and almost all his family,A minutes silence is to be held at 1pm today at the Manchester Great Run."Using the high degree of autonomy to reject fight and erode the central government’s comprehensive jurisdiction is absolutely not allowed" Zhao Leji told members of the National People’s Congress which passed a constitutional amendment on Sunday abolishing presidential term limits opening the door for Xi to rule for as long as he wants Hong Kong activists had already been set on edge by the disqualification of pro-democracy lawmakers from the city’s Legislative Council and the apparent abduction by Chinese security forces of several men who published salacious tomes about China’s leadership File image of Chinese president Xi jinping Reuters Still Hong Kong remains one of the world’s freest economies and a window to the outside for the Chinese financial system which operates under much tighter restrictions The cosmopolitan city ofsix million with its vibrant tourism arts and education sectors also remains a beacon to many aspiring Chinese "I don’t think bold action is necessary with respect to Hong Kong" said Michael Mazza of the American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington DC Xi is "already well along in the process of turning (Hong Kong) into just another Chinese city" he said Self-governing Taiwan however is quite a different story posing a direct challenge to the Communist Party’s claim as the representative of all Chinese and guardian of Chinese sovereignty independence and territorial integrity Since splitting from the mainland amid civil war in 1949 the former Japanese colony has evolved into a wealthy vibrant democracy whose 23 million people take an increasingly dim view of any form of political integration with Beijing By casting himself as a leader of historic standing Xi has assumed the mantle of unifier and may regard failure in this regard as a stain on his reputation In his most direct comments on the issue he told a Taiwanese envoy in 2013 that a final resolution was required and that what he regards as the "sacred mission" of unification "cannot be passed on from generation to generation" "Action on Taiwan is certainly possible Unification is a key aspect of Xi Jinping’s goal of ‘national rejuvenation’ necessary for achieving the ‘China Dream’" Mazza said referencing two of Xi’s chief goals Xi "may conclude that peaceful unification is not in the cards any time soon leaving him to rely on coercion or outright force to achieve his goals" he said Already China over the past two years has been ratcheting up political diplomatic and economic pressure on Taiwan’s independence-leaning president Tsai Ing-wen A military attack however could quickly draw in the US which is legally bound to respond to threats against the island Yet the risks of an attack on Taiwan remain prohibitively high to the point of threatening regime stability in China due in no small part to its embrace by the US and Japan said Miles Yu Maochun a China politics expert at the US Naval Academy Hong Kong meanwhile remains too valuable to Beijing in its present form to risk upsetting he said Xi views Taiwan and Hong Kong as equally important to cementing his authority said analyst Teng Biao a visiting scholar at New York University’s US-Asia Law Institute "When he has strengthened his own power he will show zero tolerance for Taiwan and Hong Kong independence and even more threaten the use of force" Teng said While it is broadly assumed that an increasingly dictatorial Xi will also grow more aggressive on the world stage it’s unclear how that will manifest itself China says it is committed to seizing a group of uninhabited flyspeck islands in the East China Sea from Japan but is also aware that such action would trigger the US-Japan security alliance And despite President Donald Trump’s "America first" policy and his withdrawal of the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Washington and its armed forces show no sign of giving up the West Pacific to China While Xi’s position appears unassailable domestic political risks remain that may prompt him to take an even harder line at home and abroad said Teng who was detained by Xi’s regime while working as a human rights lawyer "When the Communist Party faces political economic and ideological challenges and given the fact that the party firmly refuses a democratisation the only way seems to become more dictatorial and oppressive" Teng said Like many influenza virologists John Steel of Emory University in Atlanta often uses a feeble lab strain of influenza in his studies of how seasonal flu spreads “It’s a nasty virus if you’re a mouse” but doesn’t sicken humans Steel says of this 80-year-old lab strain known as PR8 But last month under orders from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Steel told his two staff members working with PR8 to put their experiments on hold and find other things to do while NIH decides whether the work falls under a temporary ban on risky virus experiments “Our feeling is that the likelihood [of harm from studies with the PR8 strain] is exceedingly slim” says Walter Orenstein who oversees Emory’s NIH-funded influenza research center “But it’s something for the NIH to decide” Last month in an unusual step the US government announced a “pause” in federal funding for virology studies that involve tweaking