Posts Tagged ‘Carrie Lam’

Hong Kong visa for Victor Mallet is a ‘one country’ issue — In China and Hong Kong, free speech can mean treason

October 10, 2018
 As for Mr Victor Mallet of the Financial Times being denied renewal of his work visa, this is not about freedom of speech (“Hong Kong government must clarify its decision not to grant visa to journalist”).
Agitating for independence is a treasonous act, and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, in providing a platform for it, was aiding and abetting a treasonous act. This is a “one country”, not a “two systems”, issue. Aiding and abetting a treasonous act is not freedom.
Wednesday, 10 October, 2018, 12:58pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2018, 12:58pm
South China Morning Post
By Peter Lok, Heng Fa Chuen

I refer to the letter from Lawrence Choi (“British right to remind China of ‘two systems’ promise”, October 9). Most of us in Hong Kong consider it beneath our dignity to seek refuge in a foreign country, and choose to continue living here. As for Mr Victor Mallet of the Financial Times being denied renewal of his work visa, this is not about freedom of speech (“Hong Kong government must clarify its decision not to grant visa to journalist”).

Agitating for independence is a treasonous act, and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, in providing a platform for it, was aiding and abetting a treasonous act. This is a “one country”, not a “two systems”, issue. Aiding and abetting a treasonous act is not freedom.

Demonstrators hold a banner that reads "freedom of the press, not allowed to be trampled" out7

Press freedom protesters outside Hong Kong’s immigration department after Mr Mallet’s visa denial. Getty Images

Foreign investors will not be scared to come here, no more than they are apprehensive about going to mainland China, I guarantee. But it is more than likely that more important Britons than Mr Mallet may also become personae non gratae. Locals taking part in separatist activities should not take their resident status for granted. It is they who have gone too far.

Peter Lok, Heng Fa Chuen



Image may contain: 1 person, smiling

See also:

The FCC has behaved like a rude guest, but Hong Kong didn’t need to evict journalist Victor Mallet


Hong Kong lawmakers walkout over media freedoms at city leader’s policy address

October 10, 2018

Hong Kong lawmakers protested in support of media freedoms on Wednesday ahead of city leader Carrie Lam’s annual policy address laying out policy priorities for the coming year.

Image result for carrie lam, photos

Carrie Lam — FILE photo

Hong Kong last week denied a work visa renewal for a British journalist working for the Financial Times newspaper, in an unprecedented case that has tarnished the city’s image and stoked diplomatic outrage.

Chanting “Protect media freedoms” and holding placards that said “Free Press. Not Persecution”, more than a dozen pro-democracy lawmakers staged a walkout from the city’s legislative council.


Reporting by James Pomfret, Clare Jim, Donny Kwok; Editing by Darren Schuettler


See also:

From artificial islands to maternity leave: five things to watch out for in Carrie Lam’s 2018 policy address

Hong Kong leader refuses to explain journalist visa denial

October 9, 2018

Hong Kong’s leader Tuesday refused to say why the city had denied a visa to a leading Financial Times journalist, despite escalating demands for an explanation of the unprecedented challenge to freedom of the press.

Victor Mallet, the FT’s Asia news editor and a British national, angered authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong by hosting a speech at the city’s press club by Andy Chan, the leader of a tiny pro-independence political party, in August.

Chan’s party was later banned as Beijing cracks down on any pro-independence sentiment in the semi-autonomous city.

An application to renew Mallet’s work visa has been refused and on Sunday he was given seven days to leave Hong Kong.

© AFP | Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the decision not to renew Victor Mallet’s work visa was handed down by immigration authorities

Facing questions for the first time since the visa denial emerged last week, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the decision had been handed down by immigration authorities.

She said linking it to the Chan talk was “pure speculation”.

“As a rule — not only locally, but internationally — we will never disclose, the immigration department will not disclose, the individual circumstances of the case or the considerations of this decision,” Lam told reporters.

She refused to directly acknowledge the specifics of the speculation over why Mallet was denied the visa, admitting only that she had “noticed there has been some talk on the street”.

However Lam said the government “will not tolerate any advocacy of Hong Kong independence and things that harm national security, territorial integrity and developmental interests”.

