Vanessa Tomassini

Coronavirus: 62,200 deaths in Latin America, 20,000 new cases per day in the United States
Americas

Coronavirus: 62,200 deaths in Latin America, 20,000 new cases per day in the United States

The coronavirus pandemic continues to besiege Latin America, and in the last 24 hours, the infection curve is soaring with 1,238,101 cases (+84,163), while the deaths have reached 62,195 (+2,851). This is what emerges from the data of 34 Latin American nations.

Brazil continues to attract the attention of experts both for the number of infected people, 645,771 (+30,830), and for the number of deaths which are 35,047 (+1,005). Peru came in second with 187,400 total cases (+5,162), and Chile third with 122,499 infections (+1,448). Among the nations with more than 5,000 infections, there are Mexico (110,026), Ecuador (41,575), Colombia (36,635), the Dominican Republic (18,708), Argentina (21,037), Panama (15,044), the Bolivia (12,245), Guatemala (6,154) and Honduras (5,880).

According to Worldometer, there are now 2 million coronavirus cases in the US and 111,000 victims. But the most alarming figure – underlines the New York Times based on its database – is that we still travel to an average of over 20 thousand new cases per day: 21,614 on Thursday, especially in the south of the country and in part of the west coast characterized by new outbreaks. Great concern is also linked to the possible surge of the infections due to the protests taking place across the United States. The surge in cases in certain parts of the country, in fact, may be related to the number of states beginning to loosen lockdown restrictions and the number of people protesting police brutality and anti-blackness.

The number is lower than the April peak of new coronavirus cases, but the number of new cases shows passing the peak doesn’t mean the pandemic is over. According to New York Times, more states have seen a rise in new cases than those that have seen a decline. According to its database, 18 have seen a rise over the past two weeks, 15 have seen a decline, and 17 have stayed roughly the same. The coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting 213 countries and territories around the world and 2 international conveyances.

Libya has registered another 30 new coronavirus infections in the last 24-hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 239. The Libyan National Center for Disease Control announced on its Facebook page, adding that while the dead remain 5 and the cured 52, the currently positive people rise to 182. India overtook Italy as the sixth country most affected by the coronavirus pandemic after another peak of confirmed infections in a single day. The Indian Ministry of Health on Saturday detected 9,887 new cases, bringing the total to 236,657. The dead in the country are 6,649 so far.

UAE sent 6.6 tonnes of medical material to UK, boosting PPE production
Middle East & Africa

UAE sent 6.6 tonnes of medical material to UK, boosting PPE production

In the context of international cooperation in the fight against COVID-19, the United Arab Emirates has delivered today 6.6 tonnes of medical material to the United Kingdom that will enable the country to produce millions of items of personal protective equipment, PPE.

The shipment arrived at Heathrow Airport on a special chartered flight on Friday morning and was made up of 6.6 tonnes of melt blown fabric, an essential component of surgical face masks. According to UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) there is currently a global shortage of the material and its export is restricted from the UAE.

This shipment will enable the UK to manufacture millions of face masks to protect millions of medical professionals as they work to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The UAE Ambassador to the UK, Mansoor Abulhoul, said: “We are delighted to be able to assist Britain, one of our closest friends and allies. The UAE is committed to helping fight COVID-19 wherever it can and has donated aid to 63 countries around the world.”

Soon after the virus emerged the UAE retooled factories to produce PPE, the UAE was able to supply the material because of its internationally-recognised success in curbing the spread of COVID-19. Careful supply chain management also meant the UAE did not exhaust domestic supplies of melt blown fabric, which is used in the oil industry and is manufactured in the UAE.

Last April, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, donated 60 tonnes of urgent medical aid to the UK. The NHS has been given rent-free use of ExCel London; the conference centre owned by the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre which is currently NHS Nightingale.

The UAE undertaken numerous initiatives to globally combat the new coronavirus, delivering more than 716 tonnes of medical aid to 63 countries; more than 716,000 medical professionals have been assisted worldwide so far.This global approach on fighting the common enemy, called COVID-19, allowed to save millions lives around the world.

