TikTok “Shocked” By Trump Ban Threat

TikTok has slammed President Donald Trump’s executive order — which bans the app in the US unless it is bought by an American company — as “undermining the rule of law.”

“We are shocked by the recent Executive Order, which was issued without any due process,” the company wrote in a statement published on its website Friday morning. “For nearly a year, we have sought to engage with the US government in good faith to provide a constructive solution to the concerns that have been expressed. What we encountered instead was that the Administration paid no attention to facts, dictated terms of an agreement without going through standard legal processes, and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses.”

Trump’s order issued on Thursday night bars anyone “subject to the jurisdiction of the United States” from carrying out transactions with ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, which is based in Beijing. The order says that TikTok “automatically” captures “vast swathes of information from its users,” and could be used by China’s authoritarian government to influence Americans and compromise their privacy.

It also says that TikTok “reportedly censors” content like the Chinese government’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims and “sensitive” videos like protests. “[TikTok] may also be used for disinformation campaigns that benefit the Chinese Communist Party, such as when TikTok videos spread debunked conspiracy theories about the origins of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus,” the order reads.

In its letter, TikTok disputes these claims and said that they rely on “unnamed ‘reports’ with no citations” or “substantiation.” The company also said that it does not share data with the Chinese government.

“This Executive Order risks undermining global businesses’ trust in the United States’ commitment to the rule of law, which has served as a magnet for investment and spurred decades of American economic growth,” TikTok’s letter says. “And it sets a dangerous precedent for the concept of free expression and open markets. We will pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly – if not by the Administration, then by the US courts.”

TikTok has been under global scrutiny for its links to China. Last week, President Trump said that the United States would ban the app citing national security concerns around ByteDance.

Since then, the President has changed his mind and said that TikTok would be allowed to function in the US as long as an American company bought its operations in the country and the United States got a “substantial portion” of the sale price.

Earlier this week, tech giant Microsoft confirmed in a blog post that it was in talks to buy TikTok, and would close negotiations by September 15.

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TikTok: Trump signs order to address ‘threat’ of Chinese app

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US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to ban transactions with TikTok’s parent company ByteDance.

The executive order says the US “must take aggressive action against the owners of TikTok to protect our national security”.

Under the order, beginning in 45 days, any US transaction with ByteDance will be prohibited.

TikTok denies accusations it is controlled by or shares data with the Chinese government.

On Thursday night, the US president also issued a follow-up executive order taking similar action to ban WeChat, an app owned by China-based tech giant Tencent.

What did Trump say?

In both executive orders, he says he has found “additional steps must be taken to deal with the national emergency with respect to the information and communications technology and services supply chain”.

He adds: “The spread in the United States of mobile applications developed and owned by companies in the People’s Republic of China (China) continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”

He refers to both apps as a “threat”. Both orders say any unspecified “transactions” with the apps’ Chinese owners or their subsidiaries will be “prohibited”.

The orders cite legal authority from the National Emergencies Act and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

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Media captionWATCH: What’s going on with TikTok?

The text of Mr Trump’s order says TikTok’s data collection could allow China to track US government employees and gather personal information for blackmail, or to carry out corporate espionage.

He notes that reports indicate TikTok censors content deemed politically sensitive, such as protests in Hong Kong and Beijing’s treatment of the Uighurs, a Muslim minority. 

The US president says the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration (which oversees US airport screening) and the US Armed Forces have already banned TikTok on government phones. 

ByteDance and Tencent have declined so far to comment.

What’s the background?

Since Mr Trump vowed last Friday to ban TikTok, tech giant Microsoft has said it is in talks to acquire the Chinese app’s US operations.

Mr Trump said this week he would support the sale to Microsoft as long as the US government received a “substantial portion” of the sales price.

But he warned he would ban TikTok in the United States from 15 September.

Thursday’s executive orders order came a day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was expanding a US crackdown on Chinese technology to personal apps, naming TikTok and WeChat.

The US government took action last year against two Chinese communications companies, Huawei and ZTE, including locking them out of government contracts.

Mr Trump has been waging a trade war against China and he blames the country for the global coronavirus pandemic, which has crippled the American economy, jeopardising the US president’s re-election prospects this November.

What is TikTok?

The fast-growing app – which has up to 80 million active monthly users in America – has exploded in popularity in recent years, mostly with people under 20.

They use the app to share 15-second videos that often involve lip-synching to songs, comedy routines and unusual editing tricks.

These videos are then made available to both followers and strangers. By default, all accounts are public, although users can restrict uploads to an approved list of contacts.

