Asian Insider, July 1: Hong Kong arrests 9 under new security law, Australia to project military power in the Indo-Pacific, pandemic-fuelled baby boom in Indonesia

Hi all,

In today’s bulletin: Hong Kong officials arrest 9 under new security law as protests break out on handover anniversary, Australia to revamp defence with A$270 billion spending on new acquisitions and upgrades, Singapore’s general election picks up steam, China demands more information from US media outlets in the country, Indonesia prepares for a pandemic-fuelled baby boom, and more.

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HONG KONG POLICE ARREST 9 UNDER NEW SECURITY LAW AS PROTESTS BREAK OUT ON HANDOVER ANNIVERSARY

Nine people were arrested under Hong Kong’s new national security law today, soon after the legislation passed by China’s Parliament yesterday took effect, as protests took place on the anniversary of the city’s handover to China. Matters turned tense as police fired tear gas and pepper balls on protesters and used water cannons to disperse the activists in Causeway Bay, the venue for large demonstrations. In all, more than 180 people were arrested by evening, reports Hong Kong Correspondent Claire Huang. 

Hours before the demonstrations began, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam declared that the new national security law would be a historic step for ties between the city and China. She called it a “necessary and timely” move to restore stability, at a reception to mark the 23rd anniversary of the change from the British rule to China.

Meanwhile, reactions were coming from around the world on China’s move to rush through the new legislation. 

Related stories: 

UK says China’s security law is serious violation of Joint Declaration on Hong Kong

US, allies deplore China’s new Hong Kong security law

Canada warns citizens new Hong Kong law poses risk of ‘arbitrary detention’

CANBERRA INCREASES DEFENCE SPENDING BY 40% TO PROJECT POWER IN THE INDO-PACIFIC

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison earmarked A$270 billion (S$260 billion) for new capabilities and upgrades over the coming decade to strengthen the armed forces as Canberra shifts its focus to projecting military power across the Indo-Pacific, reports said.

The announcement comes just a day after Australia announced the “largest-ever” boost in cyber-security spending and follows widening differences between Canberra and Beijing.

“We must face the reality that we have moved into a new and less benign strategic era,” Mr Morrison said in a major policy speech. 

Canberra will acquire a more powerful strike capability, that can hit targets thousands of kilometres from Australia, invest in drones and boost research into hypersonic and direct energy weapons like lasers. 

Also read: 

Australia contributor Jonathan Pearlman: Australia won’t yield to ‘coercion’ from China, says PM Morrison

SINGAPORE GE 2020: WILL HENG SWEE KEAT’S MOVE TO EAST COAST CHANGE OPPOSITION WP’S LONG-TERM STRATEGY?

Singapore’s upcoming general election saw the nomination of Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat as the leader of the five-man team that will battle the opposition Workers’ Party (WP) in the East Coast GRC, yesterday, raising speculation about its likely impact on votes. 

Mr Heng’s inclusion appeared to have been made at the last minute – his name was written into the nomination form and not printed like the rest of his team’s, writes Senior Political Correspondent Tham Yuen-C. The move was a surprise and could have repercussions for the WP that may last well beyond the July 10 election, she adds. 

This election is also seeing another opposition party, the Progress Singapore Party (PSP),  set up just a year ago, emerge as one of the most prominent opposition parties here – fielding the most candidates for this election among all the opposition parties. 

Catch the latest insights on Singapore GE here: 

GE2020: Singapore votes 

Don’t miss: 

Editor’s Take: The day’s top GE2020 news

CHINA ORDERS FOUR US NEWS OUTLETS FOR MORE INFO, IN TIT FOR TAT

China has ordered four US news outlets to disclose details on their staff and financial operations in the country within a week, as tensions continue to simmer between the two economies.

Media outlets that must report the information include the Associated Press, United Press International, CBS and NPR. The move follows Washington’s crackdown on four Chinese state media outlets based in the US last week.

Here’s more on US-China: 

Post-coronavirus, more in West see China as major power: Study

US-China confrontation and the danger of domestic politics

400,000 MORE BIRTHS IN INDONESIA’S PANDEMIC-FUELLED BABY BOOM

Even as Indonesian officials fight the growing number of coronavirus infections and deaths, some senior policy makers are scratching their heads over an unexpected boom in the number of births likely to happen. Indonesian authorities believe there could be 400,000 more births than usual next year, with lockdowns keeping couples at home and cutting access to contraception. The concern is also that it could lead to an increase in abortions and stunt growth in poorer families as couples limit their visits to clinics and hospitals.

Read more: 

Indonesia Correspondent Linda Yulisman: Indonesia set to see a Covid-19 baby boom

IN OTHER NEWS

MUHYIDDIN’S BERSATU TO CAMPAIGN FOR UMNO IN BY-ELECTION: Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia will be campaigning for the first time for former rival Umno party, in an upcoming by-election for the Chini state-assembly seat in Pahang. This will also be the first poll since the coronavirus pandemic hit the country.

ASIA’S FACTORIES SHOW WORST MAY BE OVER: Asia’s factory managers saw glimmers of hope in June, with the region’s purchasing managers indexes (PMIs) turning up across the board as demand from China picked up. PMIs for Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan – the region’s manufacturing powerhouses – improved slightly, but stayed below 50, the dividing line between contraction and expansion. Factory output in Vietnam and Malaysia grew for the first time since January and December, before the virus spread in the region. Indonesia’s index surged almost 11 points, the biggest increase since at least 2011, while remaining below 50.

SINGAPORE IPO MARKET TO BE LIVELIER IN SECOND HALF OF 2020: New listings may emerge as recovery takes hold in the second half after a volatile six months for capital markets. PricewaterhouseCoopers reported that there were just six initial public offerings (IPOs) in Singapore, raising a combined $700 million, between Jan 1 and June 26, compared with eight that raised $1.5 billion in the same period last year. However, equity markets have started to recover, writes Senior Correspondent Ovais Subhani and investors are betting on a rather speedy recovery in the second half of the year. 

INDIA’S AIRLINES IN A SPOT: Some of the country’s leading airlines are in a tight spot with the pandemic knocking their finances that were already under strain due to cheap fares, high fuel costs and taxes. The International Air Transport Association estimates that close to three million jobs in aviation and related industries could be lost in India this year because of the pandemic, as well as more than US$11 billion in revenue.

That’s it for today. Have a good week ahead, stay safe and we’ll be back with you tomorrow.  

Shefali 

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