Saturday night at the protest camp © Amie Tsang
“If you have not shown up by midnight I will assume you are a no-show. Checkout is at noon. You are alone? For girls on their own, for safety, we recommend these tents here.” The receptionist gestures to a row of camouflaged tents nearby. “The only problem is it will be more noisy.” Read more
Hong Kong’s political crisis
The scale and persistence of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have taken many by surprise. Gideon Rachman is joined by David Pilling, Asia bureau chief, and Tom Mitchell, Beijing correspondent, to discuss the crisis and China’s response.
Protesters remain on the streets of Hong Kong’s central commercial district on Tuesday, following three days of demonstrations. They are calling for changes to the way Hong Kong chooses its chief executive, its top politician. Here’s an explainer of what’s going on.
By Gideon Rachman
The demonstrations on the streets of Hong Kong present China with its biggest political challenge since the pro-democracy movement was crushed in and around Tiananmen Square in 1989. The parallels between the demonstrations in Hong Kong now and those in Beijing, 25 years ago are eerie – and must be profoundly unsettling to the Communist party leadership. Once again, the demonstrations are led by students demanding democratic reform. Once again, the central authorities have lost control – and risk facing a choice between repression and a humiliating climbdown. Once again, the ultimate question is the power and authority of the Communist party in Beijing.
A pro-democracy demonstrator (centre) gestures in front of a police line near the Hong Kong government headquarters © Getty
There can’t be many uprisings where those being tear gassed stop to pick up their own rubbish. It is a mark of Hong Kong’s sense of civic responsibility – of course precisely the quality that makes so eminently reasonable its aspiration to choose its own leader – that even its radical vanguard behaves so courteously. Read more
Demonstrators march in support of Erwiana Sulistyaningsih in Hong Kong (Getty)
Behind the shiny skyscrapers and business friendly reputation of Hong Kong lies a darker side. One of the attractions of the city for expatriate bankers and middle-class Chinese residents alike is the plentiful supply of domestic help at a very “reasonable” cost. A live-in maid, working six days a week, often for very long hours, is paid a minimum monthly wage of around $515.
The arrest this week of a woman accused of torturing her Indonesian maid over a six-month period highlights the extreme vulnerability of overseas domestic workers to exploitation. Many are virtually locked away in the ranks of tower blocks that crowd in on Hong Kong Harbour and beyond, away from scrutiny. Maids tend to leave the house only when they run errands or walk the dog – or on Sundays, the statutory day off, when the concrete walkways and tiny parks of Hong Kong are taken over by encampments of domestic workers with nowhere else to go. Read more
♦ Spain may be emerging from the recession with a more competitive economy, but critics claim that confidence in the rebound is premature and potentially dangerous.
♦ A leaked video shows Egyptian Army officers debating how to influence the media before the military takeover.
♦ Patrick Cockburn writes about how media coverage of conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria doesn’t always reflect the whole reality of each war.
♦ Justice officials in Hong Kong admitted to knowing that one of Berlusconi’s allies tried to interfere with evidence in a money laundering case, where Berlusconi’s son is one of the defendents, according to the South China Morning Post.
♦ The stance of some Republican House members on the US government shutdown is generating anger among senior Republican officials, who think the small bloc of conservatives is undermining the party and helping President Obama. Read more
♦ The price of Egypt’s revolutionary passion is exceedingly high, says Roula Khalaf. “What lies ahead, at least in the short term, is another huge leap into the unknown.”
♦ The Middle East descends into chaos as the US reverts its focus back to Israel.
♦ Khaled Fahmy, a professor at the American University in Cairo and an anti-Morsi activist, lays out the seven deadly sins of the Muslim Brotherhood, highlighting the vast divide between them and the opposition.
♦ Anyone who thought the military had been swept aside in Egypt was wrong, argues H.A. Hellyer, a fellow at the Brookings Institution. “The Egyptian military is not, and never has been, an ideological institution. Its main concerns have been to maintain its independence vis-à-vis the rest of the state, and to ensure the stability of Egypt – without which it would be forced to involve itself in the mess of governing tens of millions of Egyptians.”
