Tag: Hong Kong

China tightening its hold on Hong Kong elections: Report
Asia Pacific Focus

China tightening its hold on Hong Kong elections: Report

Hong Kong elections: China is planning to take further actions to curb pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong elections

A week after Hong Kong authorities arrested 53 pro-democracy activists in the territory, media reports are pointing at a further crackdown by China in the country to curb dissent.

These lawmakers, lawyers and activists were arrested under Hong Kong’s six-month-old National Security Law, on the charges of participating in unofficial primaries for pro-democracy candidates for the territory’s elections last year. Beijing termed the primaries “illegal” and a “provocation” of the electoral system in the semi-autonomous territory.

Amid this development, the People’s Daily newspaper, mouthpiece of China’s ruling Communist Party, on Tuesday said that those people who will be found disloyal would not be allowed to run for the office. Chinese state media added that actions will be taken to ensure that anti-China and trouble-making forces are out of Hong Kong elections. 

In the aftermath of the imposition of the controversial security law in June 2020, authorities have targeted the media, arrested tens of political figures and activities, disqualified lawmakers, frozen their assets, seized their documents, phones and computers. Hundreds of activists have also fled into exile to avoid arrests.

World governments and international institutions have condemned Beijing’s actions to subvert democracy in the territory. The United Nations also raised alarming concerns over the arrest of 53 leading figures in Hong Kong, calling for their immediate release. 

Meanwhile, Beijing has continued to deny its action to curb freedom and human rights in the Asian financial hub.

As a report by the South China Morning Post newspaper last month, Chinese authorities are aiming to curb the limited influence of pro-democracy leaders on the 1200-person election committee that selects Hong Kong’s chief executive, such that candidates will require Beijing’s approval to contest in the elections. With the Chinese authorities seeking other changes in the electoral structure of Hong Kong, elections are expected to be delayed further.

While the Legislative Council elections were scheduled to take place in September 2020, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam postponed them citing health risks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the legislative council has largely reduced to a pro-Beijing body after mass resignations, arrests and disqualification of pro-democracy lawmakers since the introduction of the security law.

As per reports, the standing committee of the National People’s Congress is scheduled to hold meetings between January 20 to 22 to decide the fate of elections in Hong Kong. 

Pompeo threatens China with sanctions over Hong Kong detentions
Asia Pacific Focus

Pompeo threatens China with sanctions over Hong Kong detentions

Pompeo threatens China: In response to China’s detention of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong on Wednesday, including a US citizen, John Clancey, US threatened to issue sanctions against those involved in the arrest. On Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the China’s crack down of power over protestors and said he was “appalled” by the arrest of an American citizen. In a strong message to Beijing, which might lead to retaliation, Pompeo said, “The United States will not tolerate the arbitrary detention or harassment of US citizens.” 

Pompeo called the act  an “outrage and a reminder of the Chinese Communist Party’s contempt for its own people and the rule of law.” He said, “The United States will consider sanctions and other restrictions on any and all individuals and entities involved in executing this assault on the Hong Kong people.”  Besides, the US Secretary of State added that Washington might even “explore restrictions against the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in the United States, and take additional immediate actions against officials who have undermined Hong Kong’s democratic processes.”

Timing of Pompeo’s statement did not play out in his favour as the detention in Beijing was followed by barbaric intervention of Trump supporters in Congress, in a bid to overturn the Presidential election results, which otherwise claimed Joe Biden as the country’s next President. On Thursday, Trump finally conceded his defeat and accepted that Joe Biden, who is due to be sworn in on Jan. 20, would succeed him.

The entire episode at US Capitol was enough for Chinese state media to mock at its rival’s internal affairs, especially when Washington has been pointing fingers at state of affairs in Hong Kong. On Friday, Beijing accused Washington of holding  “double standards.”

“In Hong Kong, violent actions are described as a ‘beautiful sight,’ in the U.S., people involved in this chaos are called ‘mobs’,” said The Global Times, a state-owned tabloid.

With respect to Pompeo’s comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said it a serious interference in China’s internal affairs. He said, “China will take all necessary steps to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty and security interests. The United States must pay a heavy price for its mistakes.” He also warned Washington “to stop its crazy provocation” and added that “whoever plays with fire will burn himself.”

On Wednesday, Chinese authorities took about 53 activities and politicians in its custody, under the new security law. The American human rights lawyer Clancey, who was later granted bail along with few others on Thursday, said that the pro-democracy supporters would “continue to work for democracy and human rights in Hong Kong.”

