Eye on the World

Rail train to link Hong Kong to mainland China
A bullet train connecting Hong Kong and mainland China launched in an opening ceremony last Saturday. The commute between the southern city of Guangzhou and Hong Kong is now 40 minutes, less than half the time of older trains. Officials say the new train will help businesses in Shenzen, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. Critics argue that the new train undermines Hong Kong independence and the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution. Chinese law will be enforced in Hong Kong for the first time via a joint checkpoint at the station and on the trains.

A former British colony, Hong Kong was relinquished to China’s control in 1997 under the agreement that it would sustain “a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs.”

The Hong Kong Bar Association said in a statement, “Such an unprecedented move is the most retrograde step to date in the implementation of the Basic Law and severely undermines public confidence in ‘one country, two systems’ and the rule of law in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.”

Japan lands rovers on asteroid
Last Friday, Japan’s space agency JAXA successfully landed two rovers on an asteroid’s surface. The two rovers will hop across the low-gravity asteroid, named Ryugu, taking temperatures and pictures as they go. The robotic explorers were launched from the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft, which will assist in collecting samples. Hayabusa-2 reached the asteroid last June after three and a half years of travel. This is the first time robot rovers have been placed on an asteroid’s surface. JAXA tweeted multiple photos of the landing captured by Rover-1A and Rover-1B.

JAXA scientists plan to create a crater in the asteroid’s surface in order to collect rocks that haven’t been affected by space’s harsh conditions for eons. The spacecraft is predicted to collect the rock samples in late 2019 and return to Earth with the samples in 2020.

Iran military parade struck by attack
Iranian leaders are hunting for those responsible after gunmen killed at least 25 people last Saturday morning during a military parade. Over half of the victims killed were Revolutionary Guard members, but fatalities also include children and women, officials say. State news media said all four gunmen were killed. Though both the so-called Islamic State and the anti-government group Ahvaz National Resistance claimed responsibility shortly after the attack, neither provided evidence. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif blamed “terrorists recruited, trained, armed and paid by a foreign regime.”

“Iran holds regional terror sponsors and their US masters accountable for such attacks,” Zarif tweeted, adding, “Iran will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of Iranian lives.” In a similar vein, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said “puppets of the U.S.” sought to “create insecurity” in Iran. Iran has claimed Saudi Arabia supports separatist activity in Iran in the past.

Post Author: Nate Gibbons