Tag Archives: East Asia

Hushpuppi ‘linked’ to North Korean money laundering, robbery.

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI has linked Instagram celebrity, Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, a.k.a Hushpuppi, to North Korean hackers said to be the biggest bank robbers in the world.

The Justice Department in a detailed statement released on Friday, February 19, alleged that Hushpuppi took part in a “North Korean-perpetrated cyber-enabled heist from a Maltese bank in February 2019.”

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According to the statement, his role was as a collaborator with a North Korean money launderer, Ghaleb Alaumary, 37, based in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

“Alaumary agreed to plead guilty to the charge, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Nov. 17, 2020.

“Alaumary was a prolific money launderer for hackers engaged in ATM cash-out schemes, cyber-enabled bank heists, business email compromise (BEC) schemes, and other online fraud schemes. Alaumary is also being prosecuted for his involvement in a separate BEC scheme by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia.

“With respect to the North Korean co-conspirators’ activities, Alaumary organized teams of co-conspirators in the United States and Canada to launder millions of dollars obtained through ATM cash-out operations, including from BankIslami and a bank in India in 2018.

“Alaumary also conspired with Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, aka “Ray Hushpuppi,” and others to launder funds from a North Korean-perpetrated cyber-enabled heist from a Maltese bank in February 2019”the statement read

Hushpuppi was arrested in Dubai in June 2020, and extradited to the US where he is being charged by the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles with conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from “business email compromise” (BEC) frauds and other scams.

His trial was to have commenced late last year, but was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Read the full US Justice Department statement on Hushpuppi’s alleged involvement with the three North Korean military hackers

A federal indictment unsealed today charges three North Korean computer programmers with participating in a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy to conduct a series of destructive cyberattacks, to steal and extort more than $1.3 billion of money and cryptocurrency from financial institutions and companies, to create and deploy multiple malicious cryptocurrency applications, and to develop and fraudulently market a blockchain platform.

A second case unsealed today revealed that a Canadian-American citizen has agreed to plead guilty in a money laundering scheme and admitted to being a high-level money launderer for multiple criminal schemes, including ATM “cash-out” operations and a cyber-enabled bank heist orchestrated by North Korean hackers.

“As laid out in today’s indictment, North Korea’s operatives, using keyboards rather than guns, stealing digital wallets of cryptocurrency instead of sacks of cash, are the world’s leading bank robbers,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

“The Department will continue to confront malicious nation state cyber activity with our unique tools and work with our fellow agencies and the family of norms abiding nations to do the same.”

“Today’s unsealed indictment expands upon the FBI’s 2018 charges for the unprecedented cyberattacks conducted by the North Korean regime,” said the FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate.

“The ongoing targeting, compromise, and cyber-enabled theft by North Korea from global victims was met with the outstanding, persistent investigative efforts of the FBI in close collaboration with U.S. and foreign partners. By arresting facilitators, seizing funds, and charging those responsible for the hacking conspiracy, the FBI continues to impose consequences and hold North Korea accountable for its/their criminal cyber activity.”

“The scope of the criminal conduct by the North Korean hackers was extensive and long-running, and the range of crimes they have committed is staggering,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison for the Central District of California.

“The conduct detailed in the indictment are the acts of a criminal nation-state that has stopped at nothing to extract revenge and obtain money to prop up its regime.”

“This case is a particularly striking example of the growing alliance between officials within some national governments and highly sophisticated cyber-criminals,” said U.S. Secret Service Assistant Director Michael R. D’Ambrosio.

“The individuals indicted today committed a truly unprecedented range of financial and cyber-crimes: from ransomware attacks and phishing campaigns, to digital bank heists and sophisticated money laundering operations. With victims strewn across the globe, this case shows yet again that the challenge of cybercrime is, and will continue to be, a struggle that can only be won through partnerships, perseverance, and a relentless focus on holding criminals accountable.”

The hacking indictment filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles alleges that Jon Chang Hyok (???), 31; Kim Il (??), 27; and Park Jin Hyok (???), 36, were members of units of the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), a military intelligence agency of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), which engaged in criminal hacking. These North Korean military hacking units are known by multiple names in the cybersecurity community, including Lazarus Group and Advanced Persistent Threat 38 (APT38). Park was previously charged in a criminal complaint unsealed in September 2018.

The indictment alleges a broad array of criminal cyber activities undertaken by the conspiracy, in the United States and abroad, for revenge or financial gain. The schemes alleged include:

Cyberattacks on the Entertainment Industry: The destructive cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment in November 2014 in retaliation for “The Interview,” a movie that depicted a fictional assassination of the DPRK’s leader; the December 2014 targeting of AMC Theatres, which was scheduled to show the film; and a 2015 intrusion into Mammoth Screen, which was producing a fictional series involving a British nuclear scientist taken prisoner in DPRK.

Cyber-Enabled Heists from Banks: Attempts from 2015 through 2019 to steal more than $1.2 billion from banks in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Mexico, Malta, and Africa by hacking the banks’ computer networks and sending fraudulent Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) messages.

Cyber-Enabled ATM Cash-Out Thefts: Thefts through ATM cash-out schemes – referred to by the U.S. government as “FASTCash” – including the October 2018 theft of $6.1 million from BankIslami Pakistan Limited (BankIslami).

Ransomware and Cyber-Enabled Extortion: Creation of the destructive WannaCry 2.0 ransomware in May 2017, and the extortion and attempted extortion of victim companies from 2017 through 2020 involving the theft of sensitive data and deployment of other ransomware.

Creation and Deployment of Malicious Cryptocurrency Applications: Development of multiple malicious cryptocurrency applications from March 2018 through at least September 2020 – including Celas Trade Pro, WorldBit-Bot, iCryptoFx, Union Crypto Trader, Kupay Wallet, CoinGo Trade, Dorusio, CryptoNeuro Trader, and Ants2Whale – which would provide the North Korean hackers a backdoor into the victims’ computers.

Targeting of Cryptocurrency Companies and Theft of Cryptocurrency: Targeting of hundreds of cryptocurrency companies and the theft of tens of millions of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency, including $75 million from a Slovenian cryptocurrency company in December 2017; $24.9 million from an Indonesian cryptocurrency company in September 2018; and $11.8 million from a financial services company in New York in August 2020 in which the hackers used the malicious CryptoNeuro Trader application as a backdoor.

Spear-Phishing Campaigns: Multiple spear-phishing campaigns from March 2016 through February 2020 that targeted employees of United States cleared defense contractors, energy companies, aerospace companies, technology companies, the U.S.Department of State, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Marine Chain Token and Initial Coin Offering: Development and marketing in 2017 and 2018 of the Marine Chain Token to enable investors to purchase fractional ownership interests in marine shipping vessels, supported by a blockchain, which would allow the DPRK to secretly obtain funds from investors, control interests in marine shipping vessels, and evade U.S. sanctions.

According to the allegations contained in the hacking indictment, which was filed on Dec. 8, 2020, in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles and unsealed today, the three defendants were members of units of the RGB who were at times stationed by the North Korean government in other countries, including China and Russia. While these defendants were part of RGB units that have been referred to by cybersecurity researchers as Lazarus Group and APT38, the indictment alleges that these groups engaged in a single conspiracy to cause damage, steal data and money, and otherwise further the strategic and financial interests of the DPRK government and its leader, Kim Jong Un.

Money Launderer Charged in California and Georgia

Federal prosecutors today also unsealed a charge against Ghaleb Alaumary, 37, of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, for his role as a money launderer for the North Korean conspiracy, among other criminal schemes. Alaumary agreed to plead guilty to the charge, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Nov. 17, 2020. Alaumary was a prolific money launderer for hackers engaged in ATM cash-out schemes, cyber-enabled bank heists, business email compromise (BEC) schemes, and other online fraud schemes. Alaumary is also being prosecuted for his involvement in a separate BEC scheme by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia.

With respect to the North Korean co-conspirators’ activities, Alaumary organized teams of co-conspirators in the United States and Canada to launder millions of dollars obtained through ATM cash-out operations, including from BankIslami and a bank in India in 2018. Alaumary also conspired with Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, aka “Ray Hushpuppi,” and others to launder funds from a North Korean-perpetrated cyber-enabled heist from a Maltese bank in February 2019. Last summer, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles charged Abbas in a separate case alleging that he conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from BEC frauds and other scams.

Accompanying Mitigation Efforts

Throughout the investigation, the FBI and the Justice Department provided specific information to victims about how they had been targeted or compromised, as well as information about the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by the hackers with the goals of remediating any intrusion and preventing future intrusions. That direct sharing of information took place in the United States and in foreign countries, often with the assistance of foreign law enforcement partners. The FBI also collaborated with certain private cybersecurity companies by sharing and analyzing information about the intrusion TTPs used by the members of the conspiracy.

In addition to the criminal charges, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Treasury, today released a joint cybersecurity advisory and malware analysis reports (MARs) regarding North Korean cryptocurrency malware. The joint cybersecurity analysis and MARs highlight the cyber threat North Korea – which is referred to by the U.S. government as HIDDEN COBRA – poses to cryptocurrency and identify malware and indicators of compromise related to the “AppleJeus” family of malware (the name given by the cybersecurity community to a family of North Korean malicious cryptocurrency applications that includes Celas Trade Pro, WorldBit-Bot, Union Crypto Trader, Kupay Wallet, CoinGo Trade, Dorusio, CryptoNeuro Trader, and Ants2Whale). The joint cybersecurity advisory and MARs collectively provide the cybersecurity community and public with information about identifying North Korean malicious cryptocurrency applications, avoiding intrusions, and remedying infections.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI also obtained seizure warrants authorizing the FBI to seize cryptocurrency stolen by the North Korean hackers from a victim in the indictment – a financial services company in New York – held at two cryptocurrency exchanges. The seizures include sums of multiple cryptocurrencies totalling approximately $1.9 million, which will ultimately be returned to the victim.

Jon, Kim, and Park are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

In relation to the case filed in Los Angeles, Alaumary has agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The investigation of Jon, Kim, and Park was led by the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, which worked closely with the FBI’s Charlotte Field Office. The U.S. Secret Service’s Los Angeles Field Office and Global Investigative Operations Center provided substantial assistance. The FBI’s Cyber Division also provided substantial assistance.

The investigations of Alaumary were conducted by the U.S. Secret Service’s Savannah Field Office, FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, and the U.S. Secret Service’s Los Angeles Field Office and Global Investigative Operations Center. The FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division also provided substantial assistance.

The case against Jon, Kim, and Park is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anil J. Antony and Khaldoun Shobaki of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section, with substantial assistance from Trial Attorney Scott Claffee of the Department of Justice National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Antony and Shobaki are also prosecuting the case against Alaumary, in which the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia and the Criminal Division’s Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) provided substantial assistance. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Antony and Shobaki, along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Galatzan of the Asset Forfeiture Section, also obtained the seizure warrants for cryptocurrency stolen from the financial services company in New York.

The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance throughout these investigations, as did many of the FBI’s Legal Attachés, as well as foreign authorities around the world. Numerous victims cooperated and provided valuable assistance.”

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: Political pressure blocking vaccine deal – Taiwan Gov’t.

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Taiwan has survived the pandemic largely unscathed — with fewer than 940 confirmed cases and nine deaths so far — by closing its borders early, imposing strict quarantine measures and rolling out effective tracing.

An attempt by Taiwan to secure five million doses of coronavirus vaccine failed at the last minute because of “political pressure”, Taipei’s health minister said Wednesday, raising fears China could be creating roadblocks for the inoculation drive.

Health minister Chen Shih-chung revealed during a radio interview that a crucial deal to acquire the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine had failed “at the final step” of negotiations with BioNTech.

“I was worried about interference from external forces all along and there were many possibilities. I was worried about political pressure. We believed there was political pressure,” he said.

“The deal fell through… because someone doesn’t want Taiwan to be too happy.”

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German firm BioNTech has struck a deal with the Shanghai-based Fosun Pharmaceutical Group to bring the vaccine to China.

When asked if Beijing might be blocking the deal, Chen replied “this could be a possibility but we can’t confirm it. We are still communicating with” the company.

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“It’s very rare to stop the process before swapping the contracts,” Chen said, adding BioNTech called off the December deal citing “different internal opinions” and “international vaccine distributions”.

Fosun and BioNTech did not return requests for comment.

The pandemic has highlighted the diplomatic and economic isolation China forces on Taiwan’s 23 million citizens.

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Beijing sees self-ruled democratic Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

It has dramatically stepped up its pressure campaign since President Tsai Ing-wen was elected in 2016, poaching seven of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies and blocking Taipei from global bodies including the World Health Organization (WHO).

Taiwan has survived the pandemic largely unscathed — with fewer than 940 confirmed cases and nine deaths so far — by closing its borders early, imposing strict quarantine measures and rolling out effective tracing.

But it has struggled to locate adequate vaccine supplies and only recently announced a supply of five million doses by American pharmaceutical giant Moderna and 200,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine via COVAX.

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An analyst said Beijing has previously used the pandemic to pressure Taiwan.

“China’s continued weaponisation and politicisation of people’s health — which should be apolitical — should not come as a surprise, especially given everything that has been going on with the WHO,” tweeted Jessica Drun, a Taiwan-China expert at the Project 2049 think-tank.

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#Newsworthy

Kim’s wife makes first public appearance after 1-year.

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Kim has repeatedly insisted that the country has had no coronavirus cases, although outside experts doubt those assertions.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s wife made her first public appearance in over a year, state media reported Wednesday, after speculation her absence could be coronavirus-related, or because of a potential pregnancy.

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Ri Sol Ju, believed to be in her early 30s, joined her husband at a concert commemorating the birthday of his father and predecessor Kim Jong Il.

The anniversary celebrating the second member of the Kim dynasty to lead the now nuclear-armed North Korea is known as the Day of the Shining Star and is one of the country’s most important public holidays.

North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper published photos of the couple smiling broadly and applauding the performers at the Mansudae Art Theatre in Pyongyang.

“As the General Secretary came to the auditorium of the theatre together with his wife Ri Sol Ju amid the welcome music, all the participants burst into thunderous cheers of ‘Hurrah!’” the official KCNA news agency reported.

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None of the audience members or performers wore facemasks in the pictures.

Ri was last seen in January 2020 at an event for the Lunar New Year holiday.

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Her extended absence prompted questions over her health, whether she might be in seclusion to avoid any risk of coronavirus infection, or pregnant — the couple are believed to have three children.

This picture taken on February 16, 2021 released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on February 17 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (L) watching a performance for celebrating the birth anniversary of Chairman Kim Jong Il at the Mansudae Art Theatre in Pyongyang. (Photo by STR / various sources / AFP) / – South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT /

The impoverished country has been under self-imposed isolation since closing its borders in January last year, to try to protect itself from the pandemic that has swept the world since first emerging in neighbouring China.

Kim has repeatedly insisted that the country has had no coronavirus cases, although outside experts doubt those assertions.

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Wednesday’s report and photos came a day after South Korea’s National Intelligence Service told lawmakers that Ri was “playing well with her kids”, and was refraining from public activities due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Before her lengthy absence, Ri joined her husband on numerous “field guidance trips” and for meetings with foreign leaders, including the South’s President Moon Jae-in and China’s Xi Jinping.

“Because of Covid, no foreign leaders made visits to the North last year, nor was Kim able to make such trips that would require his wife’s attendance,” Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, told AFP.

“It looks like Ri just focused on raising her kids, ensuring they are safe and well.”

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A former star singer, Ri, believed to be in her early 30s, emerged into the public eye in 2012.

She is regarded as one of the most high-profile women in the isolated, deeply patriarchal nation, alongside her husband’s sister and close adviser Kim Yo Jong.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: South Korea says North Korea ‘tried to hack’ Pfizer vaccine.

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The North is also accused of a huge, $81 million cyber-heist from the Bangladesh Central Bank, as well as the theft of $60 million from Taiwan’s Far Eastern International Bank.

North Korean hackers tried to break into the computer systems of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer in a search for information on a coronavirus vaccine and treatment technology, South Korea’s spy agency said Tuesday, according to reports.

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The impoverished, nuclear-armed North has been under self-imposed isolation since closing its borders in January last year to try to protect itself from the virus that first emerged in neighbouring China and has gone on to sweep the world, killing more than two million people.

Leader Kim Jong Un has repeatedly insisted that the country has had no coronavirus cases, although outside experts doubt those assertions.

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And the closure has added to the pressure on its tottering economy from international sanctions imposed over its banned weapons systems, increasing the urgency for Pyongyang to find a way to deal with the disease.

Seoul’s National Intelligence Service “briefed us that North Korea tried to obtain technology involving the Covid vaccine and treatment by using cyberwarfare to hack into Pfizer”, MP Ha Tae-keung told reporters after a parliamentary hearing behind closed doors.

This picture taken on February 11, 2021 and released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on February 12, 2021 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attending a performance celebrating the Lunar New Year in North Korea.

North Korea is known to operate an army of thousands of well-trained hackers who have attacked firms, institutions and researchers in the South and elsewhere.

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Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, developed jointly with Germany’s BioNTech, began winning approval from authorities late last year.

It is based on technology that uses the synthetic version of a molecule called “messenger RNA” to hack into human cells and effectively turn them into vaccine-making factories.

Pfizer says it expects to potentially deliver up to 2 billion doses in 2021.

The company’s South Korean office did not immediately respond to a request for comment by AFP.

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Both it and BioNTech said in December that documents relating to their vaccine were “unlawfully accessed” during a cyberattack on a server at the European Medicines Agency, the EU’s medicine regulator.

