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China rushes through bill tightening ban on abiding by western sanctions

China rushes through bill tightening ban on abiding by western sanctions
China rushes through bill tightening ban on abiding by western sanctions

China’s parliament rushed through a new law on Thursday intended to counter sanctions imposed by foreign governments on Chinese officials and companies, escalating its continuing legal battles with the US and the EU.

The law was passed in secret by the National People’s Congress standing committee after two readings rather than the usual three, and builds on earlier measures unveiled by China’s commerce ministry in January. The January “blocking statutes” prohibited Chinese companies and individuals from complying with foreign government sanctions that target China.

“These moves signal a further escalation of the legal warfare between China and the US,” said Angela Zhang, director of the Center for Chinese Law at the University of Hong Kong.

Last week President Joe Biden updated Trump administration rules banning Americans from investing in dozens of Chinese companies. Biden is now in the UK for a G7 summit, where he hopes to rally US allies against the challenges posed by China and Russia.

“The fact that the law was pushed out after last week’s [Biden administration] announcement of amendments to the securities trading ban is consistent with China’s recent pattern of making reciprocal sanctions announcements in response to foreign measures,” said Nick Turner, a lawyer at Steptoe & Johnson in Hong Kong.

The Trump administration had also threatened to impose sanctions on companies providing financial services to Chinese officials it said were responsible for Beijing’s crackdowns on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and Muslim Uyghurs in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region. Afterwards Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, complained banks in the territory would not deal with her, leaving her stuck with “piles of cash” at her government residence.

According to a draft of the new law, which was released only after its passage, Beijing can target individuals and organisations involved in implementing foreign sanctions with countermeasures including asset seizures, potentially putting foreign investors’ China operations in a difficult position.

“If [the commerce ministry] issues a prohibition order under this law, then it would be illegal in China for a subsidiary of a US bank or any company to comply with US sanctions,” Turner said.

Beijing has not yet targeted any foreign investors under the commerce ministry countermeasures announced in January. It has also not designated any multinational companies as “unreliable entities” — something it first threatened to do two years ago if they did anything that undermined China’s national interests, such as selling military equipment to Taiwan.

“These regulatory tools were adopted with the primary purpose to deter the US government rather than actually penalise foreign companies,” Zhang said. “It would be costly for China to adopt these countermeasures as they . . . would lead to more decoupling [from the US], which is not in China’s interest.”

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Amal Clooney ensures justice for Yazidi girl, 14, raped while an ISIS slave

Amal Clooney ensures justice for Yazidi girl, 14, raped while an ISIS slave
Amal Clooney ensures justice for Yazidi girl, 14, raped while an ISIS slave

Amal Clooney ensures justice for Yazidi girl, 14, raped while an ISIS slave, with successful prosecution of jihadi bride who oversaw victim’s abuse

  • Clooney represented one of three victims in trial against ISIS bride in Dusseldorf
  • Her client was 1 of 7 Yazidi girls enslaved by defendant named only as Sarah O.
  • Sarah O., 23, who holds Algerian nationality, married ISIS fighter in Syria in 2013
  • She beat the Yazidi slaves and helped to ‘prepare them’ for rape by her husband

Amal Clooney has secured justice for a Yazidi woman who was raped from the age of 14 after being enslaved by ISIS in Syria.

Clooney was representing the woman as one of three victims of an ISIS bride named only as Sarah O, who was jailed for six-and-a-half years in Dusseldorf on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old, who holds Algerian nationality, travelled to Syria as a teenager in 2013 where she married a German-Turkish national named only as Ismail S., who remains at large.

From 2015, the couple started enslaving Yazidi women and girls who were kidnapped by marauding ISIS fighters and sold throughout the ‘caliphate.’

The Yazidi ethnic group, who are mostly based in Iraq, faced genocidal persecution by Islamic State which claims they are a race of ‘devil worshippers.’ 

Amal Clooney ensures justice for Yazidi girl, 14, raped while an ISIS slave

Amal Clooney is pictured at the United Nations Security Council during a meeting about sexual violence in conflict in New York in April, 2019

Over two years, Sarah O. and Ismail S. enslaved seven Yazidi women, some of whom were sold onto others, while another, a 14-year-old girl, died in captivity.

Sarah O. beat the prisoners and helped her husband sexually abuse at least two of the victims, helping to ‘prepare them’ for rape.

She also forced the Yazidis to carry out slave labour at her house.

The couple were arrested in Turkey in February 2018. After seven months in custody, Sarah O. was deported to Germany and her trial began in October 2019.

