Editor’s note for Thursday, May 21, 2020

Dear Access member,

This is what you need to know today:

There’s usually not much excitement to report from China’s annual Two Sessions legislative meetings, but it opened with a bang this year:

Beijing announced its intention to pass a national security law for Hong Kong that will provide a set of legal tools for cracking down on protesters, journalists, and others deemed a threat to China’s unity. See story one for details, and our second story for the top five proposals from this year’s Two Sessions that are trending on Chinese social media.  

Economic signals from the Two Sessions: This is what Caixin says (paywall) we should look out for:

  • How will China set its annual economic target? What will the magic GDP number be?
  • Will the fiscal deficit ratio be raised above 3%?
  • What role will special treasury bonds play?
  • What reform plans will be set out?

ByteDance, the hard-charging Chinese tech company behind TikTok, “has purchased medical knowledge platform Baikemy.com, making a foray into the field of online health content,” reports Caixin (paywall). “Baikemy.com, which bills itself as a medical encyclopedia, is currently the only designated website for a popular science project initiated by China’s National Health Commission.”

Government buildings in Africa are a likely vector for Chinese spying,” says a new report by conservative American think tank The Heritage Foundation. Some numbers from the report:

  • Chinese companies have constructed or renovated at least 186 “sensitive African government buildings” in 40 of Africa’s 54 countries.
  • Chinese telecommunications firms have built at least 14 intra-governmental, “secure” telecommunications networks; the Chinese government has “gifted computers to at least 35 African governments”; and 70% of 4G networks in Africa were developed by Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.

Our word of the day is Hong Kong legal system to maintain national security (香港维护国家安全法律制度 xiānggǎng wéihù guójiā ānquán fǎlǜ zhìdù), as state media is calling the national security law described in our top story.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief