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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Politics and Government"

D.C.’s Mayor Fights for Control of Her City at Trump’s Front Door

Westlake Legal Group d-c-s-mayor-fights-for-control-of-her-city-at-trumps-front-door D.C.’s Mayor Fights for Control of Her City at Trump’s Front Door washington dc United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Police Brutality, Misconduct and Shootings Lafayette Square (Washington, DC) George Floyd Protests (2020) Floyd, George (d 2020) Federal-State Relations (US) Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (2020) Bowser, Muriel E Black Lives Matter Movement

WASHINGTON — After federal law enforcement agents and military troops lined up for days against protesters outside the White House, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser of Washington responded emphatically on Friday: She had city workers paint “Black Lives Matter” in giant yellow letters down a street she has maintained command of that is at the center of the confrontations.

The strong poke to President Trump within sight of his home underscored a larger power struggle between the two leaders over which one — the Democratic head of the District of Columbia or the president headquartered there — should decide who controls the streets that Mr. Trump has promised to dominate during protests over the killing last month of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

Ms. Bowser, a Washington native long steeped in city politics, again called on Mr. Trump on Friday to pull back all federal law enforcement officers and National Guard troops patrolling the city, including unidentified agents in riot gear, and said she would stop paying for the hotels for the Utah National Guard that she does not want in the city to begin with.

She renamed as Black Lives Matter Plaza the area in front of Lafayette Square where federal officials used chemical spray and smoke grenades on Monday to clear protesters ahead of Mr. Trump’s photo op at a historic church that faces the road that Ms. Bowser had painted. (The money for the paint job came out of the city’s mural program, city officials said.)

“We’re here peacefully as Americans on American streets,” Ms. Bowser said at the scene, standing near a sign reading, “Support D.C. Statehood.” “On D.C. streets.”

Mr. Trump, who has tried to appeal to his base by proclaiming himself a president of law and order, escalated the fight, calling Ms. Bowser “incompetent” on Twitter.

Ms. Bowser “who’s budget is totally out of control and is constantly coming back to us for ‘handouts,’ is now fighting with the National Guard, who saved her from great embarrassment,” Mr. Trump wrote. “If she doesn’t treat these men and women well, then we’ll bring in a different group of men and women!”

Ms. Bowser met this with her usual cool shrug. Asked about the president calling her incompetent, she said, “You know the thing about the pot and the kettle?”

Still, Trump officials appeared determined to make the standoff personal. Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, further belittled Ms. Bowser on Twitter by comparing her request to reduce the number of federal troops in Washington with the mentally ill wanting less medication.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_173234343_a87c86b7-328f-47b2-bfc5-3ad74ab66889-articleLarge D.C.’s Mayor Fights for Control of Her City at Trump’s Front Door washington dc United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Politics and Government Police Brutality, Misconduct and Shootings Lafayette Square (Washington, DC) George Floyd Protests (2020) Floyd, George (d 2020) Federal-State Relations (US) Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (2020) Bowser, Muriel E Black Lives Matter Movement
Credit…Michael A. McCoy for The New York Times

While Mr. Trump has clashed with governors and mayors in recent months over his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and deployment of the National Guard in their streets during nationwide protests of police killings, his face-off with Ms. Bowser pits the president in his current home, the international symbol of the United States, against the city in which it sits, one that lacks the self-governing authorities of other states and cities.

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Updated 2020-06-06T00:10:56.561Z

While the city’s mayors have long pushed for statehood — Washington has no voting representation in Congress, a fact denounced on its license plates — Ms. Bowser has been a particularly forceful voice in favor of rights and autonomy for the district as its population and federal tax contributions have swelled.

This week, as the mayor managed the federal takeover and huge protests in the city’s central business district in the middle of a pandemic, she had seen enough.

“Our approach is three-pronged,” John Falcicchio, her chief of staff, said in an interview. “We are going to say what we think is the right thing to happen, we are going to question their tactics, and we are going to show that we are actually in control.”

Mr. Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr have deployed the full arsenal of federal government law enforcement personnel, including officers from the Bureau of Prisons and Immigration and Customs Enforcement as well as Border Patrol agents.

This week, the Trump administration also floated using an obscure provision to take control of Ms. Bowser’s Metropolitan Police Department, but did not follow through.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The federal authorities — which also include officers from Homeland Security Investigations, the Secret Service, the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Protective Service — are expected to maintain their presence through Saturday, when thousands of demonstrators plan to march to the White House.

Ms. Bowser, with the support of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has accused the Trump administration of escalating tensions with demonstrators, including by positioning officers without identifying insignia face-to-face with protesters.

“These additional, unidentified units are operating outside of established of established chains of command,” Ms. Bowser wrote in a letter to Mr. Trump that her office released Friday. “This multiplicity of forces can breed dangerous confusion.”

The mayor also planned to write to governors who had deployed National Guard troops to Washington, asking them to call the units home.

Before Mr. Floyd’s killing, Ms. Bowser and Mr. Trump had engaged in cordial dialogue. The two had at least two phone calls in recent months to discuss coronavirus funding for Washington, according to a person familiar with the conversations, who said the two leaders got along during them.

After one of their calls, Mr. Trump announced on Twitter that Washington’s transit system would be receiving more than $876 million in federal funding, congratulating Ms. Bower and calling it “a big boost.”

She responded with a tweet thanking the president for the call, but noted her administration would continue seeking an additional $775 million in stimulus funding “to make DC whole.”

But shortly after Mr. Trump lashed out at Ms. Bowser on Friday on Twitter, a lobbyist with close ties to the president announced the termination of a contract with the city government.

The lobbyist, Brian Ballard, a top fund-raiser for Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, had entered into an agreement on May 15 to press Congress for additional coronavirus relief funding for Washington, according to a filing posted Friday.

While the District of Columbia is often treated like a state for the purposes of federal funding allocation, it was instead treated like a territory in the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill signed by Mr. Trump in March. The classification meant Washington received only about $500 million, compared with a minimum of $1.25 billion allocated to each state, despite Washington’s being harder hit by the virus than most states. Its population of 705,000 is also larger than two states’.

Mr. Ballard’s firm had been pushing for Washington to retroactively receive the $750 million difference and to be treated like a state in any future coronavirus stimulus legislation, according to a person familiar with the effort.

“We are no longer in a position to deliver effective representation,” the firm wrote, “so we have respectfully withdrawn our engagement.”

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The federal government has great control of the District of Columbia, an artifact of the Constitution that was updated in the 1970s with a federal law that gave the city partial autonomy, but allowed Congress to have vast powers over its laws and budget. Its National Guard is the only one out of the 54 states and territories that reports to the president.

Congress has invoked its will on the city several times over the years, blocking its needle exchange program at the height of the AIDS crisis, prohibiting the city from using its money to pay for abortions for poor women, pressing a charter school agenda on its education system and trying to block the city from requiring that most residents have health insurance. After Washington’s residents voted in 2014 to legalize the possession of marijuana — the same election that sent Ms. Bowser to the mayor’s office — Congress moved to nullify that.

During Ms. Bowser’s tenure, the city has continued along a rapid path of gentrification and has seen increases in crime and startling inequities in its school system, housing market and employment. The racial disparities in death rates between black and white residents are among the highest in the nation. Critics have accused Ms. Bowser of being too closely aligned with big developers; the city’s government, like the rest of the Democratic Party, is increasingly fractured between newer progressive members and those like Ms. Bowser who remain boosters of the business community.

And on Friday, the Washington chapter of Black Lives Matter tweeted that the mayor’s move to paint the mural in front of the White House was “a performative distraction from real policy changes.”

“We are still a city that is still deeply inequitable,” said Markus Batchelor, a candidate for the City Council who represents one of Washington’s poorest neighborhoods on its State Board of Education. “We invest more on the Police Department and corrections than on programs related to jobs, youth and mental health combined. So those are the things that really don’t translate in these public overtures of Black Lives Matter.”

Emily Badger contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Administration to Block Chinese Airlines From Flying to the U.S.

Westlake Legal Group 03chinaflights2-facebookJumbo Trump Administration to Block Chinese Airlines From Flying to the U.S. United States Politics and Government United Airlines Trump, Donald J Transportation Department (US) Politics and Government Embargoes and Sanctions Delta Air Lines Inc Coronavirus Reopenings Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) China Airlines and Airplanes

The Trump administration on Wednesday said it planned to block Chinese airlines from flying into or out of the United States starting on June 16, after the Chinese government effectively prevented U.S. airlines from resuming service between the countries.

The dispute stems from a March 26 decision by China’s aviation regulators that limited foreign carriers to one flight per week based on the flight schedules they had in place earlier that month. But all three American airlines that fly between China and the United States had stopped service to the country by then because of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, the Chinese government had effectively banned them from flying there at all, even though airlines from that country continue to fly to American cities.

As ground zero of the pandemic, China was the first country to see aviation grind to a halt this year. In January, American and Chinese carriers operated about 325 weekly flights between the two countries. By mid-Feburary, only 20 remained, all of them run by Chinese airlines.

