EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 20/11/2019

South China Morning Post – Teddy Ng / China summons US diplomat, vows to retaliate if Donald Trump signs Hong Kong democracy act into law

  • China summoned a senior United States diplomat on Wednesday as it warned that it would retaliate if President Donald Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act into law, after the bill was passed by the US Senate. In a statement, the Chinese foreign ministry said Foreign Vice-Minister Ma Zhaoxu had summoned William Klein, the US embassy’s minister counsellor for political affairs.
  • Mr Klein was summoned after foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that any attempt by the US to interfere in China’s internal affairs would be in vain. “If the US sticks to its course, China will surely take forceful measures to resolutely oppose it to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests”, Mr Geng defended. 
  • The bill’s passage in the Senate came after the US House of Representatives passed its version last month. The Senate also passed the Protect Hong Kong Act, which would prohibit the export of non-lethal crowd control and defence items to Hong Kong.
  • Foreign Policy – Dominic Chiu / Hong Kong’s silent majority can speak at the ballot box

Financial Times – Sam Fleming & Mehreen Khan / EU must help regions hit by cost of going green, EIB chief warns

  • The EU must step up support for the regions that will be hit hard by the costs of going green according to Werner Hoyer, head of the EU’s investment bank, as the bloc gears up for a funding battle over its climate change objectives.
  • The president of the bank defended that it was “understandable” that Poland, Hungary and Romania voted last week against a landmark decision for the lender to phase out fossil fuel lending by 2021, saying they would be hardest hit by the decision.
  • The EU is aiming to become the first climate neutral major economy in the world by 2050. The European Commission has estimated that it will cost €300bn to fund the economic transition to reach the target, with the bulk of spending needed in higher-polluting countries in central and eastern Europe.
  • Mr Hoyer said that the EIB would still offer polluting countries economic support after fossil fuel funding was stopped: “We are going to certainly not reduce our lending to these countries only because we don’t finance fossil fuel projects any more after 2021. Probably the opposite will be true.” 
  • The Washington Post – Gerry Shih / Years after freezing new projects, China is back to building coal power plants

The New York Times – Adam Satariano & Martina Stevis-Gridneff / Big Tech’s toughest opponent says she’s just getting started

  • Margrethe Vestager stated that the public’s growing skepticism about technology has given her an opportunity for a tougher approach in comparison with her previous five years as the world’s top tech industry watchdog. “In the last five years, some of the darker sides of digital technologies have become visible,” Ms. Vestager said in an extended interview.
  • Ms Vestager has signed a rare second five-year term as the head of the European Commission’s antitrust division, and assumed expanded responsibility over digital policy. With the new power, she has outlined an agenda that squarely targets the tech giants. She’s weighing whether to remove some protections that shield large internet platforms from liability for content posted by users. She is also working on policies to make companies pay more taxes in Europe and she is investigating how the companies use data to box out competitors.
  • However, her success will depend on support and collaboration from other European officials who are already grappling with challenges like Britain’s exit from the EU, the rise of populism and fraying diplomatic relations with the USA. Moreover, it will require standing up to relentless resistance from the tech companies, too.
  • Financial Times – Rana Foroohar / Our personal data needs protecting from Big Tech

The Washington Post – Anthony Faiola & Rachelle Krygier / In Bolivia, an interim leader is leaving her conservative mark

  • Before she proclaimed herself Bolivia’s new president and greeted cheering supporters in La Paz with a Bible in hand, Jeanine Áñez promised that her “only objective” as interim leader would be to call new elections. However, in the week since the formerly obscure conservative senator assumed power, Áñez has acted like anything but a caretaker. She’s been putting her own ideological stamp on South America’s poorest nation as she pursues the opposition’s long-held dream of undoing nearly 14 years of socialist rule.
  • In just seven days, the U.S.-backed leader has replaced Bolivia’s top military brass, cabinet ministers and the heads of major state-owned companies with appointees of her own. Her administration has threatened to arrest “seditious” lawmakers, and has ejected allies of the old government, including Venezuelan diplomats and Cuban doctors.
  • Áñez and the opposition counter that Morales’s ouster was the proper outcome for an election stolen by a corrupt and power-hungry rabble-rouser. Morales, they say, is now instigating violence from afar, complicating her efforts to “pacify” the nation and set a date for new elections. Under Bolivia’s constitution, those elections must be called within 90 days of Morales’s resignation. On Monday, Áñez said she would set a date “soon.”
  • The office of the national ombudsman said “grave acts of violence” had caused the death of 21 people in the last week, most of them killed “during interventions by the police and armed forces.”

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and EsadeGeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.

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