China – Hong Kong October 2020-

Written by  //  July 9, 2021  //  China  //  No comments

Britain, U.S. and others highly concerned by possible new Hong Kong media laws
(Reuters) – “We are highly concerned by the possible introduction of new legislation that is intended or could risk being used to eliminate scrutiny and criticism by the media of the government’s policies and actions,” the statement, published by Britain on behalf of the Media Freedom Coalition, said.
The coalition is made up of Australia, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovakia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

1 July
The Chinese Communist Party’s anniversary is Hong Kong’s funeral
Josh Rogin
(WaPo Opinion) On Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping personally led nationwide celebrations to mark the 100-year anniversary of the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party. …
But most people in Hong Kong did not celebrate. For them, this day marked the loss of their freedoms and democratic institutions. Since 1997, July 1 has been the high point of a series of annual protests and rallies celebrating Hong Kong’s once-flourishing civil society. But not this year. Last summer, the CCP implemented a national security law for Hong Kong that has destroyed its judicial independence, the safety of its businesses, and allowed Hong Kong authorities to imprison would-be protest organizers as well as the journalists who would have covered them. This July 1, propaganda banners celebrating the CCP’s 100-year anniversary stood where pro-democracy signs would otherwise have been. This year, the streets were filled with police, not celebrators.
There’s a sense of fatalism in Washington these days about Hong Kong and what, if anything, the international community can still do. Hong Kong activists insist that their democracy movement is not dead, it’s just been forced underground. The world’s democracies can still help by raising the pressure on Beijing to reverse course and raising the costs for China if it insists on crushing Hong Kong. [Nathan Law, a Hong Kong pro-democracy student activist now living in exile in London] says the struggle between democracy and autocracies is playing out in Hong Kong now, and if the world abandons Hong Kong, an emboldened Xi will soon continue on to Taiwan.

22-30 June
‘They can’t speak freely’: Hong Kong a year after the national security law
Powerful chilling effect as dissenters are detained, often without charges, and face life in prison
(The Guardian) One year after Beijing imposed a national security law (NSL) on Hong Kong, the city has been drastically and fundamentally changed. Political opposition has been largely crushed, pro-democracy newspapers have been forced to close or self-censor, political and advocacy groups have disbanded. Thousands of residents have fled overseas.
At least 128 people have been arrested under the NSL or by its dedicated police department, including three minors, dozens of politicians, and journalists. More than half have been charged with national security offences that carry up to life in prison, and only 17 were granted bail.
But with the first case reaching trial just last week, the law – which broadly outlaws acts of secession, subversion, foreign collusion and terrorism – remains untested. Analysts say the rushed arrests and slow prosecutions are a deliberate strategy designed to stoke fear, and that interventions in due process risk the right to a fair trial.

In Pictures: Tears and selfies at airport as Hongkongers bid a permanent farewell to troubled city

“I don’t seem to see any hope in the city,” said 23-year-old freshgrad Wan. “If I have the chance, I would like to make a life elsewhere and contribute to Hong Kong when I have the ability.”

‘Obey the Party’: The CCP steps out of the shadows in Hong Kong
Once forced into a low-key existence, the Chinese Communist Party has become increasingly assertive in the former British colony,
(Al Jazeera) It is the governing party that has remained an underground organisation even in part of its own territory, but as the Chinese Communist Party marks its centenary this week there are signs it is stepping out of the shadows in Hong Kong, China’s most restive city.
“For the CCP, it’s paramount that the people in Hong Kong recognise China’s achievements under the party’s leadership,” said Bruce Lui, senior lecturer at Hong Kong Baptist University and a veteran political commentator. “Anyone failing to do so falls short of loving the party and the nation.”
For more than half of the last century, Hong Kong served as a sanctuary for generation after generation of mainland Chinese fleeing Communist rule.
First came the moneyed class, after the civil war ended in 1949. Industrialists from Shanghai and the nearby prosperous coastal cities as well as landowners and merchants moved south fearing the prospect of collectivisation.
The next to arrive were the intelligentsia, targets of political purges in the 1950s. Then came the exodus of common folks driven out by famines and the violence of the Cultural Revolution.

