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China To Suspend US Navy Visits To Hong Kong Over New Law

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China To Suspend US Navy Visits To Hong Kong Over New Law

China has on Monday suspended visits by US Navy ships and aircraft to Hong Kong after Washington passed legislation last week backing pro-democracy protesters in the semi-autonomous territory.

China’s Foreign Ministry announced that the measures were in response to U.S. legislation passed last week supporting anti-government protesters. It said it had suspended taking requests for U.S. military visits indefinitely, and warned of further action to come.

The ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying said at a news briefing in Beijing, “we urge the U.S. to correct the mistakes and stop interfering in our internal affairs. China will take further steps if necessary to uphold Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity and China’s sovereignty.”

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Beijing also unveiled sanctions against a number of US human rights groups.

Hua said China would sanction organizations including the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, Human Rights Watch, the International Republican Institute, Freedom House and others that she said had “performed badly” in the Hong Kong unrest, but did not specify what form the measures would take.

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Last week, President Donald Trump signed the Human Rights and Democracy Act into law, a law that mandates sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials who carry out human rights abuses and requires an annual review of the favorable trade status that Washington grants Hong Kong.

The legislation was backed by U.S. lawmakers who are sympathetic to the protesters and have criticized Hong Kong police for cracking down on the pro-democracy movement.

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Amid the ongoing protests, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has said she’ll accelerate dialogue but hasn’t offered any concessions since the elections.

The protests are blamed for driving the economy into recession. Tourism, airline and retail sectors have been hit particularly hard, with retail sales down about 20%.

Amid broader tensions between US and China, visits have at times been refused and two U.S. ships were denied access in August.

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Belarus President Closes Western Borders, Puts Army On High Alert

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Belarus President Closes Western Borders, Puts Army On High Alert

Protesters in Belarus are still angry in their sixth week of mass protests demanding the resignation of president Alexander Lukashenko.

The president has announced, in retaliation, he is putting troops on high alert and closing the country’s borders with Poland and Lithuania.  He also said the Belarusian border with Ukraine would be strengthened.

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Lukashenko insists the six weeks of protests are driven by the west. He faces increasing criticism from the united states and the European Union.

Demonstrations began after the disputed august presidential election official results gave the authoritarian leader a sixth term in office–results opponents say were manipulated.

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Bolivian Interim President Anez Withdraws From Election Race

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Bolivian Interim President Anez Withdraws From Election Race

Bolivia’s interim president Jeanine Anez has withdrawn from next month’s presidential election, saying she’s withdrawing in the interest of the party.

Anez, a former conservative senator, took office during the power vacuum that followed former president Morales’s departure after allegations of irregularities in last year’s election.  Those allegations fueled violent protests, and army pressure forced the country’s first indigenous president into exile in Mexico.

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Anez says if she does not step down, Morales would possibly return to power.

She declined to name the candidate for whom she will vote.

Next month’s election is the delayed rerun of last year’s ballot.  Anez’s candidacy had sparked controversy after she initially ruled herself out and pledged to guide the country to transparent new elections.

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By pulling out of the race, analysts say Anez could increase chances that the election will be pushed to a second round by consolidating the anti-Arce vote.

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To avoid a second round, the election winner requires at least 40 percent of valid votes in the first round and a 10-point advantage over the closest competitor.

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First Case-Free Day For New Zealand In Five Weeks

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First Case-Free Day For New Zealand In Five Weeks

New Zealand for the first time in more than five weeks has reported no new confirmed cases of the coronavirus amid efforts to stamp out an outbreak discovered in Auckland last month ending a spell of 102 days free of community transmission.

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The South Pacific nation with its population of five million has reported more than 1,800 cases of COVID-19 and 25 fatalities.

The report on Friday also marked the fourth consecutive day without any cases of community transmission. All recent cases have been found among quarantined travellers returning from abroad.

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Following strict measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic which were widely praised, New Zealand is in its deepest recession in decades after the country’s GDP shrank by 12.2% between April and June as the lockdown and border closures hit.

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Auckland lockdown began on 12 August after four cases were detected in the city of 1.5 million.

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