The comments came after the Amsterdam-based EMA said it had been the victim of a hacking attack, without specifying when it took place or whether its work on Covid-19 was targeted.

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Cyber-heists
The allegations come only a week after a confidential UN report seen by AFP said North Korea had stolen more than $300 million worth of cryptocurrencies through cyberattacks in recent months to support its weapons programmes.

Financial institutions and exchanges were hacked to generate revenue for Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development, the document said, with the vast majority of the proceeds coming from two thefts late last year.

Pyongyang’s cyberwarfare abilities first came to global prominence in 2014 when it was accused of hacking into Sony Pictures Entertainment as revenge for “The Interview”, a satirical film that mocked leader Kim.

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The attack resulted in the posting of several unreleased movies as well as a vast trove of confidential documents online.

The North is also accused of a huge, $81 million cyber-heist from the Bangladesh Central Bank, as well as the theft of $60 million from Taiwan’s Far Eastern International Bank.

Pyongyang’s hackers were blamed for the 2017 WannaCry global ransomware cyberattack, which infected some 300,000 computers in 150 nations, encrypting user files and demanding hundreds of dollars from their owners for the keys to get them back.

Pyongyang has denied the accusations, saying it has “nothing to do with cyber-attacks”.

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Nuclear talks between it and Washington have been stalled since a summit between Kim and then-president Donald Trump in February 2019 broke down over sanctions relief and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return.

North Korea showed off several new missiles at military parades in October and last month when Kim pledged to strengthen his nuclear arsenal.

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#Newsworthy

China bans BBC World News.

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China is accused of compelling Uighurs to parrot Communist propaganda and renounce Islam, of forcibly sterilising women and imposing a regime of forced labour.

China’s broadcasting regulator has banned BBC World News, accusing it of flouting guidelines over a hard-hitting report on Beijing’s treatment of the country’s Uighur minority.

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The decision came just days after Britain’s own regulator revoked the licence of Chinese broadcaster CGTN for breaking UK law on state-backed ownership, and provoked angry accusations of censorship from London.

Thursday’s move will do little to improve relations between the two countries, which have been increasingly strained by China’s introduction of a security law in Britain’s former colony, Hong Kong.

London’s decision to offer millions of Hong Kongers a pathway to British citizenship has only further infuriated Beijing, which has accused Britain of behaving with a “colonial mentality”.

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London has also angered Beijing by banning Chinese telecoms group Huawei from involvement in its 5G network after the United States raised spying fears.

In an overnight statement, Beijing’s National Radio and Television Administration said BBC World News reports about China were found to “seriously violate” broadcast guidelines.

That includes “the requirement that news should be truthful and fair” and not “harm China’s national interests”.

The administrator “does not permit the BBC to continue broadcasting in China, and does not accept its new annual application for broadcast”, it added.

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‘Informed citizenry’
The BBC said it was “disappointed” with the move, which applies to mainland China, where the channel is already censored and restricted to international hotels.

“The BBC is the world’s most trusted international news broadcaster and reports on stories from around the world fairly, impartially and without fear or favour,” a BBC spokeswoman said.

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UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called the ban “an unacceptable curtailing of media freedom”.

“China has some of the most severe restrictions on media and internet freedoms across the globe, and this latest step will only damage China’s reputation in the eyes of the world,” he added.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price denounced the BBC ban and called on China to allow an “informed citizenry” that can freely exchange ideas.

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“We call on the PRC and other nations with authoritarian controls over their population to allow their full access to the internet and media,” Price told reporters, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

On Friday, public broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) — an independent but government-funded service based in the former British territory — also announced it would “suspend the relay of BBC World Service and BBC News Weekly”.

British lawmaker Tom Tugendhat, a hawk on UK-China ties, criticised Beijing’s move as “both regrettable and entirely unsurprising”.

“While this is a largely symbolic tit-for-tat retaliatory move, the deteriorating environment for journalism in China is a concern for us all,” he told AFP.

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Witness testimony
Besides its reporting on Xinjiang, the BBC has also aired a hard-hitting documentary accusing China of covering up the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic around the city of Wuhan in late 2019.

It published its report detailing harrowing accounts of torture and sexual violence against Uighur women in Chinese camps in Xinjiang on February 3.

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The lengthy investigation based on witness testimonies reported claims of systematic rape, sexual abuse and torture of female detainees by police and guards in the western region.

The area is home to the mainly Muslim Uighur minority and has seen a sweeping security crackdown by Chinese forces in recent years.

Rights groups believe at least one million Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims are incarcerated in camps in Xinjiang.

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The Chinese foreign ministry has dismissed the BBC investigation as “false”.

Britain’s government said it showed “clearly evil acts”, and there was strong condemnation from the US State Department.

But London has resisted pressure to follow the current and former US administrations and call the treatment of the Uighurs “genocide”.

China is accused of compelling Uighurs to parrot Communist propaganda and renounce Islam, of forcibly sterilising women and imposing a regime of forced labour.

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After initially denying the camps existed, China’s government acknowledged them, saying they were vocational training centres aimed at combating Islamic extremism.

China last week said British regulator Ofcom’s decision to pull CGTN from the airwaves was based on “ideological prejudice and political reasons”.

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#Newsworthy

Kim Jong Un blast officals over economic downfall.

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North Korea is under multiple sets of international sanctions over its banned nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, which have made rapid progress under Kim.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has accused top officials of “self-protection and defeatism” and largely blamed them for the country’s economic plight, state media reported Friday.

At a meeting of top cadres, state news agency KCNA said Kim had “sharply criticised” officials responsible for laying out plans for various sectors’ growth this year, saying they did not reflect the “idea and policy” announced at January’s Party Congress.

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That Congress, the first of its kind in five years and only the eighth in North Korea’s history, set out a new economic plan.

But it also revealed the extent of the isolated country’s financial woes, with Kim repeatedly apologising for mistakes in economic management and saying the last five years had been the “worst” time.

Wrapping up the four-day meeting, Kim was quoted Friday as slamming officials for their lack of “innovative viewpoint and clear tactics” in solving those issues.

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In one example of poor performance, he singled out agriculture officials who had set grain production targets “irrespective of the present situation where the farming condition is unfavourable and the state is unable to supply enough farming materials”, in an unusually candid account.

Other sectors were lambasted for “absurdly low” production quotas, with officials accused of “trying to find a breather and make a pretence of doing work.”

North Korea is under multiple sets of international sanctions over its banned nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, which have made rapid progress under Kim.

This undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on February 12, 2021 North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaking during the third-day of the 2nd plenary meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) in North Korea. (Photo by – / KCNA VIA KNS / AFP) / South Korea OUT /

A summit between Kim and then-US President Donald Trump in Hanoi in February 2019 broke down over sanctions relief and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return.

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Nuclear talks have been stalled ever since, while North Korea showed off several new missiles at military parades in October and last month when Kim pledged to strengthen his nuclear arsenal.

Pyongyang is also under increasing financial pressure as the coronavirus pandemic and floods last summer put its flagging economy under yet more strain.

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#Newsworthy

Tokyo olympics boss resigns over sexism row.

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As he stepped down, Mori was praised by officials including Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and the International Olympic Committee.

Tokyo Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori bowed to mounting pressure and resigned Friday over sexist remarks, leaving a leadership vacuum after opposition emerged to his favoured successor.

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The controversy over Mori’s comments has been an unwanted additional headache for organisers already struggling to win over a sceptical public less than six months before the Games open.

After a two-hour meeting, Tokyo 2020 organisers said they will form a committee with a 50-50 gender mix to select Mori’s replacement.

It will be headed by Canon CEO Fujio Mitarai, 85, an appointment that may not appease critics who say key positions consistently go to an entrenched old boy network.

Mori, 83, claimed last week that women speak too much in meetings, prompting outrage from officials, sports stars and Olympic sponsors.

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On Friday he announced he would step down, effective immediately.

“My inappropriate statement has caused a lot of chaos. I would like to express my sincere apologies,” he told Tokyo 2020’s executive board and council.

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“What is important is to hold the Olympics. It must not be the case that my presence becomes an obstacle to that.”

Reports initially suggested Mori had selected well-known sports administrator Saburo Kawabuchi, 84, to replace him.

The transition appeared a done deal, with the former footballer describing his planned priorities in the new job to Japanese media.

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But opposition to the selection of another octogenarian — and Mori’s control over the process — quickly mounted.

By Friday afternoon, reports said Tokyo 2020 was under pressure to reverse the appointment, and Kawabuchi subsequently turned down the job.

Selection committee
Tokyo 2020’s CEO Toshiro Muto said the new president should be chosen “as soon as possible” but set no deadline.

He said Mori’s successor needed to have some Games experience, but that gender would not be decisive.

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“I don’t think we need to discuss the gender of the person. We will choose the most qualified person. Isn’t that what we should strive for?”

Muto said organisers had also decided to form a team to promote gender equality and would seek to increase female representation among its staff and senior executives.

