Going underground

Balance of Power

Carrie Lam is declaring victory.

Hong Kong's leader says the unrest that coursed through the city for more than a year has been successfully suppressed. That a national security law imposed by Beijing will allow businesses to thrive, create a peace that will entice foreign companies, one that locals tired of violent, economically disruptive protests will welcome.

Lam presided today over an outdoor flag-raising ceremony marking the founding of the People's Republic in 1949. It was a sharp contrast from last year, when the event had to be moved inside for safety reasons and violent protests undercut President Xi Jinping's efforts to demonstrate national strength amid his trade war with Donald Trump.

"Stability has been restored to society while national security has been safeguarded, and our people can continue to enjoy their basic rights and freedoms in accordance with the law," she said.

Pro-democracy supporters are finding the going tough. China's willingness to arrest people under the security law, and its move to delay local legislative elections by a year, is fracturing the movement between those who favor full independence and others who advocate working within the system for Hong Kong's freedoms.

Securing that calm has relied on coronavirus-related crowd restrictions and a heavy security presence, with 6,000 riot police on standby today. More than 10,000 people have been arrested since June 2019.

The success may be fleeting. Beijing has shown little interest in engaging opposition supporters to resolve deep-seated grievances, from demands for more local autonomy to the world's most expensive housing.

China has won stability for now, but it's not winning any hearts and minds.

Rosalind Mathieson

Lam and other dignitaries attend today's flag-raising ceremony.

Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg

Tell us how we're doing or what we're missing at balancepower@bloomberg.net.

Global Headlines

Clock's ticking | Trump is running out of time to reverse his campaign's downward trajectory after a widely criticized debate performance that left him little room to pick away at Democrat Joe Biden's lead in national and key-state polling. Nearly every state viewed as competitive is one the president won in 2016, meaning Biden is able to play offense.

Campaign 2020

There are 33 days until the election. Here's the latest on the race for control of the White House and Congress.

Trump has lost many of the older voters who helped propel him to victory in 2016, and Republican strategists say they think they know why: He's losing the ad war to Biden. And the commission that runs presidential debates said it would change the format of the next sessions after Tuesday's chaotic clash.

Other developments

Sign up to receive daily election updates as a direct mobile notification on Twitter. Simply click on this link and like the tweet.

Getting tough | The European Union is starting legal proceedings against the U.K. over Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plan to breach terms of its Brexit divorce deal and break international law. While the move is of little immediate consequence, it highlights that tensions are high as trade negotiations enter a critical phase, Alberto Nardelli reports.

  • Financial services firms in the U.K. have shifted about 7,500 employees and more than $1.6 trillion in assets to the EU ahead of Brexit, with more likely to follow in coming weeks, consulting firm EY said.

Star turn | The U.S. Supreme Court opens its new term next week in a swirl of uncertainty, amid a new justice's politicized confirmation battle and a divisive presidential election the court may have to resolve. As Greg Stohr reports, the docket already is a meaty one, highlighted by a bid to overturn the Affordable Care Act, a high-stakes clash between religious and gay rights, and a battle stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Amazon angst | President Jair Bolsonaro hit back against Biden's suggestion that Brazil could suffer economic consequences if it doesn't stop Amazon deforestation, calling it a "shame" and "a sign of contempt." Biden said in Tuesday's debate that, if elected, his administration would rejoin the Paris Agreement and rally wealthy nations to protect Brazil's rainforests as part of a greater effort to combat climate change.

A burning area of Amazon rainforest in Brazil's Para state, on Aug. 16.

Photographer: Carl de Souza/AFP

Truce plea | Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, urged Azerbaijan and Armenia to halt fighting and resume talks over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region during a phone call, according to a Kremlin statement. Azerbaijan has vowed to continue combat until Armenian forces leave the territory, while Armenia accuses Turkey of military involvement, something Ankara denies. Separately, EU leaders meet today to discuss tensions with Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean.

What to Watch

  • Efforts to strike bipartisan compromise on a U.S. pandemic relief package are inching forward, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi set to resume discussions following their first in-person talks since August yesterday.
  • Tens of thousands of job cuts announced by blue-chip companies in a 24-hour period — including 28,000 at Walt Disney — are a warning sign for global recovery, coming ahead of two key reports forecast to show limited progress in the U.S. labor market.
  • Lithuanian-born Aivaras Abromavicius, who took Ukrainian citizenship to become a minister in 2014, is quitting a post there for the second time in less than five years with the same complaint: Politics is quashing efforts to fight corruption.
  • Sweden's minority government may be facing its worst crisis yet after talks between labor unions and employers' groups broke down today, with some lawmakers threatening a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.

And finally ... Scientists have long deployed drones to do everything from counting caribou to collecting whale snot. Now the aircraft are helping to rescue animals as climate change takes an increasingly deadly toll on wildlife, Todd Woody reports. For the past year, a California videographer has chased climate catastrophes around the world, piloting drones with infrared cameras to help find survivors of increasingly intense hurricanes and firestorms. After he locates the animals, rescuers can move them to safety.

A dog left stranded among the ruins of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas in 2019.

Source: Courtesy of Douglas Thron



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