Hong Kong briefs: 6/2/2020

Dollar threat: Will the Trump administration cut China off from the US dollar? While the probability remains very low that China will be treated like Russia or Iran, and US President Donald Trump has not mentioned sanctions against Hong Kong or Chinese financial institutions, the risk of a financial war is no longer “unthinkable” for China, analysts say. SCMP.

Justice chief reassures: The suggestion to make judges recuse themselves based on their nationality was “strange”, Hong Kong’s justice secretary said, but she urged people not to jump to a conclusion too quickly about the possibility of a special court, which could help the judiciary navigate uncharted territory. SCMP. Cheng also said that there was no question of whether the Department of Justice would lead prosecutions under the proposed new National Security Law, and whether common law principles would prevail. SCMP.

Chief justice worries: Hong Kong’s first chief justice after the 1997 handover, Andrew Li, has added his voice to the issue, saying the new law must conform to common law principles such as a restricted scope of offences, open trials and the presumption of innocence. SCMP.

Tiananmen off: Hong Kong police have officially banned the annual Tiananmen Square vigil for the first time in 30 years, citing ongoing social-distancing measures and health concerns. SCMP.

More voters: A record 401,900 Hongkongers have signed up to vote in the past year following a campaign by opposition politicians, who are aiming to win more than half the seats being contested in September’s Legislative Council elections. The surge means there are more than 4.45 million registered voters in Hong Kong, according to the Registration and Electoral Office. SCMP.

European Chamber’s Jorge Wuttke: “If the situation gets worse, if the certainty of independence of the judicial system, freedom of expression, assembly and movement of the goods, has been challenged, then of course investors will vote with their feet. We will move out. At this stage we are not, yet.” SCMP.

Chinese buyers: While foreign and local investors have been fleeing the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Chinese traders have been buying shares at an unprecedented pace via the Stock Connect cross-border investment scheme, pumping in HK$276.1 billion in the year to date. It has fuelled speculation that Beijing may have been intervening to prop up the market after the decision to pass national-security legislation triggered the biggest sell-off in five years last month. SCMP.

Tycoons upbeat: Hong Kong’s business community, backed by some of its famous billionaires, is upbeat on the benefits of a national security law for the city, according to an industry survey, while expressing concerns about foreign sanctions on their operations. SCMP.

Covid fears: The Hong Kong government is set to extend social-distancing rules restricting gatherings of people to no more than eight for another two weeks, after the emergence of a new cluster of Covid-19 infections. SCMP.

Macau first? NowTV has published a report citing unnamed casino sources as saying they have been told to prepare for a partial reopening of Macau’s border with Guangdong and other cities, possibly as soon as mid-June. NOW.

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