She refused to comment on how Mallet could be linked to any of those potential threats when it was pointed out that he was not an independence advocate but had simply chaired a talk by Chan at the city’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club, which has also hosted talks by Chinese officials.

Asked whether journalists could now be punished for interviewing independence activists or writing about independence, Lam said she could give no guidance but insisted that freedom of reporting and expression were “still core values”.

Britain and the United States have expressed concern over the visa refusal and its impact on press freedom.

On Monday, a group of the city’s most influential lawyers also demanded an explanation, while the American Chamber of Commerce warned that curtailing press freedom could damage the city’s competitiveness.

A journalists’ alliance handed over petitions with more than 15,000 signatures to the government Monday calling for an explanation of its visa rejection.



Financial Times journalist Victor Mallet allowed back into Hong Kong for seven days — “Associated with the wrong people”

October 8, 2018

Mallet returned from Bangkok on Sunday night and was understood to have been questioned at immigration

South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 October, 2018, 12:51pm
UPDATED : Monday, 08 October, 2018, 2:17pm

A British journalist who had his work visa renewal denied by the Hong Kong government was allowed to enter the city for seven days only when he returned on Sunday night, even though tourists can visit for up to six months.

“The Financial Times’ Asia news editor Victor Mallet was permitted entry into Hong Kong on a seven-day visitor visa as he returned from an international trip on October 7. This follows the rejection to renew his routine work visa,” a statement issued on Monday by the newspaper headquartered in London said.

“Immigration officials did not provide an explanation for the shortened visitor visa and we continue to seek clarification from the authorities about the rejection of his work visa renewal.”

Mallet, who was away from Hong Kong last week and returned from Bangkok on Sunday night, was understood to have been questioned at immigration and entered the city as a tourist since his work visa was no longer valid.

Andy Chan, founder of the Hong Kong National Party, (left) talks to Financial Times Asia news editor, Victor Mallet during a lunch at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong. Photo: AP

British tourists are allowed to visit Hong Kong for up to six months without a visa.

Mallet’s visa renewal rejection – which came to light on Friday – was linked to his role as the Foreign Correspondents’ Club’s (FCC) first vice-president, where he chaired a talk by Hong Kong National Party convenor Andy Chan Ho-tin in August despite strong objections from the city’s government and Beijing.

The Post has approached the Immigration Department for comment.

About a dozen representatives from journalist groups – including the Hong Kong Journalists Association and the International Federation of Journalists – held a rally outside government headquarters at Admiralty at 1pm on Monday, urging the government to give a full explanation for the denial of Mallet’s working visa renewal.

Several journalist groups hold a rally outside Hong Kong government headquarters in Admiralty on Monday to call for a full explanation for the refusal to renew a work visa for Financial Times journalist Victor Mallet. Photo: Edward Wong

Asked whether the FCC would change the way it hosted events in the future, the club’s president Florence de Changy said: “I don’t see why.”

De Changy also said she had no concerns regarding her own visa: “I’m not worried, it is useless to be worried.”

Meanwhile, 30 lawyers who represent the legal sector in the Election Committee that picks the city’s chief executive also issued a joint statement on Monday expressing concerns over the rejection of Mallet’s visa renewal.

The group of lawyers, which included Bar Association chairman Philip Dykes and Senior Counsel Edward Chan King-sang, Graham Harris and Alan Leong Kah-kit, said the rejection needed an explanation given its unprecedented nature and profound impact on Hong Kong’s press freedom.

They said the freedom of press was an important facet of the right to freedom of expression and a fundamental right enshrined in Article 16 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights, which mirrors Article 19 of the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Hong Kong’s sole delegate to China’s top legislative body, Tam Yiu-chung, said the government’s refusal of a visa renewal for Financial Times journalist Victor Mallet was reasonable. Photo: Winson Wong

“We urge the Hong Kong government to seriously reconsider the rejection of Victor Mallet’s visa renewal application and, in the unfortunate event the government decides to maintain such rejection, adequate reasons should be given,” the group said.

But Tam Yiu-chung, the city’s sole delegate to China’s top legislative body, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, said it was “reasonable” for the Hong Kong government to deny Mallet’s visa renewal after he hosted the talk featuring Chan.

“If [the refusal] is related to the recent event … the government’s actions are reasonable,” Tam said on Monday. “You have provided a platform for a person who belonged to a party the government was about to ban.”

