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G7 concerns over New Hong Kong Leader

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There are widespread concerns about Hong Kong’s new leader-to-be, John Lee

The G7 has expressed its concerns about the legitimacy of the selection process and what it will mean for the people of Hong Kong. 

“The current nomination process and resulting appointment are a stark departure from the aim of universal suffrage and further erode the ability of Hong Kongers to be legitimately represented. We are deeply concerned about this steady erosion of political and civil rights and Hong Kong’s autonomy.”

Activist in exile, Francis Hui says that there is no system in place that gives people of Hong Kong a chance to participate in democracy.

“We have never actually had true democracy to elect our own leader. There has never been a system developed for our people to vote” Hui says.

“John Lee didn’t even have to please anyone in Hong Kong, because those are not the people who are going to vote for him. It’s Beijing and its supporters.”

Naming it a ‘puppet show’, Human Rights Watch says the so-called election has been an expensive one-man show. 

“The Hong Kong government has budgeted HK$228 million (US$29 million) for this one-man “election.” There are “election” posters; there is even an “election” “forum”—featuring only Lee— without a live audience.”

Concerns over rights and freedoms

The current National Security Law “dismantled the city’s freedoms” according to Human Rights Watch.

“It has decapitated Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, arrested hundreds of protesters and others for exercising their freedom of speech, shut down outspoken media, civil society groups, and businesses, set up a hotline to encourage people to inform on each other, and otherwise create a climate of fear.”

Though the international community continues to show concern, Hui says it’s time to do more than condemn Beijing.

“It’s really time for us to go further beyond just condemnation and to do something to contain the authoritarian practice of the CCP.”

Lee has been outspoken in supporting the abuse against the Uyghrys in Xinjiang and is well-known for his hardline approach to freedom of speech.

Bigger challenges

Hong Kong is a financial hub attempting to relaunch itself after several years of political upheaval. 

However, many people are now fleeing the country, dissatisfied with the administration.

“They really persist on their way to have zero cases in the city, which makes the international community, especially business people worry about the future of Hong Kong to continue to be the international financial hub.” says Hui.

“Continuously we’ll see more people being involved in this migration wave because of the political situation in Hong Kong.” 

Future of democracy in Hong Kong

Hui says it’s difficult to know whether democracy could be restored.

“What we can do is to continue to spread words and to raise awareness and to push for any action by foreign countries.”

“I believe people on the ground will continue to use their strength and their courage to continue to fight for freedom and to stand for our values.”

World

Authorities find drug-smuggler’s tunnel under the U.S. and Mexico border

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Anti-drug agents have found a smugglers’ tunnel including a rail track, electricity and ventilation system

A drug-smuggler’s tunnel has been unearthed under the U.S. and Mexican border.

It led from the Mexican city of Tijuana to a warehouse located 300 feet from the San Diego border.

Six people have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the scheme.

They are accused of conspiring to distribute cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, among other crimes.

“There is no more light at the end of this narco-tunnel,” says the U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman.

Authorities collect information about the people behind the tunnel.

The tunnel is believed to be over 1,750 feet long, and was fitted out reinforced walls.

Close to 100 tunnels have been found in the same area, but this was one of the largest.

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Ukraine Crisis

Finland and Sweden submit applications to join NATO

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Finland and Sweden have officially submitted their applications to join NATO

Finland and Sweden have handed in applications to join NATO.

It ends decades of political neutrality for both nations, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Chief of NATO says the applications are quote an “historic step”.

If their bid is successful, it will bring the alliance’s membership to 32.

While Russia strongly opposes the move, there are also members within NATO’s own ranks voicing their concerns.

Dubbed the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the NATO alliance was founded in 1949

It follows one rule: an attack on one, is an attack on all.

It sought to counter Russian expansion in Europe after World War Two.

But following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, many of its former Eastern European allies joined the alliance, something that has raised concerns in Moscow.

Finland and Sweden need the support of all member states to join. If they’re successful, it will take the alliance to 32 members.

NATO members must spend 2 per cent of their GDP on defence. Finland already meets this target and Sweden says it will do so “as soon as possible”.

The two countries will also bring a range of military might.

Finland has over 19-thousand active troops, and Sweden has over 14-and-a-half thousand.

There are 220 tanks, and over 200 combat aircraft.

Russia believes NATO has been verging on its door stop and is warning both nations against joining.

Turkey’s President is also voicing concerns, saying the two Scandinavian nations should not send delegations to convince him of their bids.

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Tech

U.S. warns against hiring North Korean tech workers

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The U.S. is warning North Korean workers are trying to find IT jobs by hiding their identities

The U.S. believes workers are seeking to steal money for their home country.

Many of them are allegedly pretending to be from other parts of Asia, according to three U.S. agencies.

The State Department says thousands of highly skilled IT workers are sent around the world to generate revenue to help with North Korea’s weapons production.

“The DPRK [North Korea] dispatches thousands of highly skilled IT workers around the world to generate revenue that contributes to its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programmes, in violation of US and UN sanctions.”

U.S. State Department

If North Korea is employing workers to fund its missiles program, the move would be in violation of U.N. international sanctions.

“The United States is committed to disrupting illicit DPRK revenue-generating activities, which may facilitate criminal activity, provide direct support to the DPRK’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, and threaten international peace and security,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.

The country has conducted several missile tests in recent months, including a banned intercontinental ballistic missile.

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