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But he declined to be drawn on any deadline for improving female representation or any specific gender balance goal, saying he hoped to see progress by a March 22 board meeting.

Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori announces his resignation over sexist remarks, at a meeting with council and executive board members at the committee headquarters in Tokyo on February 12, 2021. (Photo by YOSHIKAZU TSUNO / POOL / AFP)

Mori’s resignation caps over a week of uproar after he told members of Japan’s Olympic Committee that women have difficulty speaking concisely, “which is annoying.”

He apologised but then defended his remarks and told reporters: “I don’t speak to women much.”

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Several hundred Olympic volunteers have withdrawn in the wake of his comments and a petition calling for action against him gathered nearly 150,000 signatures.

On Friday Mori said he does not “look down on women”, and had supported the seven women on the 35-member Tokyo 2020 board.

“They hesitated to raise their hand to speak up. I even called out their name to encourage them,” he said.

Praise for Mori
As he stepped down, Mori was praised by officials including Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and the International Olympic Committee.

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Mori had helped make Tokyo “the best-ever prepared Olympic city,” IOC chief Thomas Bach said in a statement.

International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons thanked Mori, adding that he hoped reaction to his comments would “be harnessed so that society places greater emphasis on diversity and inclusion.”

The race to fill Mori’s former post now appears wide open, with reports suggesting Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto — a former Olympic athlete and one of just two women in Japan’s cabinet — is a leading candidate.

The fallout comes with organisers already battling public doubt about holding the international event this summer.

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Around 80 percent of Japanese polled in recent surveys back either further postponement or outright cancellation.

Organisers have tried to quell the disquiet by releasing virus rulebooks, but doubts persist with Tokyo and other regions under a Covid-19 state of emergency.

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#Newsworthy

Court denies top Media personnel, Jimmy Lai bail.

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But the national security legislation was penned directly by Beijing and looks set to trump any other legislation in the event of a dispute.

Hong Kong’s top court on Tuesday ordered pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai to stay behind bars as it sided with prosecutors in the first legal test of Beijing’s sweeping new national security law.

The landmark case cements the dramatic changes the security law has begun making to semi-autonomous Hong Kong’s common law traditions as Beijing seeks to snuff out dissent in the restless financial hub.

Lai, the 73-year-old owner of pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily, is one of some 100 activists arrested under the law since it was enacted in June, and the highest-profile figure to be placed in pre-trial custody.

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He has been charged with “colluding with foreign forces” — one of the new security crimes — for allegedly calling for sanctions against Hong Kong and China.

The security law is the most pronounced shift in Hong Kong’s relationship with China since it was handed back by Britain in 1997.

It criminalised a host of political views and toppled the legal firewall between the two territories.

Written in Beijing and imposed by fiat, it allows mainland security agents to operate openly in the city for the first time, and even grants China jurisdiction in some cases.

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Tuesday’s ruling by the Court of Final Appeal centred around bail.

Presumption of bail for non-violent crimes is a hallmark of Hong Kong’s legal system.

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But the national security law removes that presumption and says judges have to be sure a defendant “will not continue to commit acts endangering national security”.

Media tycoon Jimmy Lai (R) is escorted into a Hong Kong Correctional Services van outside the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong on February 1, 2021, after being ordered to remain in jail while judges consider his fresh bail application, the first major legal challenge to a sweeping national security law Beijing imposed on the city last year. (Photo by STR / AFP)

Lai was detained in December and released on bail for about a week after a lower court granted him HK$10 million (US$1.3 million) bail together with a stringent list of requirements, including house arrest, no interviews and no social media posts.

But he was put back behind bars after the prosecution sought to challenge those bail conditions.

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‘Stringent threshold’
On Tuesday, a panel of five senior judges ruled in favour of the prosecution and said that the lower court judge had erred in granting Lai bail.

The security law, the judges wrote, “creates such a specific exception to the general rule in favour of the grant of bail and imports a stringent threshold requirement for bail applications”.

The judges said Lai could make a fresh bail application in the lower courts which would have to take into account their directions.

Legal analysts were closely watching the case for an indication of whether Hong Kong’s judiciary will serve — or even can serve — as any kind of constitutional brake against Beijing’s security law.

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The judiciary can only interpret laws, which are usually passed by Hong Kong’s semi-elected legislature.

During challenges to new legislation, judges balance the wording of the law against common law traditions and core liberties that are enshrined in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution and its Bill of Rights.

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But the national security legislation was penned directly by Beijing and looks set to trump any other legislation in the event of a dispute.

Bail is not the only area where legal precedents are changing under the security law.

On Monday, AFP revealed authorities have opted not to use a jury for the first national security trial, according to a legal source with direct knowledge, citing security concerns for jury members.

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Asked about that decision on Tuesday, Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam replied: “I will not comment on individual cases which are now under the judicial process.”

Challenging the security law in court may be tricky.

In Hong Kong’s complex constitutional hierarchy, the ultimate arbiter of the laws is Beijing’s Standing Committee, which has shown an increased willingness in recent years to wade into legal arguments and make pronouncements.

China’s state media have already declared Lai guilty and made clear authorities expect Hong Kong’s judges to side with Beijing on national security.

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In a tweet, China’s state-run Global Times hailed Tuesday’s Lai ruling, describing him as a “major secessionist”.

Senior Chinese officials have recently backed calls to “reform” Hong Kong’s judiciary, something opponents fear signals support for a more mainland-style legal system that answers to the Communist Party and where convictions are all but guaranteed.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: China approves second domestic vaccine.

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China has been racing to develop homegrown jabs and aims to vaccinate 50 million people before the start of the Lunar New Year in mid-February.

China’s drug authorities have given “conditional” approval for a second Covid-19 vaccine, Sinovac’s CoronaVac jab, the pharmaceutical company said Saturday.

The vaccine has already been rolled out to key groups at higher risk of exposure to coronavirus but Saturday’s approval allows for its use on the general public.

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A conditional approval helps hustle emergency drugs to market in cases when clinical trials are yet to meet normal standards but indicate therapies will work.

The approval comes after multiple domestic and overseas trials of the vaccine in countries including Brazil and Turkey, although “efficacy and safety results need to be further confirmed”, Sinovac said in a statement.

Fellow Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm received a similar conditional green light in December to put its vaccine on the market.

Sinovac said trials in Brazil had shown around 50 percent efficacy in preventing infection and 80 percent efficacy in preventing cases requiring medical intervention.

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“The results show that the vaccine has good safety and immunogenic effect on people of all age groups,” Sinovac said Saturday.

Meanwhile, Sinopharm said in December that its vaccine had a 79.34 percent efficacy rate, lower than rival jabs developed in the West by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — with 95 and 94 percent rates respectively.

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China has been racing to develop homegrown jabs and aims to vaccinate 50 million people before the start of the Lunar New Year in mid-February.

The holiday normally spurs a travel rush with hundreds of millions traversing the country — though authorities are encouraging people to stay home this year through a mixture of restrictions and incentives.

As China ramps up its vaccine campaign, authorities have repeatedly assured the public of the jab’s safety and efficacy, despite not releasing any detailed clinical trial data.

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At the same time, Beijing has been promoting its vaccines abroad in what analysts have called “vaccine diplomacy” to earn goodwill after facing criticism for its early handling of the outbreak.

China’s foreign ministry on Wednesday said it planned to provide 10 million vaccine doses to the WHO-backed international vaccine distribution programme Covax.

Beijing has also pledged to share the vaccine at a fair cost — a potential boost for poorer Asian countries who are otherwise reliant on limited distribution offered by the Covax scheme.

Countries including Senegal, Indonesia, and Hungary have procured millions of vaccine doses from Chinese pharmaceutical firms.

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But take-up has been slower abroad for Chinese vaccines compared to jabs from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, as little information has been published about the safety or efficacy of Chinese vaccines.

Chinese vaccine makers also have chequered reputations, after major scandals at home involving expired or poor quality products.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: China pledges vaccines to 13 developing Countries

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38 more developing countries in need of the vaccines would receive China’s vaccine aid at a later stage.

China will continue to provide COVID-19 vaccines to other countries, especially the developing ones, in a timely manner within its capacity and contribute to the building of a community of health for all, official said.

The Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, disclosed this on Monday at a daily news briefing in Beijing.

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Wang said China had donated COVID-19 vaccines to Pakistan on Monday, saying that the first shipment of China’s vaccine aid to other countries.

Reiterating China’s commitment to making its COVID-19 vaccines a global public good once developed and put into use, Wang said China will contribute to achieving the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries.

“We act on our words.’’

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Besides Pakistan, China is also providing vaccine aid to 13 developing countries, including Brunei, Nepal, the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Palestine, Belarus, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea.

He said that 38 more developing countries in need of the vaccines would receive China’s vaccine aid at a later stage.

“We are also participating actively in the WHO-led COVAX initiative to provide vaccines to developing countries,” the spokesperson added.

