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Sec. Pompeo condemns arrest of three Hong Kong pro-democracy activists, calls for their release

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Thursday morning condemned the arrest of three student pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong by its police force and called for their release in an official press statement.

Over the past few years, mainland China‘s authoritarian regime has substantially furthered its control and influence over the Hong Kong Police Force as well as the city’s government. This has seen millions of Hong Kongers take to the streets to protest what they see as China stripping them of their autonomy, democracy, and basic human rights, and have even battled it out with police units.

“The United States strongly condemns the arrest and detention of three student democracy activists and calls on Hong Kong authorities to release those that remain detained immediately,” Pompeo wrote. “The Beijing-controlled Hong Kong government continues to stifle dissent, repress public opinion, and use law enforcement for political purposes.”

Sec. Pompeo also took to Twitter to express his dismay about the situation, tweeting: “We condemn the Chinese-controlled Hong Kong Police Force’s arrest of three student democracy activists and call for the immediate release of those that remain detained.”

Reporting on the story has seemingly varied between different publications, it should be noted. This is presumably due to the tight-lipped nature of public police reports in Hong Kong and the growing censorship of social media and the press there.

The three pro-democracy activists were arrested Tuesday when they briefly entered the city’s U.S. consulate in an apparent attempt to seek asylum, an unspecified person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News.

The New York Times report, on the other hand, made no mention of them entering the consulate prior to arrest.

The Times reported that one of these activists, a 19-year-old named Tony Chung, was arrested at a coffee shop just across the street from the consulate, according to the U.K.-based activist group Friends of Hong Kong. The group also relayed the presumption that Chung’s plan was to enter the consulate and ask for asylum. Additionally, the paper shared in their report a 35-second video published by The South China Morning Post that shows what appears to be plain-clothes police leading Chung away in an area near the consulate.

The two associates of Chung also arrested on Tuesday were Yanni Ho and William Chan, said another group called Studentlocalism, per The Times. Chung, who co-founded the group, had previously been arrested in July over supposedly publishing a pro-independence social media post that violated the city’s national security law enacted in June. He was subsequently released on bail and had his passport confiscated while being investigated.

Lately, as the human rights situation in Hong Kong continues to deteriorate, many pro-democracy and pro-independence activists have been granted asylum in western countries such as the United States, Germany, and Canada. Complicating matters, however, the U.S. as a policy doesn’t grant asylum via its overseas diplomatic outposts.

China’s actions in Hong Kong have drawn international condemnation and has increasingly become a point of contention between the China and the United States. However, none of these condemnations have evidently slowed down China’s authoritarian behavior, as pro-democracy activists continued to be arrested and censored.

Lastly, in closing his statement, Sec. Pompeo accused China of violating its international human rights obligations.

“The People’s Republic of China has violated its international obligations under the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, while the Chinese Communist Party and its Hong Kong proxies crush the promised autonomy of Hong Kong, and eviscerate Hong Kong’s respect for human rights, including the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression,” he wrote.

“The United States stands with the people of Hong Kong,” he added.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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China Says It’s Ready for Monkeypox and the West Isn’t

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As the Western press is becoming more and more concerned with monkeypox outbreaks, a recent bombshell report shows that Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China manipulated monkeypox to be more contagious in humans. This follows more evidence that the WIV had been experimenting with bat coronaviruses to increasingly infect humans.

But rather than agree to an honest investigation into the WIV and its role in spreading contagion around the world, China is once again trying to sell us an alternative reality. According to Chinese state-run media, it is China that is once again poised to be humanity’s savior and darling when it comes to fighting monkeypox, much like COVID-19. Not only that, but CCP press reporting shows evidence of China having an eerily well advanced infrastructure and gameplan to fight monkeypox. The West in contrast is not prepared, according to China.

Claim #1: China has the Wisdom to Fight Monkeypox

First, Chinese state-run media portray China as in a good position to combat monkeypox due to wisdom gleaned from combating COVID-19 and smallpox. One Global Times article noted that “[i]n the very early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, China has taken the measures of ‘early identification, reporting, isolation, diagnosis and treatment.’ Under such guidance, China has become one of the most successful countries in the COVID fight.” Another Global Times article cites a World Health Organization official as stating that “China’s COVID-19 control measures in place and largely reduced international arrivals minimize the risks of contagion in China.” A third Global Times article, citing “experts,” claims that “China’s successful experience in eliminating smallpox would also help the country act if monkeypox enters China’s borders…”

Claim #2: Chinese Healthcare Infrastructure Is Well Prepared to Deal with Monkeypox

China is well ahead of the game in dealing with monkeypox, according to Chinese state-run media. Chinese experts “suggest preparation of testing and treatment capacities in advance” to proactively combat monkeypox, according to Global Times. And “drug research should start early so that China can still control [monkeypox] should it assume pandemic proportions,” according to China Daily.

China is apparently quite far along in this “preparation” and “research.”

There are “several” Chinese manufacturers that have already made monkeypox nucleic acid test kits, and that these “can be quickly put into mass production and on the domestic market once approved by the government,” according to a second Global Times article.  This article also states that Chinese manufacturer Liferiver Bio-Tech has a nucleic acid test that has already been ordered in China and abroad.

This same article also states that vaccine development faces “no technological problems” and a vaccine can be produced in China in a year if China’s drug administration administers “a rapid special review.” China’s CDC also has already stockpiled “millions” of doses of smallpox vaccine, produced “an emergency response technical plan on monkeypox, stocked monkeypox detection reagents, and conducted training on monkeypox nucleic acid PCR testing for provincial and municipal CDC professionals.”

Mirroring its earlier “mask diplomacy” for COVID-19, it looks like China is beginning to export its healthcare to the world to help combat monkeypox. China’s Sansure Biotech is ready to register its nucleic acid test kit for monkeypox abroad, according to Global Times. And Jiangsu Bioperfectus Technologies has already has its Monkeypox Virus Real Time PCR Kits in the international market, according to Global Times.

Claim #3: The West is Ill-Equipped to Handle Monkeypox

On the other hand, Chinese media portrays the West as ill-equipped to handle monkeypox. For example, according to one Global Times editorial, “[t]he COVID pandemic that killed more than 1 million people in the US has given a tragic lesson to the US and the West, but it still remains to be seen to what extent the US and the West learned from it.” The West’s “conspiracy theories” and “panic” contributed to the “Western countries’ poor response to COVID-19.” That CCP editorial also pontificates that “[i]t is hoped that Western countries hit by monkeypox can do a good job in responding to the outbreak. They should not misjudge the virus with outdated perceptions…”

Claim #4: Current Monkeypox spread originated from outside China

Chinese media avoids the possibility that this current monkeypox outbreak could have originated in China. One Global Times article claims that there have been no cases of monkeypox reported in China, and that China faces a threat from monkeypox due to the cases being “outside known epidemic areas of Africa.” The fact that many countries have now lifted bans against international travel is the culprit for increased risk of monkeypox transmission, according to anonymous source within the Chinese CDC as mentioned in that same article. Another Global Times article stated that China could quarantine inbound international travellers “if necessary.”

The CCP propaganda machine is at it again.  Much like it tries to portray itself as a leader in fighting COVID-19, China is beginning to run a similar propaganda campaign for monkeypox. China is using COVID-19, and increasingly now monkeypox, as vehicles to curry favor and deflect responsibility for spreading contagion around the world, and to grow markets for healthcare technology and supplies.

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