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The Weekly Brief

Just a quick update in case you missed it.

Released on 07.07.2023

Hong Kong government 'spends millions' to advance Beijing's interests in Washington

The Hong Kong government has paid millions of dollars to political lobbyists in Washington in recent years in a little-known overseas influence operation that aims to get U.S. politicians doing Beijing's bidding, according to a new report from a Hong Kong activist group. "Heavyweights and the well-connected in Washington ... play an active role in advancing Beijing's interests on American soil," according to a new report from the Hong Kong Democracy Council.

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As it surrenders on the BRI, China attacks Meloni and the US

The Italian government is leaning towards exiting China’s Belt and Road Initiative. And Beijing has embarked on an increasingly vigorous charm offensive to convince Rome to stay. The latest prong of this was a Thursday article on the State-owned tabloid Global Times, which reflects the Chinese Communist Party’s growing anxiety about Italy exiting its infrastructure and influence project. After underscoring the PM’s words, the Global Times article quotes an academic as stating that Rome is “facing a dilemma on preserving friendly and win-win relations with China due to pressure from the US and the impact caused by internal political struggles and populism.”

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French senators want a wider TikTok ban

French senators want Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok to be banned for the staff of strategic companies, according to a 183-page long report released Thursday. "ByteDance and TikTok are dependent on China on every level: technical, capital, political and legal," the rapporteur, Senator Claude Malhuret, told reporters. In March, the French Senate launched an inquiry committee into the popular platform, in a bid to look at “the use of the social network TikTok, its exploitation of data, its strategy of influence, propaganda and disinformation.”

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'De-risking' and 'reducing dependency on China' essentially protectionism, Cold War mentality: Chinese envoy to France

The West has been buzzing recently with theories of "de-risking from China" and "reducing dependency on China," and the essence of these theories is protectionism and Cold War mentality, Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye said in a recent interview. And a key message conveyed by Chinese Premier Li Qiang during his recent visit to Europe is that lack of cooperation is the greatest risk and stagnation is the largest source of insecurity, while choosing China is choosing a promising future, the Chinese diplomat said.

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Lithuania defies China over Taiwan ties in new Asia strategy

As Lithuania prepares to host the NATO leaders’ summit in less than a week, a new government strategy on the Indo-Pacific region published on Wednesday reinforces the Baltic country’s decision to build strong economic ties with Taiwan, in defiance of intense pressure from China to change course. The new document — which calls Taiwan’s trade ties one of its “strategic priorities” — comes as Brussels and Beijing enter a new phase of tension over trade. The Netherlands recently decided to block exports of advanced semiconductor machines to China, prompting Beijing to roll out export controls on critical minerals.


China’s Tech War with US, Europe Escalates as it Issues Export Curbs on Essential Chip-Making Metals

China announced export restrictions on two metals critical to semiconductor manufacturing, the Chinese Commerce Ministry confirmed late Monday, a warning to Europe and the US in their developing technological trade war over access to microchips. China’s commerce ministry announced that beginning August 1, it will exert control over the exports of eight gallium and six germanium products, citing the necessity to protect national security and interests. According to the statement, exporters of these raw materials must seek “special permission from the state” to ship them out of the country. These export licence applications must identify importers and end users and indicate how the metals will be used.

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Hong Kong changes law to slash directly elected council seats, undermining democratic challenges

Hong Kong lawmakers on Thursday passed an amendment to a law to eliminate most directly elected seats on local district councils, the last major political representative bodies chosen by the public, shutting down further democratic challenges in the city. The changes include slashing the proportion of directly elected seats in the municipal-level organization being from some 90% currently to just about 20% — even lower than the level when these bodies were first set up in the 1980s, when Hong Kong was ruled by Britain.

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