Besides US, many rights groups including Amnesty International also slammed the Chinese authorities for misusing the national security law. The rights group said that the arrests were “the starkest demonstration yet of how the national security law has been weaponised to punish anyone who dares to challenge the establishment”. 

Maya Wang, Chinese senior researcher at Human Rights Watch said, “Beijing once again has failed to learn from its mistakes in Hong Kong: that repression generates resistance & that millions of HK people will persist in their struggle for their right to vote and run for office in a democratically elected government”

According to the handover of the former British colony to China by the British regime in 1997, it was decided that the semi-autonomous territory would be operated by Beijing under “one country, two systems” principle. Of late, Beijing started pressing greater control over the city, drawing criticism that Hong Kong’s freedoms were under threat.

China imposes sanctions on US officials in response to similar action by Washington
Asia Pacific Focus

China imposes sanctions on US officials in response to similar action by Washington

China imposes sanctions on US: On Thursday, China imposed sanctions on US officials including US executives, congressional personnel, and non-governmental organization personnel, stating their interference and bad performance on Hong Kong’s democracy issue. Beijing’s decision was announced by its foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying during a press conference on Thursday.

Hua said that China has decided to impose “reciprocal sanctions” on US diplomats. The sanction order also included barring immediate family members of those US officials from travelling to Hong Kong or China. The Chinese authorities also cancelled visa-free access for US diplomats who otherwise held valid passports to travel into China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Macao.

Hua said that the decision was taken to stop American authorities from “using the Hong Kong issue to seriously interfere in China’s internal affairs and undermine China’s core interests.”

Adding justification to the newly imposed sanctions, Hua said that those restricted “have performed egregiously and are primarily responsible on the Hong Kong issue.” At her daily briefing, she said,“China once again urges the U.S. side to immediately stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, and not go further down the wrong and dangerous path.”

Sanction was China’s way of punching back at US for its recently imposed sanctions on all the 14 vice chairpersons of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee on Monday. Washington imposed the sanctions citing Beijing’s clampdown over Hong Kong pro-democracy movement as the reason. To mute the pro-democracy calls in Hong Kong, China effectively imposed national security law, which many nations including US, Canada and UK referred to as violation of human rights. 

In an extreme move to suppress pro-democracy calls emerging in the semi-autonomous territory, China even disqualified many of its pro-democracy lawmakers from legislature. Hong Kong, once a British colony was handed over to China as part of 1997 agreement, witnessed major violent pro-democracy protests last year. China justified applying the restrictive nation security law to restore stability and peace in the territory, which it doesn’t want to part away with. 

Hong Kong tycoon and Pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai latest to be charged under controversial law
Asia Pacific Focus

Hong Kong tycoon and Pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai latest to be charged under controversial law

Hong Kong tycoon: Jimmy Lai, 73, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy tycoon is the latest addition to being charged under the controversial law imposed by China, the National Security Law.

Mr. Lai has been accused of conspiring with foreign agents and hence endangering national security. He can, in high probability, face a long jail term for this charge. In the long list of those charged and convicted under the security law, Lai is the most influential and high profile personality to be charged. 

Lai has been a fiercely active critic of Beijing and the authoritative regime of China. He is founder of Apple Daily newspaper in Hong Kong. 

Lai was initially arrested in August under the law after a police raid was carried out at Apple Daily’s head office. He was however later released on bail. Now, Mr. Lao had been placed in custody since December 2, after he was denied bail on another fraud charge. Lai is due to appear in court for hearing on Saturday. 

China has claimed that after a year of instability and arrests, order will be restored in Hong Kong. But the critics say that the security law implementation and extreme crackdown by Hong Kong police and authorities has silenced dissent in the territory. 

Mr. Lai is a prominent supporter of pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong against China’s authority. In media industry, Lai has been a constant bug for China through his write-ups and publications. This has made him a hero in Hong Kong but a traitor on mainland, citing a threat to China’s national security. 

Another prominent teenage activist Tony Chung was arrested and convicted of vandalizing and insulting the Chinese flag, and of illegal assembly. He is also set to face at least 5 years in prison. Chung is also the first public political figure to be prosecuted under the controversial law. Tony Chung was the leader of pro-democracy group which has now been disbanded. 

Since the imposition of National Security Law in Hong Kong in June, China has been accelerating its suppression and offensive in the territory through disqualification of opposition legislatures and arrests of dozens of activists. 