Italy, France, Germany, and the Netherlands joined forces for a COVID-19 vaccine
Europe, Geopolitics

Italy, France, Germany, and the Netherlands joined forces for a COVID-19 vaccine

Around the world, several companies and governments are looking for a vaccine for COVID-19, with the risk that the first to find it will produce it first for its population, leaving the others, in particular the least developed countries, at the mercy of a second epidemic to coincide with the next flu season. For this reason, Italy, France, Germany, and the Netherlands have joined forces in the research and production of the vaccine against the new coronavirus, an “inclusive” drug, as stated in the note expressed by the Dutch authorities published by France Presse.

The note affirms that the four countries jointly explore several promising initiatives and are in talks with different pharmaceutical companies, for which joint strategy and investments are conceived to reach a “widely accessible” vaccine, even from the least wealthy countries like African ones. German Health Jens Spahn wrote to the European Commission along with his counterparts from France, Italy and the Netherlands to announce that they have joined to “achieve the fastest and best possible outcome in negotiations with key players in the pharmaceutical industry.”

The four EU countries have identified the development of a vaccine as “one of the most urgent issues that the European Union has to address at present.” Doctors announced a new coronavirus outbreak in Göttingen, Lower Saxony, for which authorities decided the reintroduction of preventive measures such as the closure of schools for a week, after their reopening on May 23rd.In the German city, have been recorded 80 new cases of Covid-19, and at the base of the outbreak, there would be a private party between families without masks and social distancing.The EU is also preparing to use a €2.4 billion ($2.7 billion) fund to make advance purchases of vaccines, Reuters news agency reported. The use of the emergency fund is yet to be officially announced.

Over 380,000 have died from coronavirus worldwide. According to Johns Hopkins, the total number of infected people recognized as such is 6,404,872, while the healed are 2,743,777.The situation is improving in Italy, where people can leave their region without restrictions from yesterday. The latest data of Civil Protection reports of 71 deaths in the last 24 hours and 321 new infections, most in Lombardy, the first epicenter of the pandemic, in northern Italy. The total number of infections rises to 233,836, of which the dead are 33,601, while the recovered are 160,938.

The US has already secured almost a third of the first 1 billion doses planned for pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca experimental vaccine by pledging $1.2 billion (€1.07 billion). AstraZeneca is one of several companies that Germany is now in talks with.The situation is still alarming in Latin America and in particular in Brazil, where at the beginning Jair Bolsonaro caught the epidemic: in the last 24 hours the deaths were 1,262, a number that brought the total of deaths to 31,199 28,936 new cases were recognized, for a total of 555,383.

Rating Agencies attack African countries
Middle East & Africa

Rating Agencies attack African countries

Having lost operating space in the US and Europe, the rating agencies have thrown themselves into emerging countries, especially those of Africa. You don’t have to be a genius of competence and analytical skills to imagine the economic difficulties in a world devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular in emerging countries, which have always been very susceptible to what happens in the so-called advanced economies.

At different times and in diverse ways, the three rating sisters, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch, downgraded ten African countries and their public debt securities down to the junk level. These are Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Cape Verde, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Nigeria, South Africa, Mauritius and Zambia. The assessments are based on the forecasts regarding the weakness of the tax and health systems of the countries. This happens while the World Bank has instead supported the suspension of interest payments on the debts of the poorest countries that are part of the International Development Association (IDA).

On the other hand, their knowledge of Africa is very low. S&P, for example, says to be able to make assessments on 128 countries around the world, but has only one office, in Johannesburg, for the entire African continent. Agency ratings are usually trivial ratings. But they are taken into consideration by the markets to judge the health of the various national economies and, consequently, to also define the interest rates on their public debt. This is a phenomenon repeatedly experienced with devastating effects on the cost of loans and also the weakening of the capital offered by international investors.

It is worth mentioning their role in the financial meltdown in the years of the Great Crisis of 2008, which had an impact on global markets and especially on the real economy of many countries, including developing ones. The detailed report “The financial crisis inquiry report” prepared by a bipartisan commission and published by the US government in 2011, where it was stated, among others, that “the crisis could not have occurred without these agencies. Their ratings, first skyrocketing and then suddenly lowered, have thrown markets and businesses haywire”.