Apple Daily’s closure is a warning to the world
Amy Lai teaches and conducts research on freedom of speech at Freie Universitat in Berlin, Germany, and is the winner of Pen Canada’s Ken Filkow Prize for freedom of expression.
(Globe & Mail) Apple Daily, Hong Kong’s popular pro-democracy Chinese-language newspaper, issued its final edition last week after the arrests of five senior executives and the freezing of its assets by the Hong Kong government. The forced closing of the 26-year-old business, which issued its first edition in the British colonial era, turned the world’s attention back to China’s ruthless and determined attempt to snuff out dissent, which never stopped despite the pandemic.
In its early years, Apple Daily was controversial, despite its wide readership. Because of its paparazzi-style photos and sensational reports on the entertainment industry and social issues, it was viewed by many with contempt.
But Apple Daily found a way to successfully blend infotainment along with serious journalism. The global and local news sections were run by a dedicated group of journalists, many of whom graduated from top programs and fearlessly exposed government corruption in both China and Hong Kong.
Hong Kong leader calls criticism of Apple Daily raid an attempt to ‘beautify’ security threats
(AP) Foreign governments are “beautifying” acts that endanger national security in Hong Kong when they criticize the recent crackdown on a pro-democracy newspaper, the leader of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory said Tuesday.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam’s comments come as some countries including the U.S. condemn the arrest of editors and executives at Apple Daily and the freezing of its assets as the latest examples of eroding freedoms in the former British colony.

27-28 May
Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai jailed again as Tiananmen vigil banned
Case comes on same day judge suggests speaking critically in foreign media could breach security laws
The rulings came a week before the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Authorities have banned a vigil for the second year in a row, citing pandemic concerns about crowding, despite allowing other crowded events in recent days.
… In a separate hearing on Friday, a Hong Kong judge, Esther Toh, denied bail to two former pro-democracy legislators, Andrew Wan and Claudia Mo. In her reasoning, the judge referred to WhatsApp conversations between Mo, 64, and members of the foreign press as evidence Mo presented a risk of committing national security offences if freed.
The shock ruling appeared to confirm fears that critical interviews with international media could be considered a national security offence, and also raised concerns that the law was being applied – or at least considered – retrospectively, given several of Mo’s WhatsApp conversations were from prior to the law’s implementation.
UK receives 34,000 visa requests from Hong Kong in two months
Residency route was launched in response to national security law imposed by Chinese government

16 April
Hong Kong’s Jimmy Lai and his media empire face uncertain future
Analysis: Tycoon and pro-democracy activist’s 14-month jail sentence is only the start of his problems
The sentencing of the high-profile Hong Kong activist Jimmy Lai may offer a foretaste both of his own future and of the media empire he built.
For the 73-year-old tycoon, the 14-month prison sentence handed down on Friday is only the start. He faces six remaining charges, two of which relate to the new national security law, which is deemed draconian by pro-democracy activists but which Beijing argues is necessary.
… It also sends a chilling message to Lai’s media conglomerate and challenges wider press freedom in Hong Kong, they argue. On the same day as Lai’s sentencing, a commentary in the Hong Kong-based pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao called for a ban on Lai’s tabloid Apple Daily in order to close “national security loopholes”.

30 March
Beijing cuts Hong Kong’s directly elected seats in radical overhaul
Measures are passed to increase Beijing’s control of city, including vetting of election candidates
China has passed sweeping changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system that tighten Beijing’s grip on the city, while leaving a facade of democratic structures in place.
Beijing has amended Hong Kong’s Basic Law, or constitution, to almost halve the proportion of directly elected representatives in the city’s legislature, which already had limited powers, and require all candidates to be vetted for political loyalty.
The changes will also strengthen China’s control over the “election committee” that chooses Hong Kong’s chief executive, expanding its size and abolishing seats that had been held by directly-elected district councillors.
Although these councillors have very limited power, mostly dealing with hyper-local issues such as transport or waste disposal, they are the only officials in the city elected by a direct and universal franchise. Pro-democratic politicians won control of most councils in a landslide victory in 2020 elections.

28 February
With new mass detentions, every prominent Hong Kong activist is either in jail or exile
(WaPo) …on Sunday afternoon, the Hong Kong pro-democracy activists fanned out to police stations across the territory, where more than 40 of them were officially charged with “conspiracy to commit subversion” under the national security law, according to police. They were detained immediately, will be held overnight for a court session on Monday and face life in prison if found guilty.
The charging of such a large group represents the harshest and widest use of Beijing’s national security law in Hong Kong to date, dramatically increasing the number of people taken under the draconian legislation. Friends and family fear they will be denied bail and instead remain in detention before trial, like the five previously detained under the law — a significant departure from Hong Kong’s common law system.
The charges mean that every prominent, and even moderate, opposition voice in Hong Kong is either in jail or in exile, crushing the city’s democratic aspirations as Beijing tightens its grips around the city’s core institutions.
… Last week, the Hong Kong government, following a pronouncement from Beijing, further tightened laws to ensure only “patriots” run for office — defined as those loyal to the Communist Party.

30 January
Fearing Beijing crackdown, thousands flee Hong Kong for the U.K.
(AP/CBC) Some are leaving because they fear punishment for supporting pro-democracy protests. But many others, like her, say China’s encroachment on their way of life and civil liberties has become unbearable, and they want to seek a better future for their children abroad. Most say they don’t plan to ever go back….
Applications for the British National Overseas visa officially open Sunday, though many…have already arrived on British soil to get a head start. Eligible Hong Kongers can currently come to the U.K. for six months, but from Sunday they can apply for the right to live and work in the country for five years. After that, they can apply for settled status and then British citizenship.
Britain’s government said some 7,000 people with British National Overseas (BNO) status have arrived since July. It estimates that over 300,000 people will take up the offer of extended residency rights in the next five years.

29 January
Homes as Small as 60 Square Feet Worsen Hong Kong’s Covid Crisis
(Bloomberg) Stuffy, poorly designed and sometimes no bigger than a single bed, the units were a ticking time bomb, according to non-profit organizations like Concerning Grassroots’ Housing Rights Alliance and Kwun Tong Methodist Social Service. That bomb just exploded, sending the city into its first lockdown since Covid was initially detected there in January 2020.
On Jan. 23, the government restricted about 10,000 residents to their homes in the Yau Ma Tei and Jordan areas of Kowloon to carry out mandatory Covid testing. In the first three weeks of the year, 162 infections were confirmed in 56 buildings there — a small number by the standards of many large urban centers, but still 17% of all cases in the city of 7.5 million. Days later, a second lockdown was imposed nearby.

5 January
Mass arrests of former Hong Kong opposition lawmakers, activists for alleged national security law violations
Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai detained along with former legislators James To, Lam Cheuk-ting, Andrew Wan, Alvin Yeung and Wu Chi-wai
The pan-democratic camp held primary contests last July in five constituencies to determine who would run in the Legislative Council election in September
(SCMP) The “35-plus” strategy, if successful, would have enabled the camp to form a powerful bloc in Legco, allowing them to block budgets, stall bills and effectively paralyse the government.
According to the Democratic Party, the police said during the arrests that the strategy was an act of subversion under the national security law imposed by Beijing in June, half a month before the primaries were held.
Dozens of Hong Kong democracy activists arrested under national security law
(WaPo) Dozens of Hong Kong pro-democracy politicians and activists were arrested Wednesday under the national security law, rounded up in an early morning sweep in the most far-reaching and chilling use of the Beijing-imposed law since it was passed in June.
Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, one of the main opposition parties whose members recently resigned en masse from the legislature over the ouster of their pro-democracy colleagues, said their alleged crime was participation in an informal election in July. The election was a primary for pro-democracy candidates, a contest to determine who would run in legislative elections scheduled for September. More than ­600,000 people took part in the primary, which saw the rise of a younger generation of political leaders, including Joshua Wong, who won in his district. Wong, who is serving a prison sentence, also was charged with the others on Wednesday.