Tam said the Hong Kong government and China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had called for the club to scrap the lunch talk in advance.

“When people have expressed their opinions and you went ahead [with the talk], what can be done?”

Is this any way to demonstrate the tolerance of Hong Kong as an international city?

Chairman of the Hong Kong Immigration Assistants Union Daniel Lau Yuk-fai said the duration of a visitor permit was subjected to change under immigration control policy.

“[British tourists] can stay for up to six months without a visa in general cases, but the duration can be shortened to two to three days,” Lau said.

He believed the department had questioned Mallet’s identity as a visitor.

“[Mallet’s] application for a working visa was rejected and he was not allowed to work [as a journalist], whether paid or unpaid, under his stay as a visitor,” he said.

Lau said the decision, in most cases, was made by a member of senior management after a dialogue with the person concerned.

A source with direct knowledge of the matter confirmed Mallet had been questioned at immigration when he returned to Hong Kong on Sunday night.

Lawmaker Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, leader of the Civic Party, called it an exceptional arrangement.

“The government first denied his working visa, then drastically shortened his stay from six months to a week … Is this any way to demonstrate the tolerance of Hong Kong as an international city?” he said.

Federation of Hong Kong Industries Suffering “Squeeze” of US-China Trade War

October 4, 2018

Chairman of one of the biggest local business chambers, who recently visited Washington with government delegation, says city ‘already trapped in the middle’

South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 October, 2018, 9:35am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 October, 2018, 10:28am

Hong Kong businesses badly need new markets as the China-US trade war rages on, a business leader has said, urging the government to help them export.

Jimmy Kwok Chun-wah, chairman of one of the city’s largest business chambers, the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, said officials should speed up work on free-trade deals with other countries.

Since firing the first shot in the trade war in July with a series of tariffs, the United States has slapped 10 per cent tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese products. China hit back with a 5 per cent to 10 per cent levy on US$60 billion worth of American goods.

Jimmy Kwok called on the government to hurry up with free-trade deals. Photo: Dickson Lee

Almost half of the Chinese goods shipped via Hong Kong to the US will be affected by the tariffs, according to commerce minister Edward Yau Tang-wah. The US is Hong Kong’s second-largest trade partner.

Trade war aside, Asian manufacturers could find it harder to sell their products in American markets after the US, Mexico and Canada signed a new trade deal on Monday.

“The government should accelerate trade talks or enter interim arrangements for individual sectors to help ease the Hong Kong business sector’s woes,” Kwok said. “[US President Donald] Trump may change his tactics on China at any time, and Hong Kong is already trapped in the middle.”

Kwok, who travelled with Yau last week to Washington in a business delegation sent partly to lobby US officials over the trade war, said: “We expressed clearly to US counterparts that no Hong Kong manufacturers operating in China are able to absorb or share any of the tariffs.”

Yau met US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and other administration officials to discuss the trade war’s collateral damage, and promote business ties with the US.

Kwok said Hong Kong entrepreneurs operating in mainland China could consider circumventing the tariffs by setting up a factory in an industrial estate run by state-owned enterprises along the “Belt and Road Initiative” countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos. The initiative is China’s signature global trade push.

Kwok said the entrepreneurs could export materials from their mainland factories to the new factories in these countries for assembly, and process products for shipment to the US or other markets.

“These new factories can make good use of the supply chain services already put in place by state-owned enterprises,” he said. “For example, if logistics services are unavailable, this will not work.”

A government source said free-trade agreements were among key ways the administration was expanding the reach of Hong Kong businesses, together with creating more offshore trade liaison offices.

In her policy address on October 10, chambers expected Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to shore up Hong Kong businesses with relief for companies reeling from the trade war and fresh measures on IT development.

Hong Kong has signed seven free-trade agreements, the latest with Georgia in June. Others included the deal with the 10-strong Association of Southeast Asian Nations, mainland China and New Zealand.

Negotiations on a deal with Australia officially started in May last year.

Chinese Manufacturers’ Association president Dennis Ng Wang-pun said Hong Kong could consider bringing back some high-end manufacturing, such as jewellery polishing and design, and precision clocks and watches.

Thousands protest in Hong Kong over China suppression

October 1, 2018

Several thousand marched in Hong Kong Monday against suppression by Beijing as fears grow that freedoms in the semi-autonomous city are seriously under threat.

The pro-democracy protest comes a week after Hong Kong banned a pro-independence party on the grounds it was a threat to national security, the first time a political party has been prohibited since the city was handed back to China by Britain in 1997.

The emergence of an independence movement calling for Hong Kong to split from China has incensed Beijing as it emphasises the importance of territorial integrity and has led to a crackdown on political expression.

Leading pro-democracy campaigner Joshua Wong said he feared his party, Demosisto, could be next because it promotes self-determination for Hong Kong.

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Joshua Wong — FILE photo

One high-profile Demosisto candidate was already barred from a recent by-election.

“We need to protect and defend the freedom of association in Hong Kong,” Wong, 21, told AFP at the rally.

The pro-democracy protest is held every October 1, China’s National Day, which marks the communist party’s establishment of the People’s Republic of China.

Hong Kong enjoys rights unseen on the mainland including freedom of speech but there are growing fears those are being eroded.

There are also concerns that the city will introduce a controversial anti-subversion law designed to protect China’s national security and potentially put freedoms at further risk.

– ‘Totalitarian agenda’ –

“They talk about national security, but what about our security? They don’t care about that,” said a 50-year-old office worker who gave her name as Miss Hau.

“Today they say we can’t talk about A, but tomorrow they might say we can’t talk about B, and in the end we won’t be able to talk about anything,” she told AFP.

Other protesters criticised the government’s “totalitarian agenda”.

© AFP | Fears are growing in Hong Kong that freedoms in the semi-autonomous city are under threat

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, appointed by a pro-Beijing committee, said in an official address Monday that Hong Kong must “firmly uphold China’s sovereignty, security and development interests”.

Image result for Carrie Lam, photos

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam

Critics say Hong Kong is being subsumed into mainland China via perks and infrastructure projects designed to blur boundaries.

Last month saw the opening of a multi-billion-dollar high-speed rail link to the mainland, with part of the Hong Kong station coming under Chinese law.

A long-delayed mega-bridge between Hong Kong and southern China is set to open later this month.

But despite many residents’ dissatisfaction with China’s growing influence, the numbers attending the city’s traditional street protests have shrunk since massive 2014 pro-democracy rallies failed to win reform.

Yuet Wong, a 21-year-old student, said there was a sense of powerlessness among young people, particularly after the disqualification of elected pro-democracy legislators, but said she was still motivated to come out.

“Even if we can’t achieve anything immediately, we want to show the government we won’t be compromised and won’t be silent,” she told AFP.


Mainland tourists queue at the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort’s customer service centre in West Kowloon station. Photo: Nora Tam

60,000 visitors from mainland China enter Hong Kong on high-speed rail as MTR Corp chairman Fred Ma predicts people will soon complain station is too small


Why are foreign fugitives seeking shelter in Hong Kong and Macau?

September 4, 2018

Critics say a lack of legal cooperation with other jurisdictions has been laid bare by recent high-profile cases involving those fleeing justice, and some experts believe a lax approach and opaque procedures are there for a reason

South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 September, 2018, 8:02am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 September, 2018, 1:25pm

In terms of attracting eyeballs, it was pure news gold.

Police in the city of Jinhua in Zhejiang province had snared a fugitive from a concert crowd of 50,000, thanks to the wonders of facial recognition technology and artificial intelligence. The snatch job had been carried out at a show by Jacky Cheung Hok-yau, one of the “Four Heavenly Kings” of Hong Kong’s music scene.

The arrest was one of a number in May and June at Cheung’s concerts across the country, and saw social media users dub the singer the “fugitive catcher”.

But the fate awaiting these suspects would be very different had they managed to make their way inside the borders of the country’s two special administrative regions, which are separate jurisdictions. Though their legal systems are much admired, recent events and trends in Hong Kong and Macau surrounding the discovery, capture and return of those on the run have highlighted what appears to be a veil being draped over due process in the handling of foreign criminals.

