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Samsung embroiled in ‘One China’ row after K-pop star pulls out

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The world’s number one smartphone maker Samsung Electronics became the latest global brand to face criticism Wednesday for damaging China’s “territorial integrity”, with a Chinese K-pop star ending an endorsement contract.

The row broke out after Chinese viewers noticed that the South Korean tech giant offers different language versions of its website for users in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan — in English, simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese.

All three appear as choices in a list of ‘countries’.

Beijing is very sensitive about anything it perceives as portraying semi-autonomous Hong Kong and Macau or the self-ruled democratic island of Taiwan — which it views as a renegade province awaiting reunification — as separate countries.

Hong Kong has become a particularly thorny issue for Beijing in recent weeks with the financial hub plunged into months of pro-democracy protests.

Chinese K-pop star Zhang Yixing — popularly known as Lay, from the boyband Exo — on Tuesday cancelled his agreement with Samsung for it allegedly “hurting the national feelings of Chinese compatriots” by maintaining the separate websites.

The hashtag “#ZhangYixing Ditches Samsung#” went viral on China’s Twitter-like Weibo with his cancellation notice being viewed 840 million times in the 20 hours after it was posted.

“Its act of blurring the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country has seriously hurt the national feelings of our compatriots, which we strongly condemn,” Zhang’s Chinese agency said in a statement on its official social media account on Weibo.

Zhang had been a Samsung Electronics brand ambassador in China since December. The firm declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

The move comes days after several luxury retailers apologised for labelling the semi-autonomous cities of Hong Kong and Macau and the self-ruled island of Taiwan as separate countries.

Austrian jewellery company Swarovski apologised Tuesday for “hurting the feelings” of Chinese people after calling Hong Kong a separate country on its website.

Luxury brands Versace, Coach, and Givenchy also all apologised this week for making perceived affronts to China’s national sovereignty with T-shirts listing Hong Kong and Taiwan as separate countries.

The row also cost them the support of their Chinese brand ambassadors as the companies scrambled to minimise any potential damage in the lucrative mainland market.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Harvey Elliott banned for 14 days over offensive Kane mock

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Liverpool youngster Harvey Elliott has been suspended and fine by Football Association (FA) for a period of 14 days after a video emerged of him mocking Tottenham striker Harry Kane.

The clip, that was posted on Snapchat and recorded while Elliott was still a Fulham player, shows the 16-year-old derogatorily impersonating the Spurs striker under the caption “F***ing m*ng”.

The FA’s explanation of the offence committed also suggests that Elliott’s words in the video were “aggravated by reference to a disability”.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp signed the talented forward in the summer, with him having made his first-team debut for the Reds in their Carabao Cup win over MK Dons in September.

The England Under-17 international is Fulham’s youngest ever player after featuring for them in a Carabao Cup tie against Millwall in September 2018 at just 15 years of age.

He is also the youngest player to have played in the Premier League after coming on as a substitute against Wolves in May 2019, although he hit the headlines shortly after his move to Anfield after the impersonation video emerged on social media.

The teenager would go on to apologise to Kane for his actions in an update posted on Instagram,  writing at the time: “I would just like to wholeheartedly apologise for any offence caused on the back of a video of me currently circulating on the internet.

“The video was taken whilst messing around with friends in a private environment and was not directed at any individual but I realise that my actions were both immature and senseless.

“I would like to stress that the contents of the video do not represent who I am as a person or how I’ve been brought up, and I am truly sorry.”

And the FA have now released a statement confirming Elliott’s punishment which will see him unable to play domestic football until October 24, while he has also been ordered to pay a fine of £350 and complete a “face-to-face education course”.

The statement read: “Harvey Elliott has been suspended from playing in all domestic club football for a period of 14 days, running up to and including 24 October 2019, after admitting a breach of FA Rule E3 in relation to a video posted on social media and providing a public apology.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Hong kong unrest worsens

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Hundreds of mask-wearing pro-democracy protesters marched through Hong Kong’s central business district on Friday, occupying a main thoroughfare and disrupting traffic as the Chinese-ruled city braced for another weekend of unrest.

Chanting their core demands, the crowd occupied the district at lunchtime before peacefully dispersing.

Hong Kong’s metro operator opened all stations for the first time in a week ahead of more planned anti-government protests, while the city’s legislature began its first session since protesters stormed the building in July.

Pro-establishment and democratic lawmakers shouted at each other before the session, underscoring the tension and divisions in Hong Kong after four months of often violent anti-China protests.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam invoked British colonial-era emergency laws last Friday and banned the wearing of face masks which protesters have used to shield their identities.

The protests have plunged the city, an Asian financial hub, into its worst crisis since it returned to Chinese rule in 1997, posing the biggest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.

What began as opposition to a now-withdrawn extradition bill has evolved into a pro-democracy movement fanned by fears that China is stifling Hong Kong’s freedoms, guaranteed under a “one country, two systems” formula introduced in 1997.

China denies the accusations and says fore1ign countries, including Britain and the United States, are fomenting unrest.

The Chinese embassy in Bangkok on Friaday condemned Thai politicians for showing support for Hong Kong activists.

“This is wrong and irresponsible. China hopes that relevant people will understand the truth about problems in Hong Kong, act carefully and do useful things for the friendship between China and Thailand,” the embassy said in a statement.

Ninety people have been arrested for anti-mask law violations in the past week, pushing the total number of arrests since June to more than 2,300, police said on Friday. Many of those arrested are under 16, authorities said.

Police said they were investigating four reports of blackmail involving emails from a group claiming to be pro-democracy and threatening to target shops unless they fund protests via bitcoin.

“The intimidating messages even include videos of rioters inflicting extensive damage to shops over the past few weeks,” said acting police chief superintendent Kong Wing-cheung.

Protesters have targeted China banks and shops with links, or perceived links, to mainland China.

Many residents fear the emergency laws may be expanded, further eroding civil liberties, but the government said on Thursday it would not bring in any other measures.

Source: Reuters

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