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Media captionWhat is TikTok?

TikTok also allows private messages to be sent but this facility is limited to “friends”.

The app is reported to have around 800 million active monthly users, with its biggest markets having grown in the US and India.

Though as Mr Trump notes in his executive order, India has already blocked TikTok, as well as other Chinese apps.

Australia, which has already banned Huawei and telecom equipment-maker ZTE, is also considering banning TikTok.

What is WeChat?

WeChat is sometimes described as being a social network, but it’s really so much more – offering ways to make payments, run additional mini-programs, find dates and get the news, in addition to messaging and other social activities.

It is perhaps best thought of as being a kind of secondary operating system that sits on top of iOS or Android.

It is also viewed as being a key instrument in China’s internal surveillance apparatus – requiring local users who have been accused of spreading malicious rumours to register a facial scan and voice print.

But in addition, it is allegedly commonly used by the Chinese Communist Party to pump propaganda to the Chinese diaspora.

A seminar held earlier this year by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute think tank discussed how groups within the app would be used to recommend holiday destinations, restaurants and the like on a day-to-day basis, but then switch to spreading political messages in line with Beijing’s thinking at critical times.

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Threat To Florida Eases As Isaias Slated To Remain Tropical Storm

Isaias roared closer to the Florida coast Sunday, threatening to bring strong winds, flash flooding and storm surges but no longer expected to regain hurricane strength.

Tropical storm Isaias, downgraded from a category 1 hurricane, was packing sustained winds of 65 miles (105 kilometers) per hour on Sunday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

“Some fluctuations in strength” are possible in the next two days, the storm center said, but Isaias is not expected to regain its hurricane status.

At 2:00 pm, the storm was 45 miles (72 kilometers) from Vero Beach, Florida and 90 miles from the space center at Cape Canaveral, moving northwest at nine miles per hour, the Miami-based NHC said.

The NHC said the center of Isaias was expected to move “near or over the east coast of Florida today through late tonight,” before moving on Monday and Tuesday into the southern mid-Atlantic.

The storm earlier dumped torrential rain on the Bahamas, felling trees and flooding some streets; on Sunday, emergency management officials gave the “all clear” for the entire country. But Isaias claimed at least one life in Puerto Rico.

Florida’s coast was experiencing heavy wind gusts Sunday, and storm surges of up to four feet (1.2 meters) are still expected from northern Florida to Cape Fear, North Carolina.

Forecast path of tropical storm Isaias
 AFP / Nicolas RAMALLO

President Donald Trump had declared an emergency ahead of the storm’s arrival to free up federal funds.

Governor Ron DeSantis warned Floridians late Saturday to brace for the storm.

As the state battened down, it was also battling its coronavirus outbreak, which has complicated preparations.

Hurricane Isaias unleashes flooding, topples trees and knocks out power for thousands of people in Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Isaias unleashes flooding, topples trees and knocks out power for thousands of people in Puerto Rico.

Florida has the second-highest caseload of all states except California — which has double the population.

On Sunday, Florida reported 77 COVID-19 deaths, down from a record 179 the day before, bringing its death total to 6,920.

The storm has had an impact beyond earth too, with NASA closely monitoring it before finally giving the green light to the SpaceX Crew Dragon craft to return two astronauts from the International Space Station.

The craft splashed down Sunday afternoon in a decidedly calm Gulf of Mexico — hundreds of miles west of Isaias’s track — and was successfully retrieved by SpaceX’s specialized GO Navigator vessel.

A man walks under pouring rain during Isaias storm in Santo Domingo, on July 30, 2020

A man walks under pouring rain during Isaias storm in Santo Domingo, on July 30, 2020
 afp / Erika SANTELICES

Earlier, as the storm approached, Florida residents had rushed to stock up on essentials.

Jason Woodall, 44, was boarding up the Miami Beach store where he works. “You always got to be prepared, just in case, because you never know,” he said.

DeSantis said that with the state’s high number of virus cases, it’s better to “just hunker down rather than sending people to the road.”

Still, the storm hampered efforts to contain the pandemic.

Florida’s coronavirus testing centers, many housed in tents, were closed Thursday and will not reopen until they get the all-clear after the storm.

“Once we resume testing, it’s very possible we will have a surge again,” Miami mayor Francis Suarez told CNN on Sunday.

Isaias unleashed destruction in Puerto Rico, downing trees and electric lines and inundating houses as it cut a path through the island on Thursday.

