Hong Kong

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
Hong Kong activist Nathan Law receives asylum in Great Britain
Hong Kong activist Nathan Law receives asylum in Great Britain
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter / Nathan Law

The prominent activist Nathan Law left the country nine months ago because he faces political persecution in Hong Kong, Now he has been granted political asylum in Britain.

The 27-year-old former opposition MP reported on Twitter that his application had been approved after four months of consideration. "The fact that I am being sought under the National Security Act shows that I face severe political persecution and am unlikely to be able to return to Hong Kong without risk."

Regional News • Asia • China
China's leadership adopts electoral reform for Hong Kong
China's leadership adopts electoral reform for Hong Kong
Credit: unsplash.com / Ruslan Bardash

China continues to expand its influence over Hong Kong. An electoral law reform gives Beijing control over candidate selection in the Special Administrative Region's parliamentary elections, allowing it to exclude candidates who are not considered loyal.

President Xi Jinping ordered the publication of the electoral law change on Tuesday, the Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported. The changes to the Special Administrative Region's electoral system were approved by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, Tam Yiu-chung, Hong Kong's sole delegate, told the AFP news agency.

China's People's Congress had launched the amendment to the Special Administrative Region's electoral law in mid-March. It is intended to ensure that Hong Kong can only be run by "patriots". In this way, Beijing wants to gain control over the selection of candidates. Among other things, the Chinese leadership is to be given veto rights to be able to exclude certain candidates.

Regional News • Asia • China
Electoral reform: China's People's Congress votes to change Hong Kong's electoral law
Hong Kong skyline
Hong Kong skyline Credit: Mark Huguet

According to the decision of the People's Congress, which was published by the state news agency Xinhua, the committee to elect the Hong Kong chief executive should be enlarged from 1,200 to 1,500 members. "This is the latest move by Beijing to erode space for democratic debate in Hong Kong, contrary to promises made by China," British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, according to a statement. Following the enactment of the controversial security law last year, the election reform is another blow to Hong Kong's liberal system.

Regional News • Asia
Hong Kong district councilors will be required to swear allegiance to government or face election ban
Hong Kong district councilors will be required to swear allegiance to government or face election ban
Credit: 立場新聞, Copyrighted free use, via Wikimedia Commons

The Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang announced on Tuesday that Hong Kong will introduce new requirements for district councilors to take an oath swearing to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the government. Behaviours that would be deemed incompliant include committing acts that endanger national security, as well as any refusal to recognise China's sovereignty over Hong Kong.

Technology • Internet & Web
Clubhouse is now blocked in China
Clubhouse is now blocked in China
Credit: William Krause

Thousands of Chinese users suddenly found themselves unable to access Clubhouse on early Monday evening as the country prepared to start the week-long Lunar New Year holiday.

Over the weekend, several large Chinese-language chat rooms were set up on the invite-only audio app, where guests talked about politically-charged topics such as the ongoing crackdown against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, democracy in Hong Kong and the sovereignty of Taiwan.

Clubhouse has faced criticism at home in the U.S. for its lack of effective moderation and abuse-prevention practices, so it's hardly a surprise that it has fallen afoul of China's rather more strict enforcement of measures designed to stifle the spread of information the government deems inappropriate for discussion.

Law
New UK visa for Hong Kong citizens
British Passport
British Passport Credit: Ethan Wilkinson

Up to 5.4 million people in Hong Kong could apply to the new visa and relocate to the UK. The government estimates 300,000 might apply in the next five years.

Regional News • Asia
Hong Kong police has arrested 53 pro-democracy activists
Hong Kong police has arrested 53 pro-democracy activists
Credit: Studio Incendo / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Hong Kong media reported that 53 pro-democracy activists have been arrested in connection with the unofficial primaries held last year by opposition forces ahead of the election to the Legislative Council, Hong Kong's parliament, which was later canceled due to the Corona pandemic. According to the report, those arrested were accused of endangering the state by participating in the primaries and the goals pursued there, and thus of violating the security law introduced at the end of June.

Business • Markets
China pushes Alibaba founder Jack Ma to break up his fintech empire
Jack Ma
Jack Ma Credit: JD Lasica (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Chinese regulators want Jack Ma's Ant Group to go back to its digital payment roots, stating Ant's corporate governance was "not sound". The Ant Group started as Alipay, which became China’s largest digital payment platform, though it eventually expanded to offer investment and savings accounts and lending, insurance and wealth management services.

The latest salvo in Beijing's battle against Ma - who had been feted as China's greatest modern-day entrepreneur until he started speaking out against strict regulations - wiped 8% off the value of Alibaba's share price in Hong Kong trading on Monday.

In November, Chinese regulators blocked Ant’s $37 billion IPO just two days before dealing was due to begin in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Regional News • Asia
Hong Kong democracy movement media entrepreneur Lai detained until trial

Shortly after the verdict against Joshua Wong and two of his comrades-in-arms the media entrepreneur Jimmy Lai, another prominent supporter of the Hong Kong democracy movement has been sent to prison. He is accused of fraud and is now expected to remain in detention pending a planned court hearing in April.

Regional News • Asia
Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong sentenced to prison
Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong sentenced to prison
Credit: Honcques Laus / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

Joshua Wong has been sentenced to thirteen and a half months in prison, and the co-defendants Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam have been sentenced to ten and seven months in prison, respectively. This was decided by a court in Hong Kong's Kowloon district. The prosecution had accused the three of having participated in an unauthorized demonstration last year against the growing influence of the Chinese leadership in Hong Kong.

