Hong Kong protesters throw petrol bombs; police fire tear gas

Jeck Deocampo   •   October 1, 2019   •   250

An anti-government protester throws a Molotov cocktail at the police during a protest on National Day in Hong Kong, China, 01 October 2019. Hong Kong has witnessed several months of ongoing mass protests, originally triggered by a now withdrawn extradition bill to mainland China that have turned into a wider pro-democracy movement. EPA-EFE/FAZRY ISMAIL

Hong Kong protesters threw petrol bombs and police fired tear gas in street battles across the city on Tuesday (October 1), posing a direct challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.

In the New Territories town of Sha Tin, police fired tear gas canisters directly at high-rise windows, though it was not clear why, as the Chinese-ruled city was gripped by the most widespread violence in nearly four months of unrest.

Police said “rioters” had used corrosive fluid in Tuen Mun in the west of the New Territories, “injuring multiple police officers and reporters”. No details were immediately available.

The Chinese-ruled territory has been tense for weeks, with protests often turning violent, as authorities scramble to avoid activists spoiling Beijing’s birthday parade at a time when the central government is already grappling with a U.S.-China trade war and a slowing economy. i

(Production: Ebrahim Harris, Dina Selim)

China wants trade deal with US, but will retaliate if needed, says Xi

Robie de Guzman   •   November 22, 2019

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) speaks during a meeting with International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva (not pictured) as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (C) looks on, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, 22 November 2019. EPA-EFE/JASON LEE

Beijing – China’s president said Friday his country wanted to work out an agreement with the United States to resolve the ongoing trade dispute but warned that he was also willing to take counter-measures if required.

This is the first public statement by Xi Jinping on the possibility of reaching a pact with Washington to end – at least temporarily – the tariff war that the world’s two biggest economies have been involved in since March 2018.

“When necessary, we will fight back. But we have been working actively to try not to have a trade war. We did not initiate this trade war and this is not something we want,” Xi said at an economic forum in Beijing.

“As we always said we don’t want to start the trade war but we are not afraid,” he emphasized.

The Chinese leader said a possible agreement between the two countries should be based on “mutual respect and equality.”

The disputes with the US “may affect the future prospects of the world economy so this is a very important topic to watch”, said Xi. “We always hold positive attitude towards that.”

The remarks came a day after the Ministry of Commerce denied that the partial trade agreement between the two countries, known as phase one, was in jeopardy.

“At the moment, there are no more details to offer on the agreement, but the external rumors are not accurate,” Gao Feng, spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce, told reporters on Thursday.

The statement seemed to be a response to US President Donald Trump’s recent claim that Beijing was not taking the lead in the talks.

Trump also said that if a trade agreement is not achieved tariffs will rise even more.

Representatives from China and the US spoke on the telephone on Saturday to advance the agreement although no details of the call have been divulged so far.

In early November, the Chinese Commerce Ministry said it had reached an agreement with Washington to phase out the levies both parties have imposed during the trade dispute.

However, days later, Trump dampened hopes that the tariffs on Chinese products would be phased out and lowered expectations a deal could be met.

The two-year trade war has seen a tit-for-tat hike on tariffs in both countries.

Most recently on Sep. 1 by increasing a 10 percent tax on Chinese imports to 15 percent.

The hike would be worth around $112 billion.

It remains to be seen if on Dec. 15 the same increase will be applied to the remaining imports taxed currently at 10 percent.

If Washington does follow through, the tariff increase would be valued at some $300 billion.

Trade tensions between the two largest world economies go beyond bilateral relations and have profound global consequences.

In its latest global growth forecasts, released in July, the International Monetary Fund lowered its projections of global growth to 3.2 percent this year, one-tenth less than in April weighed down by doubts about a possible resolution of this dispute. EFE-EPA

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China condemns approval of US bill on Hong Kong human rights

Robie de Guzman   •   November 20, 2019

China on Wednesday condemned the approval by the United States Senate of a Hong Kong human rights and democracy bill, which could serve to punish officials that undermine the rights of the inhabitants of the special administrative region.

The Senate unanimously approved the Hong Kong human rights and democracy bill on Tuesday, which could empower the US government to sanction officials responsible for rights violations and provide for annual review as to whether Hong Kong retains enough autonomy to qualify for special trade considerations.

The House of Representatives approved its own version last month and the two will have to work out differences before the legislation can be sent to President Donald Trump for consideration.

China’s government reacted angrily to the news.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang in a statement said: “This act neglects facts and truth, applies double standards and blatantly interferes in Hong Kong affairs and China’s other internal affairs.

“It is in serious violation of international law and basic norms governing international relations. China condemns and firmly opposes it.”