Moody’s has downgraded South Africa to junk, causing it to lose the last investment-grade step, under which institutional investors are no longer authorized to buy government bonds. The rating agency estimated a significant increase in South African public debt expected to reach 91% of GDP by 2023. Fitch cut Gabon’s sovereign rating from B to CCC. The explanation of the downgrade concerns the possible difficulty of repaying sovereign debt due to a lack of liquidity due to the fall in oil prices. Moody revised Mauritius’s sovereign rating negatively due to lower tourist earnings for coronavirus. Nigeria has been downgraded from S&P from B to B – because COVID-19 would have increased the risk of fiscal and external shocks from falling oil prices and the economic downturn.

S&P also downgraded Botswana, one of Africa’s most stable economies, which had an A rating. The agency cited the weakening of its state budget due to a drop in demand for raw materials and the expected economic slowdown, due to COVID-19. The downgrading of Botswana was decided when there was yet no case of infection in the country. We assist in a wave of downgrades of private companies due to the concept of sovereign limes: a country’s rating generally determines the report card assigned to companies operating within its borders. The African countries are called by many to draw up a collective response mechanism against the abuse of the rating.

Guerrillas in Manhattan, amid provocations and looting
Americas

Guerrillas in Manhattan, amid provocations and looting

Another night of systematic looting in New York despite the curfew for COVID-19. In the United States, policemen are becoming targets, hit by off-road vehicles in Manhattan, in the Bronx, but also Buffalo, north of the state, while in Las Vegas, a bullet hit an agent in the head. He was trying to disperse a violent demonstration in front of the Circus Circus casino. He is now in critical condition. While thousands of protesters gather outside the police headquarters in the southern part of Manhattan, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio decided to anticipate the curfew in New York from 11 am to 8 pm and to make it last at least for the whole week.

The protests were transformed into urban guerrilla warfare by the infiltration of radical groups of various origins or into raids organized by criminal gangs who take advantage of the chaos. Donald Trump promises to restore law and order, threatens to use the army, but shows little understanding of what is happening when, in inviting governors to use strong manners, he compares the current rebellion to the Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011. «It was a real misfortune until someone said enough and wiped them out. Nobody has heard of it for years, until today: I am hearing about Occupy now». In the president’s words, Occupy is synonymous with Antifa, the violent radical groups that Trump would like to ban as terrorist organizations.

According to Trump’s opponents, it makes no sense to compare today’s violence and chaos to the nine-year-old movement, that confined itself to peaceful protests, with demonstrators arrested almost only for resistance to the public force, perhaps for an unauthorized motorcade. Occupy was not violent, and it had an organization, an order service that managed to calm the troublemakers, and avoid infiltrations. Today, the picture is different: massive but unorganized protests, organized in the social networks, within which the extremist Antifa groups move. Former Occupy radicals may have merged, seeking provocation and confrontation, as well as groups of rebels and common criminals who practice looting as a proletarian expropriation or simple theft.

Destructions and looting are carried out by small groups that move from street to street with military technique: they attract the attention of the police in one point and strike elsewhere. Some of the most prominent stores were devastated and looted in central Manhattan the other night before curfew, included Microsoft, Michael Kors, Nike and Nintendo. Everything is well organized: some break the windows by throwing bricks, others arrive with City bike’s stolen bicycles to take away the stolen goods. “It’s the coordinated gang work,” says the police. “They are not provocateurs who come from outside: they are from here, we know them.”

Eurozone: flash estimate, inflation drops to 0.1% in May
Europe

Eurozone: flash estimate, inflation drops to 0.1% in May

In May, due to the effects of the coronavirus emergency, the annual inflation rate in the 19 Eurozone countries fell to 0.1% compared to 0.3% in April: this was the first estimate released on June 1st by Eurostat. The performance of the index was affected by the 12% drop in energy sector prices (-9.7% in April). A 3.3% increase was recorded for food (3.6% in April). In May, according to Eurostat, inflation in Italy – the most affected country by the new coronavirus pandemic – was negative (-0.2%) against the + 0.1% recorded in April.

According to financial experts, the European Central Bank could announce Thursday hundreds of billions of euros in new bond-buying to keep fighting the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, as EU governments prepare to wrangle for months over a joint response. While some policymakers have urged dropping the ECB’s self-imposed limits on buying government debt to stoke increase and inflation, the meeting is also the first since a ruling by Germany’s Constitutional Court requesting restraint of the central bank’s powers.