China has supported its companies in conducting joint research and production of vaccines with foreign partners and already exported Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines to countries including the UAE, Morocco, Indonesia, Turkey, Brazil, and Chile, Wang noted.

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Besides, China also supported relevant companies in exporting vaccines to countries that were in urgent need, recognised Chinese vaccines, and authorised the emergency use of Chinese vaccines in their countries, Wang said.

He added that China expected the international community to make joint efforts in promoting the equitable distribution and use of vaccines and ensure the availability and affordability of vaccines in developing countries.

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#Newsworthy

China to seize recognition of UK-issued BN(O) passports for Hong Kongers

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On Thursday Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam played down the threat of a mass exodus.

China on Friday said it will “no longer recognise” the British National (Overseas) passport for Hong Kongers, as Britain prepares to offer millions of former colonial subjects a way to escape Beijing’s crackdown on dissent.

From Sunday, those with a BN(O) passport and their dependents will be able to apply online for a visa allowing them to live and work in the United Kingdom.

After five years they can then apply for citizenship.

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The new immigration scheme is a response to Beijing’s decision to impose a sweeping national security law on the city last year to snuff out huge and often violent democracy protests.

Britain accused China of tearing up its promise ahead of Hong Kong’s 1997 handover that the financial hub would maintain key liberties and autonomy for 50 years. It argues it has a moral duty to protect its former subjects.

But on Friday Beijing hit back ahead of the upcoming change.

“From January 31, China will no longer recognise the so-called BN(O) passport as a travel document and ID document, and reserves the right to take further actions,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.

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It is unclear what China’s declaration means in practical terms.

But it sets the stage for further confrontation with London, and the threat of further action suggests Beijing may be preparing more restrictions for BN(O) holders down the line.

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‘Strong message’
Hong Kong’s government late Friday said the change meant the BN(O) passport now “cannot be used for immigration clearance and will not be recognised as any form of proof of identity in Hong Kong”.

However, few people use BN(O) passports in such a way.

Hong Kongers use their own Hong Kong passport or ID card to leave the city.

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To enter mainland China, they need to use their “home return” travel permit.

The only time they might use a BN(O) passport is on arrival into Britain or another country that recognises the document.

Willie Lam, an expert at Hong Kong’s Centre for China Studies, said the move was largely symbolic.

“It’s a strong message sent to the UK and other countries not to interfere in Hong Kong affairs, but in practical terms, I don’t think people would be intimidated into not applying,” he told AFP.

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“There seems to be no way that the Hong Kong or Beijing authorities can find out who might or might not apply for the BN(O) passport because the British consulate would not reveal their identity,” he added.

Offer open to millions
How many Hong Kongers will take up the offer remains to be seen, especially as the coronavirus pandemic restricts global flights and mires much of the world, including Britain, in a painful economic malaise.

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But a BN(O) passport is available to a huge number of people — about 70 percent of Hong Kong’s total population of 7.5 million.

Applications for BN(O) passports have skyrocketed more than 300 percent since the national security law was imposed last July, with 733,000 registered holders as of mid-January.

Britain predicts up to 154,000 Hong Kongers could arrive over the next year and as many as 322,000 over five years, bringing an estimated “net benefit” of up to £2.9 billion ($4 billion) with them.

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“I just don’t see how 2.9 million Hong Kong people would love to go to the United Kingdom,” she told Bloomberg, using the figure for the number of people eligible for BN(O) status that does not include their dependents.

“The important thing is for us to tell the people of Hong Kong that Hong Kong’s future is bright,” she added.

The BN(O) passport was a compromise with authoritarian China ahead of Hong Kong’s handover.

Many Hong Kongers wanted British citizenship, something Beijing balked at.

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So Britain instead allowed anyone born before 1997 to stay in Britain for six months at a time, but with no working or settling rights.

Now it has become one of the few ways out for Hong Kongers hoping to start a new life overseas, as authorities conduct mass arrests against democracy supporters and move to purge the restless city of dissenting views.

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#Newsworthy

Bigamy scandal: China executes former banker in bribes case.

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Rights group Amnesty International estimates the country is the top executioner globally, with thousands executed and sentenced to death each year.

China on Friday executed a former top banker accused of taking $260 million worth of bribes, other forms of corruption and bigamy, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

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Lai Xiaomin, the former chairman of Huarong — one of China’s largest state-controlled asset management firms — was put to death by a court in the northern city of Tianjin, CCTV said.

“The amount of bribes received by Lai Xiaomin was extremely large, the crime’s circumstances were particularly serious and the social impact was particularly severe,” CCTV quoted the Chinese Supreme People’s Court as saying, which reviewed and approved the execution order.

The report did not specify how Lai was executed but said he was allowed to meet with close relatives before his death.

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Chinese courts have a conviction rate of over 99 percent, and it is extremely rare for a death sentence to be overturned. The number of executions carried out annually is considered a state secret.

Lai was convicted and sentenced earlier this month. The Tianjin court ruled that he had shown “extreme malicious intent” and abused his position to obtain the vast sum.

He was also found guilty of bigamy after living with a woman “as man and wife for long periods” outside of his marriage and fathering illegitimate children.

Lai was alleged to have used his position to embezzle more than 25 million yuan ($3.8 million) in public funds between 2009 and 2018.

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His downfall began in April 2018 as investigators removed him from his job and stripped him of his Communist Party position.

Several high-profile party officials and entrepreneurs have spectacularly fallen from grace in recent years as part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption purge.

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#Newsworthy

India reopens ‘Ladakh’ lake bothering China.

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A video shot by an Indian soldier and shared on social media showed soldiers from both nations engaged in fistfights and stone-pelting at the LAC.

Even as the standoff between Indian and Chinese armies continues in the Himalayan region of Ladakh for eight months now, the local administration’s decision to reopen the Pangong Tso lake for tourism has come as a glimmer of hope for the local residents.


Border War: India blames China

China-India Border War: Indian Soldier Killed.

China, India agrees to withdraw troops from border.


On Sunday, the administration of the newly-created federal territory of Ladakh opened the world’s highest saltwater lake, almost a year after it was closed for tourists due to COVID-19 restrictions followed by the military standoff along the disputed border between the two Asian giants.

Both sides accuse each other of intruding across the loosely-demarcated de facto border, known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC), with Pangong Tso, located 14,000 feet (4,270 metres) above sea level in Ladakh, being one of the flashpoints.

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The standoff began in May last year after a scuffle broke out between Indian and Chinese troops at the lake, resulting in 11 soldiers being injured on both sides.

Ladakh Lake Bothering China reopened. (Noble Reporters Media, Olamide)

The military standoff intensified a month later when 20 Indian soldiers and an undisclosed number of Chinese troops were killed in hand-to-hand combat on June 15, 2020 – the worst clashes between the two forces in decades.

The LAC dividing the two nuclear-armed nations passes through the landlocked 135km (84 miles) long, boomerang-shaped lake, which is 6km (3.7 miles) wide at its broadest point. One-third of the lake falls under the Indian territory while the remaining area is under Chinese control.
The western end of Pangong Tso lies 54km (33 miles) southeast of Leh, the main city in Ladakh region.

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Welcome move, say locals
“The majestic Pangong Lake has been reopened for tourists starting January 10. So, get inner line permit (ILP) and visit this spellbinding lake,” the local administration said in its announcement on Sunday.

The move has revived hopes among the locals of a good upcoming tourism season in the Himalayan region.

“It’s a really good news because the Pangong Lake is one of the most visited places for tourists in Ladakh. It will definitely help the local tourism industry,” Kochak Stanzin, an elected councillor from the region, told NoRM‘s known Media

Stanzin, who represents Ladakh’s Chushul constituency where the Pangong Lake is located, said 60 percent of Leh’s population depends on tourism. He invited the tourists to visit the frozen lake before winter ends.

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Though tourism was hit globally due to the coronavirus pandemic, its impact was felt harder in Ladakh where tourism season is squeezed to just a few months, mostly from April to mid-October, due to the freezing winters in the region.

Delex Namgyal, a travel and tour operator in Leh, told NoRM‘s known Media over the telephone that the timing of the reopening of the lake for tourists could not have been better since January and February are the months when bookings for the summer season begin.

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“The timing is good. It will give a positive message that Ladakh is opening up for tourists,” said Namgyal, adding that almost 80 percent of Indian tourists arriving in Leh visit the lake.

India reopens ‘Ladakh’ lake neighboring China. (Noble Reporters Media, Olamide)

While just a few thousand tourists visit Ladakh during winters, Namgyal said that number can go up to more than 250,000 during summers.

Tsewang Yangjor, a hotelier in Leh, told Al Jazeera 2020 was a “disastrous year” for the local tourism industry and they are “happy that things are improving and the lake has been opened for the tourists”.

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“I think the situation [along China border] might be normal now and that is why they have decided to give permit [to visit the lake],” he said.

