Asian Insider, July 7: TikTok to exit Hong Kong, battle for moderate voters in Singapore, blogging to be a job in China

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

Hi all,

In today's bulletin: Chinese video app TikTok says it will quit Hong Kong, battle for moderate voters intensifies in Singapore, Australia's Victoria state considers fresh lockdown after coronavirus cases increase, China's unstoppable stocks, floods in Japan, and more.

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Chinese video app TikTok has said it will exit the Hong Kong market in the next few days. The announcement comes soon after China's new security law for Hong Kong has come into force.

It also follows a move by other leading technology companies such as Facebook and Google to suspend user info requests from the Hong Kong government. Facebook, which also owns WhatsApp and Instagram, said in a statement it was "pausing" reviews for all of its services "pending further assessment of the National Security Law".

TikTok, owned by Chinese technology company Bytedance and now run by former Walt Disney Co executive Kevin Mayer, has said previously that the app's user data is not stored in China.

On Monday, the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. is "certainly looking at" banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam tried to calm unease over China's new security law. "I'm sure, with the passage of time, and efforts and facts are being laid out, confidence will grow in 'one country, two systems' and in Hong Kong's future," she told a weekly news conference.

Read more:

TikTok the emerging political platform

TikTok owner ByteDance Q1 revenue soared more than 130% on Covid-19 boost, say sources


With less than two days of campaigning left before voting takes place on July 10, the battle for votes has gotten more intense with the focus remaining on issues that matter to Singaporeans.

The key issues shaping this election include safeguarding jobs, the handling of the coronavirus outbreak, the size of Singapore's population, immigration, GST hike and ensuring more diversity in Parliament.

"What we are seeing, underneath the rhetoric, the charges levelled and the rebuttals, is a serious battle for the minds and hearts of the moderate voters in Singapore, writes Opinion editor Chua Mui Hoong.

"The Singapore electorate is often said to consist of 30 per cent staunch opposition voters and 30 per cent staunch supporters of the incumbent PAP, with a large pool of about 40 per cent of "swing voters", she notes.

Read her commentary and more on our Singapore GE site here:

GE2020: Singapore votes

Don't miss:

Editor's Take: Expect flurry of online activity with less than 2 days of campaigning left


Australia's second-most populated state Victoria, that is home to several international students, was considering a 4-week lockdown as coronavirus infections spiralled, news reports said.

The number of new cases hit 191, The Australian reported, even as officials were enforcing strict social distancing in 30 Melbourne suburbs. The fresh outbreak is likely to encourage Australia to postpone plans to reactivate international travel.

More Covid-19 updates:

Public housing residents decry 'lockup' as Australia tries to contain Covid-19 threat

Second wave of Covid-19 derailing efforts to jumpstart economy in the Philippines

Beijing reports zero virus cases for first time since new outbreak


China's equity markets are in the spotlight after a rally lifted global stocks to a one-month high. There were fears of a stock bubble but the advance continued Tuesday, though at a slower pace.

Experts say tight capital controls, low interest rates and losses for some of the popular wealth-management products are driving retail investors to stocks. And the country's economic recovery after the coronavirus outbreak has helped to underpin the rally.

Meanwhile, Asian markets were mixed today after their latest rally with investors awaiting the corporate earnings season with some optimism.

Read also:

China stokes stock-market mania, risking repeat of 2015 bubble


A torrential downpour in western Japan that led to devastating floods and landslides left 50 people dead as officials issued orders for several thousand people to evacuate the affected areas. Over a dozen people were missing. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe doubled the number of personnel deployed in rescue efforts to 80,000. But fears that the coronavirus pandemic could spread complicated rescue efforts.


CHINA TO COUNT BLOGGING & PLAYING ESPORTS AS JOBS: China has expanded the definition of people who would be considered employed to include bloggers, e-sport players, those taking part in incubator programmes, poverty alleviation programmes and being enlisted in the army. Graduates starting their business will also qualify. The move comes as Beijing struggles with rising unemployment, due to the pandemic.

PYONGYANG REJECTS TALKS WITH US: A North Korean diplomat said the country was not interested in sitting down with the United States as South Korea prepared for the visit of U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun for discussions. Pyongyang also asked Seoul to "stop meddling".

CHINA HOLDS 'GAOKAO' EXAMS: Eleven million students sat for the annual 'Gaokao' exam today, which was held after a month's delay due to the pandemic. Results from the exam are the only way for students to enter university.

US ASKS FOREIGN STUDENTS TO LEAVE, IF CLASSES ARE HELD ONLINE: Foreign students must leave the U.S. if their school's classes this fall will be taught completely online. Or, they must transfer to another school with in-person instruction, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency announced on Monday. Several Asian students study in the U.S.

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


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