ECB board member Isabel Schnabel reaffirmed last week that the size but also the composition and duration of PEPP could all be increased, with some analysts forecasting an extension from the end of this year to September 2021. As well as Thursday’s policy moves, eyes will be on June’s quarterly growth and inflation estimates from ECB staff, as January-March figures were compiled before the virus hit.

Bank president Christine Lagarde previously announced that the eurozone economy would contract by between eight and 12 percent in 2020, before a hoped-for strong rebound next year. Governors will encounter less than a month after a German Constitutional Court (GCC) ruling that a 2.6-trillion-euro bond-buying scheme launched in 2015 may not have been proportionate to its price stability goal and demanding clarification.

If the ECB cannot satisfy the judges, the German Bundesbank, the central bank, may not be able to participate in bond-buying. While finding a face-saving resolution to the immediate legal headache, policymakers must also consider how court challenges might limit their future options. Bank of France governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau last week said the so-called capital key, under which the ECB buys countries’ bonds in line with their stakes in its capital, is an “uncalled-for constraint”.

Free of limits, the central bank might choose to buy more Italian, French or Spanish debt to keep financial conditions on an even keel across the eurozone. But the self-imposed capital key rule was also shaped to avoid just the kind of legal tripwire that has sprung up in Germany. According to Lagarde, the GDP will drop more than during the last great financial crisis: the drop was between -4 and -5%, now it will probably be double. It will depend on how quickly we exit the lockdowns, on the gradual recovery, on the sectors affected. The president of the ECB added that she still does not believe in a new crisis of the single currency.

UAE continue to help countries in need, together we win against COVID-19
Middle East & Africa

UAE continue to help countries in need, together we win against COVID-19

Friends recognize each other in times of need, the ancient Romans said. And that is why the United Arab Emirates and its leadership have not hesitated in extending a helping hand to neighboring and distant countries in need among the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, the UAE has sent over 646 metric tons of aid to 55 countries, supporting more than 646,000 medical professionals in the process.

On May 25, the UAE sent an aid plane carrying six metric tons of medical supplies to the Democratic Republic of Congo, to assist approximately 6,000 medical professionals as they work to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. An aid plane departed from Dubai last week delivered seven metric tons of medical supplies to Union of the Comoros, assisting 7,000 medical professionals.

Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, ADFD, also delivered the third shipment of classroom seating supplies to Sudan. Catering to the needs of 150,000 students across the country, the support aims to help Sudan advance its educational infrastructure. ADFD dispatched 540,000 tonnes of wheat worth $150 million to Sudan to meet its urgent food needs.

According to UAE official news agency, taking the total value of assistance provided by ADFD to support the educational sector in Sudan to AED55 million (US$15 million), the latest shipment includes seating supplies for 400,000 students in various states of Sudan. This shipment is part of the US$1.5 billion aid package approved by the UAE in April 2019 to support Sudan’s economic and financial stability. As part of this grant, the UAE deposited US$250 million into the Central Bank of Sudan to foster the country’s economic and financial stability.

The aid package also included US$11 million support for Sudan’s agricultural sector, as well as 136 tonnes of pharmaceutical and medical supplies to support the country’s healthcare sector. All these aids aimed to help the country accelerate sustainable economic and social development.

“We are honoured to extend assistance to Gambia today as part of the UAE’s efforts to enhance the campaign against COVID-19 throughout Africa.” Omar AlMeheiri, Charge d’Affaires of the UAE Embassy in Senegal, said commenting recent UAE humanitarian aid to Gambia, including 4 thousand of medical supplies and personal protections for 4,000 doctors and nurses. “Protecting frontline medical professionals around the world is a main pillar of the UAE’s strategy to help other countries overcome this crisis,” he added.

Also, the Prime Minister of Albania Edvin Rama has sent a message of sincere thanks and appreciation to His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, expressing his gratitude to the UAE’s support for his country after the UAE sent seven metric tons of medical supplies to Tirana on May 15.
On the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, with the monitoring of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region, and Chairman of the Emirates Red Crescent, ERC, the ERC distributed 770.4 tonnes of food aid to the residents of Hadramaut Governorate, Yemen, during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

The ERC intensified its relief and humanitarian efforts to help residents, under the framework of an urgent humanitarian plan to aid families directly affected by the economic damage caused by the coronavirus outbreak. They distributed a total 18,000 food parcels benefitting 90,000 people. In detail, it distributed 2,500 food parcels weighing 107 tonnes to 12,500 people in the districts of Adh Dhlia’ah and Dawan, as well as 1,400 food parcels in Hajr District weighing 5,992 tonnes, benefitting 7,000 people. Since the beginning of 2020, the ERC has distributed 25,410 food parcels weighing 1369.128 tonnes in Hadramaut, benefitting 127,050 needy families.

