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Rise in nationalism could lead to an even deadlier pandemic: Professor

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A customer has their temperature checked by a security guard before entering an Apple Inc. store in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, June 18, 2020.

Michael Short | Bloomberg | Getty Images

If the coronavirus crisis leads to more inward-looking government policies, protectionism and nationalism, humanity could face an “even bigger” and “more deadly” pandemic in the future, a policy expert has warned.

Ian Goldin, professor of Globalisation and Development at the University of Oxford, former advisor to Nelson Mandela and ex-vice president of the World Bank, told CNBC that the direction that global politics takes following the pandemic could have a far-reaching negative impact.

“If what comes out of this is more nationalism and protectionism, the result is going to be an even bigger pandemic in the future, which could be more deadly, climate change, more financial crises, cyber-attacks, more tension, Cold War 2.0, and that is extremely worrying,” Goldin said.

“So we face a choice. Either the pandemic teaches us to be more globalized in politics, to stop the next pandemic, to cooperate, to restore global growth, or we get more national, in which case we’re in a downward spiral.”

Goldin has been predicting a widespread pandemic for several years, warning in his 2014 book “The Butterfly Defect” and a 2018 BBC series that a disease outbreak was the most likely cause of the next global economic crisis.

But he told CNBC that the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic effects had been worsened by the adoption of nationalistic politics, and a failure of global governance.

“I don’t blame the WHO (World Health Organization) — I think it’s done the best it can under the circumstances, but it has been under-resourced, it hasn’t been given the powers it requires. And the people to blame for that are the shareholders, the big governments of the world who fund and direct it,” he said, speaking to CNBC in a phone call.

“This is a failure to manage the system, particularly by the leading powers, and it’s really the U.S. turning its back on the world which has exacerbated it,” he said. “So at the biggest level, this is a reflection of the failure to manage globalization.”

Moving forward, he added, the pandemic should teach the world that it needs greater cooperation between countries — but he warned that this what not what was happening.

“We’re seeing countries try to set up firewalls. Unfortunately, there’s no wall high enough to keep out a pandemic or climate change or any of the great risks,” Goldin said. “But what the high walls do keep out is the ideas, the people, the technologies, the investments, the markets that we need to thrive.”

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Poland’s incumbent Duda wins presidential election

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Andrzej Duda (R), the current Polish President and candidate for the presidential election 2020, accompanied by wife Agata (C) and daughter Kinga (L), seen on the final day of Duda’s presidential campaign, in Rzeszow.
On Friday, July 10, 2020, in Rzeszow, Podkarpackie Voivodeship, Poland. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

NurPhoto | Getty Images

Poland’s incumbent Andrzej Duda has won the presidential election, results from over 99% of polling stations show, with remaining uncounted votes unlikely to sway the final outcome, the National Electoral Commission said on Monday.

Duda, an ally of Poland’s ruling nationalists, is expected to help the Law and Justice (PiS) party continue its reforms of the judiciary, which have been criticised by the European Union, and generous social spending programs.

According to the latest results, Duda received 51.21% of the vote, while opposition candidate Rafal Trzaskowski got 48.79% of the vote. The difference in votes between the candidates amounted to around 500,000. 

“I don’t want to speak on behalf of the campaign staff, but I think that this difference is large enough that we have to
accept the result,” Grzegorz Schetyna, the former head of Poland’s opposition Civic Platform (PO) grouping and member of parliament told private broadcaster TVN24 on Monday. 

Poles voted with almost record turnout, reported at 68.12% by the commission. The Commission said it wasn’t sure when it would announce full official results as some polling stations, including some abroad, had not yet submitted their official counts.

The opposition had earlier said it was collecting information about what it says were voting irregularities. “We are gathering information and signals about different irregularities and we are still only talking about polls and only a percentage of results from the National Electoral Commission so we don’t have a full picture of the situation,”
Tomasz Siemoniak, a PO member of parliament told Reuters. 

PiS officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The foreign ministry was also unavailable for comment. “Today or perhaps at the latest tomorrow…we will be able to indicate what the scale of these protests is,” Sylwester Marciniak, the head of the electoral commission, told a news conference on Monday.

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Amcham survey on impact of China national security law in Hong Kong

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A barge displays the words ‘Celebrate national security law’ on Victoria Harbour on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong.