The proceedings were closed to the public because she was a teenager when some of the events took place. In accordance with German law, her full name has not been released either.

The victim represented by Clooney, along with her German colleagues, Natalie von Wistinghausen and Sonka Mehner, was present in Dusseldorf on Wednesday when judges announced the verdict.

Following the judgment, the victim said: ‘No conviction can make up for our suffering, but I am immensely grateful to the German Federal Prosecutors and the German court for investigating and shedding light on the crimes committed against the Yazidis and I hope that many more countries will follow this good example.’ 

Sarah O. was convicted of membership in a foreign terrorist organisation, assault, deprivation of liberty, aiding and abetting rape, enslavement and religious and gender-based persecution as crimes against humanity. 

Clooney’s German colleague Sonka Mehner said: ‘Thanks to the victims, the full extent of the defendant’s criminal conduct could be established.’ 

George Clooney and his wife Amal Clooney attend the "Money Monster" premiere during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival in 2016

George Clooney and his wife Amal Clooney attend the ‘Money Monster’ premiere during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival in 2016

The other German attorney representing the Yazidi woman, Natalie von Wistinghausen, added that ‘for the first time ever, a court handed down a conviction for religious and gender-based persecution and this recognition is of utmost importance for our client and for all Yazidi women, for their religious community as a whole, as well as for other victims of gender-based violence.’

Clooney, the 43-year-old wife of Hollywood actor George, is a barrister who specialises in international criminal and human rights law.

She was called to the London Bar in 2010 after being called in New York in 2002.

Fluent in French and Arabic, she has worked in The Hague including at the International Court of Justice.

In addition to her legal work, she served as a senior adviser to Kofi Annan when he was the UN’s Envoy on Syria. 

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Carl Nassib becomes the first active NFL player to come out as gay

Carl Nassib becomes the first active NFL player to come out as gay
Carl Nassib becomes the first active NFL player to come out as gay

Carl Nassib has become the first active NFL player to come out as gay, after he made the announcement in an Instagram video.

“What’s up, people. I’m Carl Nassib. I’m at my house here in West Chester, Pennsylvania. I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” Nassib, a defensive lineman, said in the video.

“I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest.”

Nassib, 28, told his followers that he hoped that people would not have to make similar videos in the future and announced he was donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project, which aims to prevent suicide among LGBTQ+ youths.

“I’m a pretty private person so I hope you guys know that I’m really not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important,” he said.

“I actually hope that like one day, videos like this and the whole coming-out process are just not necessary.

“But until then, I’m going to do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting, that’s compassionate and I’m going to start by donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project.”

In an online written message, Nassib said he had “agonised over this moment for the last 15 years” and decided to go public with the support of his family and friends.

Nassib signed for the Raiders in 2020 on a three-year, $25m free-agent deal, with $16.75m of his money guaranteed.

The team’s official Twitter account posted a black heart symbol and said: “Proud of you, Carl.”

Last season he had 2.5 sacks and an interception in 14 games.

He was selected in the third round of the 2016 NFL drat by the Cleveland Browns, after playing his college career at Penn State, and has also played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Former New England Patriot’s receiver Julian Edelman took to Twitter to congratulate Nassib.

“Awesome moment. Spreading the love to the Trevor Project very classy move,” tweeted Edelman.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, also welcomed the announcement.

“The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today. Representation matters,” said Mr Goodell.

“We share his hope that someday soon statements like this will no longer be newsworthy as we march toward full equality for the LGBTQ+ community. We wish Carl the best of luck this coming season.”

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Brexit poll shows ‘limited enthusiasm’ for UK-EU trade deal

Brexit poll shows ‘limited enthusiasm’ for UK-EU trade deal
Brexit poll shows ‘limited enthusiasm’ for UK-EU trade deal

British voters have “limited enthusiasm” for the post-Brexit agreement Boris Johnson’s government negotiated with the EU last year, with only one in five describing it as a “good” deal, a survey has found.

However, ahead of the fifth anniversary of the 2016 EU referendum on Wednesday, the poll also found that years of divisive political debate had changed few minds — with four out five people who voted saying they would still vote the same way.

Sir John Curtice, politics professor at Strathclyde university, who led the research for the polling group What UK Thinks and the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), said the findings were “far from a ringing endorsement” of the Brexit trade deal.