China warns ‘Five Eyes’ against interference in Hong Kong affairs
Asia Pacific Focus

China warns ‘Five Eyes’ against interference in Hong Kong affairs

China warns Five Eyes’: China sends out a loud and clear message to the ‘Five Eyes’ alliance group to abstain from interfering in its internal affairs, specifically with regard to supporting Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers. Last week, on the orders of Chinese government, Hong Kong expelled four of its pro-democracy lawmakers from legislature after Beijing passed a resolution enabling the Hong Kong government to disqualify elected legislators, who appeared to be a threat to its national security.

On Wednesday, the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group, a group comprising of five nations including Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States, slammed the new rules imposed by the Chinese regime, for it appeared to be direct attempt to bulldoze Hong Kong’s pro-democracy dream. The group was formed during the Cold War, mainly to monitor the activities of USSR and its allies.

The five nations backed Hong Kong, a former British colony, in its campaign to silence critics and asked the Chinese authorities to reverse course. The territory was handed over to China by the British government in 1997 on the condition of reinstating its autonomy. 

“We urge the Chinese central authorities to re-consider their actions against Hong Kong’s elected legislature and immediately reinstate the Legislative Council members,” foreign ministers from Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States said in a statement. The nations criticised Beijing of sabotaging the rights Hong Kongers to elect their representatives.

Besides, as a mark of revolt against Beijing’s new order, all of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers gave in their resignation. The removal of the four lawmakers was seen by many as China’s attempt to curb Hong Kong’s freedom.

Much irked by the foreign leaders for, what it felt like, upending China’s internal state of affairs as Beijing claimed that Hong Kong part of its territory and did not support the idea of complete democracy in an otherwise semi-autonomous state. 

As a response against the external meddling, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian shared a well-articulated message at a daily media conference in Beijing on Thursday. He said that the Five Eyes alliance should be careful as if they tried to harm China’s sovereignty, security or development interests, “their eyes will be plucked out.”

He said, “The Chinese never make trouble and are never afraid of anything” and added that it did not “matter if they had five or 10 eyes”.

Washington denounces China’s new law and the expelling of opposition lawmakers
Asia Pacific Focus

Washington denounces China’s new law and the expelling of opposition lawmakers

Washington denounces China’s new law: Hong Kong has dived further into tensions after a new law was passed by Beijing under which they had disqualified few opposition members by calling them unpatriotic and claimed that they incited the whole pro-democracy protest.

Robert O’Brien, the US national security advisor, blamed China for having “outrageously abused” its global commitments and warned to impose further fresh sanctions on those answerable for quenching Hong Kong’s freedom and democracy. 

Chinese and Hong Kong authorities could confront new sanctions from the United States over their imposing of the new law that disbarred four pro-democracy lawmakers and provoked a statement of a mass resignation by the supportive of the pro-democracy council. 

Within minutes after the disqualifying legislation was declared by Chinese state media, the Hong Kong government delivered an official statement in which they prohibited four lawmakers.

The mass resignation would likewise leave Hong Kong’s governing body with just pro-Beijing legislators, who as of now make a majority, however, would have the option to pass bills in parliament supported by Beijing with the absence of much opposition.

On Wednesday, China’s highest administrative body passed a measure to banish anybody from Hong Kong’s legislative council who wish to supports autonomy, and reject to recognize Beijing’s government over Hong Kong. However, seeking help from foreign nations or forces to meddle in the internal issues of the region or to employ different acts that jeopardize country’s national security, they could face similar consequences. 

Under the new law, the legislators who are deemed to advance or support Hong Kong’s autonomy, or who won’t recognize Beijing’s government, will “quickly lose their qualification,” the new law stated. 

On Monday, the city’s 15 pro-democracy legislators declared that they would also resign stating that the “One Country Two Systems” structure that had intended to provide Hong Kong with more prominent self-rule from the region has ended. 

The administration clampdown comes after the months-long pro-democracy protest, While some Hong Kong activists including former legislators and dissent pioneers have looked for political refuge in different nations, dreading their security under the new bill. 

However, in June, Beijing had announced a new national security law that some have called draconian after the anti-legislature protests shook the city for quite a long time, and it has utilized it to take action against opposition cries. 

Accordingly, the U.S. imposed sanctions on a few authorities, including Lam. A few Western nations have halted their extradition treaty with the region, and Australia and Britain have offered Hong Kongers simpler ways to settle in those nations. 

