Thursday, December 5, 2019

China too distracted to worry about Taiwan, Taipei mayor says

05 Dec 2019

TAIPEI: China has too many other issues to worry about at the moment, from protests in Hong Kong to a slowing economy, to give much thought to Taiwan, the mayor of Taipei, sometimes seen as a potential future president, said on Thursday (Dec 5).

China claims self-ruled and democratic Taiwan as its own territory, to be brought under Beijing's control by force if necessary. It regularly calls Taiwan the most sensitive issue in China-US ties, Washington being Taiwan's main arms supplier.

But Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, who has advocated for better relations with China, told Reuters that while Taiwan was important to China, it was not currently the "core issue" that Beijing likes to portray.

"They say that Taiwan is a core issue, but I'm very clear that it isn't. Taiwan is not China's core issue," he said.

"In comparison to Hong Kong, to Xinjiang, Taiwan is not on the top of the priority list. For mainland China, there are their economic problems, their GDP has already fallen to below 7 per cent," Ko added in an interview, where he switched between Mandarin and English.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

In calling for action on climate crisis, it is not enough to say ‘listen to the science’

By Sofiah Jamil

25 November, 2019

Within the span of a year, Greta Thunberg’s weekly lone ranger act of skipping school to stage a climate strike outside the Swedish parliament has spread globally into what is known as the Fridays for Future (FFF) movement. Despite being at the tender age of 16 and diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, Greta’s display of her commitment to the cause has been impressive.

By refusing environmental awards and refraining from travelling by air for international conferences, she has catapulted herself as a leading climate change campaigner, and earned audiences with various international leaders and politicians.

Her message to them: To “listen to the science”, and also understand the acuteness of impending environmental disasters.

Commentary: The Hong Kong Act complicates world’s most important relationship

By Tom Mitchell 

28 Nov 2019

BEIJING: In the end, it took only 20 years for US-China relations to come full circle.

Donald Trump’s decision to sign the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act into law will further complicate the world’s most important bilateral diplomatic relationship.

REACTION AND RESPONSE

Under the Act, the US secretary of state is required to make a determination every year as to whether the “one country, two systems” formula that guarantees Hong Kong’s independent legal system and civil liberties is intact.

If it is not, the US could revoke special economic and commercial privileges that it extends to the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

That, in turn, has provoked a response from China and could enrage Chinese leader Xi Jinping, whose administration insists that it continues to honour one country, two systems and is hypersensitive to any suggestions to the contrary.

Trump signs Hong Kong Bills; Beijing vows retaliation: Now what?

28 Nov 2019 

SHANGHAI: US President Donald Trump signed into law congressional Bills that back protesters in Hong Kong and threaten China with possible sanctions on human rights, prompting China's Foreign Ministry on Thursday (Nov 28) to warn of "firm countermeasures".

Mass protests for more democracy and autonomy have rocked the former British colony and more than 5,800 people have been arrested since June, with the escalating violence raising fears that China will ratchet up its response to end the unrest.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which the Senate and House passed last week, puts the special treatment Hong Kong enjoys under US law under tighter scrutiny linked to the extent of the territory's autonomy from Beijing.

A second Bill, which Trump also signed, bans the export to the Hong Kong police of crowd-control munitions, such as tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and stun guns.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Wider Image: No money, no hope: South Korea's 'Dirt Spoons' turn against Moon

27 November, 2019

SEOUL - Hwang Hyeon-dong lives in a 6.6-square-metre (71-square-foot) cubicle near his university campus in Seoul, which comes with a shared bathroom and kitchen plus all the rice he can eat, that he rents for 350,000 won ($302) a month.

The sparsely furnished rooms, in premises called goshi-won, were previously mostly used by less well-off students to temporarily cut themselves off from the outside world while they studied for civil service job tests.

Now they are increasingly becoming permanent homes to young people like Hwang, who identifies himself among the "dirt spoons", those born to low-income families who have all but given up on social mobility.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

How Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing went from friend of China to punching bag

27 Nov 2019

HONG KONG: In January of 1993, an ambitious Chinese Communist Party boss, a 39-year-old official with chubby cheeks and a mop of black hair, visited Hong Kong.

He was seeking out the city’s rich among the shimmering skyscrapers, hoping to secure investment in Fuzhou, the second-tier city he ran in mainland China. His name was Xi Jinping.

That August, Xi received a guest back home. Hong Kong’s most famous tycoon, Li Ka-shing, known locally as “superman” for his business acumen, had come to town. A photograph from the event shows Xi grinning as he walked beside Li, who held a bouquet of flowers in his hand. In the background, a long banner hung with the message to “warmly welcome” Li Ka-shing.

During those days, in the aftermath of the 1989 Tiananmen incident, Beijing was desperate to fire up a languishing economy. National leaders and provincial potentates were courting Li for his cash and the star power his name brought to development projects on the mainland. That time has passed.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Hong Kong democrats romp to local election landslide after months of protests

25 November, 2019

HONG KONG - Hong Kong's democrats romped to a landslide and symbolic majority in district council elections after residents turned out in record numbers on Sunday to vote following six months of anti-government protests in the embattled city.

In a rare weekend lull in the unrest that has rocked the financial hub, democratic candidates across the city of 7.4 million people secured more than half of the 452 district council seats for the first time against a strongly resourced and mobilized pro-establishment opposition.

When the results began trickling in after midnight, including upset wins for democrats against heavyweight pro-Beijing opponents, some voting centers erupted in loud cheers and chants of "Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution Now" - a slogan used by many protesters on the streets over the past six months.

Some winning candidates said the result was akin to a vote of support for the demonstrators and could raise the heat on Hong Kong's pro-Beijing chief executive, Carrie Lam, amid the city's worst political crisis in decades.

"This is the power of democracy. This is a democratic tsunami," said Tommy Cheung, a former student protest leader who won a seat in the Yuen Long district close to China's border.