♦ Europe’s spying businesses are thriving, despite the uproar over privacy.
♦ China’s slowdown is dragging Hong Kong down, argues William Pesek at Bloomberg.
♦ The Guardian interview twenty-somethings in Europe, who are highly educated and yet missing out on homes, pensions, independence and steady employment.
♦ The BBC visits two Goodyear-owned tyre factories in Amiens, north France, to look at how the country is getting to grips with labour reform.
♦ The nuclear stand-off with Iran can be resolved now that Hassan Rohani has been elected, writes Ayatollah Seyed Salman Safavi.
♦ Thousands of mainland Chinese have permanent residency in The Gambia – as the fastest and cheapest way for a Chinese citizen to gain right of residency in Hong Kong is to first gain permanent residency in mainland Africa’s smallest country.
♦ For the first time in human history, overweight people outnumber the underfed, and obesity is widespread in wealthy and poor nations alike.
♦ The US scrambles to save Taliban talks after an Afghan backlash. Also, take a look at the Taliban’s new Doha office.
♦ With protests continuing in Brazil, it’s a good time to take a read through our São Paulo correspondent’s feature on BBQ activists. Read more
By Aranya Jain
♦Hassan Rohani, the only moderate candidate left in Iran’s upcoming elections, promised reform and unveiled his past in a documentary aired on state TV.
♦ Japan attempts to increase entrepreneurship by making taking out loans easier and encouraging innovation, but changing the system will not be easy.
♦ We are entering a new age of big data, and have yet to understand what this will mean. Our lack of privacy does not end with the NSA, as many big data companies are also able to collect our data trails, and infer things about us from them.
♦ Post-Arab Spring North Africa remains fragile, and is reminiscent of post-Communist eastern and central Europe, but what Africa needs is a role model for democracy.
♦ Snowden claims that the NSA has been hacking China and Hong Kong for years will test Sino-US ties.
♦ This website, via interactive graphics and charts, allows you to explore information about land deals, from a web of which regions are investing in each other to charts that delineate what the land is being used for.
♦ What Mandela’s legacy can leave behind – Roy Isacowitz argues that Israel should emulate Mandela to pursue peace but that it will not do so. Read more
Edward Snowden (Getty)
The NSA whistleblower has revealed himself – Edward Snowden is a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA who was employed by the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton prior to leaking documents to the Guardian. “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said.
The Guardian reveals that, despite not having a high school diploma, his talents in computer programming helped him rise within the CIA. Read more
Today brought yet another headline about the apparently relentless rise of the Chinese economy. The OECD predicts that China will be the world’s largest economy (in PPP terms) by 2016. Not long, now.
Yet there are still many China bears – both inside the country and outside it. Those who suggest that there is something rotten in the state of China point to many things, from the environment to corruption. One of the most popular bearish arguments is the extent of capital flight from the country. If everything is so good in China – say the bears – how come so many rich Chinese are eager to get their money out of the country? Perhaps they know something we don’t? Read more
Algeria, Pakistan, pollution, and Vogue magazine – the world desk’s recommended reads Read more
(MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images)
Over the weekend, my son and I walked up to the Peak in Hong Kong. We set off from the wrong point, which meant that that the walk took longer than it should have – and we kept getting cut off, by private roads.
On the other hand, our circuitous route gave us the chance to stare into the front rooms, back gardens and swimming pools of some of the priciest properties in the world. For example, this modest town-house on Severn Road would set you back about $30m (that’s US). If you really want, you could spend twice that on a mere apartment in the most luxurious blocks in Hong Kong.
The downside of the incredible prices being fetched for Hong Kong property is that finding somewhere to live is increasingly tough for people on normal incomes. Now the Hong Kong government, normally noted for its laissez-faire attitude, has acted. Over the weekend it imposed a 15% stamp duty on property purchases by non-residents. Estate agents are predicting a sharp drop-off in interest from buyers from mainland China, who have been driving up prices. Read more
These are the pieces that caught our attention this morning: