In the UK, a counter-extremism bill including plans to disrupt extremists attempting to radicalise young people is to be included in the Queen’s speech on 27 May. Prime Minister David Cameron will unveil plans for the bill today at a meeting with the National Security Council, during which he will express the need to confront “poisonous” extremist ideology. The Conservative Party had attempted to introduce the bill in March, but had been blocked by then-coalition partners the Liberal Democrats on free speech grounds. The bill could again face opposition in parliament over questions of free speech. The measures in the bill would introduce banning orders for extremist groups using hate speech in public places, and make funding or membership of such a group a criminal offence. The rules could also be used against individuals. The bill aims to catch not just those who promote hatred, but those who seek to overthrow democracy. The bill is understood to have arisen following the extremist killing of Army Drummer Lee Rigby in May 2013 in Woolwich.
In Pakistan, at least 43 people have been killed and 20 injured in a gun attack after attackers forced their way onto a bus carrying followers of the Ismaili Shia Islamic minority sect. Six gunmen on motorcycles are reported have fired indiscriminately on the passengers in Karachi. The attack is one of the worst sectarian attacks in the city in years. Ismaili Muslims are known to be regarded as heretics by some of Pakistan’s Sunni terrorist groups. Jundullah, a Pakistani Taliban splinter group, have claimed responsibility for the attack, and have warned of further attacks against Ismailis, Shia Muslims, and Christians in the coming days. The attack comes despite a high-profile two-year campaign against criminal gangs and terrorists in Karachi, led by the city’s Ranger paramilitary force. The attack is the latest of several sectarian attacks to hit Pakistan this year, with the death toll from attacks numbering in the hundreds.
The United States is considering sending military aircraft and ships to the South China Sea in order to assert freedom of navigation, a US official has said. The announcement comes amid a continuing Chinese campaign of artificial island building in the region. Other nations have now begun their own land reclamation efforts in the region. The US sending ships to the region could pose a direct challenge to Chinese efforts to expand influence in the area. China’s Foreign Ministry has expressed concern over the US’ remarks, and has demanded clarification. US Secretary of State John Kerry is to visit China this weekend, with the South China Sea likely to feature high on the agenda. The Philippines and Japan also held their first joint naval exercises in the South China Sea on Tuesday, as Japan moved to strengthen ties with nations at odds with Beijing.
A mix of stories on the front pages today, with the EU making a few headlines. The Financial Times leads with news that Germany has landed an “early blow” against Britain’s hopes for a renegotiation of its EU membership. German Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has warned that Germany “will not be rushed” into making changes, the paper writes. Schaeuble also criticised Chancellor George Osborne for his interventions in the eurozone crisis. The Times leads with news that Home Secretary Theresa May will be “tough over fate of Med migrants”. May is set for a “head-on confrontation with Brussels”, the paper writes, over her rejection of EU plans to distribute rescued economic migrants from the Mediterranean Sea across EU nations, including Britain. The Guardian leads with a report into the “secret war crimes dossier against Syrian leader” Bashar al-Assad. The paper reports investigators as saying that the smuggled documents will be “enough to indict Assad and 24 senior officials” for war crimes. The Daily Telegraph leads with news of “NHS tests and drugs that do more harm than good”; according to the paper, doctors are giving patients unnecessary tests and treatments due to GPs and hospitals being paid for the quantity, rather than the quality, of the treatment. The Independent reports in its headline that a “shock fall in adoption rates” has been blamed on rulings by the President of the Family Court. Local authorities have been “frightened” of removing children from their birth families following a series of rulings, the paper writes.
British Media on China
On Sino-Russian ties: Following on from reports of a joint Sino-Russian naval exercise in the Mediterranean Sea, an analysis piece in The Daily Telegraph writes that China and Russia are “teaming up to erode American dominance”. Beijing and Moscow are “catching up” militarily with the United States, the piece writes. The piece goes on to detail problems with China’s military, including corruption, while also writing of Russian plans to boost the strength of its armed forces. Russia’s recent spate of military drills near Ukraine “are likely to become an increasingly frequent reminder of their shared intent to erode US supremacy”. The piece also features a graphic comparing Russian and Chiense military strength.