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Is it time to say “Goodnight Hong Kong”?

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The message from US President Joe Biden sent shudders through Wall Street and then financial markets around the world – “Beware of Hong Kong.”

Thousands of American companies have looked to Hong Kong as a footstep into the Chinese market. Even CNN has its main Asia/Pacific operations there.

Over recent years, media companies, including Australia’s ABC and Nine newspapers have found their journalists in trouble for stepping foot in China.

THE FUTURE OF HONG KONG

Now, in executive offices across Manhattan, the reality is starting to bite. The question is – how much longer will Hong Kong be a safe place for western companies to do business?

And for the people of Hong Kong – what happens next?

As China tightens its grip on the territory’s legal and financial systems, what will that mean for their long-held ambitions for expanding in the world’s second-largest economy and its market of 1.4 billion people?

Antigovernment protesters, Hong Kong, August 2019
Antigovernment protesters, Hong Kong, August 2019

A NEW WAY OF LIFE

Banks are now used to the shifting landscape in Hong Kong. While Hong Kong has felt like an extension of London or New York, tensions have flared between Beijing as western countries. The 50 year deal signed between the UK and China during the landmark handover has almost been thrown out.

For banks, the city isn’t just a staging area to China, but also a valuable market in itself.

Joe Biden’s warning was less about the new reality for Hong Kong, but more about the ongoing battle between China and the US for global supremacy. In this race, it seems, there can only be one winner.

For many companies in western countries, the China conundrum focuses on theyr reliance on trade, tourism and local customs. But for others, their presence in Hong Kong is no longer a safe bet. Many companies are looking to Seoul or Singapore as a potential new Asian headquarters.

An aerial view shows buildings from the Mid-Levels district of Hong Kong on May 25, 2021. (Photo by Peter PARKS / AFP)

HING KONG RESPONDS

Hong Kong has hit out at the US President.

Biden’s advisory is “totally ridiculous and unfounded fear-mongering,” a spokesman for the territory said in a statement. “The main victims of this latest fallout will sadly be those U.S. businesses and U.S. citizens who have taken Hong Kong as their home.”

The United States imposed sanctions on seven Chinese officials over Beijing’s crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong, Washington’s latest effort to hold China accountable for what it calls an erosion of rule of law in the former British colony.

A spokesperson for the Commissioner of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong in a statement late on Friday strongly condemned the U.S. actions, saying they were blatant interference in Hong Kong and China’s internal affairs.

“(U.S.) worries about Hong Kong’s business environment is fake; its attempt to destroy Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, endanger China’s national security, and hamper China’s development is real,” he said in the statement.

A Hong Kong government spokesman says Washington has repeatedly attempted to slander the legislation over the last year.

World

Afghan women urge UN to block Taliban seat

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A group of Afghan women have urged the United Nations to block the Taliban from gaining a seat at the body

The women are calling for better representation for their country during a visit to the organisation’s New York headquarters.

Former Politician Fawzia Koofi says “the UN needs to give that seat to somebody who respects the rights of everyone in Afghanistan.”

She was joined by other former politicians and journalists.

Since seizing power in mid-August, Taliban leaders have vowed to respect women’s rights in accordance with sharia, or Islamic law. But that promise, doesn’t seem to have been kept.

Under Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001, women could not work and girls were banned from school.

Women also had to cover their faces and be accompanied by a male relative when they left home.

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Biden: US would defend Taiwan against China

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The United States will defend Taiwan against China, President Joe Biden has revealed

Ten months into the Biden administration, it is abundantly clear that the United States will continue to strengthen ties with Taiwan and defend the island if it is ever attacked by China.

The US President stated on Friday that his country will defend Taiwan against China, as tensions continue to escalate.

More to come.

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World

Mass protests held in Sudan against possible military rule

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Supporters of Sudan’s transitional government have turned out in Khartoum as rival protesters continue a sit-in to demand a military government

Thousands were seen demonstrating on the streets in multiple cities of Sudan, some rallying in support of the government and others backing the military.

The transitional government has attracted controversy, currently being led by a Sovereign Council of military and civilian leaders.

The opposing sides addressed their supporters, urging them to refrain from violence.

The talks were followed by nearly 40 people being injured or with breathing difficulties after authorities tried to break up protests using “force, bullets, and tear gas”.

The protests were organised by the Forces for Freedom and Change coalition, who were behind the rallies that led to the overthrow of their president in 2019.

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