Elections for Hong Kong's legislature will likely be deferred for a second year to September 2022 as Beijing plans a major overhaul of the city's electoral system, a severe blow to remaining hopes of democracy in the global financial hub.
China's biggest political meeting opened for its annual session on Friday, where it is expected to pass a sweeping overhaul of Hong Kong's electoral system.
Chinese lawmakers are expected to delay elections for the city's legislature by another year to September 2022, according to local media.
It's a move that will boost China's effort to ensure those they deem "patriots" are put in charge of the city, and likely to crush any remaining democratic hopes for the global financial hub.
Many high-profile pro-democracy politicians and activists are already in jail or in exile after authorities cracked down on the city's mass anti-government protests in 2019, and imposed a sweeping national security law last year.
A senior Chinese lawmaker says the NPC plans to expand an electoral committee that chooses Hong Kong's leader, and give it powers to pick many of the city's legislators as well.
The NPC also unveiled a relatively mild defense budget for the year, a rise of around 7% from 2020.
That's despite challenges on several fronts, ranging from heightened tensions with Taiwan to U.S. missions around Chinese-occupied islands in the disputed South China Sea, and an ongoing border dispute with India.
China's strategic rivalry with the United States is also expected to take centre stage at the conference.
A London-based economics research centre predicts China will leapfrog the United States as the world's biggest economy in 2028, five years earlier than previously forecast.
Equity benchmark indices traded within a narrow range on Friday as surging Covid cases became an area of serious concern with several cities declaring night curfews Market experts said unless this second wave peaks soon and subsides, economic activity will be impacted and uncertainty will weigh on investor sentiments. The BSE SandP Sensex closed 155 points or 0.31 per cent lower at 49,591 while the Nifty 50 slipped by 39 points or 0.26 per cent to 14,835. Sectoral indices at the National Stock Exchange were mixed with Nifty private bank down by 0.9 per cent and financial service by 0.7 per cent. But Nifty PSU bank rose by 2 per cent and pharma by 3 per cent. Among stocks, Axis Bank closed 2 per cent lower at Rs 668.05 per share while ICICI Bank lost by 1.8 per cent to Rs 565.95. Bajaj Finance skidded by 3 per cent to close at Rs 4,878 per share. UPL, UltraTech Cement, Tata Steel, NTPC, Coal India and IndianOil Corporation too were in the negative zone. However, pharma major Cipla jumped by 5.3 per cent to Rs 836.95 per share. Sun Pharma too gained by 3.5 per cent and Dr Reddy's by 1.6 per cent. The other prominent winners were Hindustan Lever, Tech Mahindra, Wipro, Tata Motors, JSW Steel and Titan. Meanwhile, Asian equities were in a choppy trading session after technology stocks lifted the SandP 500 to a new record. Investors weighed an unexpected rise in the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits. Japan's Nikkei was up by 0.2 per cent but Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rolled down by 1.07 per cent. South Korea's Kospi too fell by 0.36 per cent.
Equity benchmark indices gained nearly one per cent on Wednesday as the Reserve Bank of India kept repo rate unchanged at 4 per cent and maintained 10.5 per cent growth projection for FY22. Moreover, the International Monetary Fund has projected India's GDP to grow at 12.5 per cent in FY22. The BSE SandP Sensex closed 460 points or 0.94 per cent higher at 49,662 while the Nifty 50 edged higher by 136 points or 0.92 per cent to 14,819. All sectoral indices at the National Stock Exchange were in the positive terrain with Nifty PSU bank up by 2 per cent, auto by 1.4 per cent, financial service by 1.1 per cent and IT by 1 per cent. Among stocks, JSW Steel was up by 5.3 per cent to Rs 566.10 per share. State Bank of India gained by 2.2 per cent, SBI Life by 2.1 per cent and ICICI Bank by 1.9 per cent The other prominent winners were Britannia, Nestle India, Bajaj Auto, Hero MotoCorp, Wipro and Bharti Airtel. However, Adani Ports fell by 1.9 per cent to close at Rs 819 per share. The others which lost were Titan, Tata Consumer Products, UPL, Hindustan Lever and Tata Motors. Meanwhile, a gauge of Asian shares climbed to three-week highs as investors eyed the upcoming earnings season for further signs of a global economic recovery. Besides, the IMF raised its global growth forecast to 6 per cent this year from 5.5 per cent, reflecting a rapidly brightening outlook for the US economy. MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside of Japan was up by 0.3 per cent for its second straight day of gains. Japan's Nikkei was 0.12 per cent higher while South Korea's Kospi added 0.33 per cent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell by 0.91 per cent as technology stocks dipped.
China finalized a sweeping overhaul of Hong Kong's electoral system on Tuesday, Xinhua news agency reportedly as authorities seek to ensure "patriots" rule the global financial hub. Flora Bradley-Watson reports.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned China on Tuesday against using "coercion and aggression" as he sought to use his first trip abroad to shore up Asian alliances in the face of growing assertiveness by Beijing. Lauren Anthony reports.
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