Australia considering ‘safe haven’ offer to Hong Kongers

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the situation in Hong Kong was ‘very concerning’. Above, protesters scamper after hearing police are approaching during a rally against a new national security law on July 1, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 02 July 2020

Australia considering ‘safe haven’ offer to Hong Kongers

  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the situation in Hong Kong was ‘very concerning’
  • China has warned its students and tourists against going to Australia

SYDNEY: Australia is actively considering providing safe haven to Hong Kong residents in response to China’s sweeping new security law, it said Thursday, a move likely to further inflame tensions with Beijing.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the situation in Hong Kong was “very concerning” and his government was “very actively” considering proposals to welcome in residents of the former British territory.
Asked by a reporter whether Australia could extend an offer of safe haven, Morrison responded “yes.”
He said the measures would soon be considered by his Cabinet, hinting strongly that it would be approved.
“We think that’s important and very consistent with who we are as a people.”
It comes a day after the United Kingdom announced a new route for those with British National Overseas status and their families to move there and eventually apply for citizenship.
Hong Kong was under UK jurisdiction until Britain handed it back to China in 1997 with a guarantee that Beijing would preserve the city’s judicial and legislative autonomy for 50 years.
But critics say the new law — passed by Beijing’s rubber-stamp parliament this week without its text being released to the public — breaches the “One Country, Two Systems” principle that formally entered international law in 1984.
The Chinese Embassy in Canberra on Thursday dismissed criticisms of the new law, releasing a statement telling Australia to “stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs.”
It said “we strongly deplore” Australia’s response to the legislation, after Foreign Minister Marise Payne expressed “deep concern” over the developments on Wednesday.
Morrison said no final decision had been made on how Australia’s arrangements would be structured, but the country was “prepared to step up and provide support” to Hong Kong residents.
Any offer is sure to further strain Canberra’s relationship with Beijing, coming after repeated clashes between the two sides.
Most recently, Australia enraged China by calling for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
Canberra has also pushed back against what it describes as China’s economic “coercion,” covert influence campaigns and the use of technology companies like Huawei as a tool for intelligence-gathering and geopolitical leverage.
China has warned its students and tourists against going to Australia, slapped trade sanctions on Australian goods and sentenced an Australian citizen to death for drug trafficking.


US to pay over $1bn for 100m doses of J&J’s potential COVID-19 vaccine

Updated 10 min 13 sec ago

US to pay over $1bn for 100m doses of J&J’s potential COVID-19 vaccine

  • The latest contract equates to roughly $10 per vaccine dose produced by J&J
  • This is J&J’s first deal to supply its investigational vaccine to a country

WASHINGTON: The United States government will pay Johnson & Johnson over $1 billion for 100 million doses of its potential coronavirus vaccine, its latest such arrangement as the race to tame the pandemic intensifies, the drugmaker said on Wednesday.
It said it would deliver the vaccine to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) on a not-for-profit basis to be used after approval or emergency use authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
J&J has already received $1 billion in funding from the US government — BARDA agreed in March to provide that money for the company to build manufacturing capacity for more than 1 billion doses of the experimental vaccine.
The latest contract equates to roughly $10 per vaccine dose produced by J&J. Including the first $1 billion deal with the USgovernment, the price would be slightly higher than the $19.50 per dose that the United States is paying for the vaccine being developed by Pfizer Inc. and German biotech BioNTech SE.
The US government may also purchase an additional 200 million doses under a subsequent agreement. J&J did not disclose that deal’s value.
J&J plans to study a one- or two-dose regimen of the vaccine in parallel later this year. A single-shot regimen could allow more people to be vaccinated with the same number of doses and would sidestep issues around getting people to come back for their second dose.
This is J&J’s first deal to supply its investigational vaccine to a country. Talks are underway with the European Union, but no deal has yet been reached.
J&J’s investigational vaccine is currently being tested on healthy volunteers in the United States and Belgium in an early-stage study.
There are currently no approved vaccines for COVID-19. More than 20 are in clinical trials.