In a separate statement, the foreign ministry said it had summoned US Embassy official William Klein to lodge a formal complaint.

Beijing warned of reprisals if Trump pushes the policy through.

“The issue Hong Kong faces is not about human rights or democracy, but about stopping violence and chaos, upholding rule of law and restoring order as soon as possible,” Geng said.

The spokesperson reiterated China’s support to the Hong Kong government and police “in enforcing law, and support the judicial organs in punishing violent criminals, protecting the life and property of citizens and safeguarding prosperity and stability in Hong Kong.”

China believes the approval of the bill exposes the US’ “hidden political agenda” and “paints criminal moves as pursuit of human rights and democracy when the truth is violent criminals rampantly smashed facilities, set fire, bullied and attacked innocent civilians, forcibly occupied university campuses, mobbed young students, and assaulted police officers in a premeditated way.”

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, young anti-government activists were staying put inside the Polytechnic University campus, as their bitter standoff with the city’s police force entered its fourth day.

Between Monday night and Wednesday morning, about 800 people stranded in the Polytechnic University had left the campus in the harbor-side district of Hung Hom in East Kowloon. Among them, 300 were under the age of 18. Exactly how many more are still inside is unclear, but Hong Kong’s Commercial Radio put the number at around 100.

It is believed that hundreds of people who have left the campus — many of them students — have been arrested, although the police have yet to announce the exact number.

Shortly before noon Wednesday, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Security John Lee spoke to journalists, saying that all those inside PolyU would be arrested for rioting regardless of the purpose of their assembly on the campus.

In Hong Kong, rioting carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. A law scholar who visited the activists Monday night told them they could not be charged for rioting so long as there was not enough evidence against them.

The siege, which has been keeping many Hongkongers on edge, began in the evening Sunday, a violent day in which anti-government protesters, armed with countless Molotov cocktails and bricks, were locked in violent street battles with riot police who fired tear gas, rubber bullets and bean bag rounds at crowds.

On Wednesday morning, some netizens called for people to paralyze the city’s traffic. Some activists blocked the doors of underground trains to prevent them from moving, while services at some metro stations were suspended but later resumed.

Demonstrations in Hong Kong began in June following a controversial extradition bill, since withdrawn by the government, but have mutated into a movement seeking to improve Hong Kong’s democratic mechanisms and opposition to Beijing’s perceived interference.

The demonstrations have turned into a movement seeking to improve democracy in the city-state and safeguard the region’s partial autonomy from Beijing. EFE -EPA

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DFA: Filipinos in Hong Kong are safe, no need for evacuation at this time

Marje Pelayo   •   November 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) assures kin of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in Hong Kong that they are safe and remain unaffected by the ongoing public unrest in the southeastern Chinese territory.

The DFA issued a statement following false reports on the plight of Filipino workers and residents in Hong Kong that circulated on social media.

“The Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong is closely monitoring the situation and is taking every step to ensure the continued safety and well-being of our nationals there,” the DFA said.

The Department said those who wish to follow the impact of developments in Hong Kong on Filipinos there, are advised to visit the Consulate’s website for updates and advisories “instead of turning to questionable sources of information in the social media.”

In a live broadcast on Facebook, Consul General Raly Tejada allayed fears of families of OFWs living and working in the territory.

“Ang inyong mga mahal sa buhay dito sa Hong Kong ay safe naman po at nasa Mabuti pong kalagayan, (Your loved ones here in Hong Kong are safe),” Tejada said.

“Wala po kayong dapat ipagalala sapagkat ang Konsulado naman po dito ay nananatiling handa upang tumulong sa mga pangangailangan ng mga kababayan natin dito, (You have nothing to worry about because the Consulate is ready to provide them the necessary assistance),” he added.

Meanwhile, Tejada calls on all Filipino residents and workers in Hong Kong to always monitor the Consulate’s advisory through its official Facebook page and website where Philippine officials announce latest information regarding the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.

They may also call the Philippine Consulate’s hotline number 91554023 for assistance as they are ready to respond, according to Tejada.

Filipinos who have work contracts in Hong Kong are assured that the territory’s international airport is functional and businesses runs as usual.

However, Consul General Tejada asked non-essential travelers to Hong Kong to defer their plans at this time for their safety.

“Kung pwede po ay ipagpaliban muna at pagisipan po muna natin bago po tayo tumuloy ng Hong Kong (You may opt to defer or reconsider before you travel to Hong Kong),” he said.

“Ang mga public transportation po dito ay naapektuhan po ng rally kaya hindi po dependable sa ngayon (All public transportation here are very much affected by the rally so they are not that dependable at this time),” he concluded.

Tunghayan ang mensahe ng ating Consul General Raly L. Tejada

Posted by Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong on Monday, 11 November 2019

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