The March decision became a problem only in recent weeks, as Delta Air Lines and United Airlines had hoped to resume flights to China starting this month. Both carriers appealed to the Civil Aviation Authority of China, but did not receive a response. The U.S. also pressed Chinese officials to change their position during a call on May 14, arguing that the country was in violation of a 1980 agreement that governs flights between the two countries and aims to ensure that rules “equally apply to all domestic and foreign carriers” in both countries.

China’s aviation authority told American officials that it was considering amending its rule, but it has not said “definitively” when that might happen, the Transportation Department said in a statement. “In light of these facts, which present a situation in which the Chinese aviation authorities have authorized no U.S. carrier scheduled passenger operations between the United States and China, we conclude that these circumstances require the department’s action to restore a competitive balance.”

Tensions between the United States and China have escalated sharply in recent weeks as the countries scuffle over the origin of the pandemic and China’s recent move to tighten its authority over Hong Kong, a semiautonomous city. With the presidential election just five months away, President Trump and his campaign have taken a much tougher stand against China, blaming its government for allowing coronavirus to turn into a pandemic and wreck the American economy.

In mid-May, the Trump administration expanded restrictions on Huawei, the Chinese telecom firm, and blocked a government pension fund from investing in China. Last Friday, Mr. Trump announced that he was beginning the process of ending the American government’s special relationship with Hong Kong, and that his administration would place sanctions on officials responsible for Beijing’s rollback of liberties in the territory.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 2, 2020

    • Will protests set off a second viral wave of coronavirus?

      Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

    • How do we start exercising again without hurting ourselves after months of lockdown?

      Exercise researchers and physicians have some blunt advice for those of us aiming to return to regular exercise now: Start slowly and then rev up your workouts, also slowly. American adults tended to be about 12 percent less active after the stay-at-home mandates began in March than they were in January. But there are steps you can take to ease your way back into regular exercise safely. First, “start at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before Covid,” says Dr. Monica Rho, the chief of musculoskeletal medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Thread in some preparatory squats, too, she advises. “When you haven’t been exercising, you lose muscle mass.” Expect some muscle twinges after these preliminary, post-lockdown sessions, especially a day or two later. But sudden or increasing pain during exercise is a clarion call to stop and return home.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      More than 40 million people — the equivalent of 1 in 4 U.S. workers — have filed for unemployment benefits since the pandemic took hold. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


“The Chinese government has continually violated its promises to us and so many other nations,” the president said at the time. “The world is now suffering as a result of the malfeasance of the Chinese government.”

Ana Swanson contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Black Americans Have a Message for Democrats: Not Being Trump Is Not Enough

COLUMBIA, S.C. — In an on-camera address after a week of destructive protests, former vice president Joseph R. Biden Jr. pleaded with his audience to imagine life for black people in America. Imagine, he said, “if every time your husband or son, wife or daughter left the house, you feared for their safety.” Imagine the police called on you for sitting in Starbucks.

“The anger and frustration and the exhaustion, it’s undeniable,” he said.

Exhaustion. For many black Americans across the country, what a year this month has been. The coronavirus pandemic has continued to disproportionately kill black people, and a spate of high profile killings in recent months in Georgia, Kentucky, and Minnesota, the latter two at the hands of the police, led to widespread demonstrations nationwide.

Protests shook more than three dozen cities on Saturday as crowds expressed outrage over the death of George Floyd, a black security guard who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis. Demonstrators shut down freeways, set fires and battled police batons and tear gas, the pain and frustration of the moment spilling out into the streets.

In Columbia, the city where Mr. Biden delivered his victory speech after the South Carolina primary just over three months ago, demonstrators on Saturday said they were demanding more than what it seemed like an election in November would deliver. Not only justice for the death of George Floyd, but change in political and economic power that would prevent the death of another black person in police custody, another brutal video going viral.

“I’m tired of coming out here,” said Devean Moon, a 21-year-old Columbia resident, one of hundreds who participated in the peaceful protests in the city. “I’m tired of feeling forced to do all this.”

Credit…Sean Rayford for The New York Times
Credit…Sean Rayford for The New York Times

It dawned on Sierra Moore, 24, who attended the protests carrying a homemade sign that read “No Justice, No Peace,” that she and her grandmother have been protesting the same issues over the course of a century.

She looked at the racially diverse group of thousands, which gathered for a short program on the State House steps before leading a march to the local police station.

Next to her was another sign: “Respect my existence or expect my resistance.”

“I just don’t think that’s how change happens,” Ms. Moore said of voting. “They’ve been telling us to do that for so long — and we’ve done it — and look at everything that’s still going on.”

Her words — expressing a sentiment shared by her peers — serve notice to politicians, civil rights groups and Mr. Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee who has urged unity amid the frustration. “If you want change in America, go and register to vote,” said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, but interviews with activists and leading Democratic figures including Stacey Abrams of Georgia, the longtime civil rights leader and former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, and Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, flipped that typical framework: If Democrats want people to vote, party leaders need to listen to why people are angry.

Ms. Abrams described the events of the past week as what happens when people are desperate for “their pain to be validated.”

“You cannot motivate someone to a behavior that they don’t believe will actually bring change,” she said. “We have to start by saying what you feel and what you fear is real.”

Mr. Biden has attempted to strike this balance. He made clear during his recent remarks that he had spoken to Mr. Floyd’s family. He talked about the country needing to confront the “uncomfortable truths” of racism.

“The very soul of America is at stake,” he said, tying the tension between the police and black communities to removing President Trump from the White House.

But the moment may still test Mr. Biden’s priorities, as a weary black electorate desires far greater change than the promise of a return to normalcy that has fueled his campaign. The Democratic Party is the political home of most black Americans. The former vice president, one of the Senate architects of the modern criminal justice system, cannot confront racism without addressing systemic inequalities, and he cannot address systemic inequalities by simply returning to a pre-Trump America.

“Our needs aren’t moderate,” Mr. Jackson said in a recent interview. “The absence of Trump is not enough.”

Mr. Biden’s win in South Carolina was a turning point for his once-flailing campaign. His support came from across all demographics, but his particular strength was older black voters — people who said the community’s familiarity with and trust of Mr. Biden, combined with his perceived ability to beat Mr. Trump, earned their backing.

To win in November, and to deliver on his promise of American unity, Mr. Biden is likely to need more than the coalition that brought him his primary victory. And to engage younger voters, he’ll need to offer more than the promise of ousting Mr. Trump as an answer to current despair.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172935528_e26db12b-e101-4778-b2eb-44643a30f52c-articleLarge Black Americans Have a Message for Democrats: Not Being Trump Is Not Enough Trump, Donald J Pressley, Ayanna Presidential Election of 2020 Politics and Government Police Brutality, Misconduct and Shootings Jackson, Jesse L discrimination Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Columbia (SC) Civil Rights and Liberties Black People Biden, Joseph R Jr Abrams, Stacey Y
Credit…Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune, via Associated Press

On the policy front, a task force with criminal justice experts that supported Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has already been convened. Mr. Jackson, who supported Mr. Sanders in the primary, said Mr. Biden is “a consensus builder” and, if surrounded by the right people, the quality should serve him well.

But Mr. Biden also must minimize mistakes, said Mayor Stephen Benjamin of Columbia, alluding to the recent controversy in which Mr. Biden apologized after saying “you ain’t black” to black people uncertain whether to support him or Mr. Trump.

“The greatest asset that every candidate has, for better or for worse, is authenticity,” Mr. Benjamin said. He views authenticity as a prerequisite to leveling with people who are used to being disappointed. “I do believe, that if the vice president is authentically Joe, a legitimately good man who cares, I think people will gravitate to that authenticity.”

Engaging with a community that feels disaffected by the political system can be difficult. Mr. Trump has made a public show of trying to coax black Americans away from the Democratic Party, though he inadvertently made clear in comments to reporters on Saturday how little progress he has made: “MAGA is Make America Great Again,” he said, discussing his voting base. “By the way, they love African-American people, they love black people. MAGA loves the black people.”

Last October, Mr. Trump was in Columbia to address a forum on policing and criminal justice — many of the issues protesters are taking to the streets over — held at Benedict College, a historically black institution. He spoke a day ahead of some of the 2020 Democratic candidates, including Mr. Biden.

“The Democratic policies have let African-Americans down and taken them for granted,” Mr. Trump said then.

Progressive black leaders are extremely critical of Mr. Trump, as are many black voters. But they also believe that Democrats have sometimes been their greatest obstacle in addressing police brutality and racial inequality.

“Part of the reason these are systemic inequalities is that they transcend not only party, but time,” said Ms. Abrams, who is among those being vetted by Mr. Biden as a potential running mate. She also noted that:“We have to be very intentional about saying this is not about one moment or one murder — but the entire infrastructure of justice.”

