-Top News Asia News

‘China not giving material support for Russia’: US official

Washington has warned of severe consequences, including sanctions, should China offer material support for Russia’s war effort…reports Asian Lite News

China has not yet seen evading sanctions or providing military equipment to Russia, a senior US official said, adding that enforcement measures taken earlier in the week targeted certain Chinese companies, not the government, media reported.

The Commerce Department added five companies in China to a trade blacklist on Tuesday for allegedly supporting Russia’s military and defense industrial base as Moscow carries out its war in Ukraine, according to a Reuters report.

Washington has warned of severe consequences, including sanctions, should China offer material support for Russia’s war effort, but have consistently said they have yet to detect overt Chinese military and economic backing of Moscow, it was reported.

Meanwhile, NATO, the world’s most powerful military alliance, has declared China as a security threat for the first time, warning that Beijing’s ambitions and coercive behaviour is a major challenge to the groups interests, putting its forces on a potential war-footing against Russia.

NATO’s new 10-year strategic blueprint, agreed to by leaders at a summit in Spain on Thursday morning (AEST), called out the rising Asian power for conducting “malicious” cyber operations, for its strategic partnership with Russia, rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal and its efforts to dominate key supply chains, Sydney Morning Herald reported.

China reacted to being labelled a threat by calling the Western alliance a “Cold War remnant” and a source of instability that is “smearing” Beijing’s international reputation.

Australia Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, at the summit as part of the Asia Pacific 4′ group of guests, said the Western world needs to reassert its democratic values.

He dismissed China’s criticism of NATO and declared the summit “extremely successful”, Sydney Morning Herald reported.

“What we’ve seen is the world come together in rejecting the Russian aggression on Ukraine, and also having a reassertion of our shared values of having a rules-based international order,” Albanese said before leaving for Paris.

“We need to reassert our democratic values and that is something that has occurred at this NATO summit.”

The 30-member alliance agreed to formally treat Russia as the “most significant and direct threat to the allies’ security”, condemning its “brutal and unlawful invasion” of Ukraine as having “gravely altered” Europe’s security environment.

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-Top News USA

US blocks over $1 bn in Russian oligarch’s assets

The move comes weeks after Fiji handed to the United States a $300 million superyacht linked to Kerimov, who has been under US sanctions since 2018 …reports Asian Lite News

The Treasury Department on Thursday blocked a US-based company worth more than $1 billion linked to Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, saying the ally of President Vladimir Putin used it to funnel and invest shadowy funds, media reported.

The Treasury Department said that Kerimov, a billionaire active in Russian politics, secretly managed the Delaware-based Heritage Trust which put its money into a number of large public companies, the AFP reported.

Heritage Trust, set up in 2017, brought money into the United States through shell companies and under-the-radar foundations established in Europe, report quoted Treasury Department officials as saying.

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen vowed that the United States would keep taking action “even as Russian elites hide behind proxies and complex legal arrangements.”

(Photo Pexels Aaron Schwartz)

The United States will “actively implement the multilaterally coordinated sanctions imposed on those who fund and benefit from Russia’s war against Ukraine,” she said in a statement.

The move comes weeks after Fiji handed to the United States a $300 million superyacht linked to Kerimov, who has been under US sanctions since 2018 over alleged money laundering and his role in the Russian government.

In June, the Biden administration hadannounced sanctions targeting Russian political and business elites. The Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on Sergei Roldugin and his family members.

Roldugin, the White House said, is a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin and a money manager of Putin’s offshore wealth.

Also on the sanctions list are the CEO of Imperial Yachts, which the White House said provides services to Putin’s inner circle, and the Head of the United Aircraft Corporation, a Russian state-owned company that supports the country’s defence industry.

Additionally, the Department of State also sanctioned a number of Russian individuals, including Maria Zakharova, the Spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, and oligarchs God Nisanov and Alexey Mordashov.

Mordashov, whose family members and companies are also being sanctioned, has ties to one of Russia’s leading domestic steel producers, the White House said.