Authorities there said Saturday they had recovered the body of a 56-year-old woman whose car had been swept away by storm waters.

In the Bahamas, the deputy director of the country’s meteorology department, Jeffrey Simmons, told The Nassau Guardian “the worst part” of the storm came to New Providence, the most populous island, early Saturday.

It was the archipelago’s first hurricane since Dorian, a Category 5 storm last year that devastated two islands, pummeling them for three days.

And in the Dominican Republic, people were cleaning up after the Magua river burst its banks.

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Cider gums under threat from fire, foraging and global warming, conservationists warn

In the coldest state of Australia, the most frost-tolerant eucalypt in the world is under threat.

Located in the Central Highlands, the Tasmanian cider gum has a rich history and is of cultural importance to the local Indigenous community.

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre’s Andry Sculthorpe said there needed to be a focus on saving the much-loved gum.

“They carry with them an importance for our cultural heritage and with the living trees, the survival of those species is super important, but also there are the remains of the activities of Aboriginal people who tapped those trees,” he said.

Eve Lazarus is one of many concerned for the future of the trees.(ABC News: April McLennan)

Eve Lazarus from the Derwent Catchment Group described the gums as an icon for the central highlands.

“They produce this cider, this sweet sap that ferments naturally with the yeast in the air and we get this semi-alcoholic beverage which the Tasmanian Aboriginal people used to seek out as a resource when it was running in the warmer months,” she said.

“When you’re out and you’re walking around the trees and it’s hot and you get this amazing smell of fermentation like you’re at a cider bar, except you happen to be in the middle of the bush.”

Dead cider gum trees.
Even dead cider gum trees are striking in their form.(ABC News: April McLennan)

Graveyard of trees

The trees are in decline due to a combination of global warming, insects and animal attacks.

In fact, a graveyard of the gums lining a road in the Central Highlands has become a tourist attraction.

“Even in death, as they stretch out their pale limbs towards the sky, they cast a very eerie silhouette across the landscape that people are quite fond of,” Ms Lazarus said.

But now bushfires are posing a threat to the species, with the Great Pine Tier blaze that burned through the area in 2019 ravaging some of the gums.

Joe Quarmby at a cider gum tree plantation.
Joe Quarmby says after recent fires, many of the burnt cider gum trees unexpectedly dropped seeds.(ABC News: April McLennan)

The Tasmanian Land Conservancy’s Joe Quarmby said they were concerned the trees affected by fire would not recover.

“We came out after the fire and found that most of the large trees had not re-sprouted, so had potentially died and there wasn’t much sign of re-generation,” he said.

“That caused us to look at caging around the base of the trees to hopefully get some regeneration from the plants that were left and hopefully if there was some seed regeneration, that the cages would protect those seedlings.”

A cage in a cider gum plantation, used to protect new growth from feeding animals.
A cage in a cider gum plantation, used to protect new growth from feeding animals.(ABC News: April McLennan)

A TLC volunteer group installed 34 cages to protect the plants and found them to be effective, with minimal browsing inside the cages.

“The animals come back in after the fire, they’re very hungry and these guys are first on the menu,” Ms Lazarus said.

“They are like sugar to children for all of our browsing animals.

Bushfire plume from a Tasmanian fire near Federation Peak
The bushfires of 2019 destroyed large areas of forest and wilderness areas in Tasmania.(Supplied: Mark Holdsworth)

New life

The TLC discovered a mass “recruitment”, with new seedlings sprouting both inside and outside the cages.

“With cider gums they flower episodically, so maybe every five to 10 years you might see flowering,” Mr Quarmby said.

“And from that flowering, they only produce a small amount of gum nuts, so seed within the gum nuts.”

Close up of hand with cider gum nuts.
Joe Quarmby says a “huge opportunity” exists if the seedlings can be protected.(ABC News: April McLennan)

After the recent fires, many of the burnt cider gum trees unexpectedly dropped seeds.

Mr Quarmby believes the trees must have flowered last season or two seasons before, for such a large recruitment event to occur.

“I’ve never seen it and it’s something I don’t think has been recorded or observed for this species ever before, so it’s a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence,” he said.

“It provides a huge opportunity for the conservation of the species if we can get in and protect the seedlings.”

Flames burn on the ground in the Tasmanian wilderness
Andry Sculthorpe says “cultural burn” methods could mitigate against wildfires and escaped burn-offs.(ABC News)

Fire future

A conservation area was established on the Central Plateau in 1978 and a few years later it became a World Heritage Area.

