Stuart Lau

Stuart Lau

Stuart is a contributor to Inkstone. He is Europe Correspondent for the South China Morning Post.

Chinese-made coronavirus tests ditched in Spain over inaccuracy
Madrid, the capital city of Spain, has stopped using a rapid Covid-19 test kit made by a Chinese company after research suggested it was not accurate enough. Doubts over the kits’ reliability emerged as the number of confirmed cases in Spain rose sharply on Thursday to 57,786, with 4,365 deaths. Worldwide, the disease has now infected more than 540,000 people and killed over 24,000. The Spanish Society of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology (SEIMC), one of Spain’s leading research institutes, said on its website it had found that nose swabs developed by Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology had an accuracy rate of less than 30%. Spanish newspaper El País reported that the Madrid city gov
Italy scrambles to treat Covid-19 patients as death toll surpasses China’s
The death toll in Italy from the Covid-19 pandemic reached a grim milestone on Thursday as its number of fatalities surpassed the official total in China. Italian authorities announced 427 new deaths, pushing the total to 3,405, exceeding the total of 3,250 fatalities recorded across mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Dramatic footage has been circulating on social media, showing military vehicles taking corpses out of the Italian city of Bergamo because cremation facilities were overloaded. Italy has a population of 60 million, or less than 5% of mainland China’s 1.4 billion. But it also has the world’s second-oldest citizenry, after Japan. Some 30% of Italians were aged 60 or ab
Stay or go? Coronavirus outbreak forces Chinese in Italy to make tough choices
Wenzhou and Rome may be 5,800 miles apart, but public anxiety about the coronavirus is the same in both places. This is especially true for the thousands of businesspeople from the eastern Chinese coastal city, who have moved to the Italian capital in the last few decades and established one of the biggest Chinese communities in the country. About 100,000 people from Wenzhou, and another 100,000 from nearby Qingtian county, live in Italy, according to official Chinese data, with Milan also hosting a sizable Chinese community. But many are considering their short- and long-term future as Italy reels from the coronavirus epidemic, which has killed more than 148 people and infected roughly 3,85
UK approves limited use of Huawei technology in its 5G networks
The British government approved the limited use of Huawei Technologies’ equipment in the country’s roll-out of 5G mobile infrastructure on Tuesday, opening the door to rival European telecommunications gear suppliers Ericsson and Nokia. While that action imposes a cap on Huawei’s market share in Britain, it throws a lifeline to the embattled Chinese telecoms giant amid the Trump administration’s accusations that the company’s equipment poses a national security threat. It could also serve as a model for other European governments, including Germany, as they prepare to make similar decisions over their deployment of 5G – the next-generation mobile technology that will help power advances such
Top Chinese spying agency embroiled in German probe
China's top intelligence agency has been embroiled in a German probe into a former ambassador of the European Union who was accused of spying for China. Police raided nine addresses in Berlin and Brussels, as well as the German states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, on Wednesday. The authorities were targeting the ex-ambassador, who was not named, and two other people. The news was first reported by Der Spiegel magazine, which says that two of the addresses in question were linked to people who provided private and business information to the Chinese Ministry of State Security, the country’s top counter-intelligence and foreign intelligence unit. The case is the first in recent years invol
Hong Kong and Catalonia: two protest movements compared
On the streets of Barcelona last month, the blackened flags of the bauhinia that symbolize Hong Kong’s five-month-old anti-government movement were flown sporadically across the main tourist avenue turned demonstration site. In a nod back to their fellow demonstrators in Catalonia, Hong Kong protesters organized a sit-in in the city’s financial district Central in October to show solidarity with those fighting for their independence from Spain – a cause that has been relentlessly suppressed by Madrid. Spain’s ambassador to China, Rafael Dezcallar, played down the comparison, saying: “In both cases, there were protests on the streets and clashes with the police. However, the parallels stop th
Chinese professor accused of spying banned from entering 26 Europe states
A Chinese professor who headed a Confucius Institute in Brussels has been barred from entering the 26 European countries that make up the Schengen zone for eight years after being accused of espionage, amid growing scrutiny of the Beijing-run cultural offices that have been established at universities around the world. Song Xinning, former director of the institute at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), said he had been accused by authorities in Belgium of supporting Chinese intelligence activities in the city – an accusation he denied. The Belgian newspaper De Morgen reported on Tuesday that VUB had ignored a warning from the State Security Service about the institute’s activities. The ar
UN calls on Hong Kong to probe police actions against protesters
The UN Human Rights Office threw its weight behind calls to investigate the use of force by police during anti-government protests that have engulfed Hong Kong for more than two months. The Geneva-based United Nations body said it had seen evidence of police actions that defied “international norms and standards.”  “The UN Human Rights Office has reviewed credible evidence of law enforcement officials employing less-lethal weapons in ways that are prohibited by international norms and standards,” office spokesman Rupert Colville said in a statement on Tuesday. “Officials can be seen firing tear gas canisters into crowded, enclosed areas and directly at individual protesters on multiple occa
Why the European Union nearly walked out on its talks with China
Two days before Chinese Premier Li Keqiang set off for Brussels to attend Tuesday’s summit with European Union leaders, Chinese diplomats were getting desperate. They were struggling to get their EU counterparts back to the table to agree on a joint statement to be released at the end of the meeting between Li and EU leaders. The two sides were able to draft a statement at the last minute, but not before European negotiators initially threatened to walk out from the discussions. The rare show of hostility, diplomats said, reflected the EU’s impatience with China’s lack of solid promises or follow-through on when and how it would deliver the market reforms the bloc had been waiting for years