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-Top News USA

Liz Cheney asks Republicans to get rid of Trump

Liz Cheney termed the January 6 Capitol attack a “conspiracy” and that the threat was “ongoing”…writes Ashok Nilakantan

Liz Cheney, Republican and Vice-Chair of the Senate committee probing the January 6 Capitol Hill riots, has called upon Republicans to get “Rid of Trump” as she said he is a “clear and present threat to both the GOP and to American democracy at large”.

She reiterated ex-president Donald Trump was a “dangerous and irrational man” to whom Republicans have played willing hostages as they cannot distinguish between loyalty to Trump and the constitution.

She said on Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan library at Simi Valley, California, according to USA today.

Condemning Trump’s seeming encouragement of rioters who attacked the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, Cheney also chided unnamed Republican leaders “who have made themselves willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man”.

Speaking to a friendly crowd – organizers of the event expressed concern about hecklers – Cheney also told fellow Republicans that they stand at “the edge of an abyss” and “we must pull back.”

She termed the January 6 Capitol attack a “conspiracy” and that the threat was “ongoing”.

She went to the extent of saying Trump is “clearly unfit” for future office, citing his refusal to stop the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill by his supporters to disrupt the announcement of the 2020 verdict electing democrat Joe Bide as President.

Cheney’s attacks on Trump echoed those she had made months before, including during her work on the special congressional committee investigating the January 6 insurrection.

The Wyoming congressperson, who has been ousted by her own Wyoming republican party at the behest of Trump, now faces maximum political peril serving on the senate committee and criticizing the ex-president.

Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, faces a Republican primary challenge in August from Harriet Hageman, a well-funded attorney who has Trump’s backing. Hageman called Cheney’s speech ironic, saying she “is the last one who should be giving lectures about the future of the Republican Party when she is single-handedly trying to burn it to the ground”.

The incumbent “is using Wyoming’s only House seat to further her own personal war on President Trump, while helping Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats achieve their own political goals at the same time,” Hageman said in a written statement she tweeted after the speech.

During a Tuesday committee hearing, Cheney led the questioning of Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide who testified that Trump was aware that some of his supporters had weapons on January 6, even as he urged them to march on the US Capitol to protest the election.

Trump — who reportedly vowed revenge on impeachment supporters — has frequently attacked both Cheney and her father, former Republican Vice President Dick Cheney. During a rally in Wyoming in May, Trump said “the Cheney’s are die-hard globalists and warmongers who have been plunging us into new conflicts for decades, spilling American blood and spending American treasure all over the world.”

Toward the end of her remarks, Cheney praised the young women leaders she has met, and joked about their future challenges. Said Cheney: “These days, for the most part, men are running the world – and it is really not going that well.”

“The reality that we face today as Republicans, as we think about the choice in front of us, we have to choose because Republicans cannot both be loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution,” she said.

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-Top News USA

Biden announces $800m military aid package to Ukraine

With the latest tranche of assistance, the US has committed about $7 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since late February when Russia invaded its neighbour…reports Asian Lite News

President Joe Biden has said the US will soon announce a new $800m military aid package to Ukraine, bringing the total since he took office to nearly $7bn.

Biden said the aid, which will be announced in the coming days, will include advanced air defence system and artillery support as Ukraine continues to face a Russian offensive in the eastern Donbas region.

“The United States is rallying the world to stand with Ukraine,” he said, adding the support would continue “as long as it takes”.

Biden spoke on the final day of a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, in which the 30-country bloc agreed to a new strategic framework that focuses on the “direct threat” from Russia and for the first time acknowledged the “challenges” posed by what leaders described as China’s “coercive policies”.

The US President also pushed back on the suggestion that, in light of an array of domestic issues, including gun violence, inflation woes, and the rollback of abortion rights, some US allies think Biden has failed to live up to its pledge to reassert Washington’s leadership on the international stage.

“America is better positioned to lead the world than we ever have been,” he said.

