Tag: national security law

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. 

Hong Kong pro-democracy activists caught at sea go on trial in China under National Security Law
Asia Pacific Focus

Hong Kong pro-democracy activists caught at sea go on trial in China under National Security Law

National Security Law: Ten out of the 12 Hong Kong pro-democracy activists who were arrested at sea while they were trying to flee to Taiwan by a speedboat are now on trial in China mainland, where they were being held. 

The highly controversial draconian National Security Law imposed by China in Hong Kong in an attempt to crackdown the growing protests against mainland-China’s increasing authority in the territory has led to hundreds and thousands of pro-democracy activists captured for trial. 

The court hearing was closed to all the foreign reporters and any diplomats. Even the families of activists were barred from hearing, a notorious explanation of China’s rather opaque judicial system. 

The Court was adjourned without any verdict but the hearing is said to have included both the prosecution and defence lawyers who were given chance to speak. 

The mentioned activists were captured in August in a rare scenario of attempt to flee Hong Kong after the stringent national security law was imposed by Beijing in June. The 12 people, aged between 16 to 33, were intercepted and caught at sea on August 23rd by the Chinese coastguard. The location of capture was jut 40 miles southeast of Hong Kong. Many of the people on board were already facing charges pertaining to last year’s pro-democracy protests, while one was facing charges under the new law. This meant that by any means leaving the territory was illegal. 

Taiwan has emerged as sanctuary for Hong Kong activists fleeing the increasing crackdown on pro-democracy protestors by China. 

The arrested activists were detained without any charge for months in Shenzhen, China. Few weeks ago the authorities finally charged 10 of the 12 activists – 8 have been charged for illegally crossing the border, which can lead to a year in jail; two face more serious charges of organizing the territory border crossing which can lead up to seven prison years. 

China is infamous for putting its dissidents on trial around the Christmas period – an attempt to ward off the international attention and scrutiny. The same is evident to this trial timing. But due to the high-profile nature of this trial, international eyes were on it and attracted sharp criticism few hours before commencement of the trial. 

US embassy has urged China to immediately release the activists. Embassy’s spokesperson said, “Their so-called ‘crime’ was to flee tyranny.” In response, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs called upon the US to “immediately stop interfering in China’s internal affairs through the Hong Kong issue.”

AMLO’s new security law restricts foreign law enforcement activities in Mexico: a dire situation for DEA

AMLO’s new security law restricts foreign law enforcement activities in Mexico: a dire situation for DEA

AMLO’s new security law: Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, President of Mexico, more commonly known as AMLO, hurriedly and quite suddenly had sent a bill to Congress in early December targeting the activities of foreign law enforcements in the country. The bill was passed into law by Mexico’s Congress on Tuesday. 

The newly enforced national security law will limit operational freedom of foreign enforcement agencies and officers. The experts criticize this move arguing that it can hamper the intelligence sources and also pose a big threat to the future of international anti-narcotics operations. 

The law, though doesn’t specifically target a particular country, but the most impacted in a disastrous manner would be US agencies like DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), which has strong hold and presence in Mexico. The law will strip the foreign law and intelligence agents of diplomatic immunity along with requirement of sharing intelligence data with the Mexican officials. 

Mike Vigil, former DEA chief of international operations, said, “You’re going to see a situation where the efforts of US agencies, especially with the DEA, are significantly going to be diminished. They want to relegate the agencies like DEA to doing nothing more than staying in the office and just passing information.” 

DEA has been working with Mexican authorities over past years, creating intelligence for the “war on drugs”. But these US operations in the neighboring country has received backlash – military crackdown in Mexico has led to over 200,000 lives lost and 70,000 missing. 

AMLO pressured the bill in congress over complains regarding DEA’s operations in Mexico. The law, coincidently, also follows detention of Mexico’s former defense secretary Gen Salvador Cienfuegos, who was detained in Los Angeles in November over drug charges. Although, no case or investigation was ongoing against him in Mexico. Experts analyze that AMLO’s eagerness to push the law was also to secure release of Cienfuegos. This is largely due to increasing dependency of president on military for all operations in the country – security, construction, running of seaports. 

On the law AMLO said, “During other governments, they came into Mexico as if they owned the place. They didn’t just carry out intelligence operations, they went after targets. Mexican security forces launched the operations, but the decisions were made by these foreign agencies. That no longer happens.” 

William Barr, US attorney general said, “The law can only benefit the violent transnational criminal organisations and other criminals that we are jointly fighting.” 

As the new law would require foreign law enforcements to share any and all intelligence information with the Mexica authorities, fear looms that it may tip off the criminals and corrupt officials. But AMLO maintains that country’s armed forces and security and citizen protection secretariat are not infiltrated any more by organized crime. US officials just mock at this claim. Vigil says, “The big worry for US agencies is that it will compromise agents, it will compromise informants and it will compromise operations and investigations if that happens.”

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”.

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