Connect with us

In Hong Kong, Bitcoin Is The Last Chance For Freedom

As tightening authoritarianism from China strips Hong Kong of financial freedom, Bitcoin offers its people a chance at forging their own paths.

Published

on

As tightening authoritarianism from China strips Hong Kong of financial freedom, Bitcoin offers its people a chance at forging their own paths.

This is an opinion editorial by Margarita Groisman, a technology engineer invested in the power of Bitcoin to help people around the world.

Source

Many remember the intensity and incredible spirit of the people of Hong Kong during the 2019 protests that went viral all over our screens. Thousands of everyday citizens took to the streets to protest Chinese use of excessive force and an aggressive legislative takeover that went against Hong Kong’s Basic Law. Beginning in March 2019 with a sit-in at government headquarters following an amendment to the extradition policy to mainland China, the demonstrations went on and on with mounting grievances.

Hong Kong, once a beacon of free economic activity, a center of trade and commerce, and a democratic and free state with a level of sovereign control, would be rapidly taken over by mainland China.

The outbreak of COVID-19 largely ended the protests, and the west turned away from the plight of the people of Hong Kong. A 2020 document out of Beijing declared that “comprehensive jurisdiction” would be achieved by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over Hong Kong, with people’s observance of COVID-19 restrictions giving China the ability to quickly sweep away opposition using force and without the interference of foreign powers.

Freedoms that those in the West take for granted, such as the right to protest and to free speech, no longer exist in Hong Kong with all forms of political opposition now silenced. The new National Security Law, designed to prevent “secession, foreign interference, terrorism and subversion against the central government” was passed in May 2020, bypassing the local legislative process and allowing China to take unprecedented control of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s once-enshrined Basic Law, granting it a “capitalist system and way of life” and granting “a high degree of autonomy,” including executive, legislative and independent judicial powers for 50 years, has been broken and ended by the will of the CCP.

Source

Since then, we’ve seen a mass exodus of the people of Hong Kong as basic freedoms that the residents used to enjoy have virtually all been taken away. We’ve also seen a weakening of the economic strength of Hong Kong

COVID-19 And Continued Suppression Of Freedom In Hong Kong

While Hong Kong has implemented a stringent response to the COVID-19 pandemic with a “zero-COVID” policy, in March 2022, it reported one of the highest Covid death rates in the world.

This fascinating Atlantic article described the situation in Hong Kong, where COVID-19 has been used by the government to justify and demand absolute control of the population. Hong Kong faced extreme and consistent shutdowns and continues to dramatically fail and yet ceaselessly defends a zero-covid policy:

“With opposition voices silenced, Hong Kong’s rulers claimed they could more efficiently govern. But in the city legislature, overhauled last year to ensure that nationalism and obedience are valued over competence and political know-how, suggestions on how to tame the outbreak have included the wildly impractical (using cruise ships as temporary isolation facilities) and the patently absurd (dropping fresh food into Hong Kong by drone). Even this newfound sense of urgency on the part of lawmakers and the government has emerged only after Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke last month of the ‘overriding mission’ to bring the current outbreak under control.”

“‘Hong Kong’s pandemic response definitely shows the NSL [national-security law] new order is not only about election and activists, but extends to all realms of life,’ Ho-Fung Hung, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the author of the forthcoming book City on the Edge: Hong Kong Under Chinese Rule, told me by email.”

This strategy has had significant effects on unemployment and financial troubles for the city:

Source
Source

Hong Kong’s Dollar Is Pegged To The U.S. Dollar

Despite all of the authoritarian changes, Hong Kong still operates on a currency pegged to the U.S. dollar. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority aims to keep the currency trading at HK$7.75 to HK$7.85 per $1. But as the U.S. has begun to raise interest rates, and Hong Kong lost significant liquidity even as the city fought to maintain its peg. In fact, just between May and July, the balance of Hong Kong dollars shrank by more than half.

“For example, the gap between the Hong Kong Interbank Offered Rate (Hibor) and its US counterpart (dollar Libor) widened significantly after the Fed began its aggressive rate hikes, because liquidity in Hong Kong was still very ample. (Hibor and Libor represent a daily average of what banks say they would charge to lend to one another.) That gap makes it attractive for traders to borrow in Hong Kong dollars to buy US dollars to earn the higher yield. That so-called carry trade can push the local currency toward its weak end of HK$7.85, prompting the HKMA to intervene.”

