01.07.2020, 03:29

World news today July 1 Details of Hong Kong new national secutiry law unveiled

President Xi Jinping on Tuesday signed into effect a Hong Kong national security law (Photo: SCMP) 

Chinese President Xi signs Hong Kong national security law into effect

President Xi Jinping on Tuesday signed into effect a Hong Kong national security law, which has been inserted into the city’s mini-constitution.

The law takes effect immediately. 

It effectively bans the sort of protests that have rocked the city for most of the past year, criminalizing subversion and colluding with foreign forces. 

For the few who try to endanger the security of Hong Kong, the law will be a “sword hanging over their heads”, said the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office in Beijing, adding that it would be a “protective talisman” for those who want peace and stability in the city. 

“Do not underestimate the ability of Central and (Hong Kong) agencies to enforce the law strictly,” Beijing’s Hong Kong liaison office said in a statement, adding that no one should regard lightly the “steely constraints” of the law. 

“The Central Government has carefully evaluated and is fully prepared for the situations that may be encountered during the implementation of Hong Kong’s national security law,” it said. 

Footage released by state broadcaster CCTV showed images of the voting process just past 9am on Tuesday, where all 162 lawmakers in attendance voted in favour of the legislation. After it passed, there was a round of applause. 

While the news broke on Hong Kong media mid-morning, Chinese media remained silent on the matter until the official announcement was released at 6pm, nearly nine hours later, The Strait Times reported.

According to SCMP, Beijing’s sweeping new national security law, which Hong Kong adopted on Tuesday, has turned out to be a tougher-than-expected set of rules that will be overseen and enforced by a new mainland agency.

The full draft of the controversial legislation, in six chapters consisting of 66 articles, was released late on Tuesday night after it became effective in the city amid widespread concerns about its implications, despite official reassurances that only a small minority would be targeted.

It lists four categories of offenses – secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security. The maximum penalty for each crime is life imprisonment, although the suggested sentence for some minor offenses is less than three years’ imprisonment.

Suspects can be extradited to mainland China in cases that involve “complicated situations” of interference by foreign forces; cases in which the local government cannot effectively enforce the law and ones where national security is under “serious and realistic threats”.

For those cases in which Beijing exercises jurisdiction, a mainland agency that will be established in Hong Kong to enforce national security will carry out investigations and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate will assign authorities to lead the prosecution. The Supreme People’s Court will assign courts to hear those cases.

Information about the operation of a new national security commission will not be disclosed and its decisions are not subject to any judicial review.

All departments of the local administration must cooperate with the new mainland agency or be held accountable.

The law also grants wide powers to mainland agents stationed in Hong Kong. Under Article 60, the officers and the vehicles they use to carry out their duties are not subject to checks by local law enforcement.

A local police unit will be established to gather intelligence and investigate cases. It can enlist experts outside Hong Kong to assist in enforcing national security work. Local officers can intercept communications of suspects and conduct covert surveillance with the approval of the chief executive.

EU recommends lifting travel restrictions on 15 countries from July 1

The EU Council has officially recommended lifting travel restrictions on 15 countries when external borders reopen from July 1, Euro News said.

An EU diplomatic source confirmed to Euronews earlier Tuesday that the draft list of 15 countries we reported on Monday has enough votes to pass.

The list has already aroused controversy after sources revealed that the United States - the worst-affected country worldwide by COVID-19 with more than 2.6 million cases, is not on the list of approved countries.

China is on the list but only in the event that EU citizens are allowed to travel there as well.

The final list of the countries for which Europe's borders will be open does not include Brazil, the US and Russia.

The EU said the list was decided based on the number of new COVID-19 cases over the last 14 days, the overall trend of COVID-19 cases and government handling of the crisis.

The full list of countries whose nationals will be allowed to enter Europe includes: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay , China .

EU recommends lifting travel restrictions on 15 countries from July 1(Photo: News Europe) 

Pakistan's PIA suspended in Europe over fake pilot licence scandal

Regulators have barred Pakistan International Airlines from the European Union for six months after the state-run carrier grounded nearly a third of its pilots for holding fake or dubious licences, officials said Tuesday.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) told PIA "it is still not sure" if all the remaining pilots are properly qualified, and "they have lost their confidence" in the airline, PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan told AFP.

In a statement, the EASA said it had suspended PIA and a smaller private Pakistan airline "in view of the recent investigation reported on in the Pakistani Parliament which revealed that a large share of pilot licenses issued in Pakistan is invalid".

PIA has only flown limited international flights for months as a result of the coronavirus.

A resumption of domestic operations last month was followed by a crash blamed on pilot error that killed 98 people. PIA had recently resumed bookings for five European capitals cities, including Paris, Milan and Barcelona.

The EU suspension is the latest fallout for PIA after the aviation minister told parliament last week that a government review had found 262 of Pakistan's 860 active pilots hold fake licenses or cheated on exams.

More than half of them were from PIA, and the airline said it would immediately ground 141 of its 434 pilots.

Prime Minister Imran Khan told parliament he would reform PIA and other government institutions. Aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said reforms aimed at restructuring PIA would be completed by the end of the year.

Regulators have barred Pakistan International Airlines from the European Union for six months (Photo: TravelMole) 

Gold prices advance as U.S. consumer confidence beats expectations in June

Gold prices climbed after digesting the news that the U.S. consumer confidence index beat expectations in June.

American consumer confidence index rose to 98.1 in June, from May’s downwardly revised reading of 85.9, the U.S. Conference Board reported Tuesday. Economists were expecting to see the index at a reading of 91.8.

Gold prices first ignored the data and then began rising as bullish traders stepped in to buy the dip with the August Comex gold futures last at $1,788.30 an ounce, up 0.40% on the day.

The Present Situation Index, which describes consumers’ views on current business and labor market conditions, increased to 86.2 from 68.4. On top of that, the Expectations Index, which represents consumers’ short-term outlook on income, business, and labor market, rose to 106.0 from 97.6.

Gold prices climbed after digesting the news that the U.S. consumer confidence index beat expectations in June (Photo: Kitco) 

Even though American consumers are hopeful about the short-term outlook, the overall path to an economic recovery remains uncertain, said Lynn Franco, senior director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board.

Looking at the labor market, the report noted that the outlook on jobs was mixed. The proportion expecting more jobs in the months ahead fell from 39.5% to 38.4%, while those anticipating fewer jobs in the months ahead also declined from 19.9% to 14.2%.

Traders closely watch the consumer optimism survey as it is a potential leading indicator for economic growth. The more optimistic consumers feel, the more likely they are going to spend money and vice versa.

The June consumer confidence survey likely missed the increasing coronavirus cases count at the end of the month, said CIBC Capital Markets senior economist Andrew Grantham, Kitco news reported.