Hong Kong Police Arrest Three Student Activists For 'Inciting Subversion'

Police say snacks and personal items stored for donation to prisoners are intended to incite 'hatred' of the government.

Hong Kong Police Arrest Three Student Activists For 'Inciting Subversion'

Hong Kong police on Monday arrested three members of the Student Politicism group on subversion charges under a draconian national security law imposed on the city by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), accusing its members of trying to bring down the regime.

Among the arrestees were convenor Wong Yat-chin and secretary general Chan Chi-sum, the group said in a brief statement on its Facebook page.

The Hong Kong Baptist University student union editorial board named the third arrestee as Jessica Chu, a former spokesperson for Student Politicism who is no longer a member of the group, according to a screenshot posted to Twitter by Agence France-Presse correspondent Xinqi Su.

Police confirmed they had arrested three suspects aged between 18 and 20 for carrying out "subversive acts" including warning people not to use the government's LeaveHomeSafe COVID-19 tracking app, and "inciting hatred of the government" via street booths.

Wong was shown in media footage posted by the Oriental Daily news website, being led away in handcuffs from the group's headquarters in Kwai Chung district, and being taken away in an unmarked grey people carrier.

National security police raided the premises, seizing boxes of goods intended for prison inmates, including chocolates, sanitary products, and crackers, Hong Kong-based translator KTse852 said via their Twitter account.

Senior police superintendent Steve Li told reporters that the group had been imposing its political beliefs on others, and inciting them to overthrow the governments of Hong Kong and mainland China.

Li said the group's goal in sending goods to inmates was to enlist them to aid these efforts, and accused him of exhorting followers to "practice martial arts for when the revolution comes."

"That ... is clearly resistance aimed at the Hong Kong authorities and the CCP government," Li said, accusing the group of intensifying its political activism with street booths in Mong Kok.

The national security law, which has ushered in a city-wide crackdown on peaceful protest and political opposition since it took effect on July 1, 2020, criminalizes contact with and funding from overseas politicians and foundations, public criticism of the Hong Kong and Chinese authorities, as well as opposition activism, which is deemed a bid to overthrow the existing political order.

Forty-seven former democratic lawmakers and activists are currently awaiting trial on "subversion" charges under the national security law after taking part in a democratic primary in 2020 that was designed to maximize the number of LegCo seats won by the opposition.

The targeting of Student Politicism comes after prisoner support group Wall-fare announced it would disband after secretary for security and former police chief Chris Tang accused "certain groups" of endangering national security" in prisons by writing to inmates and "soliciting followers" with gifts of chocolates, hairpins, and other items, making them "hate the government."

It was the latest in a line of civil society groups to disband following public denunciation by officials or by CCP-backed media.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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Vietnam Will Buy 10 Million COVID-19 Vaccine Doses From Cuba

The homegrown vaccine rollout hit a snag due to insufficient efficacy data.

Vietnam Will Buy 10 Million COVID-19 Vaccine Doses From Cuba

Vietnam will purchase 10 million doses of a Cuban coronavirus vaccine amid a scarcity of doses in the Southeast Asian country as it weathers its worst outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic, state media reported.

Vietnam’s President Nguyen Xuan Phuc over the weekend traveled to Cuba on an official visit, where he met with Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel.

The Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported that Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh approved the proposal to buy the 10 million doses of the Abdala vaccine.

Cuba’s Abdala vaccine joins seven others approved for use in Vietnam. They are the British-Swedish AstraZeneca, the Russian Sputnik V, the Chinese-made Vero Cell and Hayat-Vax, and the U.S.-made Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

As of Monday, Vietnam has received 50 million vaccine doses through imports, the World Health Organization’s COVAX program, and direct donations by other countries. Of these, 35 million doses have been administered to Vietnam’s population of 98 million.

Homegrown holdup

The rollout of Vietnam’s homegrown Nanocovax coronavirus vaccine has been held up due to a lack of data regarding its efficacy, health authorities reported.

The National Ethics Committee in Biomedical Research under the Ministry of Health said the conclusion was made Saturday at a meeting to discuss mid-term results of the vaccine’s third-phase clinical trial, which ended Sept. 2.

The Committee said the vaccine been deemed safe for use, but the research group must keep working to provide the sufficient data on its efficacy.

Nanocovax, produced by Nanogen, is one of four Vietnamese domestically developed COVID-19 vaccines and the first to have reached phase 3 clinical trials. Around 13,000 people have participated in phase 3.

Given the high demand for vaccines and their relative scarcity, many expected that the Nanocovax vaccine would soon be approved by the government for local use. 

Videos of Buddhist Monk praying for Nanocovax’ early approval went viral on social media last week.

Social media users were critical of the Venerable Master Thich Nhat Tu, Abbot of Giac Ngo Pagoda, who performed the early approval prayer. They said vaccine research and development should be based on science, rather than faith.  

Vietnam had been among the most effective countries in tackling COVID-19, reporting no deaths through late July 2020—a record that was attributed to effective contact tracing, strict quarantines, and early testing.

After successfully weathering three separate waves of the virus with confirmed cases numbering in the low thousands, a fourth wave arrived in April 2021. As of Monday, Vietnam has confirmed 687,063 cases of COVID-19 and 17,090 deaths according to data from Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

During the fourth wave, the country locked down its largest cities and forbade residents from leaving their houses except to procure food, a move that has led to widespread unemployment and loss of income.

But even as the harsh measures dragged on, reported cases continued to climb.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Anna Vu. Written in English by Eugene Whong.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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