India-China tensions
But the situation along the LAC is far from normal, with both sides deploying a large number of troops along the Himalayan frontier. Several rounds of military and diplomatic talks between the two nations have failed to end the standoff.

The decision to reopen the Pangong Tso lake came a day before India handed back a Chinese soldier apprehended along the southern bank of the lake after he transgressed into the Indian side.

India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Tuesday said relations with China have been “profoundly disturbed” after last year’s deadly border clash.

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China and India fought a war in 1962 and continue to be engaged in several disputes along the 3,488km-long (2,167 miles) frontier they share. Yet, the two countries have remained focused on expanding commercial relationships despite the tensions.

Though happy with the Ladakh administration’s decision to reopen the lake situated along the tense India-China border, tour operator Namgyal has a word of caution: “The standoff can still have a negative impact [on tourism] if the situation worsens.”

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: Japan tighten Border restrictions.

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The emergency declaration will last until February 7 for all regions covered.

Japan expanded a coronavirus state of emergency on Wednesday to seven more regions — including Osaka and Kyoto — and also tightened border restrictions as infections surge nationwide.

The expansion means that from Thursday, 11 of the country’s 47 prefectures will be under the state of emergency — accounting for about 60 percent of its GDP.

While the country’s outbreak remains comparatively small, with around 4,100 deaths overall, there has been a sharp spike in cases this winter and medics say hospitals are under heavy strain in the worst-affected areas.

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“We continue to see a serious situation,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said, adding that the measures were “indispensable”.

“We must overcome this challenge that we face.”

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The month-long state of emergency was implemented in the greater Tokyo area last week.

People walk at Shinagawa station in Tokyo on January 13, 2021 as the country expanded the Covid-19 coronavirus state of emergency to seven more regions and tightened border restrictions. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP)

It asks restaurants and bars to close by 8 pm, with residents urged to avoid unnecessary outings and working from home strongly encouraged.

Although — unlike most places in the world — the law does not currently allow authorities to enforce these requests, the government is planning legislation to fine businesses that do not comply.

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The areas affected range from central Aichi, an industrial and commercial hub, to Fukuoka in the southwest, and Osaka, which has reported record new cases in recent days along with neighbouring Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures.

Suga also announced Wednesday that the government would further tighten entry restrictions, which already bar the entry of almost all foreign visitors.

It will now suspend a programme allowing business visits from 11 countries and regions, he said, all but ending the entry of foreigners who are not existing residents.

Late Wednesday, the government also said it would tighten quarantine rules, threatening to name and shame Japanese citizens who violate the measure, and warning it could revoke the residency of foreign nationals who do the same and deport them.

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The measures come just over six months before the virus-postponed Tokyo Olympics are due to open.

Suga has insisted he is committed to holding the Games this summer, despite polls showing widespread public opposition.

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#Newsworthy

Just in: 53 jailed amid deadly explosion in China

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The explosion, sparked by a fire in Tianjiayi’s fertiliser factory, flattened the surrounding industrial park, blew out windows and dented metal garage doors of buildings as far as four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the site.

A Chinese court jailed 53 people on Monday after convicting them on charges including bribery and negligence over a massive chemical factory explosion in eastern China last year that killed 78 people.

The blast in Jiangsu province in March 2019 was one of the worst industrial accidents in the country in recent years and led to the closure of the plant.

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Executives and employees of Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical company received sentences ranging from 18 months to twenty years in prison, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

A handful of local officials also received jail terms.

The court in Jiangsu’s Yancheng city found that the company knowingly produced and stored hazardous chemicals and waste material despite “storage venues that did not meet safety requirements”.

It also found that six local government agencies — including the city’s environmental protection authorities — had falsified documents in order to hide the risk posed by Tianjiayi’s activities, with some officials accepting bribes.

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Deadly industrial accidents are common in China, where safety regulations are often poorly enforced.

In 2015, massive chemical blasts in the northern port city of Tianjin killed at least 165 people.

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#Newsworthy…

China debt to be added to key global bonds index.

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Chinese government debt is set to be included on a key global bonds index, which could see tens of billions of dollars of foreign investment in the country’s increasingly internationalised financial markets.

The move by FTSE Russell comes as trading in China becomes an increasingly controversial move in Washington as relations between the superpowers grow increasingly fraught.

But analysts said the attraction of higher yields — the yield on 10-year Chinese government bonds is 2.4 percentage points higher than US Treasuries — and a relatively stable currency have made the country an attractive prospect for investors.

Inclusion in the World Government Bond index, which could begin next October if approved, means CGBs will be a must-have asset for investment giants such as pension funds desperate for good returns as the global bond market is battered by the virus pandemic.

Pan Gongsheng, deputy governor at the central People’s Bank of China said international investments in the Chinese market had grown more than 40 percent over the past three years, with 2.8 trillion yuan ($410 billion) of Chinese bonds currently held by international investors.

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Goldman Sachs said inclusion could see up to $140 billion floods into the debt market.

AxiCorp strategist Stephen Innes said the move was “big news” which would open up China’s bond market to “a broader band of passive investors”.

This photo taken on September 24, 2020 shows workers setting up national flags along a street ahead of the upcoming National Day in Ningbo in China’s eastern Zhejiang province. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT

FTSE Russell, which is owned by the London Stock Exchange, decided against including Chinese debt in the index last year owing to several worries such as liquidity and the settlement of transactions, but it said the concerns had been addressed.

In the statement its CEO Waqas Samad said authorities had “worked hard to enhance the infrastructure of their government bond market”.

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Jason Pang of JP Morgan Asset Management said that while foreign ownership of CGBs had risen to around nine percent from two percent in recent years, it is still well below the 15-30 percent seen in other Asian markets.

But he added: “It is increasingly clear that China bonds’ globalisation is simply a matter of time, further accelerated by increasingly accessible hedging options that enable investors to manage risk.

“Over the past 20 years, China’s bond market has grown more than sixtyfold to nearly $14 trillion.”

The Chinese economy has largely bounced back after a virus-induced sharp economic shock seen earlier in the year, with most people back to work after the government brought the disease largely under control through lockdowns and mass testing.


#Newsworthy…

Border War: China, India blames each other.

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Beijing accuses New Delhi of ‘severe military provocation’ but India denies its soldiers crossed the disputed border.

China and India have accused each other of firing shots on their flashpoint Himalayan border in a further escalation of military tension between the nuclear-armed Asian rivals.

The relationship between the two countries has deteriorated since a hand-to-hand combat clash in the Ladakh region on June 15 in which 20 Indian troops were killed.

Experts fear the latest incident will intensify a months-long standoff between the Asian giants that erupted in late April.

Beijing’s defence ministry accused India of “severe military provocation”, saying soldiers crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the western border region on Monday and “opened fire to threaten the Chinese border defence patrol officers”.

“According to the Chinese side, Chinese troops approached the India side for negotiations, and then they say some Indian troops fired at the Chinese side,”

“As a result, China’s military said it was forced to take countermeasures – although we don’t know what those countermeasures were, or if there were any casualties,” she added.

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India denies transgression
New Delhi was swift to give its own account, accusing Chinese border forces of “blatantly violating agreements” and firing “a few rounds in the air” to intimidate their Indian rivals.

“It is the PLA that has been blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive manoeuvres,” the Indian army said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Despite the grave provocation, (our) own troops exercised great restraint and behaved in a mature and responsible manner,” the statement said.

Reporting from New Delhi NRM said that, according to India, “China’s army was trying to close in on one of India’s positions – and that when they [China] were dissuaded by their own troops, they fired in the air”.

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The countries fought a brief border war in 1962 but, officially, no shots have been fired in the area since 1975 when four Indian troops were killed in an ambush.

A spokesperson for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) gave no specifics and did not report casualties, calling on India to investigate the incident.

India has deployed thousands of soldiers following deadly border clashes in June [File: Danish Ismail/Reuters]

China’s western military command said the incursion occurred on Monday along the southern shore of Pangong Tso Lake in the area known in Chinese as Shenpaoshan. On the Indian side, the area is known as Chushul, where the two countries’ local military commanders have held several rounds of talks to defuse the tense standoff.

Zhang Shuili, spokesperson for the Western Theater Command of the PLA, said India had violated agreements reached by the two countries and warned their actions could “easily cause misunderstandings and misjudgements”.

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China’s foreign ministry said Indian troops had illegally crossed the LAC and had been the first to fire shots. “This is a serious military provocation,” spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily news conference in Beijing on Tuesday.

Late last month, India said its soldiers had thwarted the Chinese military’s moves “to change the status quo”, also on the southern shore of Pangong Lake, in violation of a consensus reached in past efforts to settle the standoff. In turn, China also accused Indian troops of crossing established lines of control.

Both sides have sent tens of thousands of troops to the disputed Himalayan border, which sits at an altitude of more than 4,000 metres (13,500 feet).

