Hong Kong Protesters Draw a Red Line With China
China has been steadily tightening its grip on Hong Kong with little challenge. Now hundreds of thousands in the city are fighting back.
Hong Kong is bracing for a potentially historic showdown over a law that could see residents extradited to the mainland, a move that risks further eroding the city’s autonomy. Organizers of yesterday’s protest against the bill put the crowd at 1 million, while police said 240,000 showed up.
Either way it amounted to one of the financial hub’s biggest-ever demonstrations, and tensions are heating up. Protesters have vowed to surround the legislature on Wednesday, when lawmakers will debate the bill to clear some procedural steps.
Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, defended the legislation during a 45-minute press briefing today, saying it was necessary to ensure criminals can’t escape justice. Amendments were introduced to protect human rights, she said, adding that Beijing didn’t instruct her to push for the law.
More protests are planned this week. But with Beijing today signalling its support for Lam — which suggests she won't back down on the law or be forced to resign — even continued rallies and the concern of big companies operating in Hong Kong may not prevent the slow transformation of the former British colony into just another Chinese city.
Not there yet | President Donald Trump’s decision not to impose tariffs on Mexico removed one obstacle for Congress to approve his North American trade deal, but his administration has more work to do to get the plan over the finish line. Trump accepted Mexico’s offer of tougher immigration enforcement in order to avoid a 5% charge on its exports. Now a decision by House Democrats on when (and whether) Nafta 2.0 will get a vote puts the party in the driver’s seat.
Next stop: Osaka | While Trump’s reversal of plans for new tariffs on Mexico lifted the mood at the G-20 finance ministers' meeting in Fukuoka, the U.S.-China trade war was kicked to the leaders summit in Osaka late this month when the U.S. president is expected to meet China’s Xi Jinping. At the same time, as Shannon Pettypiece reports, a senior White House official is urging Washington to delay putting in place portions of a law that limits government business with Chinese tech giant Huawei, saying it would hurt U.S. companies using its technology.
On your marks...| The race to be the U.K.’s next prime minister formally begins today when nominations for the post of Conservative leader are finalized. In a crowded field, former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is winning support from the hard Brexit wing of the party, with pledges to slash taxes and rip up the divorce deal that Britain and the European Union agreed to last year. Johnson’s main pro-Brexit rival, Michael Gove, is struggling to shake off a furor over his past use of cocaine.
Biden’s shadow | The Democrats’ 2020 dilemma was on display in Iowa in the initial event in the state's preparations for the first presidential nominating contest in almost eight months’ time. The man who wasn’t there, Joe Biden, was again the subject of veiled attacks by challengers seeking to dislodge him as the front-runner. Senator Bernie Sanders, Biden’s closest competitor, took the most pointed swipe at the former vice president, as 19 candidates attending a dinner last night jockeyed for position.
Under fire | Brazilian Justice Minister Sergio Moro has denied wrongdoing after The Intercept website published messages he allegedly exchanged with investigators while the judge in the case that resulted in the conviction of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for corruption. While Moro said the communications were taken out of context, prosecutors in the so-called Carwash probe said they were victim of “a criminal action perpetrated by a hacker.”
What to Watch
- Sudanese police fired tear gas at protesters in the capital yesterday as pro-democracy groups continued to press military authorities to hand power to a civilian administration.
- Kazakhs elected former leader Nursultan Nazarbayev’s favored successor as president by a landslide, signaling political continuity in Central Asia’s biggest energy producer.
And finally...Concern that heavy machinery rolling across an Alaskan wilderness in search of oil would crush some polar bears to death stopped the Interior Department from approving a seismic survey in the area earlier this year. But the alternative — a low-flying plane making frequent passes over the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — could still disturb polar bears, seals and calving caribou. Even so, the Trump administration has no plans to vet the environmental impacts of the planned aerial survey.
--With assistance from Kathleen Hunter, Enda Curran and Tim Ross.
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