Beijing has lashed out at these offers and called it gross foreign interference in the Chinese government. Chinese Foreign Ministry representative Wang Wenbin stated on Wednesday that disqualifications were important to keep up rule of law and the constitution in Hong Kong. 

Beijing’s most recent crackdown in Hong Kong has become a source of stress on both sides. Under US President Trump, Washington had revoked the special relationship with Hong Kong, pronouncing it would be dealt with similar to China. The US is thinking of imposing more sanctions on Chinese officials for passing an unjust law and also following the resignation of opposition legislators.

In lieu of China imposing new law in Hong Kong, UK to offer “citizenship route” to HK citizens
Asia Pacific Focus

In lieu of China imposing new law in Hong Kong, UK to offer “citizenship route” to HK citizens

China has been facing criticism over the new law imposing on Hong Kong that would devoid the country of its “independent” status and freedom to “protest”, with HK coming directly under the jurisdiction of China mainland.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Times in an interview that UK would offer a route of citizenship to HK residents in case the security law by China is imposed on the country.

UK and other allies like U.S. and Australia are already discussing on the mode of action and change in relations with HK, if China imposes the new law on Hong Kong – in which case the same relations with HK would be unlawful as would be undermining Beijing’s authority.

On Wednesday, UK PM Boris Johnson confirmed that in case of law imposition, the Hong Kong citizens with BNO (British National Overseas) passports would be allowed to enter UK without any visa and allowed to stay up to a year, as against 6 months as per earlier laws. The passport holders would be further allowed to work in UK as an extension to immigration rights.

Approximately 350,000 Hong Kong citizens have a valid BNO passport and more than 2.6 million are eligible for it.

PM Boris Johnson clarified that if need be Britain would take this step for HK citizens willingly and would not “walk away”.

“If China proceeds to justify their fears, then Britain could not in good conscience shrug our shoulders and walk away; instead we will honour our obligations and provide an alternative,” PM Johnson told the Times.

Lord Patten, the last British governor to Hong Kong supported UK’s stand as being “politically and morally right.” He accused China of its continuous “bullying” tactics. He said that it is not against China but the fact that China’s communist regime cannot stand the HK’s policies – that is everything which President Xi Jinping dislikes.

He further said that this is the “era marking beginning of realism with China.”

Hong Kong had been the colony of Britain which was handed over to China in 1997. According to the terms of treaty, Hong Kong enjoys certain freedoms which are devoid in China mainland. These set of freedom policies are set in a mini-constitution known as Basic Law.

BNO passports were granted to HK citizens who were born before handover to China in 1997. These passports allow holders to enjoy many perks and protection from UK foreign policies, they are still not eligible to work or stay for more than 6 months in UK.

The proposed action under immigration and citizenship route by UK for Hong Kong citizens is believed to offer some respite and opportunities for people fearing China law implementation.

Hong Kong Security Law: Britain asks China to “step back”
Geopolitics

Hong Kong Security Law: Britain asks China to “step back”

The British government on 2 June asked China to “step back from the brink” and respect Hong Kong’s autonomy. It also warned that if the former British colony’s autonomy is compromised, the government will offer British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders citizenship to those who are settled in the region.

The statement was made by the British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in the House of Commons. The House held a physical meeting despite ongoing corona pandemic to highlight that autonomy of its former colony is of great importance.

The leader also added that China should “respect” its international obligations.

China’s proposal to enact stringent security laws for Hong Kong has attracted sharp reactions from the US and UK.

The Foreign Secretary warned that if China proposes to enact such a law, Britain will also look to at its other options as they have a responsibility towards Hong Kong. Secretary Raab added if any legislation impacting the autonomy of Hong Kong is announced, they can initiate change for the BNO passport holders.

When Britain signed the Joint Declaration in 1984 with China, granting BNO status to Hong Kong residents was part of the deal. The Joint Declaration was arrangement entered into with China before Hong Kong’s handover.

Hong Kong residents with a BNO passport can seek UK consular support in third countries. BNO Passport holders can also enter Britain visa-free and stay in the UK for up to six months.

If the proposed security law is enacted, the UK will allow Hong Kong BNO passport holders to stay beyond six months. The minister also added that those passport holders could also explore the option of getting citizenship in Britain.

China’s National People’s Congress on 22 May proposed a new security law for Hong Kong. After six days, the Congress adopted this proposal.

The new legislation, according to the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, will forbid “treason, secession, sedition, and subversion.”

