By Estelle Shirbon, Sarah Young LONDON (Reuters) – Airlines have slammed UK plans to restart international travel, saying expensive tests for travel to low-risk countries would mean only wealthy people could take vacations to the ‘foreign. displayed at a terminal at Heathrow Airport, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease pandemic (COVID-19), London, Great Britain, January 16, 2021. REUTERS / Toby Melville Travel resumes from May 17, a plan that has failed to meet the industry’s hopes for clarity. Airlines and travel agencies are in desperate need of a great summer after a year of restrictions. Without a high level of unlimited travel, some might struggle to survive or need new funds.The government has proposed a system of traffic lights, with countries falling into red, amber or green categories based on COVID risk. 19. Green countries will require a PCR test which costs around 100 pounds ($ 135) for travelers once they return to the UK. “This does not represent a reopening of travel as promised by ministers,” said Airlines UK, an industry body which represents the United Kingdom. Airways, easyJet, Ryanair, Virgin Atlantic and others. “This is yet another setback for an industry on its knees.” EasyJet, the UK’s largest passenger carrier, has stressed the requirement for PCR testing, which it says costs more than some of its fares, and called on the government to reassess its plan. “It risks turning the clock around and making flying only for the rich,” said Johan Lundgren, general manager of easyJet. Last 20 years and are among the top spending tourists in Europe. In 2019, more than six in ten Britons took a holiday abroad. Transport Minister Grant Shapps said the government wanted to make travel testing cheaper and suggested that over time the PCR test could be changed to a more affordable lateral flow test. As a government, we are committed to working to reduce these costs, and also eventually, of course, potentially reviewing the type of test, ”he told the BBC. “I’m not telling people they shouldn’t book a vacation now,” the government said in October, Shapps said. “This is the first time that I can say this in many months.” The number of cases in Britain has dropped dramatically from a January spike under a strict lockdown that banned holidays, but a government priority is to avoid undermining its success under the fire system signage, restrictions such as hotel quarantine, home quarantine, and mandatory COVID testing will apply differently depending on the passenger’s country of origin category. Identifying countries most at risk of going from green to orange, although the government has said it would not hesitate to change country categories if data shows the risk has increased. A digital travel certification system would also be part of the plan, but the proposals went into little detail beyond saying Britain wanted to play a leading role in setting standards. ($ 1 = 0.7310 pounds) Reporting by Estelle Shirbon and Sarah Young; Additional reporting by Michael Holden edited by Diane Craft, Robert Birsel and Nick Macfie.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will leave Washington, DC on Saturday to meet government and military leaders in Israel, Germany, NATO headquarters in Belgium and Britain.
“Secretary Austin will meet with colleagues and other senior officials to discuss the importance of international defense relations and strengthen the United States’ commitment to transatlantic prevention and defense, burden sharing, and security resilience,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
In Israel, Austin “will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benjamin Gantz to continue close consultations on shared priorities and reaffirm US enduring commitment to the US-Israel strategic partnership and Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge,” according to the statement.
In Germany, Austin will meet his German counterpart Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Chancellor Dr. Jan Hecker.
The chief of defense will reinforce the value the US places on bilateral defense relations with Germany.
“Other topics of discussion include fighting the malign influence of our common strategic rivals and continuing dialogue on the posture of US troops in Germany and elsewhere,” he added.
Austin will also visit the headquarters of US European Command and US Africa Command in Germany to meet with American troops.
He will next visit Belgium to meet NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg “about how the Alliance deals with destabilizing behavior by Russia, China’s rise, terrorism and global challenges such as COVID-19 and climate change.”
At the end of his tour, the chief of defense will visit Britain and meet Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace “to reaffirm the importance of continued US-UK defense cooperation to meet global security challenges,” he said.
China has been a hot issue in British politics over the past 12 months, as lawmakers and activists have realized how much Britain depends on a country that opposes much of what it claims to uphold. And many in London worry that Prime Minister Boris Johnson doesn’t have the time or the imagination to tackle one of Britain’s biggest foreign challenges.
The Johnson government recently published a review of the country’s post-Brexit foreign affairs, in which it noted that China “will contribute more to global growth than any other country in the next decade,” and an economy like Britain will “need to get involved. with China and remain open to Chinese trade and investment. “Also, it is not unreasonable, suggesting that if global challenges such as climate change are to be adequately addressed, the international community will need Beijing’s cooperation.
However, the report also acknowledged in angry language that China was a “systemic competitor” and “the biggest country-based threat to the security of the British economy.”
This has left many in Britain wondering where exactly Johnson’s head and heart lie in what he recognizes as the greatest challenge to Western democracy.
Even those who have worked with Johnson struggle to present a single view of his stance.
