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FirstFT: Hong Kong residents in US offered temporary ‘safe haven’

US updates

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The US is giving temporary safe haven to Hong Kong residents in the US, citing “ongoing repression” by China in the financial hub.

Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of homeland security, said the memorandum signed on Thursday by US president Joe Biden directed him to defer the removal of Hong Kong residents already present in the US by 18 months.

“Offering safe haven for Hong Kong residents who have been deprived of their guaranteed freedoms in Hong Kong furthers United States interests in the region,” the memorandum said.

The decision was “made based on the ongoing assault on democracy, and rights and freedoms in Hong Kong by the People’s Republic of China”, Mayorkas said in a statement on Thursday.

The department of homeland security did not say how many individuals it assessed might be eligible under the offer, but a US official told the Financial Times the number affected was “in the thousands”. Read the full story here.

What is your reaction to the US’ decision to defer the removal of Hong Kong residents already present in the US? Write to me at emily.goldberg@ft.com and let me know what you think. — Emily

Five more stories in the news

1. India’s foreign investment in the spotlight Prime minister Narendra Modi’s government on Thursday introduced a bill to rescind a 2012 tax code provision that had allowed New Delhi to impose retrospective taxes on some foreign investments. Separately, Indian authorities are threatening to fine ecommerce group Flipkart and its founders for alleged violations of the country’s foreign investment laws.

2. Apple to scan US iPhones for child abuse imagery Apple intends to install software on American iPhones to scan for child abuse imagery, according to people briefed on its plans, raising alarm among security researchers who warn that it could open the door to surveillance of millions of people’s personal devices.

3. ByteDance cuts jobs in education unit TikTok owner ByteDance has started lay-offs at its education division as new Chinese government regulations force the world’s most valuable start-up to retrench from a key growth area. Meanwhile, investors who poured billions of dollars into Chinese tutoring start-ups are exploring how to claw back their capital.

4. India court weighs Pegasus phone snooping inquiry India’s Supreme Court has begun hearing journalists’ pleas for an independent, court-supervised investigation into allegations that Narendra Modi’s government misused spyware to surveil opposition politicians, reporters and officials.

5. Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona part company Barcelona football club said on Thursday that Lionel Messi, widely regarded as one of the greatest of all players, is leaving because of “financial and structural obstacles” that it blamed on financial regulations imposed by La Liga, which runs the top two divisions in Spain, requiring the team to rein in its spending. For more on the business of sport, sign up for our Scoreboard newsletter.

Go deeper: FT’s Simon Kuper details the inside story of why FC Barcelona, one of the world’s richest football clubs, lost the battle for talent.

Tokyo Olympics round-up

US athlete Ryan Crouser won gold in the men’s shot put, ahead of fellow American Joe Kovacs © AFP via Getty Images

Catch up with the best of today’s sporting action at the Games with our Tokyo Olympics Daily report.

Coronavirus digest

The Australian state of Victoria imposed a snap lockdown to contain an outbreak of the Delta strain of coronavirus as vaccination rates remained low.

The US plans to join Germany, Israel and France in giving Covid-19 vaccine booster shots to those with compromised immune systems, ignoring the WHO’s plea.

Novavax further delayed the submission of data for its Covid-19 vaccine to the US regulator amid struggles with consistent manufacturing information.

Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine is 93 per cent effective six months after the second dose, the US drugmaker said, as sales of the jab helped lift the company to a record quarterly profit.

Wells Fargo, BlackRock and Amazon will delay a return to the office, a sign of how the Delta variant is hampering plans to return to pre-Covid work life.

Covid has shown up western democracy’s childish tendencies, writes Edward Luce. Sign up for our Coronavirus Business Update newsletter and follow the latest developments on our live blog.

The days ahead

Hiroshima anniversary Today marks 76 years since the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The International Olympic Committee has opted not to hold a moment of silence on the anniversary and instead honour the attack’s victims in the Games’ closing ceremony on Sunday. (FT, Reuters)

Edinburgh Fringe The freewheeling open-access festival created 74 years ago starts on Friday after a pandemic-induced hiatus last year. It has also unveiled a digital Fringe Player for remote viewing of shows alongside online platforms for artists and arts industry professionals.

What else we’re reading

Can science link extreme weather to climate change? To the casual observer, the flurry of extreme weather events this summer can feel like the obvious consequence of rising average temperatures. Yet establishing a direct causal link between an individual case of flood, fire or storm and the broader climate is an evolving science — and something that is still desperately hard to do in practice.

© Emre Tazegul/AP

Gillian Tett’s cryptocurrency primer In recent weeks, Gillian writes, she has put a metaphorical wet towel over her head and immersed herself in the world of cryptocurrencies. It has been strikingly hard, she reports, but here is what she learnt. And don’t be ashamed if you feel stuck in crypto kindergarten — you’re not alone.

Can Scarlett Johansson take down Hollywood studios? The mega-actress alleges Disney used the Black Widow film to lure people to its streaming service, juicing its stock price at the expense of Johansson, whose bonus was tied to box-office sales. The battle will test the power of stars in the streaming era, writes Anna Nicolaou.

Fixing a broken workplace culture High-pressure professional firms will have to change the way they operate to make jobs compatible with personal life, writes Delphine Strauss. While a pay rise no doubt helps, it is not just about the money. To get your career moving, behavioural scientist Grace Lordan suggests keeping an eye on the big picture.

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