China said the incursion occurred on Monday along the southern coast of Pangong Lake in the area known in Chinese as Shenpaoshan [File: Manish Swarup/AP Photo]

Their troops have had several showdowns since the June 15 clash. China has also acknowledged it has had casualties but not given figures.

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Detailed border protocols in place for peaceful disengagement seem to have broken down since the June clash. India’s military has also reportedly changed its rules of engagement, allowing troops to carry guns.

Military commanders and diplomats have held several rounds of talks since July to reduce tension, but have made little progress to calm the border tensions.

Last week, defence ministers from the two countries spoke in Moscow on the sidelines of an international meeting – with both sides later releasing rival statements accusing each other of inflaming the showdown.

And earlier this week, an Indian minister said New Delhi had alerted China to allegations five men had been abducted by the PLA close to the disputed border in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh


#Newsworthy

Typhoon Haishen cause tree falls, knocks out power in South Korea.

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Haishen, the country’s tenth typhoon this year, brought heavy rain, strong winds to areas north of Busan.

Typhoon Haishen made landfall just north of the South Korean city of Busan on Monday morning, cutting power to homes and factories, toppling trees, and forcing trains to be cancelled and flights grounded.

The storm, with heavy rain and powerful winds of as much as 126 km/h (78 mph), made landfall in Ulsan in the southeastern part of the Korean Peninsula at approximately 9am (02:00 GMT) on Monday morning, according to Yonhap news agency.

It knocked out power in some 30,000 homes as well as in factories belonging to Hyundai Motor and Hyundai Mobis, the country’s biggest car parts manufacturer. Across the country, 298 flights were cancelled and wind shear warnings issued.

Typhoon Haishen Japan
A landslide site caused by Typhoon Haishen as it passed through southwestern Japan. Local media reported four people missing in Shiiba Town in Miyazaki prefecture [Kyodo/via Reuters]
Haishen arrived in South Korea after battering Japan’s southern islands and cutting power to thousands of homes, but not causing major damage or injury.

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Some 440,000 homes in the southwestern Kyushu region remained without power on Monday morning after the storm passed through, public broadcaster NHK reported.

It added that 32 people had been injured, including a woman who fell down a flight of stairs in the dark and four people who sustained cuts after the glass windows of an evacuation centre were blown in.

Almost 2 million people had been ordered to evacuate the region, which was still recovering from heavy rains and flooding in July that killed 83 people.

Typhoon Haishen follows just days after Typhoon Maysak smashed into the Korean Peninsula, leaving at least two dead and thousands without power.

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The storm is forecast to weaken as it moves up the Peninsula during the day, reaching North Korea around midnight.

North Korea has borne the brunt of both Maysak and Typhoon Bavi, a storm the week before.

Live footage on state television showed trees shaking and waves rising in Tongchon county in Gangwon province bordering the South. The state broadcaster reported that all Tongchon residents had been evacuated.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited coastal areas after Maysak and ordered party members to join the relief effort.


#Newsworthy…

Dozens arrested in Hong Kong’s protest. [China]

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Hundreds take to the streets to demonstrate against the postponement of legislative election and the new security law.

More than 30 people have been arrested by Hong Kong police as riot officers swoop in on pro-democracy protesters – opposed to the postponement of the local legislative election – with rounds of pepper balls.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets on Sunday in the Asian financial hub to demonstrate against a new national security law imposed by China and the postponement of the legislative poll.

Sunday was meant to be voting day for the city’s partially elected legislature, one of the few instances where Hong Kong voters get to cast ballots.

But Chief Executive Carrie Lam on July 31 postponed the election for one year, citing a surge in novel coronavirus cases. Critics say her government worried the opposition would gain seats if voting was held as scheduled.

The poll would have been the former British colony’s first official vote since Beijing imposed the new security legislation in late June, which critics say aims to quash dissent in the city.

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Anti-government protests have been held in Hong Kong almost every weekend since June 2019. They erupted over opposition to a proposed extradition law and spread to include demands for greater democracy and criticism of Beijing’s efforts to tighten control over the city.

Police fire pepper balls
Thousands of police were stationed around the bustling Kowloon Peninsula on Sunday as marchers waved placards and chanted popular anti-government slogans such as, “liberate Hong Kong”.

One woman was arrested during a protest in the Kowloon district of Yau Ma Tei on charges of assault and spreading pro-independence slogans, the police department said on its Facebook page. It said such slogans are illegal under the newly enacted National Security Act.

Police fired pepper balls at protesters in Kowloon’s Mong Kong neighbourhood, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.

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Some 30 other people were arrested on suspicion of illegal assembly and two were arrested for disorderly conduct, police said.

In the Jordan neighbourhood, protesters raised a banner criticising the election delay, the Post said. It put the number of arrests at 33.

“I want my right to vote,” activist Leung Kwok-hung, popularly known as Long Hair, was quoted as saying. The newspaper said Leung was later arrested.

Reporting from the city, Noble Reporters Media said many people were also carrying out individual acts of defiance across the city, carrying banners or chanting slogans, to protest the new law.

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“These acts are remarkable because these individuals are doing that in the face of the sweeping national security law, which makes chants like that, saying things like that illegal,” he said.

“The demonstration was also an unconventional one as people tried hard to blend in with regular shoppers in the heart of the city, and occasionally chanted slogans or make the hand sign of the opposition.”

Limited gatherings
Anti-government demonstrations have declined this year mainly because of limits on group gatherings and the security law that punishes actions China sees as subversive, secessionist, “terrorist” or colluding with foreign forces.

Hong Kong police arrested several well-known pro-democracy activists during the demonstration [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

Hong Kong has reported about 4,800 coronavirus cases since January, far lower than in other large cities around the world. The number of new daily infections has fallen substantially from triple digits in July to single digits currently.

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While street protests have largely lost momentum, anti-government and anti-Beijing sentiment persists, with China’s offer of mass coronavirus testing for Hong Kong residents prompting calls for a boycott amid public distrust.

Gatherings are currently limited to two people. Police have cited such restrictions in rejecting applications for protests in recent months, effectively preventing demonstrations.

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a guarantee of autonomy but critics say the new law undermines that promise and puts the territory on a more authoritarian path.

Supporters of the new security law say it will bring more stability after a year of often-violent anti-government and anti-China unrest and it plugs loopholes in national security left by the city’s inability to fulfil a constitutional requirement to pass such laws on its own.


#Newsworthy…

Typhoon Haishen brings heavy winds to Japan.

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The powerful typhoon has begun to lash southern Japan with officials warning it could bring record rainfall.

Typhoon Haishen has drawn closer to Japan’s southern mainland, prompting authorities to recommend evacuations and warn of potentially record rainfall, unprecedented wind, high tides and large ocean swells.

Authorities urged early evacuation for more than 100,000 households in the southern prefectures of Okinawa, Kagoshima, Kumamoto, and Nagasaki, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA).

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday met the relevant cabinet ministers to discuss the emergency response to the typhoon, his office said.

“Maximum caution is needed as record rain, violent winds, high waves and high tides are possible,” he said.

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“I ask the Japanese people, including those who live in high-risk areas for flooding rivers or high tides to stay informed and take action immediately to ensure their safety.”

Elderly citizens wearing face masks due to the coronavirus outbreak were slowly gathering at evacuation centres in Kagoshima and other parts of southern Japan, footage on national broadcaster NHK showed.

The typhoon has cut power to more than 3,000 homes in Okinawa, the southernmost island prefecture, and more than 8,000 homes in Amamioshima, according to NHK.

Two injuries have been reported, according to the FDMA, but authorities were advising the highest levels of caution for a typhoon.

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The typhoon is forecast to have an atmospheric pressure of 935 hectopascals at its centre, and sustained winds of up to 234 kilometres per hour (145 miles per hour) by Monday, the meteorological agency said.

Haishen, currently equivalent to a strong Category 2 storm, is located about 400km (260 miles) south of Sasebo on the island of Kyushu, moving northwest at 30km/h (20mph).

Japanese authorities urged early evacuation for more than 100,000 households in the southern prefectures of Okinawa, Kagoshima, Kumamoto and Nagasaki [AFP]

The storm is expected to pass to the west of Kyushu any time between 12:00-18:00 GMT on Sunday, and is likely to lose some intensity as it hits southwest Japan.

Haishen is expected to be further downgraded by the time it makes landfall with 150km/h (90mph) wind, equivalent to a Category 1 hurricane. It is then forecast to hit the Korean Peninsula early on Monday morning.

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High waves lashed the southwest coast of Kagoshima and strong winds rattled street signs, NHK video footage showed.

“I live near a river, and I wanted to go to a safe place and thought about the coronavirus too,” a woman in Miyazaki told NHK after bringing her family to a local hotel.

Airlines have cancelled more than 500 flights departing from Okinawa and southern Japan, NHK said.

Typhoon Haishen follows Typhoon Maysak, which smashed into the Korean Peninsula on Thursday, leaving at least two dead and thousands temporarily without power.

