Posts Tagged ‘Hong Kong protesters’

Hong Kong: Declaration document saying Hong Kong is an “inalienable” part of China is unnecessary, illegal and wrong

August 2, 2016

Sherif Elgebeily says the Electoral Affairs Commission runs the risk of being seen as suppressing dissent with its decision to bar a localist candidate from running

COMMENTARY/Opinion

By Sherif Elgebeily
South China Morning Post
 

Last weekend, the Electoral Affairs Commission decided to invalidate the candidacy of Hong Kong National Party member Chan Ho-tin for the upcoming Legislative Council election. The exact reasons behind this are unclear, but other candidates who also refused to sign a newly imposed declaration form have yet to receive notice on the validity of their candidacies, fuelling concern.

The pledge to uphold the Basic Law is a fundamental part of the eligibility for candidacy, as outlined on the nomination form; it is for this reason that the ineligibility of Democratic Progressive Party of Hong Kong’s Yeung Ke-cheong – who refused to sign the nomination form itself – is legally valid.

Should Chan have been disqualified?

On one level, the additional declaration form is obsolete, as it simply duplicates existing obligations. Worse, it also appears to contravene both the rule of law in Hong Kong and the Basic Law in its effect.

First, there is no legal basis for the demand of an additional form, and the invalidation of candidacy on these grounds is beyond the powers of the commission. Any reference to such a form is absent in the law governing the election procedure; moreover, an exhaustive list of requirements for nomination is provided for under Section 40 of the Legislative Council Ordinance. Any legally enforceable declaration or criteria for the nomination of individuals would require amendments of the existing law, a path which has not been followed.

The commission has no absolute power to create new law

The commission has no absolute power to create new law. The form is also undermined by the commission’s own guidelines, which make mention of five explicit criteria for eligibility of nomination. They do not include the submission of a declaration form. These paradoxes raise alarm over the rule of law in Hong Kong, notably the separation of powers between government bodies and the supremacy of the law in an administrative context.

Second, in disqualifying candidates who are seen to advocate independence, on the grounds of failure to complete the declaration form, the commission has barred popularly supported candidates from representing their supporters. This infringes not only the rights of Hong Kong citizens to be elected, but also that of all citizens to elect their own representatives, and amounts to a violation of Article 26 of the Basic Law. To do so on the grounds of political belief also falls foul of articles 27 and 32 on free speech and the freedom of conscience. It is at best contradictory for the commission to disqualify candidates on the grounds of undermining the Basic Law while violating that document in doing so.

 Edward Leung speaks to the press last month. Leung received votes from some 66,000 Hong Kong people in the New Territories East by-election this year. Photo: AFP

Chan’s disqualification reflects a worrying trend of the regulation of Legco members. By eliminating voices of dissent at the ballot-paper stage, the authorities appear to be telling selected political groups that their opinions are either not welcome or not legitimate.

This rigid stance defies reality in today’s Hong Kong. Not all localist groups can be labelled anomalies. This year, for example, Hong Kong Indigenous’ Edward Leung Tin-kei won nearly 16 per cent of the vote in the New Territories East – over 66,000 voters in real terms. These citizens deserve to be heard.

Perhaps more importantly, voting patterns show that first-time and younger voters have been decidedly more involved in the election process, not only through casting ballots but also standing themselves. A new generation – those born after the handover – have reached voting age, and they care more about the status of Hong Kong and the full realisation of Basic Law freedoms than they do about the platforms that have traditionally formed political manifestos and campaigns. The government has a duty to engage with this demographic.

In essence, the decision to invalidate Legco candidacies over political stances is tantamount to the invalidation of the legitimacy of the voice of the youth today. From both a legal and political standpoint, the declaration form was unnecessary, illegal and threatens the future of the rule of law in Hong Kong.