The Washington Post

In some ways, this means that Hong Kong is caught between the political control of the Chinese Communist Party and financial reliance on the U.S. dollar and fiscal policy. Despite Hong Kong seeing a stable currency, as Hong Kong's inflation rate for 2021 was 1.57%, a 1.32% increase from 2020, it saw a significant uptick in borrowing costs due to this significant selloff. And while the peg to the U.S. dollar allows Hong Kong to at least financially remain semi-autonomous, the combination of the population decline hitting real estate prices in Hong Kong so significantly due to a demand dropoff and the increased borrowing costs to maintain the peg has hit the economy hard. Hong Kong faced very significant COVID-19 restrictions, and as a result, joblessness is somewhat mirroring the trends within China.

Speaking to Bloomberg, George Magnus, an economist and associate at the University of Oxford China Centre, made it very clear: “It’s China’s choice whether it wants to keep the peg in place.”

And it seems clear that the CCP now holds soft power over the local government of Hong Kong and could possibly decide to move Hong Kong under complete economic control. Especially as China and Russia work together to create a new reserve currency and the long-term future of the reserve capacity of the dollar depending on the Federal Reserve’s success in curbing rising inflation, it seems that Hong Kong’s days of financial autonomy may be limited.

Is Bitcoin A Way Out For Hong Kong?

Interestingly enough, considering this precarious financial and political position, Hong Kong was listed as the most “crypto-ready” country in 2022.

This statistic was determined by “factors such as crypto ATM installations, pro-crypto regulations, startup culture and a fair tax regime signal a country’s readiness to adopt cryptocurrencies.” Considering these factors, a Forex Suggest study revealed Hong Kong’s position as the best-prepared country for widespread cryptocurrency adoption, with a crypto-readiness score of 8.6,” per CoinTelegraph. And as previously reported in Bitcoin Magazine, Hong Kong saw an uptick in bitcoin trading during the 2019 protests, showing a need for an effective peer-to-peer exchange that would not be controlled by the government of Hong Kong (now a pawn of the CCP).

Those who stay in Hong Kong stay because it is their home. But as China strengthens its control more and more over the region, COVID-19 restrictions seem to be never-ending, and even the most basic of freedoms for the population of the city continue to be eliminated. Hong Kong’s long-term outlook is looking increasingly bleak.

This will become increasingly clear if China moves Hong Kong to a currency tied to the yuan or one under a Chinese-state-sponsored digital currency. In fact, China has already made efforts to move Hong Kong under the state-sponsored e-CNY, or the CCPS, a centralized digital currency. After all, “Experts close to the People’s Bank of China and state-owned bank officials believe, however, that e-CNY will ultimately contribute to the yuan’s internationalization in the long term,” per Carnegie Endowment Scholar Robert Greene.

This would signal a complete end to Hong Kong's autonomy.

The people of Hong Kong have few options left available to them in terms of hope of regional autonomy or any sort of freedoms given to individuals. If citizens are to act quickly, they could choose to move toward a different path than the one they are currently tumbling down. If the incredible talent and intelligence of the people of Hong Kong adopt the Lightning Network to conduct peer-to-peer exchange on top of Bitcoin, for instance, they could perhaps chart a difficult but promising path out of the complete control of China.

The alternative is the current path that Hong Kong is one, where it loses regional autonomy, individual freedoms and the ability to make its own destiny.

This is a guest post by Margarita Groisman. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.

Read More

Continue Reading

International

Decrease in Japanese children’s ability to balance during movement related to COVID-19 activity restrictions

A team of researchers from Nagoya University in central Japan investigated how restrictions on children’s activities during the COVID-19 pandemic affected…

Published

on

A team of researchers from Nagoya University in central Japan investigated how restrictions on children’s activities during the COVID-19 pandemic affected their life habits and their abilities to perform physical activities. By comparing medical examination data before and after the onset of the pandemic, they found that physical functions among adolescents deteriorated, including their dynamic balance. They also found that the children had higher body fat levels and worse life habits. Rather than a lack of exercise time, this may have been because of a lack of quality exercise due to activity restrictions.  

Credit: Credit must be given when image is used

A team of researchers from Nagoya University in central Japan investigated how restrictions on children’s activities during the COVID-19 pandemic affected their life habits and their abilities to perform physical activities. By comparing medical examination data before and after the onset of the pandemic, they found that physical functions among adolescents deteriorated, including their dynamic balance. They also found that the children had higher body fat levels and worse life habits. Rather than a lack of exercise time, this may have been because of a lack of quality exercise due to activity restrictions.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic, in Japan, as in other countries, schools and sports clubs tried to prevent the spread of infection by reducing physical education and restricting outdoor physical activities, club activities, and sports. However, children who are denied opportunities for physical activity with social elements may develop bad habits. During the pandemic, children, like adults, increased the time they spent looking at television, smartphone, and computer screens, exercised less, and slept less. Such changes in lifestyle can harm adolescent bodies, leading to weight gain and health problems. 