Guto Harri, Johnson’s former communications director during his time as mayor of London, shows off their trip to Beijing in 2008, when Johnson took the Olympic and Paralympic flags back to London in preparation for the 2012 Olympics, partly informing his views on the country. .
“What a strange time to be in China. We were there on September 17, just two days after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy,” said Harri. “There is a striking parallel between the collapse of the great American bank while China is dazzling the world with a show of power.”
However, he feels Johnson is not as bad as others in the UK: “When one of us said how amazing the ceremony was, Boris said ‘yes, if you like humanity reduced to specks of light in a kaleidoscope.’ He instinctively disliked the uniformity of the communist state. ”
This story fits with the view put forward by his allies: that Johnson sees the need for a balanced approach to China that does not deter global trade but reduces reliance on Chinese state-backed investment and technology.
China has systematically become a leader in future technology while also investing in other countries’ infrastructure projects. Simultaneously, it has become one of the most sophisticated rivals to the West when it comes to cyber warfare, creating the problem that if you want to take advantage of China’s cheaper 5G technology, or any other innovation, you do so at the risk of alleged theft by Beijing. state secrets and intellectual property.
Although the Chinese government has repeatedly and vehemently denied these accusations, British lawmakers are well aware of the puzzle that looms. In the last decade, Britain has become dependent on China for a variety of essential infrastructure.
And although Britain plans to remove equipment made by Chinese tech giant Huawei from the country’s 5G network by 2027, the network is up and running.
Despite the eagles’ wishes, China is a reality Britain cannot rule out, as some Beijing critics believe Johnson is on their side.
People who worked with Johnson during his stint as secretary of state say nothing indicates he is a Sinophile. During his two years working, Johnson visited India, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, but never to China. This, according to familiar and annoyed Chinese diplomats who want to show China is investing more in Britain than any other European country.
The China Hawk may also take comfort in its recently published review and commitment to leading a global ocean deployment that will visit the Indo-Pacific alongside the US and other allies – a move that is sure to irritate Beijing, which has accused Washington of trying to do so. sow discord in the region.
Meanwhile, Boris’s younger brother, Max, runs an investment company that specializes in facilitating investments in Chinese and Chinese companies.
Whatever the Prime Minister’s feelings for China, Britain is far from having a coherent long-term strategy for balancing relations. Johnson’s recent condemnation may have taken on a more hostile tone, but critics note that currently, criticism is limited by the need to trade and cooperate.
“There hasn’t been a large number of concrete policies that have really had an impact on China,” said Benedict Rogers, a Conservative Party activist and advisor to the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance for China. “The offer of a British Overseas passport for Hong Kong citizens and sanctions against Chinese officials angered Beijing, but China is used to being criticized for doing things as usual.”
Rogers added that the Johnson government had a habit of trying to “eat the cake and eat it” and thought this was ultimately its approach to China.
Cake-ism is not necessarily a bad approach. David Lidington, formerly the de facto deputy prime minister and now chairman of RUSI, said the only way to truly change China’s behavior is to reduce reliance on its economic and technological weight.
“Talking about banning individual companies like TikTok or Huawei is a little annoying. The only way to contain China is a unified Western response and to build our own capacities in things like artificial intelligence and biotechnology,” he said. “For the UK, that means facilitating conversations between Europe, the US and other democracies about how we organize things like data and other new technologies.”
Johnson has long claimed that Britain’s post-Brexit prosperity will be built on trade relations with the wider world. In that context, the country cannot ignore China and can immediately be cornered.
“It is likely that in the next decade or so, when China becomes more dominant, a narrative will emerge in which countries will be presented with a choice between the US-led West and China. Whether that choice is real or not, it can easily be presented that way. , “said Lidington.
The EU’s “strategic autonomy” goal is aimed at avoiding that, by walking in the middle of using its single market and regulatory powers to remain independent of the two superpowers. But after leaving the bloc, Britain is no longer part of the ecosystem and cannot harness its strength.
Acting as a bridge between Europe and America in cooperation in the technology arms race could be a natural role for Britain. However, balancing this by leaving the door open to Chinese investment requires not only complex international diplomacy, but also careful handling within Johnson’s own Conservative party.
“There are divisions within the party. There are those who understand that cutting China completely will be destructive and those who think China, post-Brexit, is a new and important dimension to define our place in the world,” said Salma Shah. , a former government adviser. “Downing Street must seriously consider how it will present even the initial strategy in a way that satisfies both sides.”
Johnson has made a career of getting people to guess what he’s really thinking, and the post-Brexit reality gave him a world of new opportunities and new dangers.
When it came to China, both opportunity and danger rolled toward him faster than he could have ever imagined. If he is to win the trust of his loyalists at home and his allies abroad, he may need to stop the cake-ist politics that previously served him so well, and start laying out some solid ideas for dealing with China at a global level at the top. table. The future of his country can depend on it.