“I have not seen anyone come up to me … nor have you heard them say anything other than ‘Thank you for America’s leadership …You’ve changed the dynamic of NATO and the G7 [Group of Seven bloc of nations],’” Biden said.

He spoke after announcing earlier in the week that the US would boost its military presence in Europe to bolster NATO. Washington is set to create an army base in Poland, send 5,000 additional troops to Romania, deploy two F-45 squadrons, and increase the number of US navy destroyers in Spain.

Biden hailed the NATO summit as having “rallied our alliances to meet both the direct threats Russia poses [to] Europe and the systemic challenges that China poses to a rules-based world order”.

Meanwhile, he praised the official invitation for Sweden and Finland to join NATO, which will increase the bloc’s border with Russia by 1,287km (800 miles) via Finland.

That move came after Turkey dropped its opposition to the two Nordic countries joining the bloc.

Biden said during a sideline meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he voiced his support for Washington selling F-16 fighter jets to Ankara, which would fulfil a long-standing request.

Biden maintained there was “no quid pro quo” in the statement, but noted he would need Congressional approval to make the sale.

With the latest tranche of assistance, the US has committed about USD 7 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since late February when Russia invaded its neighbour.

Biden also said Americans should expect to pay higher gas prices as long as it takes so Russia cannot, in fact, defeat Ukraine and move beyond Ukraine.

Russia’s invasion of its neighbour is blamed for driving up the oil price.

This is a critical, critical position for the world, Biden said at a news conference on Thursday on the final day of the NATO summit in Madrid.

Biden said Russia, Russia, Russia is the reason people are spending more at the pump. He’s talking with US allies about setting a cap on the price of Russian oil, limiting how much money that Moscow can make from its exports.

Biden emphasised his long-term support for Ukraine as the war drags on, saying, “We are going to stick with Ukraine. I don’t know what it how it’s going to end, but it will not end with a Russian defeat of Ukraine in Ukraine.”

Although gas prices remain a political challenge for Biden, he said that he wouldn’t use his scheduled trip to Saudi Arabia next month to request more oil production.

Biden said NATO had transformed itself by adapting to a rapidly changing security situation around the globe.

Closing the military alliance’s summit in Madrid on Thursday, Biden described the meeting as historic.

The three-day summit included the Biden administration announcing plans to permanently bolster the US military presence in Europe, an agreement between Turkey, Finland and Sweden to pave the way for the accession of Nordic nations into NATO, and the alliance updating its strategic concept reflect that China’s coercive policies are a challenge to the Western bloc’s interests.

Biden noted the last time NATO updated its strategic concept Russia was characterised as a partner and the document didn’t even mention China.

The world has changed, changed a great deal since then, Biden said told a press conference.

Turning towards domestic issues, Biden said the recent decision by the conservative-controlled US Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade, which removed federal protections for abortion that had been in place for nearly 50 years, has been “destabilising” to the US public, and reiterated his stance that the ruling was “outrageous”.

He said the US Senate should move to override the filibuster, a legislative mechanism that requires 60 votes in the 100-member chamber to pass most legislation, in order to pass privacy protections that would reinstate federal abortion protections.

He said “if the filibuster gets in the way … we should provide an exception”.

Biden also demurred when asked if, during his upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia in July, he would ask King Salman or Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to increase oil production to lower prices, which have skyrocketed following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Biden said that while he has indicated that he supports Gulf countries increasing oil production, his meetings would focus on a broad range of issues, in particular normalisation agreements between Israel and Arab countries.

Polls have shown Biden’s approval rating plummet amid high oil prices and inflation, which have increased the cost of living for US residents.

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-Top News China

China’s top trouble-shooter in Pakistan to ‘secure’ CPEC

According to Pakistani observers, “whatever demands and concerns Yang conveys and any commitments that he makes during his meetings here will be seen as coming directly from President Xi.”…writes MRITYUNJOY KUMAR JHA

Keeping pressure on the Pakistani government amid concerns about the security of its projects and citizens, China has sent its top trouble-shooter to Islamabad.

Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of Communist Party of China (CPC) and director of the Central Committee on Foreign Affairs had a separate meeting with the Pakistani premier Shehbaz Sharif, Foreign Minister Bilawal Zardari Bhutto and the Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday to allow the Chinese security forces to secure the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The Pakistanis have so far rejected the Chinese request. Beijing is increasingly worried about the security of CPEC, which passes through restive Balochistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). Several Chinese personnel have been killed by Baloch militants and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) cadres including nine Chinese engineers working at the Dhasu power project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Yang, who is considered as the architect of Beijing’s 21st century foreign policy, is accompanied by China’s vice ministers for foreign affairs and commerce, vice chairman of the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) and deputy secretary general of National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

According to Pakistani observers, “whatever demands and concerns Yang conveys and any commitments that he makes during his meetings here will be seen as coming directly from President Xi.”

According to sources, Yang wanted to convey China’s concerns and “unhappiness” over the security provided by the Pakistani agencies. Consequently, he raised the Chinese proposal of setting up a nodal security agency in the country. But so far, the Pakistani government has been resisting the Chinese “proposal”.

“Pakistan has assured China’s most senior and influential diplomat on Wednesday that the Chinese investors in the country would be provided unwavering security arrangements,” said the Pakistani Foreign Office adding that the prime minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to enhanced measures for safety, security and protection of the Chinese nationals, projects and institutions in the country.”

According to Pakistani media, the relation between “iron brothers” has been under heavy stress and it has become more evident when Yang conveyed his “unhappiness” to the Pakistani leadership about the lack of progress in the prosecution of people involved in the April 26 attack in which three Chinese teachers were killed in Karachi. And even after two months, neither the mastermind nor other major actors involved in the attack have been apprehended.

Chinese men start arming themselves at CPEC project sites in Pak

Yang has asked the Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Zardari Bhutto to push “hard” for Majeed Brigade of the banned Balochistan Liberation Army’s Fidayeen (suicide) unit, to be listed on the UNSC 1267 Terror Sanctions list. The group has been behind most of the attacks on Chinese.

Earlier, the Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had promised to a Chinese security delegation last month that the Pakistan security agencies would set up a foreign security cell at the Central Police Office (CPO) with the requisite staff and logistics. As per the report, the Special Branch, Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) and Security Division were assigned to audit the security arrangements periodically. The Pakistan Army had raised a special security division just to look after CPEC projects and Chinese workers. But the Chinese were not “impressed” because “mere words did not match by deeds”.

The Chinese are also concerned about the renewed threats coming from the TTP. On Wednesday the TTP boss Noor Wali Mehsud had blamed Pakistani security agencies for killing people on the behest of China in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa regions. The TTP chief admitted that his fighters have been targeting Chinese interests, including the attack on the Chinese ambassador in Quetta in April last year.

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with

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-Top News Asia News Bangladesh

Pak-backed fugitive war criminal Shafi gets death penalty

The three other accused in the case, Tajul Islam alias Forkan, Md Jahed Miah alias Jahid Miah, and Saleque Miah alias Sayek Miah, were sentenced imprisonment until death on the same charges….reports Sumi Khan

The International Crimes Tribunal-1 (ICT-1) of Bangladesh on Thursday sentenced Pakistan-backed fugitive war criminal Md Shafi Uddin Moulana, a Razakar Bahini leader, to death for crimes against humanity during the Liberation War of 1971 at Lakhai upazila in Habiganj.

Shafi, who is absconding since the beginning of the case, was the central committee secretary of East Pakistan Nezam-e-Islam, a wing of Jamaat-e-Islami. He participated in the provincial assembly elections as its candidate, according to the case records.

The three-member tribunal, headed by Justice Md Shahinur Islam, found the other accused guilty of the charges brought against them for committing genocide, murders, rapes, abductions and tortures during the 1971 Liberation War in Lakhai.