The numerous initiatives undertaken by the UAE leadership, to globally combat the spread of COVID-19, confirm that UAE’s assistance has only humanitarian purposes. The Emirates offered their genuine and unconditional help to all populations in need, without considering the political orientation of their governments. This global approach on fighting the common enemy, called COVID-19, allowed to save millions lives around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic is a colossal test of leadership, UAE showed decisive, coordinated and innovative action from all, and for all, confident that we can be stronger together.

EU Council appointed new Force Commanders for Operation IRINI
Europe

EU Council appointed new Force Commanders for Operation IRINI

The European Council has decided to appoint as EU Force Commander for the EU military naval operation in the Mediterranean, EUNAVFOR MED IRINI, Rear Admiral Ettore Socci from Italy, from 6 May 2020 until 18 October 2020. He will be followed by Commodore Theodoros Mikropoulos, from Greece, from 19 October 2020 until 31 March 2021. Rear Admiral Socci was the Force Commander of previous Operation SOPHIA in Libya since June 2019. According to a statement released on Thursday, by EUNAVFORMED IRINI headquarter, Socci served as operational officer on board several warships of the Italian Navy, while Commodore Theodoros Mikropoulos has been the Commander of the Hellenic naval base in Souda Bay, near Crete, and before that held senior positions in the Hellenic Navy.

On 31 March 2020 the Council launched Operation IRINI with the primary purpose of enforcing the UN arms embargo in Libya, and appointed Rear Admiral Fabio Agostini from Italy as its Operation Commander, based in Rome, Italy. The EU joint mission commenced its activities at sea on May 4 with the French naval vessel Jean Bart and a maritime patrol aircraft contributed by Luxembourg. According to the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, at the Berlin Conference, leaders agreed to work together towards a sustainable solution to the crisis in Libya. However, the conflict continues to put the lives of Libyans and the entire region at risk. Borrell affirmed adding that the effective enforcement of the UN arms embargo on Libya will help in achieving a sustainable ceasefire and advancing towards a political agreement.

Operation Irini, named after the Greek goddess for peace, was planned in a very short time frame and launched on 31 March, following a decision by the Council. The main task is the implementation of the arms embargo on Libya under the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. The Operation also has secondary tasks including monitoring illegal oil trafficking from Libya, contributing to countering human trafficking and smuggling activities through air monitoring and contributing to the training of the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy. The Force Commander will be assigned to Italy and Greece every six months alternatively. The rotation of the Force Commander will take place together with the rotation of the flagship. France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg and Poland provided assets for the Operation.

Daesh and Muslim Brotherhood criticize Arab Governments for closing mosques among coronavirus
Middle East & Africa

Daesh and Muslim Brotherhood criticize Arab Governments for closing mosques among coronavirus

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the propaganda of the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliated terrorist groups is unleashed: online magazines, news sites, newsletters, and social channels celebrate an epochal victory: that of the new coronavirus. COVID-19, say the pro-Daesh and Al-Qaeda channels, marks the defeat of the whole disbelieving and oppressing West. And in particular of the far enemy, the United States.

“We lost completely control, now the solution depends from the Sky”. These words totally false were attributed to the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, from the weekly Ebaa of the jihadist group Organization for the Liberation of the Levant, an acronym for the crowded front of the conflict in Syria, where it controls part of the Idlib governorate, northwest of the country.

After Turkey announced the reopening of its mosques, Libyan and Tunisian medias criticize the choice of their Governments. ISIS, as well, are disapproving Arab leaderships for closing mosques as a preventative measure against the spread of the virus. “Those who sided with the shutdown of mosques are a group associated with government entities…” ISIS spokesman Abu Hamza al-Qurashi said in a recording released Thursday. “Coronavirus is a pretext to shut down mosques…we have evidence that this is the main reason.” Since the coronavirus pandemic began, senior Muslim scholars have urged worshippers to heed medical and government guidelines, to suspend mosque services and activities, and to pray at home. The Muslim Brotherhood propaganda channels attack scholars and experts suggesting the closure of mosques, describing them as clients and traitors of Israel.