Police in the mainland Chinese city of Jinhua in Zhejiang province snared a fugitive from a concert crowd of 50,000 at a show by Jacky Cheung Hok-yau, one of the legendary ‘Four Heavenly Kings’ of Hong Kong entertainment. Photo: Xinhua

In the case of Hong Kong particularly, questions have arisen about the workings and number of bilateral agreements with other jurisdictions on the surrender of fugitives and matters of mutual legal assistance.

The number of fugitives from justice either surrendered to or by Hong Kong under international treaties has slumped significantly over the two decades since the city returned to Chinese sovereignty, the Post has found.

Also on the decline since 1997 is the rate and number of agreements that Hong Kong has signed with overseas jurisdictions to formalise international cooperation in the fight against crime. The discoveries are based on publicly available data, as justice officials have refused to disclose full figures despite several requests.

Between 1997 and 2002, 31 fugitives were caught in the city and returned to the country seeking them, according to official data. Over the same period, 12 fugitives from Hong Kong justice were returned after being caught in foreign jurisdictions.

However, over the nine-year period between 2008 and last year, the equivalent figures were 23 and 11 – a definitive drop.

Also revealed – using fresh official statistics and publicly available historical data – was that from 1997 to 2002, Hong Kong signed deals on fugitive surrender and mutual legal assistance with 19 foreign jurisdictions. But over the 15-year period between 2002 and 2017, only 29 deals were inked, the last being with the Czech Republic in February 2015.

The number of fugitives from justice either surrendered to or by Hong Kong under international treaties has slumped significantly over the two decades since the city returned to Chinese sovereignty, the Post has found. Photo: Sam Tsang

The Department of Justice did not explain specifically the reasons for the drop in figures.

But this comes amid concerns that both Hong Kong and Macau are relying more heavily on opaque and informal “arrangements” when dealing with the pursuit of fugitives and administration of international justice.

The slowdown in cooperation has raised concerns that both cities could become de facto “holding centres” for international and mainland fugitives, as Beijing tries to chart a course through the murky waters of global corruption, crime and money laundering without endangering its national interests.

Fu said this trend partly reflected Beijing’s “very informal” practice in such matters and highlighted the issue of “invisible hands”.

“It is difficult to know for sure because of the opaque nature of these things. China relies on informality and forms of persuasion, and the question is, is this having an impact on the SAR?” Fu said.

“On the face of it – notwithstanding that we do not have all the information – it would appear that there has been an effect, and this should serve as an alert to Hong Kong society and its legal community.”

Lingering murkiness and concern characterised the much publicised 2015 case of five Hong Kong booksellers who went missing and later surfaced on the mainland. They had published books specialising in salacious gossip about state leaders.

The equally mysterious spiriting across the border of billionaire mainland businessman and power broker Xiao Jianhua from his luxury Hong Kong hotel early last year aroused similar concern.

Another equally opaque case involved Hong Iat, a fugitive computer hacker wanted by the United States. Claims by the US government that Hong Kong had surrendered Hong – a Macau resident – to mainland authorities last year on the orders of Beijing forced Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to deny that the city had ever handed a fugitive to the mainland.

Many problems surrounding the vague or malleable procedures on extradition lie in an unprecedented act of compromise by China when it regained sovereignty over Hong Kong and Macau in 1997 and 1999 respectively.

Agreements struck with former colonial powers Britain and Portugal gave Beijing control over all defence and foreign affairs matters, but allowed, chiefly in Hong Kong’s case, for the cities to continue making deals and agreements with foreign governments. However, Beijing has the final say.

The mysterious spiriting across the border of billionaire mainland businessman and power broker ­Xiao Jianhua from his luxury Hong Kong hotel early last year aroused concern. Photo: Handout

Hong Kong’s Department of Justice declined to fully disclose the precise number of fugitives surrendered by or to Hong Kong since 1997. It only provided total numbers from 2008 onwards. Those figures tell only half the story. Making the information public would be inappropriate, the department said.

“So far, Hong Kong has signed surrender of fugitive offenders agreements with 20 jurisdictions, and mutual legal assistance agreements (MLA) with 32 jurisdictions,” a spokesman said.

In the past 10 years, the city has made 24 requests to other jurisdictions and received 66. Some 2,475 MLA requests have come from overseas, and 153 MLA requests have been made.

Mutual legal assistance agreements can cover anything from the simple gathering of evidence in Hong Kong to an actual surrender of a wanted person.

