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HONG KONG — All but a handful of protesters in Hong Kong have gone home, but the crisis that brought hundreds of thousands into the streets to oppose an extradition bill is far from over.The way forward for both Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and her opponents is uncertain because of the limits built into the city’s “one country, two systems” arrangement with Beijing after Britain ceded control of the former colony in 1997.The public is wary of seeing Communist Party-ruled Beijing wield still greater influence that would imperil civil liberties such as independent courts and the freedom to speak out against the local government, privileges not enjoyed in the mainland. Officials in Beijing back the unpopular extradition legislation. Lam is stuck in the middle.A look at some possibilities for the key players in this drama.___THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE: Many analysts expect Lam will eventually step down to take responsibility for the mess resulting from her effort to fast-track the extradition bill, which would allow some suspects in Hong Kong to be tried in mainland Chinese courts. On Tuesday, she apologized and said she needed to do better, but also insisted she wants to finish her 5-year term. Too abrupt a departure by the Beijing-appointed career bureaucrat would be a loss of face for China’s leadership. If her opponents keep up the pressure and she does leave, she might opt to spend more time with her husband and children, who are British citizens and live elsewhere.___THE PROTESTERS: The various pro-democracy groups that helped drive and organize the protests are pushing for Lam’s resignation and the permanent scrapping of what they call the “evil” extradition bill. Differences over strategy have emerged, but the groups dismissed Lam’s latest apology, saying she failed to respond to their demands. Some vowed to stage acts of resistance, perhaps using measures such as delaying subway trains, if their demands are not met by Thursday evening. But the protests have dwindled from the masses that turned out on Sunday to a handful of die-hard demonstrators. They could resume, especially on the July 1 anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China.___THE POLICE: At a late-night news conference on Monday, Hong Kong Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung sought to soothe anger over the use of forceful measures during clashes with protesters on June 12. He said only five of 32 people arrested in or around the protests were accused of rioting, a serious charge that can result in a prison term of up to 10 years. Local lawmakers were due to question the city’s secretary for security on Wednesday, and some are calling for an independent inquiry into complaints that police tactics were too aggressive.___THE EXTRADITION BILL: The proposed changes to Hong Kong law would expand the scope of transfers of criminal suspects to include mainland China, Taiwan and Macau. Lam said the legislation is needed to prevent Hong Kong from becoming a haven for fugitives and improve the ability to fight crimes including money laundering. China has been excluded from Hong Kong’s extradition agreements because of concerns over the independence of its courts and its human rights record. Since Lam has bowed to public pressure in shelving the bill indefinitely, it’s unlikely to become law anytime soon.___THE LEADERS IN BEIJING: China promised when it took control of Hong Kong from Britain to allow it to keep its civil liberties and independent legal system for 50 years. That special status has been compromised in a number of cases. Prosecutions of activists, detentions without trial of five Hong Kong book publishers and the illegal seizure in Hong Kong by mainland agents of at least one mainland businessman are among moves in recent years that have unnerved many in the city of 7 million. Beijing backed the extradition bill and said it fully supported Lam. It appears to have now bowed to public pressure. But analysts say both Lam and China are playing a game of “attrition,” betting that protesters will eventually grow weary of their struggle for greater democracy in a former colony that has never fully determined its own future.Elaine Kurtenbach, The Associated Press read more


by Danica Kirka And Youkyung Lee, The Associated Press Posted Jun 23, 2016 10:42 pm MDT Last Updated Jun 24, 2016 at 6:40 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Stocks crash as UK vote to quit EU shocks investors A screen showing Asian stock market index at Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Friday, June 24, 2016. In volatile trading, Asian stock markets fell sharply on Friday with Tokyo stocks, U.S. futures and oil prices plunging as the early results in Britain’s referendum challenged the earlier anticipation that Britain would remain in the European Union. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung) LONDON – Stock markets crashed, oil prices tumbled and the pound fell to a 31-year low on Friday as Britain’s unprecedented vote to leave the European Union shocked investors and dragged the region, the world’s largest economic bloc, into a new era of uncertainty.Investors rushed to dump European shares as soon as markets opened, following earlier drops in Asia, and Wall Street was set to fall sharply amid concerns about the economic consequences of the vote. The move could drain confidence among companies and business across the EU, which some fear could even face more defections.Britain’s FTSE 100 plunged about 8 per cent but recovered slightly for a 5 per cent loss. The German index tanked 7 per cent and France’s index tumbled about 9 per cent. Wall Street was due to open sharply lower, with Dow and S&P 500 futures down 2.8 per cent and 3.6 per cent.The pound hit its lowest level since 1985, diving as much as 11 per cent before recovering slightly to trade 8 per cent lower at $1.3704. Oil prices tumbled, with the U.S. benchmark $2.24 lower at $47.87 a barrel. The Nikkei 225 closed down 8 per cent, its biggest fall since the global financial crisis in 2008.The result of the vote, which trickled in overnight in Europe, caught investors by surprise. Markets had rallied on Thursday on hopes that a so-called “Brexit” would be avoided and bookies were giving the “remain” camp a high probability of success.“U.K. voters have opted for Brexit. If fully followed through, this will be an act of economic self-harm with global ramifications,” said Samuel Tombs, chief U.K. economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.Britain’s decision to leave the EU launches what will be years of negotiations over trade, business and political links with the EU, which will shrink to a 27-nation bloc. Above all, it creates uncertainty, which is toxic to businesses looking to making investments or consumers looking to make purchases.It could also threaten London’s position as one of the world’s pre-eminent financial centres as professionals could lose the right to work across the EU. The U.K. hosts more headquarters of non-EU firms than Germany, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands put together.The Bank of England said it had made contingency plans for a “leave” vote and promised to take action to maintain stability. It noted that it has 250 billion pounds ($342 billion) in liquidity available for banks. “We are well prepared for this,” the bank’s governor, Mark Carney, said in a televised statement.That seemed to help confidence somewhat, particularly in financial stocks, which were among the hardest hit. Shares in Barclays bank in London had tanked as much as 30 per cent before settling for a 20 per cent drop.Banks have the most to lose in Britain’s departure from the EU as they do a lot of cross-border activity, which is facilitated in the EU, which has no borders, tariffs, or limits on the movement money and people.Japan’s Nikkei 225 finished the wild day at 14,952.02 down 7.9 per cent while South Korea’s Kospi sank 3.1 per cent to 1,925.24, its biggest fall in four years. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index tumbled 4.4 per cent to 19,942.90 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 3.2 per cent to 5,113.20. Stocks in Shanghai, Taiwan, Sydney, Mumbai and Southeast Asian countries were sharply lower.“Financial markets throughout the night have been chaotic to say the least,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda in London. “All eyes will now be on central banks around the world to see how they respond to these market developments, particularly the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan.”In other currencies, the dollar fell to 102.44 yen from 104.80 yen while the euro weakened to $1.1052 from $1.1320.__Kirka reported from London. Kelvin Chan in Hong Kong also contributed to this report. read more