Asian Insider, June 30: China passes Hong Kong security law, India bans Chinese apps, surprises in Singapore’s battle for votes

Asian Insider brings you insights into a fast-changing region from our network of correspondents.

Hi all,

In today’s bulletin: Wave of Hong Kong activists make their exit as China passes national security law for city, India bans Chinese apps, surprises in Singapore’s battle for votes, Remdesivir gets a price tag, Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s outburst and talk of a cabinet reshuffle, Australia raises spending on cyber hacking, and more.

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CHINA PASSES HONG KONG NATIONAL SECURITY LAW

In a defining moment for Hong Kong, China's top lawmaking body passed a national security law for the island today that will ban subversion and secession.

The law, that went through a truncated legislative process that was completed in just over 40 days, was passed unanimously.  

China Correspondent Elizabeth Law reports that the process bypassed Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, the local legislature, and the law will be inserted into the city’s mini Constitution, the Basic Law. A new national security agency, reporting directly to Beijing, will be set up under the ambit of the new law, while a national security committee chaired by the Hong Kong Chief Executive will be set up to implement the law.

In Hong Kong, our Correspondent Claire Huang says a wave of Hong Kong activists and supporters of an anti-government movement swiftly made their exits or disbanded their groups after China's Parliament approved the new law. 

In a related development, the Trump administration moved to restrict US exports of defence equipment and certain high-technology products to Hong Kong. Washington has said earlier it might end Hong Kong’s special trading status, if the new law is passed.  

Read more: 

China law to establish 'red lines' for Hong Kong, adviser says 

Chinese officials to hold briefing on Hong Kong security law on Wednesday

Don't miss: 

Global Affairs Correspondent Benjamin Kang Lim: Taiwan's refuge offer to Hong Kong residents measured; mass exodus unlikely

INDIA BANS CHINESE APPS

India banned 59 Chinese mobile apps over national security and privacy concerns today, in a move that could widen the rift between both countries. The list includes the wildly popular TikTok and We Chat. The ban comes just a few days after troops of both sides clashed in the Himalayan border area.

The apps “are engaged in activities... prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order,” the ministry of information technology said in a statement. Tik Tok, which has 120 million users in India, denied it had shared data of Indian users with the Chinese government.

In another development, it was announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation later today. 

Read also: 

Associate Editor Vikram Khanna: Can China and India think 'win-win'?

SINGAPORE GE2020: 5 SURPRISES ON NOMINATION DAY

Nomination Day today in Singapore saw 192 candidates file papers to contest each of the 93 seats, making it the second general election in a row that will see contests for all the seats. 

Today's surprises included efforts by the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) to beef up its line-up of candidates for East Coast and West Coast GRCs, where tough fights are expected. 

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat has moved from his Tampines stronghold to anchor the PAP team in East Coast GRC. His team is likely to see a keen battle against the Workers' Party (WP), which won 45.2 per cent of the vote in the 2011 General Election and 39.3 per cent in 2015.

Alongside, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee moved from Jurong GRC to shore up the PAP team in West Coast GRC, helmed by Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran. They will be up against Progress Singapore Party's (PSP) "A" team led by former PAP stalwart Tan Cheng Bock. There were more surprises.

Go deeper: 

Heng Swee Keat to helm East Coast GRC in election

Newsletter: Singapore GE updates, June 30

REMDESIVIR, THE CORONAVIRUS DRUG, GETS A PRICE TAG

Gilead Sciences, the manufacturer of Remdesivir, the first drug shown to be effective against coronavirus, has released selling prices for the drug.

Remdesivir will be sold for US$520 (S$724) per vial, or US$3,120 per treatment course, to hospitals for treatment of patients with private insurance. It will be set at US$390 per vial, or US$2,340 per treatment course, for patients on government-sponsored insurance and for those in other countries with national health care systems.

Distribution will prioritise American patients and the drug will be sold only in the United States through September, the New York Times reports. The antiviral drug has been approved for Covid-19 treatment in Singapore.

Also read: 

India's first Covid-19 vaccine candidate approved for human trials

Don't miss: 

Assistant Foreign Editor Magdalene Fung: World Economic Forum's brave new way to bring the coronavirus vaccine to the masses

A CABINET RESHUFFLE IN INDONESIA?

Indonesia's growing number of infections and deaths led Indonesian President Joko Widodo to lambast his ministers for a "lack of sense of crisis" in handling the pandemic. With cases continuing to spiral, that scolding is fuelling speculation that he will carry out his threat to replace some of the ministers in a Cabinet reshuffle. 

With more than 55,000 cases and over 2,800 deaths now, Indonesia ranks the highest in South-east Asia in the number of cases and fatalities.

Read also: 

'Stop blaming us': Surabaya mayor kneels down and cries over rising case number

IN OTHER NEWS

NEW SWINE FLU IN CHINA: Researchers in China have found a new type of swine flu that is capable of causing a pandemic, a study published in the US science journal PNAS said. Named G4, it is genetically descended from the H1N1 strain that caused a pandemic in 2009. G4 was observed to be highly infectious and tests showed that any immunity humans gain from exposure to seasonal flu does not protect them from G4.

AUSTRALIA TO RECRUIT 500 CYBERSPIES: Australia will recruit at least 500 cyberspies to deal with a surge of cyberattacks and bolster its capabilities amid ongoing tensions with China.  Canberra will invest A$1.35 billion (S$1.29 billion) over the next decade for this, in what will be the largest sum ever committed for cyberweapons and defences. 

JAPAN TO DELAY 'WOMENOMICS': Japan will delay by up to a decade its target to raise the percentage of women in leadership posts to 30 per cent after failing to hit the deadline this year, media reports said. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's policies to boost the role of women in the economy and politics, dubbed "womenomics", is a pillar of his plans. The country's gender parity ranking has dropped to 121 in a World Economic Forum report for 2020, from 101 in 2012.

That’s it for today. Have a good week ahead, stay safe and we’ll be back with you tomorrow.  

Shefali