Hong Kong's new national security law passed just hours before the city marked the 23rd anniversary of its return to Chinese sovereignty. The law, which was passed unanimously by the National People's Council, criminalizes acts of secession, subversion and terrorism in the city, and allows for extradtion to the mainland and possible life imprisonment for certain offenders. The territory's leader, Carrie Lam, said that the law "will not affect Hong Kong's renowned judicial independence" and that "it will not affect legitimate rights and freedoms of individuals."
In response to the law, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets on Wednesday. A number of pro-democracy activists resigned from politics and deleted their social media accounts. Four leading members of the pro-democracy group Demosisto resigned on Tuesday, leading the party to disband as a whole hours later. However, the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index saw its biggest gains in a month, and the Hong Kong Dollar traded near the strongest that its peg to the U.S. dollar allows.
Western condemnation of the law was swift: Both U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and former Vice President Joe Biden were quick to criticize the move, whereas British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that the UK would proceed with its plans to offer three million Hong Kong residents a path to citizenship. China threatened retaliation and denounced the plan as contrary to promises made by the British government in 1984. Taiwan and Australia have outlined similar measures, while the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate passed a sanctions bill against Chinese officials. Meanwhile, 53 countries joined a statement at the UN Human Rights Council that backed China's new law.
A Vaccine Trial Begins
Beijing approved a new experimental COVID-19 vaccine this week, which will be trialled in the country's military. The vaccine showed a "good safety profile" and users had a "relatively high" immune response to the antigen, according to creators CanSino Biologics and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology. The vaccine still needs to undergo phase three clinical trials and cannot be used on civilians for the time being.
The announcement comes as the government placed more than 400,000 people under lock down orders in Hebei province, less than 100 miles away from Beijing, after a cluster of outbreaks fueled concern of a second wave of outbreaks in China. Outdoor excursions have been limited to one person per household per day, and the government pleaded for residents to join the "fight" against the virus. Restrictions continue in Beijing after the outbreak in the Xinfadi wholesale market was linked to 300 cases. Mass testing has resumed and, as of Sunday, about a third of the city had been tested.
Looking Beyond Meat
As the U.S. fires up its grills in celebration of the Fourth of July, China is seeing a growing demand for alternative meat. Beyond Burger is making headway in China - Starbucks, KFC, and Taco Bell have all introduced the American meat alternative into their menu options, and Alibaba is now set to introduce the brand into roughly 200 of its grocery stores in major Chinese cities. But Beyond Burger is far from the first company to introduce alternative meat to the Chinese market. Homegrown companies like OmniPork in Hong Kong and Zhenmeat in Beijing have already tapped into the alternative meat market, which was worth 6.1 billion yuan ($883.8 million) in 2018, according to The Good Food Institute. Worries about the meat industry have also been raised after a new strain of swine flu was found in the country, which experts say has the potential to cause yet another pandemic. While the strain has yet to cause an outbreak in humans, researchers say the pathogen poses a "serious threat to human health", offering China another reason to move to sustainable protein options. For more on China's gastronomic changes, read "Embracing Plant-Based Meat in the Chinese Market" by Teresa Kennedy, recent graduate of Peking University's Yenching Academy.