Ms. Pressley, one of the House members who introduced a resolution to condemn police brutality, racial profiling, and the excessive use of force in Congress this past week, pointed to the confluence of issues facing black communities: a public health crisis, an economic crisis and, with the threat of police violence, “just trying to stay alive.”

Economic experts have predicted that even as the country faces a nationwide downturn, black communities may be hit particularly hard. Access to capital will dry up more quickly, especially for black business owners, and a coming “avalanche of evictions” could displace black renters across the country.

Ms. Pressley, an insurgent progressive in 2018 who beat a Democratic incumbent partly with a strategy to engage nontypical voters, said if elected officials want to speak to people’s pain, they have to understand the “deficit of trust” they’re operating under.

“People don’t participate, not because they’re ignorant and they don’t know enough,” she said. “It’s because they know too much. They live it every day.”

At Saturday’s march in South Carolina’s capital, thousands gathered at a state capitol rich with its own racial back story. The Old Carolina State House was burned to the ground during the Civil War, and the new building includes monuments to 19th-century state figures who were open racists — such as Dr. J. Marion Sims, a pioneer in the field of surgery who experimented on enslaved black women, and Benjamin Tillman, a former U.S. senator and South Carolina governor who spoke positively about lynch mobs that killed black residents.

Credit…Sean Rayford for The New York Times

On Saturday, the state house steps were filled with many black South Carolinians, demanding the right to live without fear, an echo of what some people fought for more than a century ago, in the days of Mr. Sims and Mr. Tillman.

“Clearly our voices are not enough,” said Kayla Brabham, a 28-year-old student at Benedict College who skipped Mr. Trump’s speech at her school.

“It’s not just the last couple years or months, it’s the whole time I’ve been alive,” she said. “We should not have to come out here to make y’all feel like we’re important.”

Even her name, she said, was a reminder of the country’s legacy of black violence.

“B-R-A-B-H-A-M, ” she said, spelling it out. “We got that from our slave masters. My great-great-grandmother was a slave in Hampton, South Carolina.”

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Beijing Threatens Hong Kong’s Companies and Workers

HONG KONG — China and its allies are using threats and pressure to get business to back Beijing’s increasingly hard-line stance toward Hong Kong, leading companies to muzzle or intimidate workers who speak out in protest.

Leung Chun-ying, Hong Kong’s former top leader, on Friday called for a boycott of HSBC, the London bank, because it had not publicly backed Beijing’s push to enact a new national security law covering the territory. “Neither China nor Hong Kong owes HSBC anything,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “HSBC’s businesses in China can be replaced overnight by banks from China and from other countries.”

Days earlier, a union representing financial workers filed complaints with Hong Kong financial regulators alleging that two Chinese banks had pressured their employees to sign a petition supporting the law. “Such behavior by a supervisor to compel employees to take political sides could be considered abusive,” the union wrote in letters to local officials.

Lawyers, bankers, professors and other professionals interviewed by The New York Times described a growing culture of fear in offices across the city. Employees face pressure to support pro-Beijing candidates in local elections and echo the Chinese government’s official line. Those who speak out can be punished or even forced out.

China and the United States are clashing over the future of Hong Kong, and global businesses are caught in the middle. President Trump on Friday said he would begin rolling back the special trade and financial privileges that the United States extends to Hong Kong after Chinese leaders pushed through the plan to enact the national security law, which critics fear will curtail the city’s independent judicial system and civil liberties.

Hong Kong’s success as a global financial hub stems from its status as a bridge between China’s economic miracle and the rest of the world. Now that balance is looking increasingly precarious.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_167620722_94931d10-3153-4573-9427-a26524456ee3-articleLarge Beijing Threatens Hong Kong's Companies and Workers Politics and Government Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong Freedom of the Press Freedom of Speech and Expression Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Courts and the Judiciary China Boycotts Banking and Financial Institutions
Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

“We’ve seen a rapid deterioration in free expression in Hong Kong since the anti-government protests began,” said Jason Ng, a former lawyer for BNP Paribas, the French bank.


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    Understand the Current Hong Kong Protests

    Updated May 27, 2020

    • Where we left off

      In the summer of 2019, Hong Kong protesters began fighting a rule that would allow extraditions to China. These protests eventually broadened to protect Hong Kong’s autonomy from China. The protests wound down when pro-democracy candidates notched a stunning victory in Hong Kong elections in November, in what was seen as a pointed rebuke of Beijing and its allies in Hong Kong.

      Late in 2019, the protests then quieted.

    • How it’s different this time

      Those peaceful mass rallies that occurred in June of 2019 were pointed against the territory leadership of Hong Kong. Later, they devolved into often-violent clashes between some protesters and police officers and lasted through November 2019. The current protests are aimed at mainland China.

    • What’s happening now

      This latest round of demonstrations in Hong Kong has been fueled largely by China’s ruling Communist Party move this month to impose new national security legislation for Hong Kong.

      To China, the rules are necessary to protect the country’s national sovereignty. To critics, they further erode the relative autonomy granted to the territory after Britain handed it back to China in 1997.


Mr. Ng was punished by his former employer for writing his political views on his Facebook page, using the phrase “monkey see, monkey do” to complain about pro-Chinese demonstrators. The comments, which were later taken down, were heavily criticized in China’s state media and on the Chinese internet. BNP apologized and pledged to take immediate action. Mr. Ng then left the bank.

“There is this awful environment now,” said Mr. Ng, who has co-authored a book about the pressure in Hong Kong called “Unfree Speech.” “The whole banking industry, at least Chinese-funded banks, they face quite a lot of pressure from China.”

Something similar happened to Ka-chung Law, a high-profile economist at Bank of Communications, a state-backed Chinese bank. For two decades, Mr. Law said he never felt any topic was off limits.

Last summer, as violence flared, Mr. Law was told not to talk about the role that the political chaos was having on the local economy. It was a difficult proposition. He could see it was having a direct impact.

Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

Then in early October, Mr. Law said, he emailed an article to his team that was critical of China and discussed ways in which the United States could punish Beijing economically. One of his bosses called him in.

The bank distanced itself from the article. Mr. Law’s note had come from his work email, therefore implicating the bank. “That day I was told, ‘This is your view,’” he said. “I was not the author of the article, but I didn’t want to argue.”

Mr. Law said he was told to resign. He did. “I don’t want to stay in that kind of environment,” he said, “and I don’t think I deserve to stay in the position if I keep my mouth shut.” The bank declined to comment.

The silencing of views different from Beijing’s on the protests can be both subtle and overt.

Gios Choong works for a Chinese state-backed company doing quarantine checks and quality control inspection at the Hong Kong border. When he first started out more than two decades ago, most of his colleagues were Hong Kongers, and the atmosphere was more open, he said. But in recent years, resentment built up as Hong Kong employees like himself were replaced with mainlanders.

These days, when conversation at work turns to the protests, managers label them as riots. Mr. Choong, who is a supporter of the pro-democracy protests, said he found it alienating.

“My boss said to me, ‘Why do they go out?’” referring to the protesters. “‘You eat from China. Your food is from China. The water comes from China. So why?’”

On the Friday before Hong Kong held district council elections in November, Mr. Choong’s manager approached him with a request. Vote No. 2, he was told. That was the number for the pro-Beijing candidate in his district. He voted for the pro-democracy candidate instead. The pro-democracy camp swept the election.

Increasingly, multinationals have found themselves in Beijing’s censorship cross hairs. The N.B.A. was thrust into the harsh spotlight last year after the general manager of the Houston Rockets wrote a message on Twitter in support of the Hong Kong protesters. State media acted swiftly in retaliation, canceling the broadcast of preseason games.

Coach, Givenchy and Versace have also been forced to apologize for selling clothes with designs that suggested Hong Kong was separate from China.

Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

Ming-tak Ng, a professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, has witnessed firsthand the fury of ordinary Chinese citizens.

Until August, many of his weekends were devoted to teaching part-time M.B.A. students in the mainland. Then he was photographed at a protest with Jimmy Lai, the owner of a media group who is critical of China.

When his students saw it, they wrote to university officials to complain about Mr. Ng’s participation, requesting in a letter that the university delete “any information about him during the process of our study and in our graduation thesis” and threatening to boycott events where Mr. Ng was in attendance.

After discussing the situation with the university, Mr. Ng agreed to stop teaching at the Chinese campuses. “I don’t blame them,” Mr. Ng said. “In China, everyone is under a tightly controlled system. I appreciate that they did this to protect themselves politically.”

Christina Wu, a spokeswoman for the university, confirmed Mr. Ng’s change of schedule but said it was done “purely based on academic considerations.” She said the university did not delete any information about Mr. Ng.

This week, as Beijing pushed on with plans to implement its national security law in Hong Kong, pro-Beijing groups fanned out across the city in search of support. According to some local workers, their bosses helped in the effort.

Managers at Chiyu Banking Corporation, a local bank owned by Xiamen International Bank, sent a WhatsApp message to employees asking them to sign a petition, according to a complaint filed by the Hong Kong Financial Industry Employees General Union. Once they had done so, the complaint said, they were told to screenshot their signature and share it.

