Hong Kong Wakes Up To a New Order Under Beijing
As Hong Kong’s authorities mark the 23rd anniversary of the British handover, China's new national security law has sparked fear—and protests—across the territory.
Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: China’s new national security law goes into effect in Hong Kong, thousands protest the killing of the musician Hachalu Hundessa in Ethiopia, and the United States buys up nearly the entire global stock of a potential coronavirus treatment.
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New National Security Law Sweeps Into Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s controversial national security law is now in effect, after it was imposed one hour before the 23rd anniversary of Britain’s handover of the territory to China.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the new legislation would restore stability and ease social unrest, allowing Hong Kong to “start anew.” Thousands of protesters have defied a police lockdown in the city center today to march against the law, although many have removed banners calling for independence to avoid running afoul of the new law. Police responded by firing rubber bullets and pepper balls and one officer was stabbed in the arm.
The law—now public after being drafted in secret by Beijing authorities—criminalizes secession, subversion, terrorism and colluding with foreign powers. Under the new law, the Chinese government will set up its own police force in Hong Kong—the “Office for Safeguarding National Security.”
U.S. reaction. In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested sanctioning China over the move and said the United States must consider “all tools available, including visa limitations and economic penalties.” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was more forceful, and said the administration would “not stand idly by while China swallows Hong Kong into its authoritarian maw.”
The devil in the details. The legal changes appear to be even more sweeping than initially expected. Under the law, any person arrested by the Office for Safeguarding National Security will be tried in courts on the Chinese mainland, a senior Chinese official said, effectively ending Hong Kong’s judicial independence.
Article 38 in the law also appears to criminalize activities of non-residents outside the jurisdiction of Hong Kong, potentially chilling the actions of activists overseas as well as putting future travelers at risk.
Investor worries. The law’s enactment has reportedly spooked investors in the financial hub. The Financial Times reports that research reports coming out of Hong Kong will now be deemed less credible, as analysts fear running afoul of Beijing in their reporting.
Just the beginning? Writing in Foreign Policy on June 24, Sarah Cook named six areas to watch—from crackdowns on religious freedom to journalist jailings—now that the law has gone into effect.
What We’re Following Today
U.S. buys up coronavirus drug stocks. In a sign of the global competition that may arise should a coronavirus vaccine become available, the United States has effectively blocked other countries from purchasing a potential coronavirus treatment after it bought 500,000 doses—almost the entire global stock—of the drug remdesivir. “President Trump has struck an amazing deal to ensure Americans have access to the first authorized therapeutic for COVID-19,” U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar said when announcing the agreement with manufacturer Gilead Sciences. The United States has purchased so much of the drug that under current manufacturing conditions, most remdesivir supplies will not be available to the broader global market until October.
U.S., Brazil, Russia, fail to make EU “safe” travel list. The European Union will now allow residents from 14 countries outside the bloc to visit the area as it begins to relax coronavirus-related travel restrictions. The United States, Brazil, Russia, and Turkey are not on the list, as their efforts to contain the coronavirus have been deemed insufficient by the EU. Chinese travelers are tentatively allowed to visit the EU as long as China allows reciprocal entry to EU citizens. U.S. travelers will still be able to enter Ireland and the United Kingdom, as they are outside the Schengen travel area.
Pompeo faces frosty U.N. reception. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo received a scolding from other members of the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday as he pushed for an extension of an arms embargo against Iran. The combative tone from allies and adversaries of the United States “underscored how little deference other countries pay the Trump administration as it faces a grim reelection contest,” FP’s Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer report.
France’s UN ambassador, Nicolas de Rivière, was firm in restating his country’s position on keeping the Iran nuclear deal intact as much as possible in the face of U.S. attempts to dismantle it. “There is as yet no serious alternative to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and its disappearance would improve neither the regional situation nor the security of our population,” he said.
Large protests after singer killed in Ethiopia. Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Ethiopia following the killing of Hachalu Hundessa, a famous musician and activist from the country’s Oromo ethnic group who was shot in the suburbs of Addis Ababa. The police have arrested suspects but have not released names.
Meanwhile, protesters have clashed with police and at least nine people have been killed. Additionally, Reuters reported multiple bomb blasts in the capital Addis Ababa with no known death toll. Attempting to quell unrest and halt media reporting on the issue, the Ethopian government switched off the country’s internet services—a commonly used tactic of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government.
Keep An Eye On
Turkey’s F-35 status. The U.S. Department of Defense is allowing Turkish contractors to continue manufacturing parts for the F-35 fighter jet until at least 2022, almost a year since Turkey was banned from purchasing the aircraft. A Pentagon spokesperson said the decision was based on a desire to “avoid costly, disruptive, and wasteful contract terminations.” Turkey was slated to purchase 100 F-35s before its purchase of a Russian-made S-400 air defense system led U.S. officials to kick Turkey out of the program.
Australia to boost military spending. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged to spend roughly $185 billion on defense over the next ten years as he unveiled the country’s new defense strategy. Morrison said the increased importance of the Indo-Pacific and “the strategic competition between China and the United States” meant that Australia needed to increase its defensive capabilities. Those upgrades include purchasing an anti-ship missile system from the United States worth $550 million as well as an underwater surveillance system costing at least $3.45 billion.
Odds and Ends
It has been a rough few months for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. The populist president is facing one of the worst coronavirus epidemics in the world, an ongoing corruption investigation, and a procession of ministers deserting his cabinet. To top it all off, he’s now lost the presidential dog.
Augusto, a Maremma Sheepdog, had been adopted by the Bolsonaro family 12 days ago after it had been spotted wandering around the presidential palace. Following the publicity heaped on the newest member of the Bolsonaro family—including an Instagram account that had amassed thousands of followers within a week—the dog’s orginal owner, Nagib Lima Zeidan, stepped forward. Zeidan had offered to share the dog with the Bolsonaros, but Brazil’s First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro said she was happy that “our Coca-Cola bear” was being returned home.
That’s it for today.