That has meant fewer burn-offs in the region, which some believe has increased the risk of bushfires taking off and spreading to farm land and reserves.

While the trees are now on the road to recovery, another big fire could lead to extinction.

“In a traditional way, a cultural burn would be a lot more sensitive and cooler burn in those landscapes, which would mitigate against wildfires and escaped burn-offs,” Mr Sculthorpe said.

“The loss of the cider gum would mean the loss of a cultural practice, it’d mean the loss of a species that is recorded within our history and losing that is a tragedy.”

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A formidible threat grew while we looked away

China’s rise is more than a trouble. It is a puzzle. Since the tumble of the Berlin Wall, most Western analysts have assumed that China is a communist region in the way that France is a Catholic one particular. That is, there continue to be Marxist believers in China and practising Catholics in France, but Beijing is as little guided by Marxist ideology as Emmanuel Macron is led by the precepts of Pius IX.

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Mick Gatto tells court ABC ‘crossed a line’ in story about alleged Lawyer X threat

Mick Gatto has told a court the barrister at the centre of the Lawyer X scandal, Nicola Gobbo, offered to give evidence in his defamation trial against the ABC.

Mr Gatto is suing the public broadcaster over the publication of a story saying he had threatened to kill her.

The 64-year-old has launched legal action in Victoria’s Supreme Court over the story, which is based on a secret police affidavit detailing the risks to Ms Gobbo if her role as a prolific police informant was ever publicly exposed.

Mr Gatto has consistently disputed the contents of the story, and told the court Ms Gobbo’s lawyers rang him on Tuesday, and told him she was happy to give evidence that he did not threaten her.

This was despite an acrimonious end to their relationship, when Mr Gatto learned that the former criminal barrister had also informed on him, the court heard.

On the first day of the trial, which is being held by video link due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Gatto said he made Ms Gobbo cry upon learning about her duplicity.

“When I found out she was an informer … I told her I don’t want you in our company,” Mr Gatto said.

“She was hanging around like a bad smell,” he said, adding that she denied the accusation at the time.

Mr Gatto, wearing a navy-check suit and a red tie, told the Supreme Court he was left with no choice but to sue the ABC.

“There’s nothing further from the truth.”

Gatto seeking ‘maximum payout’ from ABC

Mr Gatto is a controversial figure who told the court his notoriety grew after the creation of the Underbelly television series, which dramatised Melbourne’s gangland war.

The court heard he was one of the few survivors of that bloody chapter, and was also acquitted by a jury of murdering Melbourne hitman Andrew “Benji” Veniamin.

“I ended up ultimately killing him in self-defence,” he told the court today, when asked about that period of his life.

Mr Gatto acknowledged he had often been the subject of media attention, but said the story, written by journalists Nino Bucci and Sarah Farnsworth, had crossed the line.

He told the Supreme Court it had caused him and his children, now in the corporate world, particular anguish.

“They have problems getting funding for buildings, getting reliable accountants. As soon as they mention their name, mention Gatto, they get ridiculed,” he said.

“‘Your dad’s this, your dad’s that, your dad’s a murderer.’ They’ve got to put up with all this nonsense.”

When asked by his own barrister what he hoped to achieve from the legal action against the ABC, Mr Gatto was frank.

“To get a maximum payout I possibly can, get a public apology and make sure they can never do it again,” Mr Gatto said.

“I’m hoping to cause them as much grief as they caused me.

“My main objective is to stop them from telling lies.”

‘I’m not a bad person’

The story in question was published on the ABC News website in February 2019, but the court heard the public broadcaster declined requests by Mr Gatto’s legal team to remove it and issue an apology.

His barrister, David Klempfner, told the court the ABC’s story suggested his client had a propensity towards violence, which he said was not true.

“It splices together a rag-bag of facts,” Mr Klempfner said.

“That’s what lies behind his complaint about this article, it’s really a bridge too far.”

Mr Gatto said he had turned his life around over the past three decades.

He accused the ABC of “throwing petrol on the fire”.

“Why can they crucify someone publicly like that?” he said.

“What gives them the right to tell lies?”

Mr Gatto will continue giving evidence on Thursday.

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Economists say U.S. threat to undermine Hong Kong dollar peg is ‘self-defeating’

The threat of U.S. action to undermine Hong Kong’s longstanding U.S. dollar peg is highly unlikely to become reality given the practical difficulties of pursing such a path and the damage it would do to U.S. interests, economists say.