Similar instructions were sent to employees at Wing Lung Bank, according to the union. Workers at other banks said they had received similar messages, said Ka-wing Kwok, the union’s chairman, but the union was unable to verify them.

Chiyu Banking and Wing Lung Bank did not respond to requests for comment. Hong Kong regulators declined to comment.

“Such behavior caused a chilling effect among employees,” the union wrote in letters to the Hong Kong authorities.

“Employees could not help worrying that if they do not obey the instructions of their superiors, they might either be singled out by the company or their personal work performance evaluation would be affected in the future.”

Cao Li contributed research.

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‘It’s Not The Virus’: Mexico’s Broken Hospitals Become Killers, Too

The senseless deaths torment doctors and nurses the most: The man who died because an inexperienced nurse unplugged his ventilator. The patient who died from septic shock because no one monitored his vital signs. The people whose breathing tubes clogged after being abandoned in their hospital beds for hours on end.

In Mexico, it’s not just the coronavirus that is claiming lives. The country’s broken health system is killing people as well.

Years of neglect had already hobbled Mexico’s health care system, leaving it dangerously short of doctors, nurses and equipment to fight a virus that has overwhelmed far richer nations.

Now, the pandemic is making matters much worse, sickening more than 11,000 Mexican health workers — one of the highest rates in the world — and depleting the already thin ranks in hospitals. Some hospitals have lost half their staff to illness and absenteeism. Others are running low on basic equipment, like heart monitors.

The shortages have had devastating consequences for patients, according to interviews with health workers across the country. Several doctors and nurses recounted dozens of preventable deaths in hospitals — the result of neglect or mistakes that never should have happened.

“We have had many of what we call ‘dumb deaths,’” said Pablo Villaseñor, a doctor at the General Hospital in Tijuana, the center of an outbreak. “It’s not the virus that is killing them. It’s the lack of proper care.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group 00Virus-Mexico-Healthcare-05-articleLarge ‘It’s Not The Virus’: Mexico’s Broken Hospitals Become Killers, Too Workplace Hazards and Violations Politics and Government Nursing and Nurses Mexico Lopez Obrador, Andres Manuel hospitals Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Credit…Meghan Dhaliwal for The New York Times

Patients die because they’re given the wrong medications, or the wrong dose, health workers say. The protective gloves at some hospitals are so old that they crack the moment they’re slipped on, nurses say. People are often not sedated properly, then wake up and yank out their own breathing tubes, hospital employees say.

Adriana de la Cruz, a nurse at Dr. Belisario Domínguez hospital in the southeast corner of Mexico City, said the overstretched and often undertrained work force has made glaring errors — at great cost.

“People have died because of a lack of medical attention and because of negligence,” said Ms. de la Cruz. “These patients would have a better chance of surviving if we could offer better care.”

The Mexican government spends less on health care as a percent of its economy than most countries in the Western Hemisphere, according to the World Bank, and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador presided over spending cuts even after acknowledging his country had 200,000 fewer health care workers than it needed.

When the epidemic hit Mexico in March, many hospitals sent front-line workers to confront the deluge of cases without any protective equipment or training. Some nurses say they were told not to wear masks to avoid causing panic. Many say they were forced to buy face shields and goggles themselves.

The fallout has been severe. About one in five confirmed cases in Mexico are health workers — a greater share than in the United States, Italy or China.

Mexico’s outbreak is growing quickly and shows no signs of slowing. Reported cases and deaths have risen every week for the last couple of months, hitting Mexico City and Baja California, which includes Tijuana, particularly hard.

After a Times analysis found evidence that federal authorities were underreporting fatalities, a top federal health official publicly conceded that the government does not have an accurate count of deaths caused by the virus.

At Dr. Villaseñor’s hospital, there are so few doctors left that during some shifts, critically-ill patients are going eight hours without anyone checking on them, he said.

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“You hear of one patient dying because he didn’t get the proper care — and then another one and another one — and you try not to become paralyzed,” added Dr. Villaseñor, a rheumatologist who said he had to learn how to suit up to treat coronavirus patients by watching a video on YouTube.

As Mexico’s population grew during the last decade, the government kept hospital funding low, devoting less than 3 percent of its national output to health care. World Bank data shows that by 2017, well before Mr. López Obrador took office, only two countries in Central and South America spent less on health than Mexico as a share of their economies: Guatemala and Venezuela.

Credit…Meghan Dhaliwal for The New York Times

“Administration after administration gave lip service to the issue of health, but it never showed up as a priority in the budget,” Judith Méndez, an analyst at the Economic and Budgetary Research Center, said of Mexico’s successive governments.

The Mexican government did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Local health ministers in Baja California and Mexico City also declined to comment.

Patients have filed thousands of complaints with the country’s human rights commission about negligence in hospitals in recent years. And the quality of care only diminished further after hospital workers in Mexico endured some of the nation’s first coronavirus outbreaks.

Many countries have struggled with doctors and nurses falling ill, but in Mexico the problem is particularly bad. The government’s data suggests around one in five confirmed coronavirus cases in the country are health workers.

“If health workers are getting sick at this rate, bottom line is you risk not having a health work force to look after people,” said Howard Catton, the chief executive of the International Council of Nurses.

Ms. de la Cruz, the nurse in Mexico City, said that her hospital initially instructed employees not to wear masks around a patient until the person tested positive for coronavirus.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated May 27, 2020

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      Over 38 million people have filed for unemployment since March. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.

    • Is ‘Covid toe’ a symptom of the disease?

      There is an uptick in people reporting symptoms of chilblains, which are painful red or purple lesions that typically appear in the winter on fingers or toes. The lesions are emerging as yet another symptom of infection with the new coronavirus. Chilblains are caused by inflammation in small blood vessels in reaction to cold or damp conditions, but they are usually common in the coldest winter months. Federal health officials do not include toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms, but some dermatologists are pushing for a change, saying so-called Covid toe should be sufficient grounds for testing.

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

    • How can I help?

      Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities.


“You waited three or four days to see if the patient tested positive, and in the meantime you got infected,” said Ms. de la Cruz, who noted that 80 of her colleagues have gotten sick.

Some hospitals did prepare early for the virus, which swept the United States and Europe before outbreaks flared in Mexico. In Monterrey, doctors said protocols to shield workers were put in place months ago. Rodolfo Ruiz, an infectious disease specialist, says he feels protected at his public hospital in Mexicali, even as hospital beds fill up.

But the missteps in some of the hardest hit cities have brought overrun hospitals to a breaking point, workers say. Doctors and nurses have staged protests outside their hospitals in at least a dozen states, according to local news reports. Some doctors and nurses have refused to treat coronavirus patients.

Rosario Luna, a nurse at the José María Morelos and Pavón hospital in Mexico City, described treating Covid-19 patients with broken heart monitors and faulty suction machines.

Credit…Meghan Dhaliwal for The New York Times

At Dr. Carlos Mac Gregor hospital in Mexico City, Berenice Andrade, a doctor, said that one internist quit because of the lack of personnel and that only one doctor watched over 54 patients during the weekends.

“It makes the care we offer very deficient,” said Dr. Andrade. “The patient’s health is of course affected.”

Credit…Meghan Dhaliwal for The New York Times

Five health workers have died at La Raza Medical Center, a public hospital complex in Mexico City, according to a spokesman for the federal health system. This month, one of the hospitals started offering psychological support to workers.

“It’s not easy knowing that one day you were working with someone and the next, they aren’t there anymore,” said Ivette Díaz, an intensive care nurse, who is 37 and lives with her elderly parents. “I’m scared every day. My alarm goes off and I don’t want to go to work.”

The hospital has never had enough supplies, she said. Bandages don’t stick to patients because they’ve lost their adhesive. But after her colleagues blocked roads leading into the hospital last month, executives began providing more protective equipment. Still, the masks that they gave out were perforated, because of a manufacturing flaw, Ms. Díaz said.

“If here in Mexico they invested in the health sector, if we had adequate materials, things would look very different,” she said.

She spent her day off recently scouring the streets of her neighborhood until she found a local vendor to sell her a batch of masks. She paid $7 for each, a small price for a mask free of holes, she decided.

Credit…Meghan Dhaliwal for The New York Times

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

A €750 Billion Coronavirus Recovery Plan Thrusts Europe Into a New Frontier

BRUSSELS — For decades, even when the 2008 financial crisis threatened to blow the bloc apart, the European Union’s wealthier nations resisted the notion of collective debt. But the coronavirus has so fundamentally damaged the bloc’s economy that it is now forcing European leaders to consider the sort of unified and sweeping response once thought unworkable.

The European Commission, the bloc’s executive branch, on Wednesday proposed that it raise 750 billion euros, or $826 billion, on behalf of all members to finance their recovery from the economic collapse brought on by the virus, the worst crisis in the history of the European Union.

