Hong Kong doomed + Chinese companies blacklisted for human rights abuse & espionage

U.S. blacklists dozens of Chinese companies working on AI, face recognition tech

INTRO: The U.S. Commerce Department has put another 33 Chinese businesses—many of which develop artificial intelligence and face recognition tech—on its economic blacklist as a punitive measure for purportedly conspiring with Beijing and the government’s brutal crackdown on Muslim minorities.

The department’s so-called “entity list” bans blacklisted companies from using U.S.-made tech in their devices. Established via executive order last May, it includes Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, along with 68 affiliates accused of acting as proxies for Chinese espionage agencies.

Per a Reuters report Friday, seven companies and two institutions were cited as being “complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs,” in a statement from the Commerce Department. The agency said the other two dozen organizations were listed for securing supplies for the Chinese military... (MORE)

The end of Hong Kong - stick a fork in it

EXCERPT: Over the course of April and throughout May, while much of the world’s attention was trained on the coronavirus’s spiraling death toll [...] Beijing was undertaking aggressive actions across Asia. ... The moves were capped this week when China’s National People’s Congress announced that it would force wide-ranging national-security laws on Hong Kong in response to last year’s prodemocracy protests. In doing so, Beijing circumvented the city’s autonomous legislative process and began dismantling the “one country, two systems” framework under which Hong Kong is governed, setting up what will likely be a fundamental shift in the territory’s freedoms, its laws, and how it is recognized internationally.

The announcement late Thursday evening stunned prodemocracy lawmakers, diplomats, and many of the city’s 7.4 million residents, who awoke Friday questioning Hong Kong’s future. The stock market plunged, interest in VPNs shot up, and Hong Kongers wondered whether 2047, the year in which China was set to take back full control of the city, had arrived more than two decades early. [...]

[...] Beijing’s unwelcome conduct has caused alarm as it moves especially in Hong Kong to impose its will by decree. [...] it will, through the newly announced national-security legislation, effectively bring its law directly to Hong Kong ... targeting “secessionist or subversive activity” and “foreign and external interference,” while paving the way for mainland security forces to operate in the city, which, although part of China, has maintained its own laws, courts, and police. The legislation will give Beijing a new tool with which to crack down on protesters and dissidents, and push forward education that trumpets the successes of the Communist Party.

The American response has also fit a pattern. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called it a “death knell” for Hong Kong’s autonomy, U.S. lawmakers unveiled legislation aimed at Beijing’s reach into the city, and the State Department is preparing a report on the issue.

[...] The pandemic has helped accelerate growing bipartisanship in Washington around a more hawkish approach to China. And successive administrations have stated, though hardly fully articulated or implemented, goals of shifting focus, particularly in defense, to counter China. Beijing’s unabated aggression, diplomatic stumbles, and poor early response to the emergence of the coronavirus would seem, then, to provide an opportune moment for the U.S. to assert itself, but American actions have gotten an uneven reception in the region.

[...] The time difference between the U.S. and most of Asia means that Trump’s unhinged outbursts often bookend the days. His rambling, falsehood-filled press conferences run into the Asian morning, and as evening rolls around, he begins firing off his trademark bellicose, difficult-to-decipher tweets. People are “pretty appalled at the lack of coherence in response from the United States, and that is drowning out a lot of other facts,” Aaron Connelly, a research fellow on Southeast Asian political change and foreign policy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore, told me.

[...] In Hong Kong, Chan, the prodemocracy lawmaker, told me that before she entered politics, she believed that mainland officials would honor their 1997 pledge to allow the city to operate with greater autonomy. The new legislation has made clear to her that this was certainly not the case, and that Beijing cares little about winning over Hong Kongers. “Even after 23 years,” she said, “they still can’t [win over] Hong Kong people." (MORE - details)

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