“This move conveys Britain’s historical and moral commitment to the Hong Kong people who chose to maintain their relationship with the UK by taking BN (O) status in 1997. This move gave them a way to stay in the UK if they chose to do so.”
BN (O) holders were granted special status in the 1980s, but for decades the document did not entitle them to work or live in the UK.
That changed last year, after that Beijing’s adoption of a national security law in Hong Kong, which prohibits secession, subversion and collusion with foreign troops. The law has had a profound impact on the city’s political life, with nearly every prominent opposition politician currently facing charges of subversion and widespread self-censorship.
Both measures have come under widespread international criticism, particularly from the UK, who have argued that the law violates the agreement that governed Hong Kong’s 1997 handover.In contrast, Beijing has accused London of acting illegally by providing a pathway to citizenship for Hong Kong citizens under the scheme. BN (O).
He said the BN (O) plan “seriously violates Chinese sovereignty, deeply interferes with Hong Kong and internal Chinese affairs, and seriously violates international law and basic norms of international relations.”
The Beijing and Hong Kong governments have said they will no longer recognize BN (O) passports as valid travel documents, even though most holders also hold Hong Kong or other passports, so the effect will be limited.
In a statement, British Home Secretary Priti Patel said London had “pledged to uphold freedom for the Hong Kong people, which is why I am proud that we can support so many people when they need our help.”
“It’s an unprecedented and generous scheme and there is no other visa in the world like this,” he added. “We are working hard to successfully resettle the people here and realize that there is nothing more difficult than leaving your home to rebuild life in a new country.”
Most of the money will go to councils in Britain “to provide targeted support for new arrivals,” including English lessons and housing assistance for those who need it. Around £ 5 million will be used to build “12 virtual welcoming hubs” across the UK, to help Hong Kongers with things like applying to schools, registering with doctors or setting up businesses.
Protest leader Nathan Law was granted asylum
While millions of Hong Kongers qualify for BN (O) status, many of the young protesters who took part in the anti-government riots that rocked the city in 2019 and caught the world’s attention will be born too late.
In the past year, authorities began rounding up and prosecuting those suspected of carrying out protest-related offenses, while other protest leaders and activists have been charged under national security laws.
Although Law is older than many of the protesters, he was born in mainland China, so he does not qualify for the BN (O) scheme.
“The fact that I am wanted under the National Security Act shows that I am subject to severe political persecution and may not return to Hong Kong without risk,” Law said on Twitter. “My situation, however, may not apply to all Hong Kong asylum seekers. Some may not have enough evidence to support their claims due to lack of media reports or fled before the persecution. Fear of their claims being rejected, most of them live in distress and anxiety. . ”
Law said he hoped the Home Office would “consider more comprehensive evidence” in cases involving Hong Kong protesters, thus allowing more people to claim asylum in Britain.
GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – The director of the Center for Disease Control said Wednesday that the Covid-19 variant first identified in the UK is now the dominant strain in the United States, and a Clemson University professor told 7News an analysis of the virus found in wastewater showed it was the dominant strain in the Clemson area as well.
The data from DHEC and CDC do not show the British variant predominates in South Carolina, but that is something DHEC is monitoring.
Professor Clemson and chair of the university’s environmental engineering and earth sciences department Dr. David Freedman has been monitoring the Covid-19 virus found in Clemson’s wastewater for nearly a year. He said it shows how widespread the virus is in society. Over the past three weeks, he said the British variant went from nearly undetectable to dominating.
“The newest sample we have is basically 100 percent,” he said.
The British variant appears to be more contagious than the original form of the virus, according to the CDC.
Dr Freedman said wastewater showed the virus also appeared to have spread more widely in the Clemson area in March.
According to the CDC, the British variant accounts for about nine percent of Covid-19 cases in South Carolina. This is higher in several other states, including Florida, where one in three cases is caused by a variant, according to CDC data.
“Our story is a microcosm of what’s happening globally with the spread of these variants,” said Dr. Freedman.
DHEC officials are continuing to monitor the variants and hope that there will be a reduction in stable cases in the state.
“This variant nationally, as well as in South Carolina, is the reason we encourage everyone to get vaccinated as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, who is the interim public health director at DHEC.
“This variant puts us in a race between disease spread and vaccination rates,” said Dr. Freedman.
Experts warn that even though vaccines are bringing us closer to the end of the pandemic, social distancing and disguise remain important.
Dr. Freedman likens it to running a marathon.
“You’re on mile 22, the last thing you do is stop,” he said. “You have four more miles. Finish … and that’s what we face now. “
He said a variant from South Africa had not been detected in the Clemson wastewater.
Data suggests a vaccine available in the US should provide adequate protection against the variant.