The British minister described the new law would threaten the “One Country Two Systems,” arrangement. This system makes Hong Kong stay autonomous.

Hong Kong residents fear that their freedom will be compromised if this law is implemented.

The Boris Johnson government is talking to the US and Australia to mount pressure on China to reconsider its decision.

US may reconsider joining WHO, but with ‘conditions’: Top US official
Americas

US may reconsider joining WHO, but with ‘conditions’: Top US official

The White House on 31 May said that it might reconsider joining the World Health Organization (WHO).

However, the US government has attached condition to its decision to revise its decision on WHO. The first condition for rejoining is the world health body should limit its reliance on China, and secondly, the organization must put an end to corruption.

Earlier on 29 May, the US President Donald Trump announced the US withdrawal from WHO. Ever since the COVID crisis broke out, the US has accused the WHO of sharing misinformation about the viral disease, in collusion with China.

The novel corona virus has killed more than 300,000 people worldwide. The US National Security Advisor Robert O Brien, in an interview with a news channel, said that WHO must initiate reforms, out an end to corruption, and reduce reliance with China.

Defending Trump’s decision to leave the world health body, O’Brien said that the world organization should have reacted quickly to check the spread of the virus from China.

Following the termination of WHO membership, the US intends to spend the $400 million on other public health organizations with worldwide reach.

O’ Brien said the amount which earlier US used to spend on aid to WHO, will now be given to health workers in Africa through the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). PEPFAR is a US government initiative to mitigate health concerns such as HIV/AIDS epidemic and help save people affected by such diseases. Similar aid will be provided to international NGOs such as the Red Cross and the Doctors without Borders.

In addition to that, the aid money will also be donated to hospitals engaged in fighting severe diseases.

O’Brien shared how the US government and the US citizens’ tax money is used in Africa to protect people from HIV/ AIDS. According to him, the WHO isn’t saving the lives of African people who have HIV/ AIDS.

The top official from Trump administration accused the communist government of China of controlling WHO.

Speaking on the recent escalation of tensions between the US and China, the advisor spoke about the US policy on Hong Kong. O’Brien said the US would take “proportionate” measures to check China’s growing ambitions about Hong Kong.

China’s Hong Kong law escalates tensions for EU in the world order
Asia Pacific Focus

China’s Hong Kong law escalates tensions for EU in the world order

China’s handling of Hong Kong has raised grave concerns with the European Union governments, implying that it will affect the EU-China relations. Furthermore, the EU is facing potential complications with the United States over Washington’s unprecedented response to the tensions between China and Hong Kong. This dilemma has emerged for the EU amid inevitable efforts of post-pandemic recovery and continuing tussle with the UK on a major foreign policy issue since Brexit.

During a meeting with foreign ministers of the 27 nations of the bloc on Friday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called for the need for dialogue over Hong Kong and to discuss with Chinese authorities about the repercussions of the move on some issues of mutual interest. EU’s cautious statement came after strong condemnation from the United States, Britain, Australia, and Canada against Chinese legislation against Hong Kong’s freedom.

Notably, EU’s relations with China have been facing certain strains amid the Coronavirus pandemic and ongoing Sino-US cold war which can pose adverse consequences in the world order.

Responding to China’s move in Hong Kong, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US will no longer treat Hong Kong as autonomous for trade and economic purposes, which will have drastic impacts on the economy of the city. Earlier, US President Trump also announced to impose sanctions on China over its Hong Kong approach. On the other hand, British foreign secretary Dominic Raab said that the UK will extend visa rights for as many as 300,000 Hong Kong British national (overseas) passport holders if China continues with the repressive laws. Meanwhile, Retaliating to international criticism of its national security law on Hong Kong, China on Friday threatened countermeasures against the UK and the US.

Significantly, the EU has been divided on China amid the ongoing circumstances. While European governments have been ensuring measures to tighten their defence against Chinese investment in Europe, certain leaders of the bloc raising questions against China’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic. Even though world governments have been critical of China’s security law, the European Union has maintained a diplomatic stand. At the same time, the bloc is making efforts to steer clear from the US-China spat.

China’s National People’s Congress on May 28 approved a resolution to impose controversial national security laws on Hong Kong which would ban any activities that would endanger China’s national security, secession, and subversion of state power in the city. Critics have been calling China’s move as a big blow to Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedom that has been enshrined in the territory’s laws since 1997.

The World Reviews

The World Reviews provides latest world news and brief stories. To know more news about world follow us.