The plan, which still requires approval from the 27 national leaders and their parliaments, would be the first time that the bloc raised large amounts of common debt in capital markets, taking the E.U. one step closer to a shared budget, potentially paid for through common taxes.

For those reasons, the proposal had all the hallmarks of a historic moment for the E.U., vesting greater authority in Brussels in ways that more closely than ever resembled a central government.

“This is about all of us and it is way bigger than any one of us,” Ursula von der Leyen, the commission president, told European Parliament members in a speech in Brussels. “This is Europe’s moment.”

At another moment — one without a calamitous recession looming — the proposal would probably have been dead on arrival and antagonized the populists and nationalists who oppose the gathering power of Brussels. But the urgent need for a powerful response to the virus has muted much of the appeal of that message, at least for now.

There is little question that Europe’s recovery will be difficult and cost trillions, with some of its economies set to shrink by as much as 10 percent this year. The friction between China and the United States also poses a major challenge for a bloc that trades heavily with both.

Until now, the European Central Bank had been propping up the economy by sweeping up bonds by member states at low cost to ensure money keeps flowing in to finance stimulus efforts. But the economic crisis is so large that anything less than a bold response from European Union leaders risked inviting another kind of crisis — one of legitimacy.

With Britain gone, the calamity brought on by the virus forced Germany and France, the bloc’s two strongest countries that often find themselves at loggerheads, to step up in a rare display of joint leadership, paving the way for the commission’s proposal.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172660092_ec7a01ce-1781-4c19-bd84-968a919df681-articleLarge A €750 Billion Coronavirus Recovery Plan Thrusts Europe Into a New Frontier Taxation Recession and Depression Politics and Government Government Bonds European Union European Commission Europe Credit and Debt Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Budgets and Budgeting
Credit…Pool photo by Kay Nietfeld

Even so, the plan is bound to be watered down in the weeks and months ahead. The proposal requires unanimous backing by member states, and a handful of the richer and less affected ones, such as the Netherlands and Denmark, consider joint borrowing and grant distribution to be unfair.

“We need to take everyone’s interests into account and there are very different interest groups: the southern countries, who fundamentally always want more; the East Europeans, who have an interest in preventing everything from flowing south; and, of course, those who have to pay for it all, the net payers,” Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian chancellor who opposes parts of the commission’s proposal, told Politico Wednesday.

But the countries hardest hit by the virus, namely Italy and Spain, are also too big and too central to the European Union’s ambitions to let fail. For now the plan not only suggested large-scale joint borrowing, but also that most of the money raised be distributed in the form of grants, or free cash.

The €750 billion raised would be split in two pots, the commission said. One would include €500 billion to be distributed as grants to all countries based on their recovery needs, with Italy getting the biggest slice and Spain the second biggest. This means the money would be free, with no repayment demanded and no strings attached, and would not count toward national debt levels.

Another pot of €250 billion would be made available in the form of loans to countries that apply for them, coming with more scrutiny and conditions, and would be added to a country’s debt load.

At the heart of the commission’s plan is the idea of using some of its own budget to issue bonds, a move it’s made only a handful of times for smaller amounts in the past. The institution, which has a Triple-A rating, the best possible, from ratings agencies, said it could levy its own taxes to repay those bonds, which will have a maximum 30-year maturity.

The European Commission itself will be greatly empowered if its proposal goes through, not only because it will be able to issue bonds in the markets, but also because any powers to raise taxes directly will give it more of the semblance of a federal government, which it currently lacks, as it depends almost entirely on member state contributions for its budget.

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If members don’t grant the commission powers to raise its own taxes directly to repay the bonds, officials said they would need to pay bigger contributions into its budget, or see some of the programs it funds shrink or die to free up funds instead.

Some see this move as a great step forward in deepening the economic binds that tie European Union members and bringing them closer to a United States of Europe. But experts warned that, while important, this is not a leap into mutualized debt, like in the United States.

“We don’t become a federal Europe, however the proposal is a big deal in terms of the architecture of the European Union,” said Maria Demertzis of the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel. “If Europe is considering to issue common debt and to raise taxes to back this debt up, then we’re talking about a big deal.”

Credit…Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times

But real debt mutualization would see Germany guaranteeing Italy’s debt, for example, said Mujtaba Rahman, who heads the Europe practice at Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy.

“Von der Leyen’s announcement today is a very important step, but only one on what will prove a long and windy road toward genuine debt mutualization in the European Union,” Mr. Rahman said.

“Berlin would demand a veto over Italian budgetary choices as the quid pro quo, and the European Union is nowhere near mature enough politically for such a system just yet,” he added.

The proposal pushed forward Wednesday sidesteps some of those stickier issues by making the European Commission the guarantor of any debt, rather than individual nations, something resisted in Germany and elsewhere and legally unacceptable under the current setup of the bloc.

But both Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Emmanuel Macron of France recognized that allowing some E.U. countries to recover faster and stronger would only deepen inequalities in the bloc, hampering the way it trades and operates internally.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated May 27, 2020

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      Over 38 million people have filed for unemployment since March. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.

    • Is ‘Covid toe’ a symptom of the disease?

      There is an uptick in people reporting symptoms of chilblains, which are painful red or purple lesions that typically appear in the winter on fingers or toes. The lesions are emerging as yet another symptom of infection with the new coronavirus. Chilblains are caused by inflammation in small blood vessels in reaction to cold or damp conditions, but they are usually common in the coldest winter months. Federal health officials do not include toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms, but some dermatologists are pushing for a change, saying so-called Covid toe should be sufficient grounds for testing.

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

    • How can I help?

      Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities.


Ms. von der Leyen, too, stressed that it’s crucial for the recovery to be even across the bloc.

Most of the onus on financing the recovery is still falling on national governments, and will continue to, even if the commission proposal is endorsed. Germany and other wealthy countries have their own ample funds to draw from to quickly prop up their economies and don’t need European Union funding.

Germany has deployed more than a trillion euros to support its economy, even cutting checks to out-of-work freelancers and bailing out and renationalizing a share of its national flag carrier, Lufthansa.

But other nations, in particular those with fewer resources or still hobbling from the last crisis, need European Union funding more as they face depleted coffers and expensive borrowing in markets.

Credit…Felix Schmitt for The New York Times

The European Commission also made €540 billion available earlier in the crisis for members to finance unemployment benefits, small businesses and the rebuilding of their health care systems.

A new president, on the job for less than a year and confronted with the worst recession in the European Union’s history, Ms. von der Leyen has been under considerable pressure to propose an ambitious plan to support the bloc’s recovery.

The rare Franco-German proposal, floated last week, gave Ms. von der Leyen the top backing she needed, but a Dutch diplomat swiftly noted Wednesday that her plan would still meet resistance in the continent’s wealthy north, paving the road for fraught negotiations among leaders starting next month.

Charles Michel, the president of the European Council who presides over the 27 leaders’ meetings, said there should be a session on June 19 to tackle the proposal, urging the heads of government to support Ms. von der Leyen’s pitch and quickly deploy this money where it’s needed.

That sense of urgency may not be shared by all and the potential for a lengthy and messy approval process is a key problem with the Commission’s proposals, experts said.

“Its single biggest weakness is the fact that real money will only begin to flow where it’s needed most next year, raising a question about the economic picture in the second half of this year,” Mr. Rahman said.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

A €750 Billion Virus Recovery Plan Thrusts Europe Into a New Frontier

BRUSSELS — For decades, even when the 2008 financial crisis threatened to blow the bloc apart, the European Union’s wealthier nations resisted the notion of collective debt. But the coronavirus has so fundamentally damaged the bloc’s economy that it is now forcing European leaders to consider the sort of unified and sweeping response once thought unthinkable.

The European Commission, the bloc’s executive branch, on Wednesday proposed that it raise 750 billion euros, or $826 billion, on behalf of all members to finance their recovery from the economic collapse brought on by the virus, the worst crisis in the history of the European Union.

The plan, which still requires approval from the 27 national leaders and their parliaments, would be the first time that the bloc raised large amounts of common debt in capital markets, taking the E.U. one step closer to a shared budget, potentially paid for through common taxes.

For those reasons, the proposal had all the hallmarks of a historic moment for the E.U., vesting greater authority in Brussels in ways that more closely than ever resembled a central government.

“This is about all of us and it is way bigger than any one of us,” Ursula von der Leyen, the commission president, told European Parliament members in a speech in Brussels. “This is Europe’s moment.”

At another moment — one without a calamitous recession looming — the proposal would probably have been dead on arrival and antagonized the populists and nationalists who oppose the gathering power of Brussels. But the urgent need for a powerful response to the virus has muted much of the appeal of that message, at least for now.

There is little question that Europe’s recovery will be difficult and cost trillions, with some of its economies set to shrink by as much as 10 percent this year. The friction between China and the United States also poses a major challenge for a bloc that trades heavily with both.