2020

4 December
Beijing slams ‘criminal-shielding’ Danish politicians for supporting former Hong Kong lawmaker’s exile bid
(SCMP) Beijing has accused Danish politicians of harbouring criminals and meddling in China’s domestic affairs by supporting the exile-seeking former Hong Kong opposition lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung, a day after he revealed his plan to resettle in Britain.
Pro-establishment legislators back home said on Friday that Hui – who is on bail and faces nine criminal charges in Hong Kong – was evading the legal consequences of his past behaviour, while allies described his decision to flee as a reflection of the dwindling faith in the city’s court
Wanted in Hong Kong, ex-opposition lawmaker Ted Hui makes exile bid overseas, raising prospect of tighter leash on activists awaiting trial back home

2 December
Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong jailed for 13 and a half months over protest
Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam also sentenced over pro-democracy protest at police HQ last year
The high-profile Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong will spend more than a year in jail over an unauthorised protest outside police headquarters in June last year, a court in the city has ruled.
Fellow activists Agnes Chow, 23, and Ivan Lam, 26, were sentenced to 10 months and seven months respectively.
Wong said last week he expected to be jailed after admitting organising the event early on in Hong Kong’s recent protest movement, which began with millions marching against an extradition bill before growing into a broader pro-democracy push.
Hong Kong protests: show arrested youth some mercy, to begin the healing process in society
Simon Young, William Hayward and Paul Yip
Greater discretion by police and prosecutors towards those arrested – whether they are under or over 18 – would represent a significant step to rebuilding trust and harmony
The underlying causes of the protests remain unaddressed, and genuine reconciliation must occur or the unrest might return at any time
(SCMP) The civil behaviour and good order that has characterised Hong Kong for generations seemed to disappear overnight. Road blocks, tear gas and confrontation between demonstrators and police became part of the lifestyle of the city during that period.
There are many concerns in the community about the enactment of the national security law
and its impact on many of Hong Kong’s freedoms. At least some of the violent confrontations have subsided for the moment, but the roots of the problems that led to them have not been addressed. Genuine reconciliation within society needs to occur, otherwise further social unrest might come back at any time.
Since the social unrest began, there have been more than 10,000 arrests, of which around 2,300 have been brought to the court charged with various offences. In court hearings recently, some people have been sentenced to jail while others were acquitted because of insufficient evidence. Sometimes the court found police had not provided reliable evidence

24 November
Allen Carlson: Why Xi Jinping’s muscular approach in Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong will backfire
The clamping down on the rights of those living in China’s periphery is not unprecedented, but the resurgence of these policies may make tensions even more intractable, instead of leading to long-lasting stability

12 November
Hong Kong and China could face fresh US sanctions over ousting of lawmakers
Washington accuses Beijing of ‘flagrant violation’ of commitments and says one party, two systems ideal is ‘now merely a fig leaf’
Hong Kong and Chinese officials could face further sanctions from the United States over a new law that disqualified four pro-democracy legislators as “unpatriotic” and prompted a mass resignation by the pro-democracy caucus.
The measure, passed by China’s highest legislative body on Wednesday, bars anyone from Hong Kong’s legislative council who supports independence, opposes the national security law, refuses to recognise Beijing’s sovereignty over Hong Kong, seeks help from “foreign countries or foreign forces to interfere in the affairs of the region” or commits “other acts that endanger national security”.

12 October
Academics warn of ‘chilling effect’ of Hong Kong security law
Exclusive: global scholars on China call for agreement to resist interference in research
(The Guardian) Some of the world’s leading scholars on China have called for a united international front in defence of university freedoms, amid claims of an increased Chinese threat to academic inquiry since the passing of Hong Kong’s national security law.
Individual universities will be picked off unless there is a common agreement to resist Chinese state interference in academic research and teaching on China, a group of 100 academics including scholars in the US, UK, Australia and Germany say.
They highlight the threat posed by article 38 of the sweeping national security law, which states that the law is applicable to individuals who live outside the territory and individuals who do not come from there.
The law was imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing in June after more than a year of pro-democracy protests.
The academics say article 38 raises the unsettling prospect that students travelling through Hong Kong and China face being handed lengthy prison sentences on the basis of academic work deemed to be subversive by Chinese authorities.

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