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HONG KONG: Pro-democracy leaders harshly criticized a new security law set to be enacted, which they say will weaken the semi-autonomous status of the city with the mainland government. One of the leaders of the activist movement behind the months-long protest last year, Joshua Wong, posted on social media, “After this law is passed, what will happen to Hong Kong? How many people will be prosecuted? How many organizations will be banned?”
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which started on the mainland last November, Chinese officials have escalated threatening rhetoric against any resumption of massive street protests.
On Sunday, thousands of protesters, in violation of shutdown restrictions limiting public gatherings to no more than eight, occupied the streets of the city to show unity against the new security law. Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse crowds, and a number of demonstrators hurled objects at the police. As they had for months before the COVID-19 pandemic, protesters smashed traffic lights and lit fires.
Police report close to 200 arrests for disorderly conduct and violating the ban on public assembly by more than eight people. Ten people required hospitalization.
The protests expanded around the city shortly after it was reported that China’s Vice-Premier, Han Zheng, confirmed to the national legislature that Beijing was committed to the new national security law intended to tighten control over Hong Kong.
Pro-democracy groups view this new law as a violation of the principle of “one country-two systems,” established in 1997, granting Hong Kong a degree of autonomy from the mainland. Dennis Kwok, a pro-democracy attorney, said of Beijing’s new sedition law, “They are completely destroying Hong Kong.”
TREND FORECAST: While China restricted using military force to quell the Hong Kong protests last year, with the world now glued to the COVID Crisis, its clamping down on them now will gain less media coverage and international condemnation.
We forecast Hong Kong, the Asian banking hub, will steadily lose business to Singapore as violence, riots, and civil unrest escalates between Beijing and Hong Kong pro-democracy citizenry.
SPAIN: Thousands of Spaniards in a Madrid district have been protesting the ongoing, months-long shutdown by banging pots and pans every evening at 9:00 P.M. One of the protest’s leaders, Blanca Carrillo de Albornoz, said, “This government has to resign now. They are governing by decree, and you can’t govern a country by decree.”
TREND FORECAST: Nationalist movements and civil unrest in Spain and throughout much of Europe will escalate as their economies decline into recession and depression. Movements calling for the breakup of the Eurozone and a return to their national currencies will severely diminish the strength of establishment parties, and may well result in the dissolution of the European Union within the decade.
UNITED STATES: The Trump administration has extended an order, published by the CDC, that rejects any migrant from crossing a border into the states and refuses access to the asylum system under the guise the person could spread COVID.
Medical professionals, immigrant advocates, and a number of Democratic members of Congress criticized the extension, and over 30 public health officials published a letter stating, “The nation’s public health laws should not be used as a pretext for overriding humanitarian laws and treaties that provide lifesaving protections to refugees seeking asylum and unaccompanied children.”
TREND FORECAST: As a result of COVID-19, whether in the U.S. or any of the developed nations, open borders and immigration will not be a major political issue. Politicians will use the virus as both a reason to keep borders closed to stop infections from coming in and/or to keep refugees out, who they cannot afford to take in and care for.
Bye, Bye, Baby
Based on recently published data, U.S. birth rates fell to a record low last year. Birth rates started declining during the 2008 recession, and the numbers stayed down even after the recovery due to Millennials being less financially solvent than the generations ahead of them. The most pronounced decline was among teenagers. Since the early 1970s, teenage births have plunged some 73 percent.
TREND FORECAST: As the “Greatest Depression” spreads across the nation, both birth and marriage rates will continue to decline in the United States. Among the implications, more adults will be living with parents and, with fewer partners and fewer children, home ownership rates will continue to decline.

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