China’s top paper warns ‘turbulence’ could hurt Hong Kong’s economy

A protester defaces the Hong Kong emblem after breaking into the government headquarters on July 1, 2019, the 22nd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China. (AFP)
Updated 03 July 2019
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China’s top paper warns ‘turbulence’ could hurt Hong Kong’s economy

  • China called the violence an ‘undisguised challenge’ to the ‘one country, two systems’ model under which Hong Kong has been ruled for 22 years
  • China has blamed Western countries for offering succor to the protests

SHANGHAI: Confrontations and outbreaks of lawlessness in Hong Kong could damage its reputation as an international business hub and seriously hurt its economy, China’s top newspaper, the People’s Daily, said in an editorial on Wednesday.
Hundreds of protesters in the former British colony besieged and broke into the legislature late on Monday after a demonstration marking the anniversary of its return to Chinese rule in 1997.
China called the violence an “undisguised challenge” to the “one country, two systems” model under which Hong Kong has been ruled for 22 years.
“It is not surprising there are some disagreements and even major disputes about certain issues, but if we fall into the whirlpool of ‘overpoliticization’ and artificially create division and opposition, it will not only serve no purpose, but will also severely hinder economic and social development,” the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily said.
The turbulence in Hong Kong was triggered by an extradition bill opponents say will undermine Hong Kong’s much-cherished rule of law and give Beijing powers to prosecute activists in mainland courts, which are controlled by the Communist Party.
The People’s Daily said the rule of law did not mean a small number of “extremists” should be allowed to conduct violent crimes that would damage Hong Kong’s reputation as an international business city.
It warned that Hong Kong was already under pressure as a result of changes to the global economy and intensifying competition and “cannot bear turbulence and internal friction.”
China has blamed Western countries, particularly the United States and Hong Kong’s former colonial master Britain, for offering succor to the protests.
The official China Daily, an English-language newspaper often used by Beijing to put out its message to the rest of the world, denounced “outside agitations” in its editorial on Wednesday.
“What has also been notable is the hypocrisy of some Western governments — the United States and United Kingdom most prominently — which have called for a stop to the violence, as if they have had nothing to do with it,” the China Daily said.
“But, looking back at the whole protest saga, they have been deeply involved in fueling it since its inception,” it said.
British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt condemned violence on both sides on Tuesday and warned of consequences if China neglects commitments made when it took back Hong Kong to allow freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China, including the right to protest.
China said on Monday Britain no longer has any responsibility for Hong Kong and needed to stop “gesticulating” about the city.


North Korea faces lowest crop harvest in 5 years, widespread food shortages -UN

Updated 20 September 2019

North Korea faces lowest crop harvest in 5 years, widespread food shortages -UN

  • South Korea has pledged to provide 50,000 tons of rice aid to its northern neighbor through the UN World Food Programme
  • Sporadic famines are common in North Korea, although a severe nationwide famine in the 1990s killed as many as a million people

SEOUL: North Korea’s crop production this year is expected to drop to its lowest level in five years, bringing serious shortages for 40 percent of the population, as a dry spell and poor irrigation hit an economy already reeling from sanctions over its weapons programs, the United Nations said on Thursday.
In its latest quarterly Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said the poor harvest of the country’s main crops, rice and maize, means 10.1 million people are in urgent need of assistance.
“Below-average rains and low irrigation availability between mid-April and mid-July, a critical period for crop development, mainly affected the main season rice and maize crops,” the FAO said. The report, which covers cereal supply and demand around the world and identifies countries that need external food aid, didn’t disclose detailed estimates of production by volume.
North Korea has long struggled with food shortages and a dysfunctional state rationing system, and state media has in recent months warned of drought and other “persisting abnormal phenomena.”
The crops shortfall comes as the country bids to contain the spread of African swine fever in its pig herd, following confirmation of a first case in May.
The disease, fatal to pigs though not harmful to humans, has spread into Asia — including South Korea — since first being detected in China last year, resulting in large-scale culls and reduced production of pork, a staple meat across the region including in North Korea.
The FAO report followed earlier UN assessments this year that the isolated country’s food production last year fell to its lowest level in more than a decade amid a prolonged heatwave, typhoon and floods.
South Korea has pledged to provide 50,000 tons of rice aid to its northern neighbor through the UN World Food Programme (WFP). But its delivery has been delayed by Pyongyang’s lukewarm response amid stalled inter-Korean dialogue and denuclearization talks with the United States, Seoul officials said.
In July, the North’s official KCNA news agency said a campaign to mitigate the effects of drought was under way by digging canals and wells, installing pumps, and using people and vehicles to transport water.
But North Korea has told the United Nations to cut the number of its staff it deploys in the country for aid programs. citing the “politicization of UN assistance by hostile forces.”
Sporadic famines are common in North Korea, but observers said a severe nationwide famine in the 1990s killed as many as a million people.