Visiting Researcher Tadashi Ito and Professor Hideshi Sugiura from the Department of Biological Functional Science at the Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, together with Dr. Yuji Ito from the Department of Pediatrics at Nagoya University Hospital, and  Dr. Nobuhiko Ochi and Dr. Koji Noritake from Aichi Prefectural Mikawa Aoitori Medical and Rehabilitation Center for Developmental Disabilities, conducted a study of Japanese children and students in elementary and junior high schools, aged 9-15, by analyzing data from physical examinations before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. They evaluated the children’s muscle strength, dynamic balance functions, walking speed, body fat percentage, screen time, sleep time, quality of life, and physical activity time.  

The researchers found that after the onset of the pandemic, children were more likely to have decreased balance ability when moving, larger body fat percentage, report spending more time looking at TV, computers or smartphones, and sleep less. Since there were no changes in the time spent on physical activity or the number of meals eaten, Sugiura and his colleagues suggest that the worsening of physical functions was related to the quality of exercise of the children. The researchers reported their findings in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.  

“Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Japan after April 2020, children have not been able to engage in sufficient physical education, sports activities, and outdoor play at school. It became clear that balance ability during movement was easily affected, lifestyle habits were disrupted, and the percentage of body fat was likely to increase,” explained Ito. “This may have been because of shorter outdoor playtime and club activities, which impeded children’s ability to learn the motor skills necessary to balance during movement.” 

“Limitations on children’s opportunities for physical activity because of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus have had a significant impact on the development of physical function and lifestyle and may cause physical deterioration and health problems in the future,” warned Ito. “Especially, the risk of injury to children may increase because of a reduced dynamic balance function.” 

The results suggest that even after the novel coronavirus becomes endemic, it is important to consider the effects of social restrictions on the body composition of adolescents. Since physical activities with a social element may be important for health, authorities should prioritize preventing the reduction of children’s physical inactivity and actively encourage them to play outdoors and exercise. The group has some recommendations for families worried about the effects of school closings and other coronavirus measures on their children. “It is important for children to practice dynamic balance ability, maintaining balance to avoid falling over while performing movements,” Ito advised. “To improve balance function in children, it is important to incorporate enhanced content, such as short-term exercise programs specifically designed to improve balance functions.” 


Read More

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

These Are The World’s Richest Billionaires Over The Past 10 Years

These Are The World’s Richest Billionaires Over The Past 10 Years

The last decade has seen a number of changes in the world’s richest billionaires…

Published

on

These Are The World's Richest Billionaires Over The Past 10 Years

The last decade has seen a number of changes in the world’s richest billionaires list.

For one, there are new faces at the top of the leaderboard that were never there before. But, as Visual Capitalist's Nick Routley details below, one of the most obvious changes though, is that the richest billionaires have accumulated a lot more wealth in recent years.

Using annual data from Forbes on the richest billionaires, Routley has visualized the wealth and ranking of the top 10 billionaires over the past decade.

Who are the World’s Richest Billionaires?

While the pecking order has fluctuated, the leaderboard remains very exclusive. Out of a possible 10 spots, there are only 19 individuals that have made the list over the last decade.

Here’s the current list of richest billionaires in 2022, including when they first made the list (if in the last decade):

 

*Billionaires with “-” first made the list at an earlier date. Example: Mukesh Ambani made the 2008 list.

 

Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist, Bill Gates, is a perennial presence at the top of these lists. Gates is currently at his lowest rank over this time period, but is still in fourth spot. The billionaire has pledged to give away nearly all of his fortune to the eponymously named Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

From 2018 to 2021, Jeff Bezos sat at the top of the world’s richest people ranking, only to be bumped out by Elon Musk. In 2020, Bezos became the first person to amass a $200 billion fortune after Amazon’s stock price surged during the pandemic. In recent months, Bezos’ net worth has taken a hit as Amazon’s share price has fallen back down to Earth.

Today, Elon Musk is the world’s richest person.

The Rich Get Richer

Over time, the median net worth of the richest billionaires has grown significantly.

 

Most fortunes are held in the form of business equity, real estate, and publicly-traded stocks—all asset classes that have benefited from the era of cheap money and ultra-low interest rates.

 

Over the decade period, the median net worth of the top 10 billionaires has nearly tripled from $39 billion to $115 billion.