The three other accused in the case, Tajul Islam alias Forkan, Md Jahed Miah alias Jahid Miah, and Saleque Miah alias Sayek Miah, were sentenced imprisonment until death on the same charges.

The special court, however, acquitted another accused, Sabbir Ahmed, of war crime charges.

According to the verdict, Sabbir, who is also on the run, got acquitted as the prosecution failed to prove the charges brought against him. The tribunal withdrew an arrest warrant it had earlier issued against Sabbir.

In 1971, Shafi took the stance against the Independence of Bangladesh and worked as a close associate and collaborator for the Pakistani Occupation Army.

He was also known as a leader of the �peace committee and Razakar Bahini of Lakhai’ and worked as the auxiliary force of Pakistan Army, who committed genocide, rapes and killings.

Tajul, Jahed and Saleque were members of the Razakar Bahini.

The tribunal’s investigating agency released the final report on March 21, 2016 against the five accused per sons.

The trial in the case began on February 8, 2019 with the framing of charges against the accused.

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-Top News USA

Omicron variants: US FDA backs Covid boosters

The Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants, currently driving the fresh wave of Covid cases globally, are known to evade vaccine induced immunity….repors Asian Lite News

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended vaccine manufacturers to develop booster shots against Covid-19 targeting Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants.

While currently available vaccines have helped reduce hospitalisation and death caused by Covid, results from several observational studies have shown that effectiveness of primary vaccination wanes over time against certain variants, including Omicron.

The Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants, currently driving the fresh wave of Covid cases globally, are known to evade vaccine induced immunity.

The FDA recommendation is based on the advice of independent experts on the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee that voted in favour of including a SARS-CoV-2 Omicron component in Covid-19 vaccines that would be used for boosters in the US beginning in September.

“As we move into the fall and winter, it is critical that we have safe and effective vaccine boosters that can provide protection against circulating and emerging variants to prevent the most severe consequences of Covid-19,” said Peter Marks, Director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, in a statement on Thursday.

“We have advised manufacturers seeking to update their Covid-19 vaccines that they should develop modified vaccines that add an Omicron BA.4/5 spike protein component to the current vaccine composition to create a two component (bivalent) booster vaccine, so that the modified vaccines can potentially be used starting in early to mid-fall 2022,” he added.

The FDA, however, has not advised manufacturers to change the vaccine for primary vaccination, since it provides a base of protection against serious outcomes of Covid-19 caused by circulating strains of SARS-CoV-2.

Vaccine manufacturers like Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax have already been testing Omicron-targeted versions of their shots.

Their early data, based on the BA.1 variant, promises a stronger immune response to the Omicron variant than existing shots.

The FDA advised the drugmakers to conduct additional clinical trials on BA.4 and BA.5 shots, as well as send in data from the BA.1 shots to the agency for evaluation.

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India News

India, Saudi Arabia agree to enhance defence cooperation

During the meeting, the two sides reviewed the progress made in military-to-military engagements, including joint exercises, expert exchanges and industry cooperation….reports Asian Lite News

India and Saudi Arabia have decided to work towards enhancing defence industry cooperation.

At the 5th meeting of India – Saudi Arabia Joint Committee on Defence Cooperation (JCDC) in New Delhi on Wednesday, the two sides decided to identify new avenues and examine areas of mutual interest for Joint Venture in order to enhance defence industry cooperation, the Ministry of Defence said on Thursday.

During the meeting, the two sides reviewed the progress made in military-to-military engagements, including joint exercises, expert exchanges and industry cooperation.

Enhancing the scope and complexities of the existing joint naval exercises and expanding bilateral exercises in other domains were also discussed, the ministry added.

The JCDC meeting was co-chaired by Joint Secretary (Armed Forces) Shri Dinesh Kumar and Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister of Defence for Strategic Affairs Mr Ahmed A Aseeri.

According to the defence ministry, it was agreed to hold the next meeting of JCDC in Saudi Arabia on mutually convenient dates in 2023.

