Sri Lanka signs deal on Hambantota port with China
China / August 2, 2017

Sri Lanka has signed a $1.1bn (£837m) deal with China for the control and development of the southern deep-sea port of Hambantota. The deal had been delayed by several months over concerns that the port could be used by the Chinese military. The government has given assurances that China will run only commercial operations from the port, on the main shipping route between Asia and Europe. Sri Lanka’s government says money from the deal will help repay foreign loans. Under the proposal, a state-run Chinese company will have a 99-year lease on the port and about 15,000 acres nearby for an industrial zone. The plan envisages the eviction of thousands of villagers but the government says they will be given new land. China has pumped millions of dollars into Sri Lanka’s infrastructure since the end of a 26-year civil war in 2009. Protests against the agreement, which were organised by the Port Workers Union, took place on the streets of the capital, Colombo, on Saturday. A coffin was carried through the streets before cardboard cutouts of Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe were set alight. Image captionDemonstrators took to the streets of Colombo to protest against…

Apple defends complying with China over VPNs
China / August 2, 2017

Apple boss Tim Cook has defended his company’s decision to comply with the Chinese government’s demand it remove VPN software from the App Store. Virtual Private Networks are often used to skirt censorship and surveillance in countries with tight restrictions on internet use. The company has been heavily criticised for removing several VPN apps, and was accused of “aiding Chinese censorship efforts”. Apple said it disagreed with China’s position but had to comply with the country’s laws. “We would obviously rather not remove the apps,” Apple chief executive Tim Cook said on Tuesday. “But like we do in other countries we follow the law wherever we do business. Mr Cook said comparisons to a legal battle in the US last year – in which the firm refused to help the FBI unlock a dead terrorist’s iPhone – were unfair. “They’re very different,” he said. “In the case of the US, the law in the US supported us. I was very clear. In the case of China, the law is also very clear there. Like we would if the US changed the law here, we’d have to abide by them in both cases.” ‘Most drastic measure’ Activists and indeed regular citizens…