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Hong Kong, Vaccine, Arms Control: Your Friday Briefing

2020-05-22 05:21:54

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Good morning.

We’re covering China’s plan for Hong Kong national security, U.S. funding for an AstraZeneca vaccine and another rejection of arms control.

A broad outline for the rules was expected to be approved during the annual session of the National People’s Congress, which starts today.

The deal with AstraZeneca, based in Cambridge, England, is the fourth and by far the largest vaccine research agreement that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has disclosed.

The money will pay for a Phase 3 clinical trial of a potential vaccine in the U.S. this summer with about 30,000 volunteers. The H.H.S. projected that the first doses could be available as early as October.

The agreement, negotiated three decades ago, allows nations to fly over each other’s territory with elaborate sensor equipment to assure that they are not preparing for military action.

Mr. Trump’s decision is bound to aggravate European allies, including those in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, who are also signatories to the treaty and are likely to remain in the accord.

The move will also be viewed as evidence that he plans an exit from the last major weapons treaty with Russia, New START, which limits the U.S. and Russia to 1,550 deployed nuclear missiles each. It expires in February.

Designers run the risk not just of creating unsafe machines but also of absolving humans of ethical responsibility for autonomous systems, he maintains.

What we’re listening to: “‘The Wire’: Way Down in the Hole.” Gilbert Cruz, our Culture editor, writes: “This podcast, in which the former ESPN host Jemele Hill and the former TMZ personality Van Lathan break down each episode of the show, makes me feel like I’m rewatching when I’m really just washing the dishes.”

What are you watching for today?

The main thing is a discussion of how the Chinese intend to pull out of the economic nose dive the entire world is in. I don’t think anyone expects that they can even achieve economic growth this year.

Another major thing that will come out of this is the tone that the government sets. Even if they’ve done better than other countries in handling this virus, it’s still an enormous challenge for the party — probably as great as anything since Tiananmen Square.

Finally, the laws being presented in this year’s session reflect Beijing’s growing impatience with those in Hong Kong pushing for greater freedoms from the central government under the “one country, two systems” model.

Many American journalists, including you and other Times reporters, were recently expelled from the country. How are you covering this event?

Not being there complicates it — you can’t go ask people questions as they come in. This year, because of the virus, no one can. They’re really restricting the access of the news media, ostensibly for health reasons. We’re left watching what we can in the live feeds from the speeches and news conferences.

What role are U.S.-China tensions playing in this?

There has always been this tension in China toward the U.S., that the U.S. is sort of a hegemon that’s interfering in China’s affairs all the time, in places like Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet.

For the last 40 years of their relationship, there was a bipartisan sense that you had to trade and work with China. I feel like the veneer has been stripped away now.

Officials more or less had this compact with the Chinese people that the party was making them wealthier and prosperous. With the virus and the economic consequences, as well as the tensions with the U.S., where does that leave China, and what message are they going to send to people at a moment of great crisis?

That’s it for this briefing. Reminder that the U.S. will be (extra) closed on Monday for Memorial Day. See you next time.

— Victoria

Thank you
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at
[email protected].

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about a 14-year-old whose hospitalization could help doctors understand a frightening new illness linked to the coronavirus.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Planks strengthen them (three letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The Times just published its 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Report. Women now represent 51 percent of our staff and 49 percent of leadership. People of color represent 32 percent of staff and 21 percent of leadership.


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