Regional News • Asia
Joshua Wong faces jail after guilty plea over pro-democracy activism in Hong Kong
Joshua Wong faces jail after guilty plea over pro-democracy activism in Hong Kong
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

During a trial facing charges relating to pro-democracy protests outside Hong Kong police stations the three activists Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow, and Ivan Lam have pleaded guilty to the charges.

According to local media reports, Joshua Wong pleaded guilty to organizing and inciting the unauthorized assemble but not participation due to missing evidence by the prosecution. He could face up to five years in prison if convicted under the charges he pleaded guilty for.

Sentencing is expected for next week.

Regional News • Asia
United Kingdom announces that China has breached Hong Kong treaty
United Kingdom announces that China has breached Hong Kong treaty
Credit: Foreign and Commwealth Office / via Wikimedia Commons (Open Government Licence v3.0)

By imposing new rules to disqualify elected legislators Hong Kong, China has broken the biliteral treaty according to the United Kingdom.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has stated that "Beijing’s imposition of new rules to disqualify elected legislators in Hong Kong constitutes a clear breach of the legally binding Sino-British Joint Declaration". The United Kingdom is now considering sanctions against officials.

Business • Markets
Ant Group's record IPO suspended in Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges
Ant Group logo
Ant Group logo Credit: Ant Group

Ant Group’s record-breaking dual IPO has been halted. The decision comes after Ant executives—including Alibaba founder Jack Ma, who controls the fintech giant—were summoned to a meeting yesterday with Chinese regulators.

While the IPO had initially been given the all-clear, Shanghai has since determined that Ant Group may no longer qualify for a listing due to “information disclosure requirements” that it failed to meet, CNBC reports.

Ant Group, the parent company of Alipay—the world’s largest digital payments platform—said last month it planned to raise more than $34 billion for the IPO, which would have made it the biggest market debut in history.

Regional News • Asia • China
China warns UK not to offer citizenship to Hong Kong residents
Hong Kong
Hong Kong Credit: eGuide Travel

China has told Britain to "immediately correct its mistakes" after the UK reaffirmed its plan to offer a route to British citizenship to almost three million people living there.

Business • Economy
Disney to lay off 28,000 employees as Covid-19 affects its theme park business
Disney to lay off 28,000 employees as Covid-19 affects its theme park business
Credit: Joe Penniston (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

In a memo sent to employees on Tuesday, Disney announced it would lay off 28,000 employees across its parks, experiences and consumer products segment. Around 67% of the laid-off workers were part-time employees.

The company blamed prolonged closures and capacity limits at open parks for the layoffs. While Disney's theme parks in Florida, Paris, Shanghai, Japan and Hong Kong have been able to reopen with limited capacity, both California theme parks have remained shuttered.

Regional News • Asia
Pro-democracy activist and politician Joshua Wong has been arrested in Hong Kong
Pro-democracy activist and politician Joshua Wong has been arrested in Hong Kong
Credit: Joshua Wong courtesy of Facebook

After reporting to a police station in Hong Kong, pro-democracy activist and politician Joshua Wong (Huang Zhifeng) has been arrested for participating in an illegal assembly on October 5 in 2019. In addition he has been charged with violating the anti-mask law in 2019.

Technology • Internet & Web
Customs and Border Protection seize 2,000 OnePlus Buds claiming they are "counterfeit Apple AirPods"
Customs and Border Protection seize 2,000 OnePlus Buds claiming they are "counterfeit Apple AirPods"
Credit: CBP

US Customs and Border Protection tweeted that officers at John F Kennedy International Airport had "recently seized 2,000 counterfeit Apple AirPods from Hong Kong, valued at $398K had they been genuine."

The box from the tweet picture states that the product is from OnePlus and not Apple, but according to a CBP spokesperson: "Upon examining the shipment in question, a CBP Import Specialist determined that the subject earbuds appeared to violate Apple's configuration trademark."

Regional News • Asia • China
Hong Kong: ~100 arrested in protests against postponed elections

Around 100 people were arrested in Hong Kong on Sunday while protesting against delayed legislative elections. Elections were supposed to happen on September 6th but were allegedly postponed due to the Coronavirus.

Health
Netherlands, Belgium confirm Covid-19 reinfections
Netherlands, Belgium confirm Covid-19 reinfections
Credit: unsplash.com / National Cancer Institute

Individuals in Belgium and the Netherlands have been reinfected with the coronavirus, Dutch media have reported. Some experts believe it is a good sign.

A patient in the Netherlands and another in Belgium have been reinfected with the coronavirus, Dutch media reported Tuesday, following reports that scientists in Hong Kong had confirmed the first known reinfection.

Jesse Goodman, a former US Food and Drug Administration chief scientist has stated as a responses to the Hong Kong case that: "if there is a reinfection, it suggests the possibility there was residual immunity that helped protect the patient'' from getting sick again. 

Health
Hong Kong scientists reported a case of Covid-19 reinfection
Hong Kong scientists reported a case of Covid-19 reinfection
Credit: Fusion Medical Animation

Scientists from the University of Hong Kong reported Monday the case of a 33-year-old man who became reinfected with Covid-19 four and a half months after his first bout.

Dr. Kelvin Kai-Wang To, the microbiologist who led the work, said genome sequencing shows the two strains of the virus are "clearly different", making it the world's first proven case of reinfection.

The paper has been accepted by the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases but not yet published, and some independent experts urged caution until full results are available.