But none of those formal agreements relates to Macau, and attempts to reach a deal with the casino hub have failed. Macau has MLA agreements with several countries, but none allows for the surrender of fugitives.

According to legal experts and law enforcement insiders, the “opaque” role both Hong Kong and Macau provide for Beijing comes into its own at a time of heightened tensions with the US over trade and a host of strategic military and political issues.

Professor Simon Young, an associate dean in research at HKU’s law faculty, said: “With the absence of formal arrangements on criminal matters – especially at a time of such global uncertainty and change when I think we can see China keen to exert control over its nationals and on anything which might compromise their wider strategic interests – the two SARs give China a ‘grey’ area in which to operate.”

Macau academic Jorge Menezes said: “Politically motivated crimes are an obvious matter of concern when one discusses surrendering ‘fugitive offenders’. Mutual legal assistance agreements have implicit in them an idea of global standards that may not easily apply to nationalistic approaches to criminal repression.”

According to a 30-year barrister of Hong Kong criminal law, who requested anonymity, this political dimension to the legal procedures was inescapable.

“Hong Kong has a good reputation for surrendering persons, except those that Beijing has an interest in not being surrendered. In every fugitive offender’s case, the central authorities have the final say,” he said.

But he believed a formal surrender arrangement between Hong Kong and the mainland was not politically feasible.

“People have no trust in the mainland legal system,” he said.

“However, there are ‘irregular’ surrender mechanisms in place whereby mainland authorities can bring someone of interest from Hong Kong to the mainland. I know from a reliable source in the Hong Kong police force that there are many cases of this kind.”

He believed there was a good reason Macau did not have fugitive arrangements.

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“It provides a ‘safe haven’ for absconding Chinese who have Beijing’s approval. And if the mainland wanted a person who had absconded to Macau, then they have the means.”

As a self-proclaimed “international city”, Hong Kong should have a broad network of arrangements in place with other jurisdictions, the barrister added, but instead the city was used by global fraudsters and money launderers.

“Considering that it has been over 20 years since the handover, Hong Kong does not have that many arrangements. Yet it says it is an international city.”

Hong Kong independence activist attacks Beijing at press club talk

August 14, 2018

Hong Kong independence activist Andy Chan attacked China as an empire trying to “annex” and “destroy” the city in a no-holds barred speech Tuesday at the city’s press club which Beijing wanted cancelled.

In comments that will incense Chinese authorities, Chan, who leads the tiny Hong Kong National Party, said Beijing was semi-autonomous Hong Kong’s “colonial master”.

“We are a nation that is quickly being annexed and destroyed by China,” Chan told a packed Foreign Correspondents’ Club.

He said he had been under increased “surveillance” by groups of people he did not know, who had been following him and knocking on his family’s door to take pictures of them in the lead-up to the speech.

Hong Kong enjoys freedom of speech and assembly unseen on the mainland under a handover agreement between Britain and China.

© AFP | The pro-Beijing groups gathered outside waved China’s national flag, chanting “Get out of Hong Kong! We Chinese people don’t welcome you!”, describing the FCC as “thieves”

But Beijing has become increasingly intolerant of any mention of independence for Hong Kong as President Xi Jinping emphasises territorial integrity as key to China’s resurgence.

Rival protesters gathered outside the FCC, with pro-independence activists clashing with police, saying they had been given no space for their rally, while dozens of pro-Beijing supporters chanted slogans including “Gas the spies!”

The lunch address — entitled “Hong Kong Nationalism: A Politically Incorrect Guide to Hong Kong under Chinese Rule” — drew objections from China’s foreign ministry and Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam, as fears grow that freedom of speech in the semi-autonomous city is increasingly under attack.

The club stood by its decision to go ahead with the event, saying the views of different sides in any debate must be heard.

Chan called on Britain and the United States to help Hong Kong and said Taiwan was an inspiration for his party as it had gone from a dictatorship to a democracy.

China still sees self-ruling Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, using force if necessary.

Ahead of Chan’s talk China’s foreign ministry had said: “We resolutely oppose any external forces providing a platform for ‘Hong Kong independence’ elements to spread fallacies.”

– Party ban –

The Hong Kong government said Tuesday that while it backs freedom of the speech and the press, it “deeply regrets” the event since advocating independence contravened the city’s Basic Law, or mini-constitution.

