9 June 2019   Leave a comment

India is reporting that dozens have people have died in a heat wave in which temperatures are reaching 50 degrees Celsius (122 F). There are also reports of violence associate with water shortages. Parts of India will receive some relief as the monsoon rains have started, albeit a week late. It is impossible to associate the heat wave with climate change, but the patterns of extreme weather continue and it is likely that climate change has some effect of the persistence of that pattern.

Thousands of people in Hong Kong–some estimates put the number at 1 million–are protesting a new extradition bill proposed by the central government in Beijing. The protesters believe that the bill violates the agreement with Great Britain that guaranteed certain personal liberties after Britain ceded control of Hong Kong back to the Chinese in 1997.

“Hong Kong is a powerhouse of international finance, with a thriving community of foreign businesspeople. It has a vigorous free press, and unlike on the mainland, its 7 million people have the right to demonstrate. Hong Kongers have their own passports. Residents of the city are not subject to China’s oppressive “social credit” system, which assesses each citizen’s trustworthiness with a numerical score and denies travel and other privileges to those who don’t measure up. But the boundary between Hong Kong and the mainland is beginning to blur, as Beijing builds physical connections to Hong Kong Island.

“To make a symbolic statement that Hong Kong is not truly separate. Last fall, authorities opened a 34-mile series of bridges and tunnels linking the big island with mainland China and semi-autonomous Macau. It also built a high-speed rail terminal to connect Hong Kong with the mainland cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou. Democracy activists vow to continue to fight for the proud city’s independence, but Fenella Sung, coordinator of the expatriate group Friends of Hong Kong, says China casts an increasingly dark shadow. ‘People are very concerned about their freedom of expression, because no one can tell you where the red line is,’ Sung says. ‘You’re always under fear. Hong Kong is dying.'”

The protests represent a serious threat to the Beijing government and it is unclear how the tension will be resolved. This protest, however, is not an isolated incident–it replicates in many respects earlier demonstrations that occurred in 2014, demonstrations what became known as the “Umbrella Movement”.

Posted June 9, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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