Hong Kong’s Long, Hot Summer of China Discord

Brendan Scott
Hong Kong’s Long, Hot Summer of China Discord

(Bloomberg) -- Want to receive this post in your inbox every day? Sign up for the Balance of Power newsletter, and follow Bloomberg Politics on Twitter and Facebook for more.

Almost two months into Hong Kong’s summer of discontent, positions only seem to be hardening. And Beijing’s under increasing pressure to step in and restore order.From stick-wielding mobs who attacked democracy activists yesterday to a pro-independence group accused of stockpiling explosives on Saturday, Iain Marlow reports that Hong Kong’s latest weekend of unrest is prompting new fears protesters could be headed for a violent confrontation with the China-backed government. Both sides appear ready to escalate with no solution in sight.Protesters raised the stakes when some brought their grievances directly to the Communist Party’s doorstep, in one of the most overt acts of defiance since the handover of the former British colony in 1997. They surrounded China’s local government headquarters, defaced the national emblem, declared a provisional legislature and spray-painted the exterior with slogans like “Liberate Hong Kong” and “Revolution of our time.”Beijing warned that the incident, which ended when police cleared the streets with tear gas, tested the “bottom line” of its agreement to maintain Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Still, there are no easy options, as protesters increasingly direct their ire at one thing Beijing won’t negotiate: its rule over Hong Kong.

Global Headlines

Moment of truth | President Donald Trump will have to decide what to do in his upcoming rallies when supporters chant “Send her back!” — the slogan directed at a Somali-born member of the House of Representatives that many critics call racist. It’ll be an early test of his willingness to tolerate the more extreme elements of his base as he ramps up his bid for a second term in 2020.

Read how Facebook wins big as 2020 Democrats seek donors and debate slots.

Puppet master | The sudden exit of Martin Selmayr — the most powerful man in Brussels — is shrouded in mystery, though it appears he fell victim to the political infighting that propelled his compatriot Ursula von der Leyen to the European Union presidency. Ian Wishart spoke to more than a dozen people and found friend and foe agree his departure will leave a large hole in the EU machinery at a critical time.

Iran fallout | The crisis over Iran’s seizure of a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf is dominating Theresa May’s final days as U.K. prime minister as she faces criticism for failing to protect shipping in the region. She is chairing an emergency meeting of top security officials today, but it’s likely to fall to her successor — expected to be Boris Johnson — to decide on London's long-term response.

Click here to listen to Rosalind Mathieson discuss the crisis over Iran's seizure of the oil tanker as well as Hong Kong and trade.

Anti-establishment sweep | President Volodymyr Zelenskiy dominated Ukraine’s parliamentary ballot, capitalizing on pledges to crack down on corruption, fix the economy and end the conflict with Russian-backed separatists. His Servant of the People party — named after the television show that propelled him to fame — was unexpectedly close to clinching a majority in the assembly for the first time in the former Soviet state's history.

Falling short | Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe claimed his sixth straight win in a national election when his Liberal Democratic Party bloc procured a majority in yesterday’s upper house election. But he failed to capture a two-thirds majority needed to push forward his long-held plans to make the first revisions to the country's pacifist constitution, which was enacted in the aftermath of World War II.

What to Watch

Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez goes to parliament today to seek backing for his bid to form a government, where he'll need support from left-wing rival Podemos and other groups. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said he’ll quit should Johnson become the next U.K. prime minister, joining Justice Secretary David Gauke. The Tory party leadership poll closes today and the results will be announced tomorrow. Senior White House officials invited U.S. technology companies including Intel and Qualcomm to the White House today to discuss a resumption of sales to China's Huawei, which is currently on a trade blacklist.

And finally ... A teenage freelance reporter who worked on the story that revealed unflattering comments by Britain’s then-ambassador to the U.S. about Trump says his reporting wasn’t linked to any pro-Brexit plot, as some “conspiracy theorists” had suggested. Steven Edginton, 19, does admit he also helps run social media accounts for the Brexit Party and suspects he's under surveillance by the security services.

 

--With assistance from Rosalind Mathieson, Michael Winfrey and Tim Ross.

To contact the author of this story: Brendan Scott in Singapore at bscott66@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at rpollard2@bloomberg.net, Karl Maier

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.