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The Deciport Daily Quick-Look: 23 May 2020

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Pan-democratic legislators scuffle with security as they protest against new security laws during Legislative Council’s House Committee meeting, in Hong Kong, China May 22, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Hong Kong Draws Closer To Losing Its Democracy As Beijing Tightens Its Grip

The situation in Hong Kong approaches a flash-point, as Beijing draws ever-closer to bringing the city under its total control.

The 'One Country, Two Systems' law that sees Hong Kong enjoy a democratic system separate from communist rule continues to come under threat.

With recent announcements, it is likely that protests of the scale seen in 2019, if not larger, will occur soon.

This is a precarious time for the people for Hong Kong, with international intervention a possibility; given US rhetoric.

(See Point 7 Below)

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The Daily Quick-Look for 23 May 2020

The Deciport Daily Quick-Look is your at-a-glance look at several key events and situations around the world over the last 24 hours and why they matter. Each headline contains the link to its source report.

*BLUF = Bottom Line Up Front.

1. SOUTH AMERICA/AFRICA – Security (Health): WHO: South America Is The New COVID-19 Epicentre, African Deaths Low

BLUF: South America has become a new epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic with Brazil hardest-hit, while cases are rising in some African countries that so far have a relatively low death toll, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday. “In a sense South America has become a new epicentre for the disease,” Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO’s top emergencies expert, told a news conference, adding Brazil is “clearly the most affected”. Ryan noted Brazilian authorities have approved broad use of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine for treatment of COVID-19. He reiterated that current clinical evidence does not support the unproven drug’s widespread use against the new disease, given its risks. (Reuters. See Link In Heading) Why It Matters: Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has seen two health ministers gone from his administration in two weeks, while openly joining with demonstrators protesting the lockdown conditions. At the other end of the spectrum, African nations such as Nigeria and South Africa have employed strict lockdown measures, however accusations of police/security forces brutality (South Africa: Soldier’s suspended after death of civilian in home) and police obstruction of health care workers during curfew hours (Nigeria: See Daily Quick-Look 22 May 2020) are beginning to surface.

2. IRELAND – Security (Travel): Government Confirms New Measures For Passengers Arriving Into Ireland

BLUF: Minister for Health Simon Harris has said that from next week all passengers arriving into the country will be legally required to complete a passenger locator form. The Government has made it mandatory for all travellers arriving in Ireland to provide an address to gardaí. The regulations will be signed by Minister Harris and will come into effect from Thursday, 28 May. They will remain in effect until 18 June, when they will be reviewed. The Government has said it continues to advise Irish citizens and residents against all non-essential international travel, and passengers arriving into Ireland from overseas are asked to self-isolate for 14 days. (RTE. See Link In Heading) Why It Matters: Ireland’s 14-day self-isolation rule for all arrivals is consistent with current global best practice. The EU is currently attempting to establish ‘travel bubbles’, however it is unclear whether Ireland will be included in continental European travel bubbles or limited to a possible UK bubble only in the immediate future.

3. NATO – Security: NATO Allies Voice Concern Over US Plan To Quit ‘Open Skies’ Treaty

BLUF: European members of NATO told the United States on Friday they were uneasy about its plan to withdraw from the 35-nation Open Skies treaty that allows unarmed surveillance flights over member countries, an official of the defence alliance said. Senior officials in President Donald Trump’s administration, which says Russia has repeatedly violated the treaty’s terms, said on Thursday that Washington would formally pull out of Open Skies in six months. (Reuters. See Link In Heading) Why It Matters: NATO is concerned that the US pulling out of the treaty will cause Russia to also withdraw, meaning that the overflights of Russia allowed to NATO nations will end; weakening European security.

4. PAKISTAN – Security (Travel): Pakistan International Airlines Crash In Karachi, At Least 77 Dead

BLUF: A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) passenger plane, with an estimated 99 people onboard, crashed in Karachi's Model Colony near Jinnah International Airport on Friday. Sindh health officials have said that so far, 76 people have been confirmed dead. It is, however, unclear if the deceased were all onboard the flight or include area residents as well where the crash took place. Two people are confirmed to have survived the crash, according to officials. (Dawn. See Link In Heading) Why It Matters: The cause of the crash is unknown at this time. After the crash, an emergency was declared for all hospitals in Karachi. Unexpected events such as this during a pandemic have the ability to strain local health care and emergency services for the duration of an emergency, making already stretched medical and emergency capabilities particularly vulnerable.

