Stuart Lau

Stuart Lau

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

Boris Johnson vows visa overhaul to accommodate 3 million Hongkongers
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised Hongkongers “one of the biggest changes in our visa system in British history” if Beijing pushes through the national security law.  In an op-ed published in the South China Morning Post and The Times of London on Wednesday, Johnson acknowledged that “many people in Hong Kong fear their way of life … is under threat” since the National People’s Congress proposed the law last month. It was his first direct message to the former British colony amid the recent political furor. “If China proceeds to justify their fears, then Britain could not in good conscience shrug our shoulders and walk away; instead, we will honor our obligations and provide
Britain may give residency to Hongkongers over national security law
Britain has said it will offer greater citizenship rights to some Hongkongers if China proceeds with its plan to impose a national security law on the city, marking a dramatic shift to London’s long-held policy. The change concerns holders of British National (Overseas) passports, which were offered to Hongkongers born before the former British colony’s 1997 handover to China. Under current rules, the 300,000 people with those so-called BN(O) passport holders can visit the UK for up to six months but cannot work or apply for citizenship. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Thursday that Britain was ready to change this rule, prompting China to accuse Britain of going back on a pro
US blasts ‘spiteful’ decision to freeze Taiwan out of WHO
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has slammed the “spiteful” rejection of Taiwan’s bid to attend the World Health Organization’s annual meeting as an observer despite its success in tackling Covid-19. Beijing has insisted that Taiwan, a self-ruled island democracy that it claims as its own territory, be excluded from the World Health Assembly, the WHO’s decision-making body. It added that the previous inclusion of Taiwan should not count as a precedent, as the current Taiwanese government no longer recognized the one-China principle (under which both Taipei and Beijing agree there is only one China, but differ on how it is interpreted). “The United States condemns Taiwan’s exclusion from th
Only 6% of coronavirus infections are detected, German study says
A study suggests that the vast majority of people infected by the coronavirus remain undetected, raising the specter of fresh outbreaks if social distancing measures and travel restrictions are lifted too early. Researchers of the study, from the University of Gottingen in Germany, said only 6% of coronavirus infections had been detected across the 40 countries they analyzed. The researchers made the assessment after comparing estimates of coronavirus infection fatality rates in a previous study with the number of confirmed cases reported by the countries, including Italy, Spain, the United States and France. The researchers concluded that the only way to prevent a renewed outbreak of Covid-
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