Until now, the European Central Bank had been propping up the economy by sweeping up bonds by member states at low cost to ensure money keeps flowing in to finance stimulus efforts. But the economic crisis is so large that anything less than a bold response from European Union leaders risked inviting another kind of crisis — one of legitimacy.

With Britain gone, the calamity brought on by the virus forced Germany and France, the bloc’s two strongest countries that often find themselves at loggerheads, to step up in a rare display of joint leadership, paving the way for the commission’s proposal.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172660092_ec7a01ce-1781-4c19-bd84-968a919df681-articleLarge A €750 Billion Virus Recovery Plan Thrusts Europe Into a New Frontier Taxation Recession and Depression Politics and Government Government Bonds European Union European Commission Europe Credit and Debt Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Budgets and Budgeting
Credit…Pool photo by Kay Nietfeld

Even so, the plan is bound to be watered down in the weeks and months ahead. The proposal requires unanimous backing by member states, and a handful of the richer and less affected ones, such as the Netherlands and Denmark, consider joint borrowing and grant distribution to be unfair.

“We need to take everyone’s interests into account and there are very different interest groups: the southern countries, who fundamentally always want more; the East Europeans, who have an interest in preventing everything from flowing south; and, of course, those who have to pay for it all, the net payers,” Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian chancellor who opposes parts of the commission’s proposal, told Politico Wednesday.

But the countries hardest hit by the virus, namely Italy and Spain, are also too big and too central to the European Union’s ambitions to let fail. For now the plan not only suggested large-scale joint borrowing, but also that most of the money raised be distributed in the form of grants, or free cash.

The €750 billion raised would be split in two pots, the commission said. One would include €500 billion to be distributed as grants to all countries based on their recovery needs, with Italy getting the biggest slice and Spain the second biggest. This means the money would be free, with no repayment demanded and no strings attached, and would not count toward national debt levels.

Another pot of €250 billion would be made available in the form of loans to countries that apply for them, coming with more scrutiny and conditions, and would be added to a country’s debt load.

At the heart of the commission’s plan is the idea of using some of its own budget to issue bonds, a move it’s made only a handful of times for smaller amounts in the past. The institution, which has a Triple-A rating, the best possible, from ratings agencies, said it could levy its own taxes to repay those bonds, which will have a maximum 30-year maturity.

The European Commission itself will be greatly empowered if its proposal goes through, not only because it will be able to issue bonds in the markets, but also because any powers to raise taxes directly will give it more of the semblance of a federal government, which it currently lacks, as it depends almost entirely on member state contributions for its budget.

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If members don’t grant the commission powers to raise its own taxes directly to repay the bonds, officials said they would need to pay bigger contributions into its budget, or see some of the programs it funds shrink or die to free up funds instead.

Some see this move as a great step forward in deepening the economic binds that tie European Union members and bringing them closer to a United States of Europe. But experts warned that, while important, this is not a leap into mutualized debt, like in the United States.

“We don’t become a federal Europe, however the proposal is a big deal in terms of the architecture of the European Union,” said Maria Demertzis of the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel. “If Europe is considering to issue common debt and to raise taxes to back this debt up, then we’re talking about a big deal.”

Credit…Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times

But real debt mutualization would see Germany guaranteeing Italy’s debt, for example, said Mujtaba Rahman, who heads the Europe practice at Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy.

“Von der Leyen’s announcement today is a very important step, but only one on what will prove a long and windy road toward genuine debt mutualization in the European Union,” Mr. Rahman said.

“Berlin would demand a veto over Italian budgetary choices as the quid pro quo, and the European Union is nowhere near mature enough politically for such a system just yet,” he added.

The proposal pushed forward Wednesday sidesteps some of those stickier issues by making the European Commission the guarantor of any debt, rather than individual nations, something resisted in Germany and elsewhere and legally unacceptable under the current setup of the bloc.

But both Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Emmanuel Macron of France recognized that allowing some E.U. countries to recover faster and stronger would only deepen inequalities in the bloc, hampering the way it trades and operates internally.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated May 27, 2020

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      Over 38 million people have filed for unemployment since March. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.

    • Is ‘Covid toe’ a symptom of the disease?

      There is an uptick in people reporting symptoms of chilblains, which are painful red or purple lesions that typically appear in the winter on fingers or toes. The lesions are emerging as yet another symptom of infection with the new coronavirus. Chilblains are caused by inflammation in small blood vessels in reaction to cold or damp conditions, but they are usually common in the coldest winter months. Federal health officials do not include toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms, but some dermatologists are pushing for a change, saying so-called Covid toe should be sufficient grounds for testing.

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

    • How can I help?

      Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities.


Ms. von der Leyen, too, stressed that it’s crucial for the recovery to be even across the bloc.

Most of the onus on financing the recovery is still falling on national governments, and will continue to, even if the commission proposal is endorsed. Germany and other wealthy countries have their own ample funds to draw from to quickly prop up their economies and don’t need European Union funding.

Germany has deployed more than a trillion euros to support its economy, even cutting checks to out-of-work freelancers and bailing out and renationalizing a share of its national flag carrier, Lufthansa.

But other nations, in particular those with fewer resources or still hobbling from the last crisis, need European Union funding more as they face depleted coffers and expensive borrowing in markets.

Credit…Felix Schmitt for The New York Times

The European Commission also made €540 billion available earlier in the crisis for members to finance unemployment benefits, small businesses and the rebuilding of their health care systems.

A new president, on the job for less than a year and confronted with the worst recession in the European Union’s history, Ms. von der Leyen has been under considerable pressure to propose an ambitious plan to support the bloc’s recovery.

The rare Franco-German proposal, floated last week, gave Ms. von der Leyen the top backing she needed, but a Dutch diplomat swiftly noted Wednesday that her plan would still meet resistance in the continent’s wealthy north, paving the road for fraught negotiations among leaders starting next month.

Charles Michel, the president of the European Council who presides over the 27 leaders’ meetings, said there should be a session on June 19 to tackle the proposal, urging the heads of government to support Ms. von der Leyen’s pitch and quickly deploy this money where it’s needed.

That sense of urgency may not be shared by all and the potential for a lengthy and messy approval process is a key problem with the Commission’s proposals, experts said.

“Its single biggest weakness is the fact that real money will only begin to flow where it’s needed most next year, raising a question about the economic picture in the second half of this year,” Mr. Rahman said.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Coronavirus Hits China’s Economy, and Young Workers Suffer

Westlake Legal Group coronavirus-hits-chinas-economy-and-young-workers-suffer Coronavirus Hits China's Economy, and Young Workers Suffer Wages and Salaries Politics and Government Labor and Jobs Hiring and Promotion Economic Conditions and Trends Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) China

Ms. Huang, who graduated last year from one of China’s most prestigious drama schools, got an offer in December for her first job in show business, working for a company that books bands for bars in Beijing and Shanghai.

The coronavirus, which virtually froze China for weeks, brought that gig to an end before it began. Ms. Huang has picked up freelance film production and publicity work, but she has slashed her spending and is counting her money.

“When it was April and I still couldn’t start my job, I started to feel worried,” said Ms. Huang, 24. “I began worrying that I may not be able to work this year at all. I can’t just keep waiting.”

Relations with the United States are at their lowest point in decades and Hong Kong is seething with fear and anger, but China’s biggest problem by far is getting its people back to work. Millions of workers were laid off or furloughed while China battled the coronavirus outbreak. Many of those who kept their jobs have seen their pay cut and future prospects narrow.

China’s youngest workers in particular have entered perhaps the country’s toughest job market in the modern era. Many are reducing their expectations to take any job they can get. The pressure is about to intensify: Another nearly 8.7 million young college graduates are waiting in the wings this year.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172836252_21097480-a65d-494f-8005-4a36b2564d26-articleLarge Coronavirus Hits China's Economy, and Young Workers Suffer Wages and Salaries Politics and Government Labor and Jobs Hiring and Promotion Economic Conditions and Trends Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) China
Credit…Giulia Marchi for The New York Times

For the world, global growth will be hard to rekindle until China gets fully back to work. But the damage to the Communist Party could be long-lasting. It derives its political power from the promise of delivering a better life for the Chinese people, a promise that has become increasingly difficult to fulfill.

Demonstrating the depths of the uncertainty, Chinese leaders meeting in Beijing since last week parted with precedent and declined to set an annual economic growth target. But they have unveiled other goals that detail their biggest worries, including cutting unemployment in the cities and taming food inflation, which has jumped because of outbreak-related supply disruptions and an unrelated swine disease.

Chinese leaders have acknowledged broader problems in the work force. China’s factory workers have been hit by the trade war with the United States. Service sector companies like online delivery firms are hiring, but these jobs offer low pay and high stress.

Last week, at the opening of China’s annual parliamentary session, Li Keqiang, China’s premier, cited both unemployment and the hundreds of millions of underemployed workers doing odd jobs with flexible hours and low pay. “We will make every effort to stabilize and expand employment,” he said.

