There's an air of conspiracy in the basement bar of the Ruskin Hotel in Blackpool, where 100 or so Tories have gathered to heap scorn on the EU and its latest big idea. \nOverlooking them is a framed, autographed portrait of Baroness Margaret Thatcher, Britain's Conservative prime minister throughout the 1980s, who is today the spiritual leader of the nation's legion of euroskeptics. \nWith an EU constitution in the pipeline, Thatcher would have agreed with much of what was being said at this hour-long critique of the EU, organized on the fringes of the Conservatives' annual conference by the Bruges Group, a euroskeptic think tank. \nEurope is one of the issues that splits the Conservatives, Britain's main opposition party, which has failed thus far to exploit Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair's mid-term slump to rebuild its popular support. \nSo divisive is Europe, in fact, that Tory Chairman Theresa May didn't mention the word during her keynote speech at the annual Conservative party conference, which opened on Monday in Blackpool, northwest England, with the singing of "God Save the Queen." She'd prefer, like Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, for the party to concentrate on wooing British voters with hopeful talk of deep tax cuts and better public services. \nBut Europe is one topic that won't go away -- not with the 25 current and future EU member states now haggling over the fine points of the bloc's first-ever constitution in hopes of nailing down a consensus by December. \nEuroskeptics, or "euro-realists" as some would prefer, see the constitution sweeping away 1,000 years of British national sovereignty, leading to a European superstate with orders coming down from "eurocrats" in Brussels. \nThey also reject the idea of an EU foreign minister who could run roughshod over Britain's more pro-US foreign policy, and fear the creation of a European military force that could rival NATO. \nBlair denies that it's all as bad as that, but many Conservatives are insisting on a full-dress referendum in Britain on the EU constitution.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
A squad of gun-toting police officers patrolled Myanmar’s sacred site of Bagan under the cover of night, taking on plunderers snatching relics from temples forsaken by tourists due to COVID-19 restrictions. Each evening as dusk falls, about 100 officers fan out across the plain of Bagan covering 50km2, sweeping flashlights over the crumbling monuments to scour for intruders. “Our security forces are patrolling day and night,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Sein Win told reporters. “We have it under control for the moment, but it’s a challenge.” The central Burmese city is strewn with more than 3,500 ancient monuments — stupas, temples, murals and sculptures