The JCDC is the apex body between the Defence Ministries of India and Saudi Arabia to comprehensively review & guide all aspects of bilateral defence cooperation.

On Thursday, the Saudi Deputy Minister called on Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar and they discussed ways to enhance defence cooperation between the two countries. He also interacted with the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC).

A Defence Industry interaction was also organised for the delegation in which a number of Indian defence industries participated.

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India News

Parliament’s Monsoon Session to begin from July 18

The session will encompass the elections for the posts of President and Vice President….reports Asian Lite News

The Parliament’s Monsoon Session will start on July 18 and go on till August 12, the Lok Sabha Secretariat announced on Thursday

“The ninth session of the 17th Lok Sabha will commence on Monday, July 18, 2022. Subject to exigencies of government business, the session is likely to conclude on Friday, August 12, 2022,” a notification from the Lok Sabha Secretariat said.

The session will encompass the elections for the posts of President and Vice President.

The election for the top constitutional post of President will be held on July 18, the the first day of the session, while the polling for the Vice President’s election will be held on August 6.

The Monsoon session usually commences in the third week of July and concludes ahead of Independence Day.

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-Top News China

HK rights protesters and Chinese nationals clash in Melbourne

Activist Max Mok alleged that he was ‘assaulted’ after he began shouting ‘free East Turkestan’ and ‘Hong Kong independence’….reports Asian Lite News

Chinese ‘nationalists’ have clashed with Hong Kong human rights protesters at a China versus Australia basketball match, media reports said.

Crowds were left shocked at the violent display during the FIBA World Cup qualifier on Thursday at the John Cain Arena in Melbourne, Daily Mail reported.

Activist Max Mok alleged that he was ‘assaulted’ after he began shouting ‘free East Turkestan’ and ‘Hong Kong independence’.

Footage showed him yelling and holding a poster before he is pushed by a larger man as his girlfriend tries to hold him back.

Mok’s poster was demanding the release of Mirzat Taher, an Australian Uyghur political prisoner held in China for 25 years, Daily Mail reported.

Another protester brandishes a Tibetan flag — used since the 1960s as a symbol of the Tibetan independence movement.

The flag is banned in mainland China because the Communist superpower claims Tibet as its territory, therefore says the flag of the People’s Republic of China should represent it.

Security personnel at the John Cain Arena were forced to intervene to break up the clash and then called in the police to assist them.

It is understood that the police removed some of the crowd members involved from the stadium.

Character of HK has fundamentally changed

Critics think that Beijing has shattered this promise in recent years with a restrictive national security law and electoral reforms which allow only “patriots” to run for Hong Kong’s leadership, BBC reported.

The 2020 law followed massive pro-democracy protests in 2019, which included violent clashes between demonstrators and police.

Now, observers say, there is a slim hope for a more democratic political system and they fear that the character of the city has fundamentally changed, with Beijing in full control.

“Most Hong Kong people think that ‘one country, two systems’ has already disappeared,” says Ted Hui, a former pro-democracy lawmaker who has fled the city, BBC reported.

Authorities say the national security law affects a minority, but Hui says it stifles Hong Kong’s once-vibrant civil society.

In its wake, dozens of groups, including political parties and unions, have disbanded. The annual candlelight vigil commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and the July 1 handover anniversary march have been effectively banned by authorities.

Several pro-democracy media outlets, including Apple Daily and Stand News, have closed down in the past year, BBC reported.

Hong Kong, once a beacon of press freedom in Asia, was ranked 148th in the world for press freedom this year, tumbling down nearly 70 places since the previous year.

And “the city of demonstrations” — which has a long history of peaceful protest — has fallen silent since the national security law took effect.

“It’s fair to say that no large-scale, on-the-ground protests will occur in Hong Kong in the foreseeable future,” said Jeffrey Ngo, a policy and research fellow of US-based Hong Kong Democracy Council, BBC reported.

“Beginning in 2020, you have people in Hong Kong who are either in jail and therefore can’t do anything, or some who try to stay out of jail so they self-censor for good reason.”

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