Credit…Tingshu Wang/Reuters

To help, China’s top leaders pledged this weekend to “use all possible means” to create jobs, including a goal to create nine million new jobs this year. But many of its plans borrow from Beijing’s old playbook, which include spending on public works, funding wasteful state-run companies and keeping the financial sector supplied with new money.

Those tactics have proven to be less effective in recent years. Even when banks are pushed to lend to smaller businesses, China’s biggest group of employers, the borrowing burden is still too high for many companies. Spending on public works gets less bang for the buck than it once did, as China’s economy matures and as its work force becomes increasingly college-educated and office bound.

China’s current official unemployment statistics, while considered imprecise by many economists, nevertheless suggest the depth of the problem for young workers. The jobless rate for people between the ages of 16 and 24 totaled nearly 14 percent, more than twice the official figure for the nation as a whole.

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In forums online, young job seekers share their frustrations. “I’m about to cry,” one person recently wrote on Weibo, the popular Chinese social media service. “Finding a job is as difficult as finding a boyfriend.”

Many use words like “lost” to describe their state of mind. “I’ve exhausted all kinds of software for job hunting,” another person wrote. “Did not find a job! What more can you do!! I’m going to lose faith.”

Credit…Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Many of these job seekers have lowered their salary expectations and are choosing to focus their energy on finding job security at a state-owned company. While private firms are typically more popular, competition for jobs among them has become fierce, according to a recent survey of 3,000 university graduates by Liepin, a recruitment platform. Three-quarters of graduates said they expected to earn less than $1,100 a month, one of the lowest salary ranges in the survey.

Guo Minghao, a computer science major, won an internship in December. In January, as the outbreak erupted, it was rescinded. He has since interviewed at two dozen other companies that he considered sure bets for job offers. None came.

“For the first time, I felt for sure the impact of the epidemic environment had finally started to affect me,” Mr. Guo said, who added that his darkest moment was in March, typically the best time to look for a job.

Then, with the help of one of his teachers, he finally won an internship at a smaller company in the southern city of Shenzhen. But his friends worried that life in that modern, glittering city will be more expensive than the northern rust belt province of Heilongjiang where he went to school.

Mr. Guo considers himself lucky — his starting salary will be around $980 a month — which he said would be enough to cover basic expenses. He is confident that he can then turn the internship into a job and get a raise.

Credit…Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Mr. Guo’s friend, 22-year-old Lin Yuxin, is taking a different route. He decided against pursuing a job in a big city at a company like Tencent, the Chinese internet giant and ultimate symbol of success for computer science graduates. In today’s market, he figured, safety is more important than prestige, higher pay or career advancement.

“The larger private enterprises like Tencent, their probability of closing down might be something 0.00001, but it’s nothing compared to state-owned enterprises,” Mr. Lin said.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated May 20, 2020

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      Over 38 million people have filed for unemployment since March. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.

    • Is ‘Covid toe’ a symptom of the disease?

      There is an uptick in people reporting symptoms of chilblains, which are painful red or purple lesions that typically appear in the winter on fingers or toes. The lesions are emerging as yet another symptom of infection with the new coronavirus. Chilblains are caused by inflammation in small blood vessels in reaction to cold or damp conditions, but they are usually common in the coldest winter months. Federal health officials do not include toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms, but some dermatologists are pushing for a change, saying so-called Covid toe should be sufficient grounds for testing.

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

    • How can I help?

      Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities.


Chinese companies that are hiring can afford to be choosy. Recruits can choose from a larger pool of candidates, said Martin Ma, a human resources officer for iSoftStone, a software development company that has more than 60,000 employees and counts big foreign and domestic companies as clients. Starting salaries are lower.

“The posts available for graduates are all basic, and the salary isn’t too high,” Mr. Ma said. “The graduates do not fully understand the market. Their expectations are quite high.”

Ms. Huang, the drama-school graduate, was inspired by her parents to go into entertainment. Her mother had been an opera singer, of a style popular in southern China, and her father had been a musician in her troupe.

She attended the Central Academy of Drama, which boasts Chinese film stars like Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li among its alumni, and graduated with a dream of someday producing plays and performances of her own.

Credit…Thomas Peter/Reuters

The coronavirus upended those plans. She now lives on $500 on month, with half going to rent for her apartment in the commuter town of Yanjiao near Beijing, that she gets from savings, her family and from the cash gift she received during the Lunar New Year holiday in January.

“Many of my plans have been disturbed,” Ms. Huang said. “I also hesitate to place orders for many things I wanted to buy.”

Ms. Huang is considering whether she can pursue a master’s degree abroad. That route would require the world to shrug off its outbreak-era limits on travel, which seems far from certain anytime soon.

“Because of the pandemic, the whole world is in a disarray,” Ms. Huang said. “So I feel stuck in limbo.”

Coral Yang contributed research. Cao Li contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

China’s Security Law Shakes Hong Kong’s Business World

Westlake Legal Group chinas-security-law-shakes-hong-kongs-business-world China's Security Law Shakes Hong Kong's Business World Stocks and Bonds Politics and Government Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong Embargoes and Sanctions Economic Conditions and Trends Demonstrations, Protests and Riots China

HONG KONG — China’s desire to take a stronger hand in running Hong Kong has imperiled its status as Asia’s financial capital, sending its stock market into its sharpest plunge in five years and spurring predictions that money and business could soon leave the former British colony.

The threat does not come just from Beijing, which late on Thursday outlined its plan to bypass Hong Kong leaders and enact national security laws affecting the territory of roughly seven million people. That move puts Hong Kong squarely in the middle of the growing conflict between China and the United States, which is increasingly challenging Beijing on a number of fronts and could retaliate in ways that hobble its appeal as a place to do business.

Businesses and investors worry that a bruising clash between the superpowers could put an end to Hong Kong’s enviable position as a bridge between China’s powerful economic engine and the rest of the world.

“No matter what, they need to maintain Hong Kong’s unique status,” said Fred Hu, a prominent investor and the former chairman of Goldman Sachs’s Greater China business. His investment firm, Primavera Capital Group, has put billions of dollars in investments into China over the years.

“It’s not only crucial for Hong Kong’s future, but also really for China as a whole, in today’s highly uncertain and volatile political climate,” he added.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172724382_8e16353a-b8d4-4b63-9bba-e4f4721b54d0-articleLarge China's Security Law Shakes Hong Kong's Business World Stocks and Bonds Politics and Government Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong Embargoes and Sanctions Economic Conditions and Trends Demonstrations, Protests and Riots China
Credit…Pool photo by Andy Wong

Investors expressed their fears in no uncertain terms. Hong Kong’s stock market tumbled 5.6 percent on Friday. Futures trading in the Hong Kong dollar, which is pegged to value of the American dollar, indicated that investors were expecting money to flood out of the territory.

At stake is Hong Kong’s status as a semiautonomous Chinese city with an independent judiciary, guarantees of free expression and assembly, loose business regulation and low financial and trade barriers with much of the world.

Though it benefits from China’s wealth, Hong Kong operates outside the authoritarian mainland, which offers none of those attributes. It is home to the regional headquarters of major global and Chinese companies alike.

Anti-Beijing protests last year, which led to pitched battles between protesters and police and sometimes filled its central financial district with fires and tear gas, raised questions about how long Hong Kong could remain appealing as a place to do business. Beijing’s move on Thursday gave those questions new urgency.

Brushing aside local leaders, Chinese officials announced that they planned to proceed with sweeping security measures for Hong Kong that could take effect later this year. The officials did not disclose details.

The sudden and unexpected move by Beijing has prompted fears that the Chinese Communist Party is willing to overstep freedoms that were promised to Hong Kong when Britain handed it back to China in 1997.

It raised questions about whether businesspeople could fall afoul of China’s traditionally broad definition of national security. Could banks break the law by publishing skeptical research about Chinese economic data or state-run companies? Could crimes considered ordinary elsewhere be considered national security threats, to be tried by secretive mainland courts?

Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

“How tightly would legislation be drafted to avoid ambiguity for business?” said Tara Joseph, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. “Would people who seem to be breaking national security law be tried in Hong Kong or in mainland China? Overall, this raises the risk factor for Hong Kong.”

Hong Kong officials moved quickly to assuage concerns. Carrie Lam, the territory’s chief executive, said that the security law would target “acts of secession, subverting state power and organizing and carrying out terrorist activities,” blights that she said the business sector had been “worrying about over the past year.”

Leung Chun-ying, a former chief executive of Hong Kong who is now a top Chinese adviser, said the national security measures were in the best interest of both Hong Kong society and investors.

“With such a law, it does not hinder foreign investors from investing locally, nor does it hinder the freedom enjoyed by local residents according to law,” Mr. Leung said in an interview with Chinese state media.

Officials in Washington may be an even more crucial audience. Hours after Beijing unveiled its plans, American lawmakers proposed legislation that would target Chinese officials and entities that trample on Hong Kong’s semiautonomous status. A proposed bill put forward by Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, and Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, would expose global banks to sanctions if they do business with entities that do the same.