Just a week before Maysak, Typhoon Bavi caused widespread damage and flooding in North Korea.


#Newsworthy…

New Report: China Plans Huge Investment in Next Generation Chips.

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Facing pressure from the US, China wants to develop its own chip-making technology, sources tell Bloomberg.


China is planning a sweeping set of new government policies to develop its domestic semiconductor industry and counter Trump administration restrictions, conferring the same kind of priority on the effort it accorded to building its atomic capability, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Beijing is preparing broad support for so-called third-generation semiconductors for the five years through 2025, said the people, asking not to be identified discussing government deliberations. A suite of measures to bolster research, education and financing for the industry has been added to a draft of the country’s 14th five-year plan, which will be presented to the country’s top leaders in October, the people said.

China’s top leaders will gather next month to lay out their economic strategy for the next half decade, including efforts to ramp up domestic consumption and make critical technology at home. President Xi Jinping has pledged an estimated $1.4 trillion through 2025 for technologies ranging from wireless networks to artificial intelligence. Semiconductors are fundamental to virtually every component of China’s technology ambitions — and an increasingly aggressive Trump administration threatens to cut off their supply from abroad.

“The Chinese leadership realizes that semiconductors underpin all advanced technologies, and that it can no longer dependably rely on American supplies,” said Dan Wang, technology analyst at research firm Gavekal Dragonomics. “In the face of stricter U.S. restrictions on chip access, China’s response can only be to keep pushing its own industry to develop.”

Shares in several major Chinese chipmakers gained. Shanghai Fudan Microelectronics Group Co. finished 4.3% higher in Hong Kong. On mainland bourses, Will Semiconductor Ltd. — the second most valuable listed Chinese chip firm — rose almost 10%. Xiamen Changelight Co. closed 14% up while Focus Lightings Tech Co. jumped 5.6%.

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The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which is responsible for drafting the tech-related goals, did not reply to a request for comment.

China imports more than $300 billion worth of integrated circuits each year and its semiconductor developers rely on U.S.-made chip design tools and patents, as well as critical manufacturing technologies from U.S. allies. But deteriorating ties between Beijing and Washington have made it increasingly difficult for Chinese companies to source components and chipmaking technologies from overseas.

The U.S. government has blacklisted dozens of China’s tech companies so they can’t buy American parts, and slapped bans on ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat. In the case of technology giant Huawei Technologies Co., the Trump administration sanctioned the company and pressed allies to ban the company’s equipment from their telecom networks.

Chinese firms such as Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp, whose chips are seen here, Will Semiconductor Ltd and National Silicon Industry Group Co could benefit from the government’s new push [File; Qilai Shen/Bloomberg]

This month, Huawei, the country’s largest handset maker, will even lose access to chips from the likes of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. under new American regulations that prohibit suppliers anywhere in the world from working with the company if those suppliers use American equipment. The tighter rules have raised the urgency of building domestic alternatives in Beijing.

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Third-generation semiconductors are mainly chipsets made of materials such as silicon carbide and gallium nitride. They can operate at high frequency and in higher power and temperature environments, and are widely used in fifth-generation radio frequency chips, military-grade radars and electric vehicles.

Since no single country now dominates the fledgling, third-generation technology, China’s gamble is its corporations can compete if they accelerate research into the field now. Global leaders such as U.S.-based CREE Inc. and Japan’s Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. are just beginning to grow this business, while Chinese tech giants such as Sanan Optoelectronics Co. Ltd. and state-owned China Electronics Technology Group Corp. have made inroads on third-generation chipsets.

The country’s other chipmakers, which include Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., Will Semiconductor Ltd. and National Silicon Industry Group Co., may benefit more broadly from the state support.

“This is a sector about to see explosive growth,” Alan Zhou, managing partner of Fujian-based chip investment fund An Xin Capital Co., told an industry forum last week. Because of China’s increasing demand and investment, this is an area that could create a “world-class Chinese chip giant.”


#Newsworthy…

[China] Hong Kong’s Jimmy Lai cleared of charges, released.

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Case against media tycoon dates back to 2017 and is not related to his arrest under China-imposed national security law.


A court in Hong Kong has declared media tycoon and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai not guilty of criminal intimidation, ending one of several cases against him after his high-profile arrest under a new national security law.

Thursday’s verdict was for a case that dates back to 2017 and was unrelated to his arrest last month.

Lai, who is a key critic of Beijing, had used foul language when confronting a reporter from Oriental Daily News, a major competitor to Lai’s tabloid Apple Daily.

Police, however, only charged him in February this year.

The mainland-born media magnate had pleaded not guilty.

He smiled after the verdict was read out and shook hands with supporters who filled the courtroom.

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Lai’s case comes after he was arrested for suspected collusion with foreign forces on August 10, making him the highest-profile person to be arrested under the Beijing-imposed law.

Jimmy Lai is also facing separate court cases for illegal assembly relating to anti-government protests last year [Tyrone Siu/ Reuters]

The 71-year-old had been a frequent visitor to Washington, where he met officials including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to rally support for Hong Kong democracy, prompting Beijing to label him a “traitor”.

After Lai’s August arrest about 200 police officers searched the office of his Apple Daily newspaper.

The national security law punishes any act China considers subversion, succession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison. Critics say it crushes freedoms, while supporters say it will bring stability after prolonged anti-China, pro-democracy protests last year.

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Lai’s Apple Daily has vied with pro-Beijing Oriental Daily for readership in the special administrative region. In 2014 the Oriental Daily published a fake obituary of Lai, claiming that he had died of AIDS and many types of cancer.

Prosecutors in the case said Lai had intimidated the Oriental Daily reporter.

Lai’s lawyers said Lai had been followed by reporters for three years and his comments were not intended to harm the reporter but expressed his exasperation.

Lai is also facing separate court cases for illegal assembly relating to anti-government protests last year.


SOURCE: NOBLE REPORTERS MEDIA, NEWS AGENCIES


#Newsworthy…

Storyline: Ship conveying cattles, 42 crew, lost off Japan.

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Japan’s coastguard said one Filipino crew member had so far been found during the search.


Rescuers in Japan were searching on Thursday for a ship carrying 43 crew and nearly 6,000 cattle that was feared sunk after it sent a distress signal during stormy weather in the East China Sea.

Japan’s coastguard said one person had so far been found in a search involving four vessels and several planes.

The rescued crew member, 45-year-old Filipino Sareno Edvarodo, told the coastguard that the Gulf Livestock 1, a 139-metre Panamanian-flagged vessel, capsized after losing an engine.

The cargo ship sent a distress call from the west of Amami Oshima island in southwestern Japan on Wednesday as the region experienced strong winds, heavy seas and torrential rain from Typhoon Maysak as it headed towards the Korean Peninsula.

Japan’s coastguard said P-3C surveillance aircraft spotted Edvarodo, who was the ship’s chief officer, on Wednesday night. He was wearing a life vest and waving while bobbing up and down in the water.

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According to Edvarodo, who is able to walk and in good health, the ship lost an engine before it was hit by a wave and capsized, a coastguard spokeswoman said.

When the ship capsized, the crew were instructed to put on lifejackets. Edvarodo said he jumped into the water and did not see any other crew members before he was rescued.

The crew included 39 people from the Philippines, two from New Zealand and two from Australia, the coastguard said. Pictures provided by the agency showed a person in a lifejacket being hauled from choppy seas in darkness.

The Gulf Livestock 1 left Napier in New Zealand on August 14 with 5,867 cattle and 43 crew, bound for the Port of Jingtang in Tangshan, China. The journey was expected to take about 17 days, New Zealand’s foreign ministry told the Reuters news agency.

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New Zealand animal rights organisation, Save Animals From Exploitation (SAFE), said the tragedy demonstrated the risks of the live animal export trade.

A Filipino crew member believed to be onboard Gulf Livestock 1 is rescued by a Japan coastguard boat [Japan Coast Guard/ Handout via Reuters]

“These cows should never have been at sea,” said the campaigns manager, Marianne Macdonald.

“This is a real crisis, and our thoughts are with the families of the 43 crew who are missing with the ship. But questions remain, including why this trade is allowed to continue.”

Meanwhile, on the Korean Peninsula, one woman was killed in the South Korean city of Busan when a strong gust of wind shattered her apartment window after Maysak made landfall.

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More than 2,200 people were evacuated to temporary shelters, and around 120,000 homes were left without power across southern parts of the peninsula and on Jeju island.

The typhoon also brought heavy downpours across the north, and North Korea’s state media have been carrying live broadcasts of the situation, with one showing a reporter standing in a street inundated with water in the port town of Wonsan.

But authorities lifted their typhoon warning as the storm weakened and moved towards China.

“The typhoon will pass through Musan and leave our country,” a meteorological officer told Korean Central Television. “I don’t expect any effects.”


SOURCE: NOBLE REPORTERS MEDIA, NEWS AGENCIES


#Newsworthy…