“It is totally inappropriate and unacceptable for any person to openly promote and advocate the independence of Hong Kong,” a spokesman said.

“As such, it is also totally inappropriate and unacceptable for any organisation to provide a public platform to espouse such views.”

Chants from protesters outside could be heard throughout Chan’s address.

A small group called the Students Independence Union turned out in support of Chan, waving independence banners outside the club in Hong Kong’s Central district.

Other pro-democracy protesters said they did not support independence but were supporting Hong Kong’s right to freedom of the press and freedom of speech.

The pro-Beijing groups gathered outside waved China’s national flag, chanting “Get out of Hong Kong! We Chinese people don’t welcome you!”, describing the FCC as “thieves” and demanding the government “take back” the colonial-era FCC building it leases to the club.

Chan’s Hong Kong National Party is facing a ban from city authorities who say it is a threat to public security despite having only a dozen core members.

It is the first time such a ban has been sought since Britain handed over Hong Kong in 1997.

Asked about whether Chan agrees with calls from some in the independence movement for radical action, Chan said he “condemned violence”.

Calls for the city’s independence have infuriated Beijing even though they attract little support.

Chan was banned from standing for office in 2016.

His talk was part of the FCC’s “club lunch” tradition which has seen an array of speakers, including Chinese officials, speak to members and the media.


Hong Kong press club pressured by China to cancel talk — “Most feared man in China” will not be allowed to talk

August 5, 2018


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Hong Kong’s leader joined mainland China Sunday in urging the city’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club to cancel a planned speech by a Hong Kong independence advocate whose party is threatened with a ban.

“We respect the international media and respect the Foreign Correspondents’ Club’s activities in Hong Kong,” said Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, expressing “regret” at the planned event.

“I hope our friends in the FCC will also respect that the Hong Kong SAR is an inseparable part of the People’s Republic of China,” she said, noting that its historic club building was government-owned.

Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Special Administrative Region of China, enjoys freedoms unseen on the mainland under a handover agreement signed by Britain and China.

But concern is growing that these freedoms including freedom of speech are being eroded by an increasingly assertive China.

The FCC is due to host a talk by Andy Chan, convenor of the tiny pro-independence Hong Kong National Party, on August 14. Authorities formally applied last month to ban the party.

It was the first time such a ban has been sought since Britain handed over Hong Kong in 1997 and was the latest move to stifle calls for the city’s independence, which have infuriated China even though they attract little support.

– Freedom of speech –

China’s foreign ministry recently requested a meeting with the FCC and asked for the event with Chan to be cancelled, a source told AFP.

In a statement issued Friday the ministry said: “We resolutely oppose any external forces providing a platform for ‘Hong Kong independence’ elements to spread fallacies.”

The talk is part of a “club lunch” tradition which has seen an array of speakers, including Chinese officials, speak to members and the media.

The club said it had no plans to scrap Chan’s talk.

“We stand for freedom of the press, we stand for freedom of information… we are very keen to hear everybody speak from all sides of the political debate,” FCC vice president Victor Mallet told AFP.

“We of course have often had Chinese officials and others making their case at the club, but also their opponents. And this applies to every country, not just China,” Mallet added.

Hong Kong’s former leader Leung Chun-ying — whose administration faced down major youth-led democracy protests in 2014 — weighed in on Facebook, saying that discussion of Hong Kong independence “is an absolute and clear red line”.

In a separate post addressed to Mallet, Leung wrote: “We ought to be gravely concerned if this is the policy of your Club because before long you will invite advocates for Taiwan independence to speak publicly at your Club.”

Perched on the slopes of downtown Central and housed in a colonial-era building, the FCC has served as a venue for debates and media gatherings since its arrival in the city in 1949.

Hong Kong police last month sought to ban Chna’s party — which promotes the city’s independence from China but only has a core membership of around a dozen people — citing it as a national security threat.

The city’s security chief had said he was considering the police’s request while the party was given a few weeks to make representations.