“In many ways, Hong Kong is the canary in the coal mine for Asia,” Mr. Toomey said in an emailed statement. “Beijing’s growing interference could have a chilling effect on other nations struggling for freedom in China’s shadow.”

The State Department has delayed its annual report to Congress assessing the special status that it awards to Hong Kong while it waits to see details on Beijing’s new proposed security law in the coming days.

If the United States decided that Hong Kong’s relative autonomy was coming to an end, President Trump could take away certain privileges it grants the territory.

Credit…Erin Scott for The New York Times

Tens of billions of dollars in trade would suddenly be subject to tariffs and included in the tit-for-tat trade war between Washington and Beijing. American officials could curtain travel from Hong Kong and make it harder for its people to get American work visas. Hong Kong would also have a harder time buying technology deemed sensitive by the Washington. The convertibility of Hong Kong’s currency — which is freely exchange with the American dollar — could also be at stake.

“If they did abolish it, they are saying goodbye to Hong Kong,” said Ms. Joseph, of the chamber of commerce.

Some are already saying goodbye. Last summer, money began to flow out of the city and into Singapore, a regional safe haven.

The money appears to have started to flow out again this year. As of March, foreign currency deposits at both domestic and international banks operating in Singapore had nearly doubled since July, totaling $15 billion. The data do not say where the money is coming from, but economists point to the doubts over Hong Kong.

“Increasingly these concerns are seeping into business decisions,” said William Kaye, a longtime investor in China and founder of Pacific Group, the investment firm. “What is just a trickle could become a flood of capital out of Hong Kong.”

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As Coronavirus Keeps the West at Bay, China Moves to Tame Hong Kong

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has made one of his boldest political gambits yet, wagering that he can tame Hong Kong through national security legislation, despite the risk of fresh upheavals there and a new flash point with the United States.

The security proposals, unveiled on Friday at the delayed opening of China’s annual legislative session, scotched any expectations that the coronavirus pandemic might have left Mr. Xi humbled, cautious or ready for compromise. On the contrary, he has chosen to press an offensive over Hong Kong, riling Western powers, at a time of global crisis while China is struggling to pull out of its sharpest economic slump since Mao’s time.

Mr. Xi has etched in blazing colors an outline of a post-pandemic world in which China shoulders past Western nations seen as divided, irresolute and now sapped by the virus and a looming economic slump. At the opening of the National People’s Congress, leaders exuded confidence that China had pulled out of the pandemic crisis faster and in better shape than much of the world.

“Through the hard work and sacrifice of our entire nation, we have made major strategic achievements in our response to Covid-19,” Premier Li Keqiang said in his work report to the congress, a kind of annual State of the Nation speech.

The move on Hong Kong aligns with Mr. Xi’s forceful vision of a “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” free of internal rifts. And he appears steeled for any economic, political and diplomatic blowback.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172730529_2ea2cc94-f69d-4c1a-a4d3-f94c1a1e09b0-articleLarge As Coronavirus Keeps the West at Bay, China Moves to Tame Hong Kong Xi Jinping Politics and Government National People's Congress (China) Law and Legislation Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong Communist Party of China China
Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

By imposing the national security legislation, Mr. Xi has cast aside the deference for Hong Kong’s distinctive legal status that his predecessors observed. Instead, he has taken an unabashedly interventionist approach that is constricting — critics say strangling — the “one country, two systems” framework that granted Hong Kong extensive autonomy after the territory’s return to Chinese sovereignty.

To justify the legislation, the Chinese leadership has depicted Hong Kong as besieged by chaotic forces whose shadowy foreign backers are seeking to tear China apart.

Wang Chen, a Politburo member who explained the security legislation plans on Friday, denounced protesters who have called for independence and stormed central government offices. The legislation would allow the mainland’s feared security agencies to set up their operations publicly in Hong Kong for the first time, instead of operating on a limited scale in secrecy.

“Anti-China, disrupt-Hong Kong forces have been openly promoting Hong Kong independence,” Mr. Wang said of the legislative plan. “There must be vigorous measures under the law to prevent, halt and punish them,” he said, eliciting thunderous applause from the nearly 3,000 delegates in the hall, all in face masks.

Chinese ire has been amplified by nationalistic diplomats, journalists and social media commentators who came of age in an era of rising national strength. They have portrayed protests in Hong Kong as a threat to Chinese national security.

“For the year of 2019, H.K. did not enjoy a single peaceful day,” the Global Times, a popular nationalistic tabloid, wrote in an editorial on Friday that overstated last year’s six months of disturbances. “It was like a city in an undeveloped country engulfed in turmoil.”

Credit…Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times

Mr. Xi is imposing the security legislation at a time when China already faces serious challenges.

Its post-pandemic economic recovery remains clouded. While the struggles were overshadowed by the security legislation, the point was underscored when Premier Li announced that this year the government would not set an annual growth target for the first time in a quarter of a century.

The pandemic brought China’s economy to a grinding halt from late January through early March. Further outbreaks, like one in the country’s northeast, threaten to delay recovery in the rest of the year as consumers remain scared to spend and factories still aren’t going at full tilt.

The Hong Kong legislation also raises the possibility of renewed unrest in Hong Kong. Some protesters called for demonstrations this weekend, although many democracy advocates seemed despondent on Friday.

“I think most young people right now are feeling at a loss — everyone still thought there was a lot of room for resistance last June,” said Jannelle Leung, 25, a pro-democracy district counselor, referring to the start of the protest movement last year. “But now, the Chinese Communist Party has furthered its suppression.”

The territory has already experienced an uptick in emigration, particularly by young people and families. “I want to leave Hong Kong, because the future of Hong Kong is too hard to anticipate,” said Jolie Tam, a 33-year-old housewife with a 1-year-old daughter.

Above all, the proposed security legislation may give new momentum to senior figures in the Trump administration and Congress who have increasingly accused China of threatening the security, prosperity and even the basic health of Americans.

This week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested that the Trump administration could stop treating Hong Kong as a separate economic entity from mainland China, an important underpinning of the territory’s easy trade access to the United States.

Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

If passed, the national security proposals “would be a death knell for the high degree of autonomy Beijing promised for Hong Kong,” Mr. Pompeo said in an emailed statement. “The United States strongly urges Beijing to reconsider its disastrous proposal.”

Mr. Xi appears to believe that the greater risk to him comes from allowing Hong Kong to continue as a stubborn base for protesters who challenge Communist Party rule and increasingly reject Chinese sovereignty over the territory. Since Mr. Xi came to power in 2012, the Chinese government has arrested dissidents and human rights lawyers, ramped up censorship and sent hundreds of thousands of Muslims into internment camps.

The Basic Law — Hong Kong’s mini-constitution — requires the territory to introduce national security legislation. But successive Hong Kong leaders have held back from doing so after an earlier attempt was crushed in 2003 by huge protests.

After the protests roiled Hong Kong last year, Mr. Xi signaled that he’d had enough.

A Chinese Communist Party leadership meeting in late October called for steps to “safeguard national security” in Hong Kong, while leaving observers guessing on when and how that might be achieved.

The legal language that Beijing will eventually adopt is likely to draw heavily on the Hong Kong government’s unsuccessful bill in 2003 together with similar legislation taken up in nearby Macau, said Lau Siu-kai, vice president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, an elite Beijing advisory group.

The issue has gained momentum in the intervening months.

The pro-democracy opposition has nearly paralyzed the Hong Kong legislature since October in an attempt to block passage of a law protecting China’s national anthem seen as a threat to free speech. The tensions between the two sides have made Beijing more skeptical of the Hong Kong government’s ability to pass national security legislation.

Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

“I can understand their concern — it’s probably deeper and stronger than ours,” said Ronny Tong, a member of the top advisory body to Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam. “They can see our legislature is not functioning at all.”

Beijing’s security plan left its political allies in the city deeply divided. On one side were hard-liners like Mr. Lau, who called for stringent security laws and a greater role for the mainland in Hong Kong affairs. On the other were moderates from the business community and the upper echelons of Hong Kong’s British-trained civil service who wanted the city to solve its issues with as little involvement from Beijing as possible.

Regina Ip, a cabinet member who leads a pro-Beijing party in the legislature, has long called for Hong Kong to pass its own security laws, but said she had recently concluded that this was no longer possible in the polarized political atmosphere.

Hong Kong “simply does not have the capacity or political will to do so,” she said in a telephone interview.

Some of the city’s leadership were taken by surprise by the new security legislation. Mrs. Lam, the city’s chief executive, flew to Beijing for the congress this week. But she didn’t hold a meeting of her government’s top officials to discuss the legislation until after she returned on Friday evening.

“Safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests is the constitutional requirement,” Mrs. Lam said in a statement that essentially echoed the words of Mr. Wang in Beijing.

She also criticized young people who “desecrate and burn the national flag openly, vandalize the national emblem and storm the Central People’s Government’s office in Hong Kong.”

Ezra Cheung contributed reporting.

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