“Five years on, it is difficult to argue that the Brexit referendum has been an unalloyed success,” Curtice wrote, noting Leavers’ limited enthusiasm for the Brexit deal. At the same time, he added, the outcome had reconciled few Remain voters to the Brexit project.

The overall tepid response to the trade deal negotiated by Lord David Frost last year found that even among Leave voters, only one in three felt it was a “good” deal, although that figure reflected the fact that some Leave voters would have preferred to have left the EU on even harder terms, with no deal at all.

Column chart of Per cent showing Enthusiasm is limited for the UK's post-Brexit deal with Brussels

The survey was conducted just weeks after the UK left the EU single market on January 1 and is the latest in a rolling series of polls that have been conducted by What UK Think and NatCen since 2016.

The UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) did not trigger the significant disruption predicted for UK ports this January, but did cause UK exports to the EU to fall sharply in some sectors such as agrifood, where exports fell by nearly 50 per cent in the first quarter of this year compared to 2019 and 2020. 

Other broader impacts, particularly on professional services and travel, have to some extent been masked by Covid-19, which has sharply reduced leisure and business travel to Europe this year. 

Despite misgivings about the post-Brexit deal, the poll continued to vindicate Johnson’s decision to make good on his 2019 election promise to “get Brexit done”, with dissatisfaction with the UK government’s handling of Brexit falling from a peak of 88 per cent in autumn 2019 during the period of prolonged parliamentary stalemate, to about 50 per cent today.

“The confidence that Leave voters had in the UK government was badly shaken when it appeared that Brexit might not happen, but it has now largely been restored,” Curtice wrote. 

At the same time, the survey found that three out of four Leave voters now expect either immigration to fall or that the economy will be better off — two key metrics of Brexit — indicating that for many voters, “the detail of Brexit matters less than the principle”.

As for whether a rerun of the 2016 Referendum today would see a different result, the poll found it probably would not.

While a clear majority of those who did not vote in 2016 say they would now vote to rejoin the EU, they are likely to be cancelled out by the number of Remain voters who — even though they still wished the UK had remained a member of the EU — would not now vote because of the further upheaval of rejoining. 

“We estimate that a referendum held now on ‘rejoin’ versus ‘stay out’ could well produce a narrow majority (52%) in favour of staying out,” Curtice said.

Looking to the future, Curtice said it was not clear whether public opinion would swing if future difficulties with the UK-EU TCA emerged once Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in the coming months. 

Much would depend on whether the opposition Labour party, which has so far been reluctant to campaign on Brexit issues for fear of alienating Leave voters in target constituencies, was prepared to make an issue of Brexit in the future.

“Proof of the Brexit pudding will be in the eating, and the main course has been delayed by the pandemic,” Curtice told the FT.

“To make a difference, the government’s record will have to be criticised and that will depend on the extent to which the opposition is willing to tackle what they regard as the operational failures of Brexit.”

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St Louis sues Missouri over new gun laws as state records deadliest year in its history

St Louis sues Missouri over new gun laws as state records deadliest year in its history
St Louis sues Missouri over new gun laws as state records deadliest year in its history

Both the city and county of St Louis filed a lawsuit against Missouri in an attempt to block the creation of an effective sanctuary state for the Second Amendment.

The injunction filed in the Cole County Circuit Court seeks to overturn the recently-signed “Second Amendment Preservation Act” that prevents local authorities from enforcing federal gun control laws.

Under the new law signed by Republican Governor Mike Parson, state and local law enforcement agencies can be fined about $50,000 per any officer who knowingly enforces federal gun law. It also “voids” any federal law, executive order, or regulation to track or remove firearms from citizens in Missouri.

Democrat mayor of St Louis, Tishaura Jones, said 2020 was the deadliest year for gun violence in the state’s history, and the deadliest in St Louis in half a century.

“And now the Missouri legislature is throwing up barriers to stop police from doing their most important job —preventing and solving violent crime,” she said in a statement to KMOV4.

“This harmful and unconstitutional law takes away tools our communities need to prevent gun violence.”

Philip Dupuis, police chief in the St Louis suburb of O’Fallon, resigned in protest over the new law, saying the poorly worded language removes sovereign immunity and allowed officers to be sued for good faith seizures of firearms in emergency circumstances.

Mr Parson, however, said the law was designed to protect “law-abiding Missourians” against government overreach and unconstitutional federal mandates.

“We will reject any attempt by the federal government to circumvent the fundamental right Missourians have to keep and bear arms to protect themselves and their property,” he said in a statement.