Economists reacted after a report that some advisers to President Donald Trump want the U.S. to undermine the Hong Kong dollar peg as the administration considers options to punish China for limiting Hong Kong’s autonomy, according to people familiar with the matter. Hong Kong has pegged its currency to the U.S. dollar since 1983, allowing it to fluctuate within a fairly strict band that has centered around 7.8 per U.S. dollar.

The most straightforward way to implement such a strategy would be for the U.S. to impose limits on the ability of American and potentially other foreign banks to sell U.S. dollars to Chinese lenders, possibly via sanctions on Chinese banks, said Ding Shuang, chief economist for Greater China and North Asia at Standard Chartered Plc in Hong Kong. But that proposal opens the U.S. to potentially damaging consequences, he said.

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That approach “sounds quite radical and will have profound and unpredictable implications not only for China’s banks, but also the U.S. banks and the global financial market,” Ding said. “I see a low likelihood for the U.S. to resort to such a potentially self-defeating approach, before options that cause more problems for China than for the U.S. are exhausted.”

China’s strong external position — including a current account surplus, high foreign exchange reserves and anticipated speedier recovery from the pandemic — are factors that will help to mitigate the fallout from such a step, Ding said.

Read from Bloomberg Intelligence: Why H.K. Dollar’s Peg Is as Strong as Ever

The proposal is said to face strong opposition from some in the U.S. administration and the idea of attacking the dollar peg is lower on the list of options under discussion — because it would hurt Hong Kong banks and the U.S. more than China.

Dollar Funding

Yet if the U.S. were to impose such restrictions, one way would be for the U.S. Treasury to limit U.S. banks from providing dollar funding to Hong Kong and Chinese banks, which would drive up costs, said Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist with AxiCorp.

“Drying up the swap market would be the easiest vehicle,” he said. “To the degree they can exert that pressure is yet to be seen, as U.S. banks don’t want to give up access to China markets.”

Other financial measures are on the table, especially given the U.S. took the step even before imposition of the security law to declare that Hong Kong was no longer significantly autonomous from China. Kevin Lai, chief economist for Asia ex-Japan at Daiwa Securities Group Inc. in Hong Kong, said an “extreme” alternative would be to cut off Hong Kong from SWIFT, or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Communication, a network used to clear global currency transactions.

“That’s a nuclear option — it’s unlikely but not impossible,” he said. “Without access to the global U.S. dollar pool, the Hong Kong dollar will not be functional.”

A less dramatic option would be to set limits on exposure to the Hong Kong dollar for U.S. banks and firms, said Becky Liu, head of China macro strategy at Standard Chartered.

“In recent days the U.S. has taken some totally unexpected actions like withdrawing from the WHO,” she said, referring to the World Health Organization. “So the likelihood of the U.S. doing something is still very likely, it’s just likely to be less drastic in terms of impacting the convertibility between the HKD and USD.”

More must-read international coverage from Fortune:

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FBI director: China is ‘greatest threat’ to US

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FBI Director Christopher Wray, pictured in February, described a wide-ranging campaign by the Chinese government to disrupt US life

The director of the FBI has said that acts of espionage and theft by China’s government pose the “greatest long-term threat” to the future of the US.

Speaking to the Hudson Institute in Washington, Christopher Wray described a multi-pronged disruption campaign.

He said China had begun targeting Chinese nationals living abroad, coercing their return, and was working to compromise US coronavirus research.

“The stakes could not be higher,” Mr Wray said.

“China is engaged in a whole-of-state effort to become the world’s only superpower by any means necessary,” he added.

In a nearly hour-long speech on Tuesday, the FBI Director outlined a stark picture of Chinese interference, a far-reaching campaign of economic espionage, data and monetary theft and illegal political activities, using bribery and blackmail to influence US policy.

“We’ve now reached a point where the FBI is now opening a new China-related counterintelligence case every 10 hours,” Mr Wray said. “Of the nearly 5,000 active counterintelligence cases currently underway across the country, almost half are related to China.”

The FBI director said that Chinese President Xi Jinping had spearheaded a programme called “Fox Hunt”, geared at Chinese nationals living abroad seen as threats to the Chinese government.

“We’re talking about political rivals, dissidents, and critics seeking to expose China’s extensive human rights violations,” he said. “The Chinese government wants to force them to return to China, and China’s tactics to accomplish that are shocking.”

He continued: “When it couldn’t locate one Fox Hunt target, the Chinese government sent an emissary to visit the target’s family here in the United States. The message they said to pass on? The target had two options: return to China promptly, or commit suicide.”

