The plan announced on Thursday would set up a legal framework and enforcement mechanism for safeguarding national security in Hong Kong. It reignited fear, anger and protests over the creeping influence of China’s authoritarian government.
Details are sketchy, but a broad outline for the new rules is expected to be approved during the annual session of the National People’s Congress, which starts today. It could allow the mainland government to take aim at the large protests that have roiled Hong Kong.
“This is the end of Hong Kong,” said Dennis Kwok, an opposition lawmaker.
What’s next: Protests in Hong Kong, already expected to return as social distance measures eased, will most likely come back more quickly than imagined, our correspondents say.
Background: Beijing was “alarmed by the street violence during last year’s protests, and dismayed by the rout of pro-Beijing candidates in free, open elections for neighborhood councils last November,” Keith Bradsher, our Shanghai bureau chief, explained in an email.
He added: “This legislation is what Hong Kong residents have feared for many years and now seems to be happening.”
Go deeper: Here’s what else you can expect at the annual session of the National People’s Congress. And read our Beijing bureau chief’s perspective in the Back Story.
China, not taking any chances, imposes Wuhan-style lockdown
Cities in the country’s northeast are now under many of the strict lockdown measures that were used months ago to halt the spread of the virus in Wuhan.
The latest outbreak is concentrated in the province of Jilin, where 27 million people live in an area near China’s borders with Russia and North Korea. About 130 cases and two deaths have been reported so far, but experts there fear a “big explosion.”
Apartment complexes have been sealed off, confining residents inside; teams of government workers go door to door rounding up sick people. And widespread testing and quarantining have been put into place.
Bigger picture: The outbreak points to the persistence of the virus in China despite punishing restrictions imposed to contain it — a potential clue for other countries dealing with resurgences.
Khanat Begum, a mother in a village in southern Bangladesh, was cooking when a blast of wind uprooted her neighbor’s tree, crashing it through the roof of her home. Her 13-year-old daughter was also inside the house. They both died.
The cyclone has weakened since it made landfall on Wednesday, but the authorities said it had left a trail of devastation in areas already at risk from the coronavirus outbreak.
Details: Videos on social media showed uprooted trees blocking roads and water cascading down the stairs of residential buildings in Kolkata, one of the hardest-hit places. The runway of the city’s airport was completely underwater and looked like a long pond.
Quotable: West Bengal’s chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, said she had “never seen such a disaster before.” She said the region was in a “warlike” situation and that the loss of lives could surpass the toll of Covid-19 there so far.
If you have 5 minutes, this is worth it
Where baklava makers are essential workers
Every weekend, for over a month now, Istanbul has been under a strict curfew because of the coronavirus. That is with the exception of bakers, who are exempt, because fresh bread is so important for the Turkish table.
And for the month of Ramadan, pastry shops also received an exemption: It turns out that Turks cannot do without their baklava, writes our Istanbul bureau chief, “that heavenly, multilayered, flaky pastry, bound up with nuts and syrup, that is the nation’s favorite sweet.”
Here’s what else is happening
U.S. college admissions scandal: The actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, a fashion designer, have agreed to plead guilty to charges that they conspired to get their two daughters admitted to a university as crew recruits.
Boris Johnson: A British police watchdog agency said that it would not conduct a criminal investigation into the British prime minister. At issue were claims that as mayor of London he had done official favors for an American businesswoman.
Saudi Arabia: A Saudi intelligence officer living in Canada is under mounting pressure to return to the kingdom, where security forces have recently arrested members of his family. The officer, Saad Aljabri, was a staunch ally of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s chief rival.
Snapshot: Above, Spike Lee, who talked to our reporter by video call from his New York home about “Da 5 Bloods,” his new movie about the Vietnam War. Mr. Lee has spent nearly four decades and more than 30 films reckoning with the jagged course of American history.
What we’re listening to: “‘The Wire’: Way Down in the Hole.” Gilbert Cruz, our Culture editor, writes: “This podcast, in which the former ESPN host Jemele Hill and the former TMZ personality Van Lathan break down each episode of the show, makes me feel like I’m rewatching when I’m really just washing the dishes while wearing AirPods.”
Now, a break from the news
And now for the Back Story on …
China’s big political event
Communist Party leaders will open a series of meetings today that will set the agenda for the next year, as President Xi Jinping begins the task of pulling China out of economic crisis while avoiding a resurgence of the coronavirus. Steven Lee Myers, our Beijing bureau chief, talked about these challenges.
What are you watching today?
The main thing that everybody is going to look for is a discussion of how they intend to pull out of the economic nose-dive the entire world is in. It’s watched very closely for the economic growth projections — which have been, until now, pretty rosy for the last couple of decades. I don’t think anyone expects that they can even achieve economic growth this year.
A major thing that will come out of this is the sense of the tone that the government sets. Even if they’ve done better than other countries in handling this virus, it’s still an enormous challenge for the party — probably as great as anything since Tiananmen Square.
Officials more or less had this compact with people that the party was making them wealthier and prosperous. With the virus now and the economic consequences, as well as the tensions with the U.S., where does that leave China, and what message are they going to send to people at a moment of great crisis?
Many American journalists, including you and other New York Times reporters, were recently expelled from the country. From outside of China, how are you and others adjusting to covering this event and China in general?
Not being there complicates it — you can’t go ask people questions as they come in. This year, because of the virus, no one can. They’re really restricting the access of the news media, ostensibly for health reasons. We’re left watching what we can in the live feeds from the speeches and news conferences.
What role are U.S.-China tensions playing in this?
There has always been this tension in China toward the U.S., which is that the U.S. is sort of a hegemon that’s interfering in China’s affairs all the time, in places like Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet.
For the last 40 years of their relationship, there was a bipartisan sense that you had to trade and work with China. I feel like the veneer has been stripped away now.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
— Melina and Carole
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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