Anthony Kwan | Getty Images

A large majority of American companies in Hong Kong said they were concerned about the new national security law passed by China last month, according to a poll — but over 64% said their companies have no plans to leave the city.

The survey — conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong between July 6 and July 9 — polled 183 respondents, which represent 15% of its membership, on China’s new national security law and what it means for businesses.

Beijing says new law is aimed at prohibiting secession, subversion of state power, terrorism activities and foreign interference. But critics say it undermines the autonomy promised to Hong Kong for 50 years after it was handed over to China from the U.K. in 1997.

Survey results showed that of the 76% who expressed concern about the new security law, about 41% were “extremely concerned,” while 36.6% was “somewhat concerned.”

Over half of the respondents said they felt “less safe” living and working in the city, while 26% said they felt safer, according to the Amcham survey. Despite that, 48% said they personally had no plans to leave.

CNBC reached out to the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council for comment and did not immediately hear back.

It’s the ambiguity that is making people worried, so they are worried about the rule of law, and whether that will actually continue to exist the way it has under one country, two systems.

Tara Joseph

president, American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong

Tara Joseph, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, told CNBC on Monday: “There is a small minority who feel much better because the streets … are quieter, and they feel they are safer there. But the majority … were concerned, or extremely concerned about the national security law.”

“So what it’s showing us is that the new normal in Hong Kong is not so normal, and there are a lot of question marks out there as far as businesses are concerned,” she added.

The introduction of the law sparked concerns among some about the impact of Hong Kong’s status as a global financial hub. Washington said it will revoke Hong Kong’s special trading status with the U.S.

Last week, a Bloomberg report surfaced, which said U.S. officials in the Trump administration were looking for ways to undermine the Hong Kong dollar’s peg to the greenback.

Despite those fears, however, more than 64% of the respondents indicated their companies have no plans to move out of Hong Kong.

They cited that there was potential in China and the Greater Bay area, an economically prosperous region comprising nine Chinese cities in Guangdong province and two special administrative territories — Hong Kong and Macao. 

However, the respondents were generally downcast about the overall business prospects in Hong Kong, saying that the city’s image has taken a hit as a result of the security law.

Around 42% said they were “pessimistic,” and around 25% said they were negative in the short run, but optimistic longer-term.

“Nobody wants to leave, but there are some question marks now that are arising now as a result of the national security law. And what makes people most uncomfortable as the survey is telling us is: they really want to hear some answers,” Josephs said.

“It’s the ambiguity that is making people worried, so they are worried about the rule of law, and whether that will actually continue to exist the way it has under one country, two systems. They are worried very much as well… about this idea of foreign interference, and where does that leave the U.S. community,” she added.

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The U.S. warns citizens of ‘arbitrary detention’ in China

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The national flags of the U.S. and China waving outside a building.

Teh Eng Koon | AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. has asked its citizens to “exercise increased caution” in China due to a “heightened risk of arbitrary detention” — a claim slammed by Chinese state-backed media Global Times as a “blatant distortion of truth.”

The U.S. advisory was issued on Saturday and did not specify what prompted the alert.

But it came amid worsening U.S.-China relations over a range of issues that include Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Hong Kong, as well as alleged human rights violations by Chinese officials in Xinjiang and Tibet.

“Exercise increased caution in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws for purposes other than maintaining law and order. This arbitrary enforcement may include detention and the use of exit bans,” read the advisory.

“U.S. citizens may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime,” it added.

The advisory also said that U.S. citizens may be “subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to ‘state security'” and warned that they could be detained and/or deported “for sending private electronic messages critical of the PRC government.”

Chinese state-backed publication, Global Times, citing a professor from the China Foreign Affairs University, accused the U.S. of hyping up fears of China and a “blatant distortion” on how Chinese authorities enforce the country’s laws. Global Times is a tabloid under the People’s Daily, which is the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China. 

The report said foreigners will only be arrested on “solid evidence of illegal acts” and not “just for a few critical comments.”

Relations between the U.S. and China have been at their worst in decades. But the U.S. is not alone in warning its citizens of the potential risk that laws may be arbitrarily applied within Chinese territory.

Last week, Australia advised its citizens not to travel to Hong Kong, and to reconsider their need to remain in the city, due to uncertainties surrounding the new national security law there. Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China.

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