influenza MERS and SARS viruses in ways that could make them more transmissible or pathogenic in mammals The government encouraged everyone conducting such gain-of-function (GOF) projects to voluntarily pause while experts spend a year hashing out the risks and benefits of the studies and developing a policy for when to allow them The United States’s move came amid long-running concerns about GOF studies involving highly pathogenic avian flu strains such as H5N1 But the funding pause covers much more Through a Freedom of Information Act request ScienceInsider obtained copies of the 18 lettersfrom NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) telling 14 institutions to halt projects that may be covered by the pause They suggest a scramble at NIAID to sort out exactly which projects must stop in the wake of the new order which came from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Department of Health and Human Services The instructions vary according to whether the work is done under contract or grant The “Notice of Partial Stop Work Order”letters sent on 21 October to the seven institutions with government-funded contracts are blunt: They state that specific projects “must stop effective immediately” if they fall under the pause policy and give investigators 14 days to submit a list of halted experiments But NIAID soon stepped back with a 30 October letter explaining that scientists should work with contracting officers to decide whether their experiments fall under the new policy The 11 letters to institutions with grants state the pause is voluntary because the studies are already funded but that once that funding runs out the work must stop Investigators have 90 days to tell NIAID which experiments are stopping and to propose different directions for their research (ScienceInsider compiled this list of the halted grants) Many investigators are in the midst of negotiating with NIAID about whether some truly fit the policy’s GOF definition or even if they do are important enough to public health that they should be allowed to continue (The NIH director can approve exemptions for research urgently needed to protect public health) Among the halted projects: MERS and SARS:The pause includes three grants and two contracts that are attempting to develop a strain of the MERS coronavirus that sickens mice so that researchers will have an animal model for testing MERS drugs and vaccines Matthew Frieman of the University of Maryland and NIAID intramural researcher Kanta Subbarao whose planned MERS mouse project is also on hold argued at a recent meeting of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) that their work should be exempted because of the current MERS outbreak in the Middle East Two projects on SARS another coronavirus have also been stopped Influenza:Besides stopping grants for controversial GOF studies of H5N1 in the lab of University of Wisconsin Madison virologist Yoshihiro Kawaoka the pause covers contracts for NIAID’s five Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance (CEIRS) The long-running program conducts surveillance for potential pandemic flu strains in the wild and studies the factors that allow influenza viruses to spread One center is at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis whose investigator Stacey Schultz-Cherry warned NSABB last month that the pause had halted important flu surveillance studies The letter states that the pause potentially applies to six projects that range from studying the ecology of avian flu in live bird markets in Colombia to looking at drug-resistance mutations in seasonal influenza strains St Jude told ScienceInsider in a statement that after an internal review investigators have halted all GOF studies but that “routine surveillance work will not be impacted” At Emory the pause has halted not only the CEIRS project with the lab-attenuated PR8 strain but also a research grant project headed by Anice Lowen that is looking at how the cell types targeted by two different influenza viruses affect their propensity to exchange genes Lowen who has told NIAID she thinks the study does not fall under the pause definition says the uncertainty is affecting her ability to recruit new graduate students because she can’t say for sure which projects they might work on An investigator at the CEIRS center at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore Maryland virologist Andrew Pekosz says he has halted two projects listed in his stop work letter But he has told NIAID that his studies introducing changes to seasonal influenza to understand how it circulates year to year are not done with the intention of increasing pathogenicity or transmissibility “I don’t think they qualify as gain-of-function” he says Harvard University epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch who has pushed for a moratorium on GOF studies on potential pandemic pathogens told ScienceInsider he could not comment on the paused studies without seeing details He points out that NIH funds at least 220 influenza research grants so the pause has stopped only a small fraction Still “Flu and coronavirus research is extremely important as an overall NIH activity and it will be crucial to separate the activities that meet the definition of the pause from those that don’t” he says? 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