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Survey Shows Chinese Youths Paying Greater Attention to Two Sessions

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A social survey of young people showed that more than 90 percent would be paying greater attention to the two sessions this year, with people’s livelihoods and employment being the two most closely watched aspects.
The survey covered 1,984 young people aged from 18 to 35 and was conducted by the China Youth News Agency, with 91.5 percent of them showing greater interest in this year’s two sessions. The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, the top advisory body, and the National People’s Congress (NPC), the country’s top legislature,  will kick off on Thursday and Friday, respectively.
The average age of the respondents in this survey was 28, with those born after 1990 accounting for more than half of the total.
“Young people are vulnerable to risks posed by unstable social and economic factors, especially at a time of economic slowdown and  employment pressure mounted due to the COVID-19 outbreak,” Zhao Lianfei, a member of the expert committee for youth development planning of the Youth League Central Committee, told the Global Times on Thursday.
“Their work and lives are affected more by the country’s macro-policies and development plans, that’s why they care more,”said Zhao, who is also a fellow researcher of the Institute of Sociology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
According to the survey, people’s livelihoods and employment were the top two topics that the young people cared most, followed by income, tax, health care, poverty alleviation and education.
Tao Zhen, 32, who works in a Beijing-based bond company, told the Global Times on Thursday that she would keep a close eye on the proposals related to economy at the two sessions, as they will determine to a great extent many of her personal financial decisions, such as buying a house and purchasing healthcare products.
The respondents also rated the country in different aspects.
On a 10-point scale, China’s national security draws the highest  score of 8.34, while public heath, economic development and international relations all had scores higher than 7.5.
Social participation from young people has increased in recent years, Zhao said, noting that according to his previous studies, China’s young people, represented by the post-1990s generations, are generally more active in political discussions than those in previous eras, which is another reason why they are showing greater interest in this year’s two sessions

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Why Passing National Security Legislation for HKSAR is Necessary

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The national security legislation for Hong Kong SAR has piqued interest in the West during the Two Sessions. The draft bill was bombarded with criticism from Western politicians and media.

Could the legislation really erode Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedom?

“Many who take an overly critical position towards Beijing typically see things too narrowly from a local perspective. In fact, increasingly, foreign countries are treating Hong Kong as part of China. Realistically, Hong Kong will need to draw closer to [the Chinese mainland] for the wellbeing of both. American media today think it means the end of Hong Kong. I think we can argue that these really amount to little more than crocodile tears,” Josef Gregory Mahoney, professor at East China Normal University, told CGTN.

Safeguarding national security does not contradict protection of freedoms. The Hong Kong Basic Law addresses national security in Article 23. But Article 23 was deliberately stigmatized, and when it came before HKSAR’s legislature in 2003, it was not enacted. Opponents insisted it threatened the city’s autonomy and staged mass protests.

Since then, Hong Kong has not attempted to pass a national security bill. This means there’s a huge loophole in the city’s legal system. From the Occupy Central Movement in 2014 to attacks against national emblems in 2019 and terror-like assaults against civilians in opposition to the protests, radical separatists repeatedly used the loophole to challenge China’s national security.

The legislation is an attempt to close the loophole and support the SAR’s peace and prosperity.

“Hong Kong is a bridge between [the Chinese mainland] and the outside world. Hong Kong is still one of the largest financial centers in the world. Chinese consumer spending in Hong Kong has really supported Hong Kong’s prosperity. So it’s unfortunate to see that a small group of people in Hong Kong seek the independence of Hong Kong, which I think is really ridiculous,” Wang Huiyao, president of the Center for China and Globalization, said.

He added that “the chaos and riots in Hong Kong must be stopped. So the government has to do something, and also the legislative body has to pass some resolutions.”

Since Hong Kong’s return to China, the West has repeatedly sought to stir up trouble. These anti-China forces became increasingly provocative in 2019. In May 2019, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with several protesters. In October 2019, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz wore black to show support for the protesters. On October 15, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019. On November 19, 2019, the Act was passed by the Senate.

“There’s always been sort of this apocalyptic stance towards China about China taking over Hong Kong (in 1997),” Mahoney said, adding that there is a very strange phenomenon that “increasingly, the United States and China actually have a lot more in common with each other in terms of their younger generations, in terms of how technology is transforming society, how culture is working. So, the irony is that through globalization there’s actually a lot more in common, but in some perverse way that terrifies people in Washington who have depended historically on emphasizing differences to maintain these old patterns of hegemony.”

Old patterns of hegemony have no place in today’s world. The legislation is aimed at safeguarding national security; it has nothing to do with infringements on freedom.

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Afghan Taliban Announce Three-Day Eid Ceasefire

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The Taliban announced a three-day ceasefire during the Eid al-Fitr holiday starting Sunday in a surprise move following months of bloody fighting with Afghan forces after the group signed a landmark agreement with the US.

President Ashraf Ghani swiftly welcomed the insurgents’ offer and ordered his forces to also comply.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement posted on social media that the group’s “leadership instructs all the mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate to take special measures for security of the countrymen, and conduct no offensive operation against the enemy anywhere.”

The statement, which announced a halt to hostilities “during the three days of Eid,” instructed Taliban fighters to refrain from entering government areas and also said that Kabul forces were not allowed to enter territories under their control.

Since the US invasion in 2001 there has only been one other pause in the fighting — a surprise three-day ceasefire between the Taliban and Kabul marking the religious festival of Eid in 2018.

That ceasefire call was given by President Ashraf Ghani, which the insurgents had accepted.

During the brief lull in fighting at that time, Afghans responded joyfully, with Taliban fighters, security forces and civilians hugging, sharing ice creams and posing for selfies in previously unimaginable scenes.

Ghani was quick to accept the Taliban ceasefire offer.

“I welcome the ceasefire announcement by the Taliban,” he said on Twitter.

“As commander-in-chief, I have instructed ANDSF (Afghan National Defence Security Force) to comply with the three-day truce and to defend only if attacked.”

Saturday’s announcement comes just days after the Taliban’s leader Haibatullah Akhundzada urged Washington “not to waste” the opportunity offered by the deal the militants signed with the United States in February that set the stage for the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country.

“The Islamic Emirate is committed to the agreement… and urges the other side to honour its own commitments and not allow this critical opportunity to go to waste,” Akhundzada said in a statement, using the Taliban’s name for Afghanistan.

The signing of the deal between the US and Taliban was preceded by a so-called “reduction in violence” but not an official ceasefire.

– US pushes for peace –
The US-Taliban deal is also aimed at paving the way for the insurgents to hold direct peace talks with Kabul.

US President Donald Trump’s administration has made it a priority to end the war in Afghanistan, and in a bid to pull out foreign forces US officials have been pushing the Taliban and government leaders to hold peace talks.

Analysts however say the Taliban have been emboldened by the deal with the US, and Afghan government officials have reported more than 3,800 attacks since it was signed, killing 420 civilians and wounding 906.

But the top US official who brokered Washington’s deal with the Taliban says the insurgents have kept up their end of the bargain — even if recent violence violated the spirit of the accord.

“The Taliban have implemented their agreement not to attack the coalition forces,” US Special Representative to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said earlier this month.

His remarks came after a horrific attack against a maternity hospital in Kabul that killed dozens — including mothers and infants — and a suicide bombing at a funeral.

The Taliban denied involvement in the attacks, but President Ghani blamed them and the Islamic State (IS) group for the bloodshed.

Following that attack and another suicide bombing in the country’s east the government ordered security forces to switch to an “offensive” posture against the Taliban.

The Taliban responded by vowing to increase attacks against government forces.

The group has carried out regular attacks against Afghan forces in recent days, and earlier this week even tried to enter the northern city of Kunduz.

Afghan forces, however, managed to repel the Taliban attack on Kunduz, a city which had fallen to the insurgents twice before.

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National Security Legislation for Hong Kong Receives Wide Support

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During a press conference of the annual national legislative session on May 24, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi made remarks in response to a question on national security legislation for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Wang made it clear that Hong Kong affairs are China’s internal affairs and allows no external interference. The central government has its right and responsibility to uphold national security through establishing a legal system and enforcement mechanism in light of the actual situation and needs. “This is a basic theory and practice underpinning national sovereignty and a common practice in countries around the world.” Wang remarked.
Since last June, Hong Kong has seen increasingly rampant activities by independence organizations and radical localists, escalating violence and terrorist activities, as well as the excessive unlawful foreign meddling in Hong Kong affairs. All this has placed national security in serious jeopardy and posed a grave threat to Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability and the practice of One country, Two systems.
“Under such circumstances, establishing a legal system and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong SAR, has become a pressing priority. We must get it done without the slightest delay.” Wang said.
On worries that these legislations might undermine Hong Kong’s position as a global financial hub, Wang responded that the NPC decision targets a very narrow category of acts that seriously jeopardize national security
“Instead of becoming unnecessarily worried, people should have more confidence in Hong Kong’s future.” Wang said that it will not impact on Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents, all the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors in Hong Kong.
Wang said that a legislative process will be set in motion following the adoption of the NPC decision. This will improve Hong Kong’s legal system and bring more stability, stronger rule of law, and a better business environment to Hong Kong. It will protect the basic principle of one country, two systems, and Hong Kong’s position as a global financial trading and shipping center.
“I trust that it will receive understanding and support from all those who wish to see a stable Hong Kong and the sound and sustained implementation of One Country, Two Systems.” Wang added.

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