5. THAILAND – Security (Health): Thailand Extended Emergency Decree, No New COVID-19 Cases Reported

BLUF: The government on Friday decided to extend the emergency decree for another month through June, although no new cases of coronavirus were reported on the same day. Taweesin Visanuyothin, spokesman of the Center for the COVID-19 Situation Administration, said the extension is necessary to allow the Prime Minister’s measures to be implemented promptly and in unison. He also said the global situation remains largely unstable. “The world’s graph is increasing steeply, while Thailand’s graph almost reaches zero. If there’s no law to contain the situation, those skyrocketing figures may spill into our country,” Taweesin said. “If we want to proceed to Phase 3 or 4 [of business reopening] without the decree, what will happen?” The spokesman did not elaborate on which measures will remain in effect for another month. A nighttime curfew and ban on large gatherings are currently in place under the Emergency Decree. (Khao Sod English. See Link In Heading) Why It Matters: Opposition leaders were reportedly quick to criticize the extension, claiming that the prime minister would seek to exploit the situation for political gain, saying, “The public is fully aware of the problem and have already adapted to the new norms. There is no reason to extend the decree further,” Move Forward Party general secretary Chaitawat Tulaton said. “The future of Thailand should be decided by the benefit of the majority, not for Gen. Prayut’s security.” (See above link in heading).

6. SINGAPORE – Security (Health): Covid-19 Cases Now At 30,426

BLUF: The number of COVID-19 cases in Singapore topped 30,000 on Friday (May 22), with 614 new cases reported as of noon. This brings the total number of cases in the country to 30,426. (Channel News. See Link In Heading) Why It Matters: Initially lauded for its response to COVID-19, Singapore suffered a sudden explosion in COVID-19 cases, reportedly stemming from migrant worker dormitories; where living conditions are cramped. In what was seen as a common sense approach to the situation globally, with their economy and borders largely remaining open, the migrant worker dormitory situation appears to have been an unusual oversight by authorities.

7. HONG KONG – Political: China’s Planned Security Agencies For Hong Kong A ‘Death Knell’ For Autonomy: Pompeo

BLUF: Chinese plans to impose national security laws on Hong Kong could see mainland intelligence agencies set up bases there, raising fears of direct law enforcement and what the United States branded a “death knell” for the city’s autonomy. Communist Party rulers in Beijing on Friday unveiled details of the legislation that critics see as a turning point for the former British colony, which enjoys many freedoms, including an independent legal system and right to protest, not allowed on the mainland. Pro-democracy activists and politicians have for years opposed such legislation, arguing it could erode its autonomy, guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” agreement under which Britain returned Hong Kong to China in 1997. Hong Kong activists called for people to rise up against the proposal, aimed at tackling secession, subversion, terrorism, and foreign interference, that has sent shockwaves across the business and diplomatic communities. U.S. President Donald Trump warned Washington would react “very strongly” if Beijing went ahead with the security law. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the “disastrous proposal” would be the “death knell” for Hong Kong’s autonomy and that the United States stood with the people of Hong Kong. (Reuters. See Link In Heading) Why It Matters: It is highly likely that this measure by Beijing will result in significant protest activity and international condemnation, particularly with by the US, who is also heavily involved with the diplomatic and security affairs of Taiwan. Heavy clashes between protesters and security forces is likely should protest activity occur, as the situation for pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong becomes more desperate. Deaths of both protesters and security personnel is a realistic possibility in this scenario, and will likely prompt an increasingly heavy-handed response that could possibly result in a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) intervention (the height of the protests in 2019 saw PLA elements stage forward in Shenzen, adjacent to Hong Kong).

8. AUSTRALIA – Security (Health): UK Rejects Australia’s Push For Exemption From COVID-19 Quarantine

BLUF: Britain has rejected Australia's request to be immediately exempted from its new coronavirus quarantine scheme but has opened the door to a special deal in the coming months. Home Secretary Priti Patel announced the regime on Friday following sustained criticism that the government's refusal to close the borders or introduce any checks in February, March and April had contributed to the United Kingdom's soaring death toll. (SMH. See Link In Heading) Why It Matters: The UK’s primary concern lies with avoiding a ‘second wave’ outbreak of COVID-19, and like other European countries, is maintaining its 14-day quarantine with all international arrivals.

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The reporting period for this Daily Quick-Look is the previous 24 hours (unless stated otherwise). This Daily Quick-Look is comprised of reports from agencies around the world, and are referenced where possible. Deciport LLC is in no way associated with any agency listed. This Daily Quick-Look is for information purposes only. This Daily Quick-Look is not intended for planning purposes. The comments that comprise the 'Why It Matters' do not represent the opinions, viewpoints or assessment of the agency from which the linked source report originated, and is intended to add context for the reader as part of a summary.

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