FT Tuesday 8th July 2014

  1. Hong Kong reform must follow Basic Law.


China’s ambassador to Britain has written a guest article in the Financial Times explaining the position of the Chinese government on the recent political movements that have threatened the stability of Hong Kong. A Chinese White Paper that sought the stamp out the movement towards democracy in the financial center caused public outcry recently, and over 150,000 Hong Kongers took to the streets in protest. The political movement Occupy Central has threatened to cause chaos in the city’s important financial district if its demand for a democratically elected Chief Executive is not met. The agreement that saw the administration of HK transfer from British to Chinese rule is known as the Basic Law. The ambassador writes that while HK is afforded a high level of autonomy in the Basic Law, its ultimate loyalty is, and should be, to China. 


  1. Israeli forces bombard Gaza Strip.


The battle between Israel and Hamas has escalated once more. Last week an attack on an Israeli teenager led to retaliation by a group of Israeli’s attacking and murdering a Palestinian. Since then, tensions in the country have been high and Israeli towns have been under fire from rockets fired from the Gaza strip. Israeli has now responded militarily, attacking targets in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, killing 11 and injuring 80. It is thought that at least some of the injured were women and children. With Israeli towns within range of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, many safety precautions have been implemented within the state. The political position of Hamas is under severe pressure having lost its main patron in the Muslim Brotherhood in neighbouring Egypt. A power sharing agreement with its rival Fatah in the West Bank appears to have only acted to weaken the position of its political leadership, and there is a suggestion that the military wing of Hamas has all but taken over control.


  1. Donation deluge for pro-union camp


Funding for the Better Together campaign has come from heavily in the past few months from rich landowners, bankers, and Tory supporters. The funding of the rival campaigns in the Scottish Independence vote has also been under scrutiny recently, as both sides have taken issue with the way that the other is getting their money. The Yes Campaign is largely funded by a lottery winning couple, which has donated vast sums of money. With just ten weeks to go until the referendum, funding for both sides will likely play as crucial role in determining the future of the Union. 


  1. Samsung hits smartphone growth plateua

Korean Smartphone giant Samsung is under pressure after operating profits fell by around 24% compared to the year previous. Samsung has faced accusation that it overestimated demand for its latest smartphone release, leading to an excess in supply. Perhaps the biggest problem for Samsung is the emergence of domestic companies in one of its biggest target markets, China. New companies such as Xiaomi and Lenovo offer smartphones at much lower prices than Samsung, and Chinese consumers are opting for these brands much more than their Korean rival. 


  1. Putin pauses for tactical rethink on Ukraine strategy.


Russian President Vladimir Putin is apparently going through a period of reflection whilst he works out his next move for eastern Ukraine. With Crimea annexed, only a few months ago heavy rhetoric from the Russian leader suggested that he had further designs upon Ukrainian territory. Yet since the election of pro-Western President Petro Poroshenko in June, and the successful military campaign against local (most likely Russian backed) militia, Putin has been less vocal in his opinions on the future of Ukraine. Putin faces domestic pressures from nationalists who want him to do more in Ukraine and intervene, as well as resistance from the public, the majority of whom do not want Russia to get involved in any conflict. Always the master political strategist, it will be interesting to see what Putin will arrive at.   


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