The injunction, filed against Missouri and the state’s Attorney General, Eric Schmitt, that the law, HB 85, violates the US Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which provides that federal law preempts state law.

It says the law also violates the Missouri Constitution in several ways, including an infringement of the separation of powers of the branches of state government.

“In misguided seal to prevent imaginary threats to the right to keep and bear arms, the political branches in our state government blatantly violated the federal and state constitutions by attempting to nullify federal gun laws,” the lawsuit says.

“The consequences of HB 85 are tangible and real: they will make it easier for criminals to use guns in committing violent acts, they will give gun violence a safe haven in Missouri, local governments… may be disqualified from receiving federal grants and technical assistance through the United States Department of Justice.”

The Department of Justice, for its part, warned Missouri officials that the US Constitution’s Supremacy Claus trumped the new bill signed into law on Saturday.

Acting assistant attorney general Brian Boynton wrote in a letter to the governor that the law would disrupt the working relationship between federal and local law enforcement agencies.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Kremlin says US won’t stop trying to ‘contain’ Russia as Biden administration threatens more sanctions

Kremlin says US won’t stop trying to ‘contain’ Russia as Biden administration threatens more sanctions
Kremlin says US won’t stop trying to ‘contain’ Russia as Biden administration threatens more sanctions

The Kremlin has called for “pragmatism and sobriety” after the Biden administration revealed plans for more sanctions over the poisoning of Alexei Navalny.

On Monday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Moscow was aware of the planned expansion of sanctions, which US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed on CNN on Sunday.

Mr Peskov said that despite US President Joe Biden’s “words about the constructive mood” during a summit in Geneva last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin expected the US to continue “its policy of containing Russia”.

“The president’s words about the constructive mood during the summit do not indicate that we have moved away from a sober assessment of our bilateral relations with the United States,” the Kremlin spokesperson said.

“Pragmatism and sobriety are most important in these relations,” he said. “And both suggest that the constructive, positive results of the summit absolutely do not indicate that the United States will abandon its policy of containing Russia.”

The threat of fresh sanctions come nearly a year after Mr Navalny was flown to Germany last August after being poisoned with what doctors said was the nerve agent Novichok.

Russian authorities have repeatedly denied accusations of being behind for the attack.

Mr Navalny has been held in prison for months after being accused of violating the terms of his probation by failing to show up for inspections while receiving medical care in Germany.

Last week, Mr Biden said he had warned Mr Putin during their summit that there would be consequences if Mr Navalny dies in prison.

“I made it clear to him that I believe the consequences of that would be devastating for Russia,” Mr Biden said.

Speaking with CNN’s Dana Bash on State of the Union, Mr Sullivan said the US was “preparing another package of sanctions to apply” in connection with Mr Navalny’s case.

“We’ve shown all along the way that we are not going to pull our punches, whether it’s on solar winds, or election interference, or Navalny when it comes to responding to Russia’s harmful activities,” the national security adviser said.

Mr Sullivan said the sanctions would come once the US could “ensure that we are getting the right targets”.

“When we do that, we will impose further sanctions with respect to chemical weapons,” he said.

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FirstFT: Today’s top stories | Financial Times

FirstFT: Today’s top stories | Financial Times
FirstFT: Today’s top stories | Financial Times

Good morning. This article is an on-site version of our FirstFT Asia newsletter. Sign up here to get the newsletter sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily is on the verge of closure after its assets were frozen by the government last week, restricting its ability to operate.

The asset freeze follows the arrest of two of the newspaper’s senior executives who were charged under China’s tough national security law after a raid by 500 police officers on Apple Daily’s offices on June 17. The paper’s owner, Jimmy Lai, has already been jailed.

Critics say the actions mark a new low for press freedom in the Chinese territory, which was promised freedom of expression in the handover of the city from the UK to China in 1997. This changed after Beijing introduced a national security law that heralded a tough crackdown on civil society and politics.

The clampdown, aimed at quelling dissent on display during mass anti-government protests in 2019, has since extended to the previously freewheeling media. But police moves to charge Ryan Law, Apple Daily’s editor-in-chief, were the first time the national security law had been used directly against journalists.

Five stories in the news

1. China orders banks to intensify anti-crypto campaign China’s central bank warned several of its largest state-owned banks and Jack Ma’s Alipay to “investigate and identify” bank accounts facilitating cryptocurrency trading and block all corresponding transactions, in Beijing’s latest move against Bitcoin. Read more in Chris Nuttall’s #techFT newsletter. You can sign up here.

