Chinese official says protests are getting increasingly violent and having ‘a broad impact on society’
China on Wednesday said Hong Kong is facing the most severe crisis since the city was handed over to Beijing by Britain in 1997.
Those protests are getting increasingly violent and having “an increasingly broad impact on society,” said Zhang Xiaoming, Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong.
“It can be said that Hong Kong is facing the most severe situation it has faced since the handover,” Mr. Zhang told Hong Kong residents attending a seminar in the mainland city of Shenzhen just across the border from the Asian financial hub that has been wracked by daily protests against the administration of Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
Officials in Beijing were “highly concerned” and studying the situation to decide on measures to take, he said.
China so far has not visibly intervened in the situation, though in editorials and statements from officials it has condemned demonstrators and protest organisers as criminals, clowns and “violent radicals” and alleged that they have been inflamed by politicians from the U.S., Taiwan and elsewhere.
Speculation that the military could be deployed grew after Chinese officials pointed to an article in Hong Kong law that allows troops already stationed in the city to help with “public order maintenance” at the Hong Kong government’s request.
Ms. Lam reappeared on Wednesday at the opening of an exhibition marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Communist state.
“Over recent months, conditions in Hong Kong society have been extremely unstable,” Ms. Lam said in remarks distributed by her office. “The special administrative region government will certainly join with all of you to deal with it calmly, restore social order, safeguard rule of law and cherish Hong Kong, cherish ‘one country, two systems,’ and cherish our home.”
Pro-democracy lawmakers continued to criticise Ms. Lam’s handling of the protests. Claudia Mo told reporters that Beijing and Ms. Lam were employing a two-pronged strategy of using the police force to handle the protesters physically while also attacking them ideologically by labelling their movement as seeking to destroy the “one country, two systems” framework.
“We all know this (Hong Kong) administration has become completely untrustworthy and this is just so sad for Hong Kong,” Ms. Mo said.
Protesters have come from all professions and age groups. On Wednesday, several hundred lawyers sought a meeting with Secretary of Justice Teresa Cheng and staged a silent protest. The authorities have refused to open a dialogue with protesters and there was no immediate response from Ms. Cheng’s office.
Margaret Ng, a lawyer, said they wanted to meet Ms. Cheng to seek an assurance that there was no political motive in prosecution of those detained. More than 500 people have been arrested since the protests began and dozens have already been charged with rioting.
Explosion was triggered by a truck bomb, claim insurgents
Mayhem continues: An Afghan police officer inspecting the site of a blast in Kabul on Wednesday. REUTERSMOHAMMAD ISMAIL
At least 14 people were killed and 145 wounded in a massive bomb blast on Wednesday as fresh violence gripped even as insurgents appear to be closing in on a peace deal with the U.S.
The bloodshed in the capital comes amid an ongoing surge in attacks across Afghanistan, where some 1,500 people were killed or injured last month alone.
A huge plume of black smoke was seen rising over western Kabul following a massive explosion at the entrance to a police compound on Wednesday morning.
The Afghan Interior Ministry said the explosion was caused by a car bomb, but the Taliban, which claimed the attack, said it was a much larger truck bomb. An Afghan security official also said it was a truck bomb.
Images on social media showed toppled blast walls surrounding several largely destroyed buildings in a compound.
Afghan authorities said at least 10 civilians and four police officers had been killed. Another 145 people, including 92 civilians, were wounded.
The attack came after the Taliban warned Afghans on Tuesday to keep away from the presidential election due in September. The Taliban has ordered its fighters to “stand against” the polls.
Over 28,500 soldiers guard against threats from N. Korea
Donald Trump addressing U.S. troops in Osan Air Base on June 30. REUTERSReuters
President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that South Korea has agreed to pay the U.S. “substantially more” for protection against North Korea and that talks have begun to further increase payments.
Mr. Trump tweeted the U.S. “has been paid very little” for decades but last year “South Korea paid $990,000,000.”
South Korea and the U.S. in March signed a deal to increase Seoul’s payments for U.S. troop deployment there from $850 million in 2018 to $924 million in 2019. The White House, when asked about the apparent discrepancy between Mr. Trump’s tweet and those figures, said it would look into it.
Mr. Trump’s financial demands have triggered worries in South Korea that he might withdraw some of the 28,500 U.S. troops.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that the cost-sharing talks had not officially started. But it said that both sides during National Security Adviser John Bolton’s visit to Seoul last month agreed that the talks should proceed in a “rational and fair direction.”
Sanders’ popularity has helped swell the ranks of the Democratic Socialists of America
Bernie SandersEthan Miller
Three years ago, the Democratic Socialists of America had 5,000 members. Just another booth at the campus activities fair, another three-initialled group an uncle might mention over lunch.
Today, dues-paying DSA members exceed 56,000. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a rising star of American politics, is one. So are a couple of dozen local elected officials across the country. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a presidential candidate, is not, but he may as well be: he identifies as a democratic socialist and enjoys a totemic status with the group’s members.
Mr. Sanders’ popularity during his unsuccessful 2016 run for the Democratic presidential nomination helped swell DSA’s ranks. But a very different figure is primarily responsible for the group’s staggering growth: President Donald Trump, who recently associated “radical socialism” with the “destruction of the American dream”. In fact, the majority of current DSA members signed up in the past two years.
“Trump scared a lot of people,” said Maria Svart, the national director. “So they joined.”
Most of the roughly 1,000 DSA delegates who gathered at the convention last weekend to set organisation policy doubtlessly share Ms. Svart’s resoundingly negative view of the President. And nearly as many would agree with her that Mr. Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont, is the one to beat him. The group endorsed Mr. Sanders in March.
But if Mr. Sanders is not the nominee? The group passed a resolution on Friday saying it will not officially endorse anyone else. For the DSA, it is “Bernie or Bust.” The vote does not mean DSA members cannot vote for a non-Sanders nominee in November 2020, of course, nor even that DSA cannot mobilise swing-State votes for such a nominee, as it did in 2016 when it did not endorse Hillary Clinton.
Yet the vote was a reflection of this charged moment for left-wing activists as well as the singular role Mr. Sanders plays in the minds of many members. “Bernie is a uniquely unifying figure in the DSA,” said Thea Riofrancos, of the Providence, Rhode Island chapter.
Several DSA members made the persuasive case that Mr. Sanders’ 2016 campaign fundamentally shifted the Democratic Party leftward, particularly on the signature issue of single-payer “Medicare for All.”
And Winnie Wong, a campaign adviser for Mr. Sanders, who said she was attending the convention as a rank-and-file member and observer, not a delegate, in turn, credited the DSA for helping popularise Medicare for All, a policy it endorsed at its 2017 convention.
“I am extremely happy that the activist base of the DSA is energized around making sure we move the goal posts,” she said. NY Times