See also:

Beijing tells Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club to call off talk by separatist party leader Andy Chan Ho-tin

Hong Kong’s July 1 march kicks off, with controversy over police orders

July 1, 2018

Civil Human Rights Front, which organises annual demonstration, expects about 60,000 people to turn up for event marking 21st anniversary of city’s return to Chinese rule

South China Morning Post
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 July, 2018, 4:07pm

Roads were closed on Sunday around Hong Kong’s Victoria Park as demonstrators started to stream into Causeway Bay for the annual July 1 pro-democracy march, set to start from the park at 3pm in uncomfortable proximity to an outdoor celebration organised by a pro-China group to mark the 21st anniversary of the city’s handover from British to Chinese rule.

Organised by the Civil Human Rights Front – an umbrella group of some 50 pro-democracy groups – the march is both a protest against Chinese power and a show of support for democracy. This year, the theme is “End one-party dictatorship, reject the fall of Hong Kong”.

The starting point of the march has been a matter of contention this year. Police ordered the march to begin on the central lawn of the park. But the front, which had planned to start the march from East Point Road, opposed that plan, saying participants could clash with the pro-Beijing group using the six soccer pitches at the same time.

The front appealed but lost. It remained defiant and insisted that some of its core member groups would start the march from elsewhere and join the procession midway, although it would officially begin the march from the central lawn, following police orders.

Police warned that anyone ignoring force orders could be arrested for unlawful assembly.

The front said it expected turnout to be more or less the same as last year’s 60,000. Police estimated the turnout was 14,000 last year, a 14-year low.

A protester holds a placard which reads: “End one-party rule”. Photo: Sam Tsang

3.30pm – ‘What is the point of having a Legislative Council?’

Shortly before the procession started, middle-aged marcher Winnie Chan said she joins almost every year.

“I am especially angry this year. Look at how the Legislative Council has turned!” she said, referring to the spate of lawmakers being disqualified and activists being barred from running in elections, as well as Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen’s controversial handling of the bill for joint border checkpoints on the cross-border high-speed rail line.

Winnie Chan said she attends the march almost every year. Photo: Kimmy Chung

“What is the point of having a Legislative Council?” she asked, saying the chamber’s monitoring function had been lost. She said Carrie Lam had to take responsibility for that, and accused her of continuing the political aims of her predecessor Leung Chun-ying.

“We’re here to fight for the younger generation,” said Liao Xiu-Ying, a 74-year-old retiree holding a fan with the slogan “We want universal suffrage”. She said she had been at the march every year since 1997.

“Oppression is mounting from the Communist Party, but if we have the ability, we should continue to fight,” she said.

“Oppression is mounting from the Communist Party, but if we have the ability, we should continue to fight.”: Liao Xiu-Ying. Photo: Martin Choi

3.15pm – Protesters following orders, so far

Dozens of police officers were seen patrolling East Point Road and Great George Street, near where they specifically told protesters not to assemble. No protesters were seen gathering there, after the rally organiser told the public not to, for fear of clashes.

Multiple groups set up booths on Great George Street to seek donations from the public, including People Power, Demosisto, and the League of Social Democrats. Ousted lawmaker Lau Siu-lai – “actively considering” running in the Legislative Council by-election for the Kowloon West seat in November – was also seen seeking donations.

“We don’t fear Ko Wing-man,” Lau said, referring to speculation that the former health minister could run in Kowloon West for the pro-establishment camp.

The march has officially begun, with about 400 people setting off from the park’s central lawn, the police-sanctioned starting point.

As they did, they brandished a yellow banner protesting the police arrangement.

“Protest against the ridiculous starting point arrangement. Citizens have the right to join in safety,” the banner read.

“No guilt in joining midway. Shameful police,” they chanted, referring to protesters who intended to join the march further along the route.

The march officially started at 3pm, about 400 people setting off from Victoria Park’s central lawn. Photo: Winson Wong

3.00pm – ‘Society has made our teenagers think it’s not important; obey the Chinese government’

Taylor Lam, an 18-year-old who just completed the DSE exam, was at the march on his own. He was dismayed by what he saw as political apathy and an influx of mainland Chinese migrants.

“[My classmates] don’t have much interest in politics,” he said. “I think society has made our teenagers think it’s not important; obey the Chinese government. They only focus on studies, find a good job and income.

“First people don’t care about it, then our rights will easily be taken by the Chinese government. We’ll have no bargaining power on any policies. There are lots of new immigrants from China who apply for public housing. Even our locals don’t have enough space to live.”