exports last year.

An internal government review into the use of weapons by Saudi Arabia in Yemen has concluded that breaches of international humanitarian law (IHL) were just “isolated incidents”.

The move was quietly announced in a written statement to parliament by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss.

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UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia ‘unlawful’

It came less than 24 hours after the government announced human rights sanctions against 20 senior Saudi regime officials for having “blood on their hands”.

“I have assessed that there is not a clear risk that the export of arms and military equipment to Saudi Arabia might be used in the commission of a serious violation of IHL,” Ms Truss said in the statement.

“The government will now begin the process of clearing the backlog of licence applications for Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners that has built up since 20 June last year.”

The UK is one of the biggest arms suppliers to Saudi Arabia and has sold in excess of £5bn of weapons to the kingdom since the bombing of Yemen started in 2015.

The news was quickly condemned by opposition MPs.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said she was “lost for words”.

“How the foreign secretary can say on one day that the UK will act as a force for good in the world, standing up for human rights, and then on the next, agree to this moral outrage, is just unbelievable,” she said.

Dominic Raab skirts around issue of Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia

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Andrew Smith, from Campaign Against the Arms Trade, said they were considering legal action.

“This is a disgraceful and morally bankrupt decision,” he said.

“The Saudi-led bombardment of Yemen has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and the government itself admits that UK-made arms have played a central role on the bombing.”

Last week, the UN’s under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs told Sky News that Yemen was facing “the darkest moment I have ever seen.”

Two million children under the age of five in Yemen are believed to be malnourished. Of them, about 325,000 have severe, acute malnutrition.

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The World Tomorrow: Tory election mastermind Sir Lynton Crosby attacks ‘mob mentality’ in media | World News



Conservative election strategist Sir Lynton Crosby has blamed the media for stoking up a “mob mentality” around issues such as Black Lives Matter, the #MeToo movement and even the Arab Spring.

In a rare podcast interview with Sky News, Sir Lynton – who masterminded many of the Conservative election victories in recent decades – warned the coverage of these matters “alienates many, many voters”.

He also dismissed the fall in Tory opinion polls following the Dominic Cummings lockdown affair, saying it was another symptom of the same issue.

Ed Conway speaks to Sir Lynton Crosby and Sajid Javid
Ed Conway speaks to Sir Lynton Crosby and Sajid Javid

“I despair about the focus on public opinion polls – they’re just pop quizzes,” he said.

“They don’t truly reflect underlying sentiment. You tend to get a period when there’s a mob mentality in the media.

“One minute it might be what Dominic Cummings has done.

“The next, understandably something like Black Lives Matter, then before that we had the Arab Spring – where apparently the whole Middle East was going to change in four months… and things have gone pretty much back to the way they were – and the #MeToo movement and all of these things.

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“I just think there’s a tendency to grab issues and elevate the intensity of debate around them in a way that actually alienates many, many voters.”

But Sir Lynton, who was talking to former chancellor Sajid Javid and Sky’s economics editor Ed Conway in The World Tomorrow podcast, added that the Black Lives Matter movement could end up deciding the US election.

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“One of the things that I think President Trump was counting on was suppressed black and minority, Hispanic and so forth, turnout,” he said.

“The question now is, what does this focus on issues of race in America mean for the turnout of those groups at the next election?”

Sir Lynton said he expects the turnout to be higher than predicted, with many BAME people supporting Mr Trump’s rival Joe Biden.

He believes the vote will be “incredibly close”, and added: “I wouldn’t call it either way to be honest.”

The World Tomorrow podcast
The World Tomorrow podcast

Turning his attention to the coronavirus pandemic, Sir Lynton said one consequence of COVID-19 was that businesses and households would be more keenly focused on existential questions than other issues which have until now dominated debate, such as the environment or equality.

“They’re important issues,” he said. “But now for some businesses they’re important, but they’re not immediate.”

Sir Lynton said companies are currently focusing on “sheer survival”, while many people have had to prioritise having a job and looking after their family.

As a result, he said, there may be a “stalling” on some other issues.

“David Cameron used to say you can’t have a strong health system or a good education system if you don’t have a strong economy,” he said.

“Well, you can’t have a company that focuses on the broader social issues… if it’s not making a profit.”

Sir Lynton said COVID-19 had changed the complexion of public opinion and politics – perhaps permanently – with people becoming far more focused on localism than globalism.

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“Economic sovereignty is about the over-reliance on any one country or one company or one source of supply, the over-reliance on a particular country or region as a market, the resilience in our supply chains, the questioning of just-in-time manufacturing.

“I think going forward, you’ll see a focus on economic sovereignty, ensuring supply chains, resilience, a focus on energy security, medical supplies, technology and financial security. I think across the world there will be a change.”

Asked what that meant for future election campaigns, Sir Lynton said: “Fundamentally, people want elections to be about the future.

“The future is uncertain at present. So those who can help people think about the future and those who can demonstrate that they’ve got a clear plan for the future will get a better response from the voters.”

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