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FirstFT: Today’s top stories

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The UK government has opened a path to citizenship for more than 300,000 Hong Kong residents in a bold riposte to China’s security crackdown on its former colony.

Dominic Raab, foreign secretary, has pledged to extend visa rights for British National (Overseas) passport holders and facilitate their path to British citizenship unless Beijing rows back from plans to impose national security laws on Hong Kong.

The striking move from a government that is committed to restricting immigration came after China formally approved the measures.

Analysts warn of a “chilling effect” on Hong Kong business activity, but companies are resigned to the new law. “Do people here like the national security law?” said one senior lawyer at a global law firm in Hong Kong. “It’s like asking: ‘Do people like bitter medicine with terrible side-effects?’ The medicine will hurt for sure but we have no choice but to take it now.”

Jamil Anderlini, our Asia editor, writes that China’s leaders have decided that stamping out dissent in the territory is more important than preserving its status as Asia’s premier financial centre. In this video, Jamil explains why the security laws could lead to the death of Hong Kong as we know it. (FT)

Coronavirus digest

  • Singapore could loosen some restrictions earlier than anticipated, as the city state gears up to reopen parts of its economy next week.

  • The virus is on the rise in South Korea, which saw its biggest jump in cases in more than 50 days on Thursday. India also hit a single-day record, with 6,500 new cases.

  • Americans seeking unemployment benefits during the pandemic passed 40m. France’s jobless population jumped a record 23 per cent in April.

  • GlaxoSmithKline plans to produce 1bn doses of a vaccine booster as it steps up its preparations for an eventual immunisation for coronavirus.

  • The UK has suffered the second-highest rate of deaths from the pandemic, after Spain, according to excess mortality figures. (FT, Associated Press)

In the news

Trump orders review of social media law Donald Trump ordered a wide-ranging review of the law that underpins how social media companies operate, in a move that threatens to undermine legal protections they have long enjoyed. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey have clashed on the issue. Meanwhile, Big Tech is on an M&A spree. (FT)

US alleges scheme to circumvent NK sanctions The US has charged 33 people with running an alleged $2.5bn money laundering operation designed to circumvent harsh sanctions on North Korea. (FT)

Exclusive: Fed holds firepower Only a fraction of the Federal Reserve’s multitrillion-dollar emergency lending facilities have been deployed. The promise to buy risky assets ranging from junk bonds to local government debt was a key plank of the Fed’s effort to stabilise markets and boost the US economy. (FT)

Tencent launches record Asia fundraising rush The Chinese social media and gaming group has raised $6bn in the latest big-ticket dollar bond sale in Asia, where issuers have tapped markets for a record of nearly $150bn in dollar-denominated funding so far this year. (FT)

Former Revolutionary guard to be Iran parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf won the vote in the legislative body on Thursday with the backing of 230 members of the 290-seat parliament. The move could strengthen the elite force’s grip on power ahead of next year’s presidential election. (FT)

George Floyd protest turns deadly The second day of protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota turned violent on Wednesday when a man was fatally shot amid looting, fires and police-deployed tear gas. The death of Mr Floyd, who suffocated after a police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes, is being investigated by the FBI. (NBC)

A construction site burns in a large fire near the Third Police Precinct in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Getty Images © Getty Images

Google’s India push The US internet group is exploring an investment in Vodafone’s struggling India business in a move that could pit Google in a battle against Facebook for the world’s fastest-growing mobile market, according to people familiar with the matter. (FT)

Back to the pitch The Premier League is set to restart its season on June 17, as it seeks to prevent more than £500m in losses at England’s top football clubs after fixtures were suspended because of the pandemic. PS We’re launching a new newsletter, Scoreboard, to follow the money and deals behind the business of sport. Sign up here. (FT)

Which country declared that its “model” of fighting coronavirus has been victorious? Japan? Taiwan? Austria? Take our quiz.

The day ahead

India GDP Growth is forecast to fall to 0.4 per cent in the first quarter from 4.7 per cent in the past quarter with worse to come — growth is thought likely to dip deep into negative territory next quarter.

WeWork board appointments Rival factions on the WeWork board are heading for a showdown on Friday over who can claim to represent the company, after a court cleared the SoftBank-backed co-working group to appoint two new directors. 

Occidental Petroleum vote Investors will get their first say on the oil company’s acquisition of Anadarko Petroleum on Friday when they vote on issuing shares and warrants to Berkshire Hathaway for helping finance the $38bn deal, which has led to sharp cuts to cover interest costs. (FT)

What else we’re reading

The future of global supply chains Could Covid-19 be the blow that finally shatters supply chains? The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is now a bigger trading partner for China than the US. The World Trade Organization forecasts the global goods trade will contract between 13 per cent and 32 per cent this year. What are the lessons to be learned? (FT, Quartz)

High tech hub: Dongfeng Honda’s factory in Hubei province, China’s epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak © Reuters

Post-Covid art Beijing Gallery Weekend — one of the first big art openings in a city after coronavirus — is receiving even more domestic visitors than last year, director Amber Wang estimates. But in the UK, more than half of the country’s museum directors are concerned that their institutions will no longer be viable. (FT)

Trump is courting a landslide defeat Most of the polling, including the Trump campaign’s own numbers, show him heading for defeat in November. But two things could prevent that outcome, writes Edward Luce. On Thursday, FT journalists answered your questions about the US coronavirus response. (FT)

Preparing for a second wave Insurers say coronavirus will be one of the most expensive events in their history, potentially costing more than $200bn. But thousands of businesses still face ruin. Amid an outcry from customers and politicians, the industry is turning its attention to the next crisis — which may be only months away. (FT)

© FT montage; Getty Images; dpa | As businesses prepare to reopen under new rules, insurers fear a second wave of the pandemic

Behind the fall of Luckin Coffee A network of fake buyers and a fictitious employee drove the dazzling rise and quick crash of China’s answer to Starbucks. A look into company records found that the scale and audacity of Luckin’s deception ran deep. (Wall Street Journal)

WFH poses challenges As the NYSE trading floor reopens, the benefits of remote working are once again being weighed — but there is another, more subtle problem, Gillian Tett writes. The challenges aren’t just technological, they’re managerial. (FT, New Yorker)

Keeping the doors open As China’s Hubei province locked down in January, frantic efforts were made to keep Reckitt Benckiser’s second-largest Dettol plant running. With disinfectant sales soaring, the group increased daily production tenfold. As people return to the workplace, will ageism get worse? (FT)

Jared Diamond’s lesson from a pandemic The Covid-19 pandemic represents a tragedy for its victims and their families and economic hardship for many. Yet it might usher in an age of global co-operation, Pulitzer Prize-winning geographer Jared Diamond writes — depending on how we react. (FT)

A rainbow appears over the Novomoskovsky medical centre, south of Moscow, for patients with suspected coronavirus infection © TASS

Illustration of the day

China plans to criminalise abuse of national anthem 

‘I sang the Chinese national anthem in the wrong key’ Banx


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