2. Wall Street rebounds as markets adjust to Fed rate rise outlook US stocks bounced back and government bonds softened on Monday, reversing some of the tumultuous moves last week that followed a Federal Reserve meeting where officials took a more hawkish tone on interest rates and inflation.

  • More on the Fed: John Williams, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said the US economy was not yet ready for the central bank to start pulling back its hefty monetary support.

3. Iran’s president-elect signals tough line on nuclear deal Ebrahim Raisi, a conservative cleric and judiciary chief, told reporters that his government would not “negotiate for the sake of negotiations” and ruled out any meeting with US President Joe Biden.

4. Student athletes win US Supreme Court showdown The court’s nine justices unanimously upheld a lower court decision finding that restrictions set by the National Collegiate Athletic Association on education-related benefits — including “scholarships for graduate or vocational school, payments for academic tutoring, or paid post-eligibility internships” — to student athletes were unfair.

5. Germany’s Armin Laschet warns against cold war with China The frontrunner to become Germany’s next chancellor agreed with Angela Merkel that Beijing was as much a partner as a systemic rival. In a wide-ranging interview Laschet, leader of Germany’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union, suggested many in Europe were sceptical of US President Joe Biden’s hawkish attitude to China.

  • Go deeper: In this Big Read, FT’s Berlin bureau chief Guy Chazan and editor Roula Khalaf report that Laschet wants to see a return to the orthodoxies of the pre-pandemic world.

Coronavirus digest

  • Japan will allow spectators up to 50 per cent of venue capacity at the Olympics, with a maximum of 10,000 people — going against medical advisers’ guidance.

  • Vaccitech, the group behind Oxford/AstraZeneca’s vaccine, believes it has a better chance of treating cancers than new medicines based on mRNA.

  • As Britain struggles to learn to live with Covid, there has been little discussion about the mortality level that might be acceptable to the public.

  • From bagpipes to barbecues, incentives abound to lure staff back to the office, writes Andrew Hill.

Follow our live coronavirus blog and sign up for our Coronavirus Business Update newsletter.

The day ahead

New York City mayoral primary In heavily Democratic New York City, the winner of today’s primary will certainly carry November’s general election. Eric Adams — a black former policeman who has called for more NYPD officers — is one of the favourites to win a contest that has become a referendum on New Yorkers’ attitudes towards policing and public security.

Spain to pardon jailed Catalan separatists The leftwing government is to issue pardons for nine jailed Catalan separatists on Tuesday, in a move it says will pave the way for reconciliation on the country’s most divisive issue but which the opposition says undermines the rule of law.

How should privacy considerations be addressed given data’s emerging status as a tradable commodity? Senior industry leaders will share their insights at an FT virtual webinar starting on Wednesday. Register for free here.

What else we’re reading

How China broke the Asian model While the economics of the China model are derivative, the politics are new, writes Gideon Rachman. Unlike Taiwan or South Korea, which turned from one-party states to democracies as they got richer, China under Xi has entrenched the dominance of the Communist party.

  • Video: The global economy is shifting away from the US and Europe towards Asia. The FT’s global China editor James Kynge and FT economics commentator Martin Sandbu discuss whether China will dominate global commerce.

Tech Tonic podcast: The game-changer In this first episode of our five-part series on AI, the FT’s innovation editor and host John Thornhill talks to some of the biggest names in AI research including the CEO of Google’s DeepMind Demis Hassabis. He explores some of the latest innovations and asks a core question: will AI live up to its promise or succumb to its pitfalls? 

Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee: ‘Ours is a social science’ The Nobel laureates call for better economic “plumbing” after the pandemic and warn about inaction over climate change. This is the latest in our Economists Exchange series featuring conversations between top FT commentators and leading economists about coronavirus economic recovery.

Capital for the people — an idea whose time has come While nobody these days has much sympathy for wealthy individuals or companies or really believes in trickle-down economics, the threat of tax and regulatory arbitrage by other states is real. California is applying some typically creative thinking to this problem, writes Rana Foroohar.

Masters in Finance The FT’s 2021 ranking of the world’s best masters in finance programmes have been published. HEC Paris again leads the rankings, which are dominated by French business schools. You can read the full list here and learn more about the methodology used to calculate the rankings here.

Life & Arts

Summer books of 2021 The FT today launches its annual summer review of the best books of the year, starting with the genres of science fiction, business and food and drink. You can share your favourite reads of the year so far here. The best responses will be published on as part of the wider series.

Thank you for reading. Send your recommendations and feedback to

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