Controversial Kuwaiti imam Hakem al-Mutayri echoed the sentiment, saying the National Assembly in Kuwait should be investigated for its decision to close mosques, in a post on Twitter. Dr. Mohammed Al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League (MWL), called on communities to follow “all health guidelines” during the crisis and said the temporary closure of mosques in some countries across the Islamic world is considered a “religious duty” in light of the pandemic. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Sheikh asked Muslims to pray at home during Ramadan, and the Saudi Arabian government suspended mosque services. Meanwhile ISIS issued its own preventative measures against COVID-19 to its followers in mid-March. Al-Arabiya reported today.

ISIS was among the first groups to calibrate the communication pull, as explained by researcher Ayman Jawad Al-Tamimi, who has been studying jihad for years. First, on 11 March, the weekly newsletter in Arabic al-Naba published the Sharia Directives to deal with the epidemic. These include: do not enter the infected territories for the sick, avoid leaving it; clean your hands well, etc. Practical indications of containment, but associated with the hadiths, the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. Because the disease does not affect itself but depends ‘on the orders and ability of Allah’.

The United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner, Michel Bachelet, accused ISIS earlier this month of taking advantage of the pandemic to step up violence on civilians. ISIS appears “to view the global focus on the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to regroup and inflict violence on the population” in Syria and Libya. In the North African country, thanks to support of the Government of National Accord (GNA) the group targeted two times military bases in the southern region last week. ISIS gunmen executed 11 people during two attacks on a desert highway in eastern Syria in mid-May, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. At least 10 Iraqi militiamen were killed by jihadists, on May 2nd, in a coordinated attack near the Iraqi city of Samarra.

China approved Hong Kong security plan, 240 arrests among protesters
Asia Pacific Focus

China approved Hong Kong security plan, 240 arrests among protesters

Hong Kong police said they made about 240 arrests in the ongoing protests against the law protecting the Chinese national anthem, under discussion in the local parliament, and that on national security arriving from Beijing. The charge is of suspected participation in unauthorized demonstrations. Most of the latest arrests took place in the Mong Kok area. Many agents lined up in riot gear around the local parliament, where yesterday the second reading debate was held on the law protecting the Chinese national anthem, contested by pro-democracy activists. The call for mobilization has seen the participation of thousands of people. According to local activists, the agents fired stinging cartridges to disperse the activists.

The National People’s Congress, the legislative branch of the Chinese parliament, approved the adoption of the Hong Kong national security law. In the vote of the final session, the assembly also approved the first Civil Code of the People’s Republic. The council passed with 2,878 in favor, one against and 6 abstentions, the motion to impose on Hong Kong the controversial law that will punish secession, acts against authorities, terrorism, and actions that threaten national security.

The document approved yesterday is little known: the Congress Standing Committee will work on the specific modalities of the law and its application, possible by circumventing the vote of the local parliament. Yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China, laying the foundations for the removal of the special status of the city in its relations with the US.

U.S. policy toward Hong Kong, grounded in a determination to promote Hong Kong’s prosperity, autonomy, and way of life, is stated in the U.S.–Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, which stipulated that the U.S. would continue to treat Hong Kong apart from the People’s Republic of China even after the 1997 transfer of sovereignty marking the end of British rule. The United States maintains substantial economic and political interests in Hong Kong. The United States supports Hong Kong’s autonomy by concluding and implementing bilateral agreements, promoting trade and investment, arranging high-level visits, broadening law enforcement cooperation, bolstering educational links, and supporting the large community of American citizens and visitors.

China must respect Hong Kong’s autonomy, the European Union also affirmed on Tuesday. “We attach great importance to the preservation of Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy in line with the Basic Law and international commitments,” European Council President Charles Michel, who represents European governments, said. Speaking after a video conference with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he said Europe and Japan “share the same ideas” on China. “We are not naive about Chinese behaviour.” Michel stressed, adding that Europe supported the “one country, two systems” principle that governs Hong Kong’s autonomy.

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