Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Ajay Sarma, Christiana Wayne
Friday, July 16, 2021, 4:03 PM

The United States imposed sanctions on seven Chinese officials over the Chinese government’s crackdown on democratic institutions in Hong Kong under the new national security law, according to Reuters. The targets of the sanctions are all deputy directors in China’s Hong Kong liaison office. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced, “In the face of Beijing's decisions over the past year that have stifled the democratic aspirations of people in Hong Kong, we are taking action. Today we send a clear message that the United States resolutely stands with Hong Kongers.”

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the riots that have rocked the country for the past week were a pre-planned attack on democracy, according to the BBC. More than 200  people have been killed during the violence, and an estimated $1 billion worth of stock has been stolen in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Damaged or blocked roads have resulted in food shortages in KwaZulu-Natal, the home province of now-jailed former President Jacob Zuma and the epicenter of the riots.

U.S. prosecutors argued that the first defendant in a felony case related to the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 should receive an 18-month prison sentence, reports the Washington Post. Paul Allard Hodgkins, who pleaded guilty to entering the Capitol to obstruct Congress, carried a Trump flag into the well of the Senate. In a sentencing request, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Mona Sedky highlighted the “need to deter others … in cases involving domestic terrorism.” 

A Reuters photojournalist was killed during conflict between Afghanistan government forces and the Taliban near a Pakistan border crossing, according to the Associated Press. Reuters said the Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Danish Siddiqui, who was embedded in an Afghan special forces commando unit, was likely killed in Taliban crossfire after it had overtaken the Spin Boldak crossing. Siddiqui’s death comes while Taliban insurgents regain land and power in Afghanistan as the U.S. withdraws from the nation.

The United Nation’s top official Michelle Bachelet called on the Cuban government to release protestors and journalists arrested during the anti-government protests that have swept the nation in the past week, according to Deutsche Welle. Bachelet also demanded an investigation into the death of a man involved in the protests. Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel had initially blamed the unrest on the United States and social media but has since admitted his government’s mistakes. He said, "We have to gain experience from the disturbances. We also have to carry out a critical analysis of our problems in order to act and overcome, and avoid their repetition.”

The Chinese government and a Pakistani official speaking on the condition of anonymity revealed that an explosion that killed nine Chinese workers and four others in Pakistan on Wednesday was a terrorist attack, according to the New York Times. A vehicle carrying explosives was driven by a suicide attacker into a convoy of Chinese workers en route to a project site. Li Keqiang, China’s prime minister, urged a thorough investigation of the incident as a terrorist attack during a phone call with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. A group of Chinese investigators will support Pakistan’s inquiry.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Lawfare Senior Editor Alan Rozenshtein discusses his recent article on the new Florida social media legislation.

Thomas E. Kellogg and Eric Yan-ho Lai discussed the challenges of a fair trial for defendants indicted under China’s newly implemented National Security Law.

Abby Lemert and Eleanor Runde covered China’s cybersecurity reviews of foreign IPOs, WeChat’s censorship of some LGBTQ accounts and more in the newest installation of SinoTech.

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