Washington now sees Beijing as global leadership contender

Analysis by Zhaoyin Feng, BBC News Chinese, Washington

This is not the first time FBI Director Christopher Wray categorised China as a “top intelligence threat” for the US, but on Tuesday he ramped up the criticism by focussing on Beijing’s “whole-of-state effort” to become the world’s only superpower.

It clearly signals that Washington now sees Beijing not only as an aggressive adversary, but also an ambitious contender for global leadership.

Since the Covid-19 outbreak in the US, the Trump administration have unleashed anger over China from its initial response to coronavirus, economic espionage to Hong Kong’s new national security law. Mr Wray’s remarks are among a series of hard-hitting speeches by senior US officials on the topic.

The Trump administration says it’s now time to wake up from the 40 years of policy failures with regard to China, while critics see this as an attempt to deflect attention from the president own failures in office and to increase his chances of winning re-election.

What’s certain is that the power dynamics between China and the US have fundamentally shifted, and no matter who will be the next US president, the tense standoffs of Sino-US relations will inevitably continue.

In the unusual address, Mr Wray asked Chinese-born people living in the US to contact the FBI if Chinese officials target them seeking their return.

The Chinese government has defended this programme in the past, saying it is part of a legitimate anti-corruption effort.

The threat posed by China will be further addressed by the US attorney general and secretary of state in coming weeks, Mr Wray said.

The address comes amid heightened tensions between the US and China.

US President Donald Trump has been highly critical of China amid the coronavirus outbreak, repeatedly blaming the country for the global pandemic. In another move, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this week that the administration was looking at banning Chinese apps – including the hugely popular TikTok.

The apps “serve as appendages of the Chinese Communist Party’s surveillance state”, he said.

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Cross-border communities grapple with tightening restrictions amid escalating coronavirus threat

Residents of South Australia’s South East may not be granted essential traveller status to attend medical specialist appointments in Western Victoria unless their condition is life-threatening or otherwise deemed necessary.

This comes as the State Government has moved to significantly tighten the state’s border restrictions with Victoria.

Mount Gambier’s medical fraternity has expressed concerns over widespread confusion as to whether patients can attend specialist appointments in Warrnambool, Hamilton and Portland.

These services include cancer-related treatment such as radiotherapy.

‘It’s going to be a difficult time’

Member for MacKillop Nick McBride warned residents from cross-border communities would not have an easy process amid concerns “people were escaping Melbourne”.

“For those who are suffering from the Victorian border controls now, it is going to get harder not easier,” Mr McBride said.

“There is great concern about the disease spread coming here from Melbourne.”

The politician conceded the issue was fuelling confusion and concern.

“It was certainly a grey area, but it is becoming more and more black and white,” Mr McBride said.

He said it was situation many people were not prepared for.

“It is very, very serious what is going on in Melbourne. There is no doubt COVID-19 is beyond the Melbourne lockdown areas,” Mr McBride said.

Mr McBride said people travelling into Western Victoria for medical appointments could be directed to self-quarantine on return for 14 days.

“It is going to be a difficult time for those who have that cross-border linkage, everything from work, education and health issues,” he said.

“There are 14,000 applications for these passes. My understanding is they will work through the most essential.”

Mr McBride said people determined to be low priority were likely to be refused a travel exemption.

“If it were for something like a dental appointment or a check-up, there would not be chance of it,” Mr McBride said.

“If it was something life-threatening, such as cancer and chemotherapy, they will have a higher level of essential travel. We have confidence in the system.”

Patients confused by border restriction process

Mount Gambier GP Mike Bruorton has raised concerns some residents may choose not to travel into Western Victoria for life-saving treatment amid tighter border controls.(ABC South East SA: Sandra Morello)

Mount Gambier general practitioner Mike Bruorton said there was widespread confusion among patients.

“I have seen a patient who has to see a specialist at Warrnambool, a haematologist, because she has cancer,” Dr Bruorton said.

“She brought in a form and was absolutely confused about what she was supposed to do next.”

Dr Bruorton said she was told to go online to access the forms and email them to police.

“Does she have to come back and self-isolate for two weeks? Apparently the advice is conflicting across the border as well,” he said.

Dr Bruorton said these appointments were essential for patients undergoing radiotherapy or who had recently had a scan for cancer.

Labor MLC Clare Scriven, who lives in the South East, said there needed to be greater clarity.

“It needs to be made clear what they can and cannot do and whether people with medical appointments can be granted exemptions,” Ms Scriven said.

She said it appeared the Government was focused on people travelling into South Australia for medical appointments, but not those travelling into Victoria.

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