In fact, the first billionaire to pass the $100 billion threshold was Jeff Bezos in 2018, when he took the top spot on the list from Bill Gates. However, now all but two on the top 10 wealthiest list are centibillionaires.

Tyler Durden Mon, 12/05/2022 - 20:40

Read More

Continue Reading

Government

Contradictions, Lies, And “I Don’t Recalls”: The Fauci Deposition

Contradictions, Lies, And "I Don’t Recalls": The Fauci Deposition

Authored by Techno Fog via The Reactionary,

Today, Missouri Attoney General…

Published

on

Contradictions, Lies, And "I Don't Recalls": The Fauci Deposition

Authored by Techno Fog via The Reactionary,

Today, Missouri Attoney General Eric Schmitt released the transcript of the testimony of Dr. Anthony Fauci. As you might recall, Fauci was deposed as part of an ongoing federal lawsuit challenging the Biden Administration’s violations of the First Amendment in targeting and suppressing the speech of Americans who challenged the government’s narrative on COVID-19.

Here is the Fauci deposition transcript.

And here are the highlights…

EcoHealth Alliance - the Peter Daszak group - is knee-deep in the Wuhan controversy, having been funded by the Fauci’s NIH for coronavirus and gain of function research in China (and having worked with the Chinese team in Wuhan). What does Fauci say about EcoHealth Alliance? Over two years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, and after millions dead worldwide, he’s “vaguely familiar” with their work.

In early 2020, Fauci was put on notice that his group - NIAID - had funded EcoHealth alliance on bat coronavirus research for the past five years.

This coincided with early reports - directly to Fauci, from Jeremy Ferrar and Christian Anderson - “of the possibility of there being a manipulation of the virus” based on the fact that “it was an unusual virus.”

Fauci conceded that he was specifically made aware by Anderson that “the unusual features of the virus” make it look “potentially engineered.”

Fauci couldn’t recall why he sent an article discussing gain of function research in China to his deputy, Hugh Auchincloss, telling him it was essential that they speak on the phone. He couldn’t recall speaking with Auchincloss via phone that day. But remarkably, Fauci did remember assigning research tasks to Auchincloss

Fauci was evasive on conversations with Francis Collins about whether NIAID may have funded coronavirus-related research in China, eventually stating “I don’t recall.”

The phrase “I don’t recall” was prominent in Fauci’s deposition. He said it a total of 174 times:

For example, Fauci couldn’t remember what anyone said on a call discussing whether the virus originated in a lab:

During that same call, Fauci couldn’t recall whether anyone expressed concern that the lab leak “might discredit scientific funding projects.” He also couldn’t recall whether there was a discussion about a lab leak distracting from the virus response. Fauci did remember, however, that they agreed there needed to be more time to investigate the virus origins - including the lab leak theory.

What else couldn’t Fauci remember? Whether, early into the pandemic, his confidants raised concerns about social media posts about the origins of COVID-19.

Yet Fauci did admit he was concerned about social media posts blaming China for the pandemic. He even admitted the accidental lab leak “certainly is a possibility,” contradicting his prior claims to National Geographic where he said the virus “could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated.”

Fauci also couldn’t recall whether he had any conversations with Daszak about the origins of COVID-19 in February 2020, but admitted those conversations might have happened: “I told you before that I did not remember any direct conversations with him about the origin, and I said I very well might have had conversations but I don't specifically remember conversations.” And he couldn’t recall telling the media early on during the pandemic that the virus was consistent with a jump “from an animal to a human.”

Fauci said he was in the dark on social media actions to curb speech and suspend accounts that posted COVID-19 information that didn’t fit the mainstream narrative: “I’m not aware of suppression of speech on social media.” Yet it was Fauci’s proclamations of the truth, whether about the origins of COVID-19 to the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine, that led to social media companies banning discussions of contrary information.

Regarding those removals of content, Fauci had no personal knowledge of a US Government/Social Media effort to curb “misinformation.” But he conceded the possibility numerous times.

Then there’s the issue of masks. In February 2020, Fauci informed an acquaintance that was traveling: “I do not recommend that you wear a mask.” Fauci would later become a vocal proponent of masks only two months later.

I’m near my Substack length limit - posting the excerpts does that - but you can see from Fauci’s testimony that his public statements about COVID-19 origins and the necessity to wear a mask didn’t match his private conversations. This has been known for some time, but it’s finally nice to get him on record.

Again, read it all and subscribe here.

Tyler Durden Mon, 12/05/2022 - 21:40

Read More

Continue Reading

Trending