Sherif Elgebeily (@selgebeily) is Bingham Centre International Rule of Law Visiting Fellow 2016, and a lecturer with the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law

The Bingham Centre is a part of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law

Hong Kong: Pro-China Election Rules Changes Again Bring Out The Protesters

August 2, 2016
.
Anyone running for the legislature must sign a document pledging to support the notion that Hong Kong is an “inalienable” part of China — If you don’t sign, you cannot be part of the election….
By Reuters
Tuesday, 2 August 2016 14:53 GMT

* Candidates must sign form rejecting independence stance

* Opponents say that is assault on democracy

* Four candidates disqualified so far

By Tyrone Siu

HONG KONG, Aug 2 (Reuters) – Dozens of masked demonstrators tried to force their way into an electoral meeting in Hong Kong on Tuesday to protest against a new bar on anyone running for the legislature who refuses to declare the territory an “inalienable” part of China.

They were among hundreds of protesters gathered outside the meeting, a briefing for prospective parliamentarians, shouting for Hong Kong’s independence.

Inside the venue, some candidates who had been approved to run for election protested the decision to disqualify others.

Members of the League of Social Democrats and People Power tried several times to charge the stage and take the microphone before being pushed back by security, forcing the meeting to be suspended at least three times.

Politicians from other pro-democracy parties chanted: “No more political elimination!” and “Defend a fair election!”

The Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) said last month that potential candidates for the September Legislative Council election must sign an additional “confirmation form” declaring Hong Kong an inalienable part of China and acknowledging that advocating independence could disqualify them from the election.

Hong Kong has greater freedoms than mainland China and separate laws that were guaranteed for 50 years as part of a “one country, two systems” framework negotiated with the British when they handed back their former colony.

But there has been political unrest in recent years centring on Beijing’s refusal to allow fully democratic elections and its perceived meddling in the special administrative region.

Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong came out in support of the EAC’s new form while three Hong Kong politicians filed a request for an urgent judicial review.

So far the EAC has rejected four candidates. Activists have posted personal attacks on some of the EAC officers responsible for the decision, actions that the Hong Kong government has condemned.

Edward Leung Tin-kei, who was rejected as a candidate by the EAC on Tuesday, responded by saying the city was ruled by a “dictatorship”, local broadcaster RTHK reported.

Leung, a leader of the group Hong Kong Indigenous was one of the first street activists to move into mainstream politics when he won an unexpected 15 percent of the vote in a February legislative by-election.

He had signed the EAC’s confirmation form, saying his top priority was to get elected. (Writing by Clare Baldwin; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Related:

Joshua Wong, Other Pro-democracy Advocates, Acquitted by Hong Kong Court

June 7, 2016

Court says officers were merely inconvenienced, not obstructed in legal sense

By Jasmine Siu
South China Morning Post
June 7, 2016

Demosisto secretary general Joshua Wong Chi-fung was told to reflect on his behaviour at a protest outside Beijing’s liaison office in June 2014 as a magistrate acquitted him and three others of police obstruction charges.

The Eastern Court case centred on the burning of a prop of Beijing’s white paper – addressing the extent of Hong Kong’s autonomy – outside the central government’s liaison office in the city’s Western district on June 11, 2014.

Four men were arrested 13 months later for allegedly obstructing police: League of Social Democrats vice-chairman Raphael Wong Ho-ming, 27; radical lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip, 61; Demosisto chairman Nathan Law Kwun-chung, 23; and Joshua Wong, 19. All four earlier denied the charges.

Magistrate Lee Siu-ho said the court respected the public’s right to expression and protest, but pointed out that such rights are not absolute as public safety must also be considered.

Joshua Wong outside Eastern Court this week. Photo by Felix Wong, SCMP

He ruled that Raphael Wong and Chan had obstructed police duties when they pushed aside plainclothes sergeant Ho Kwok-chu, who was trying to put out the fire, and also found Joshua Wong had blocked Ho’s passage and seized the water bottle of another plainclothes sergeant, Lai Kin-man.

But he sided with defence in concluding that their acts did not amount to an obstruction in the legal sense as the two police officers concerned were merely inconvenienced in the execution of their duties.

Still, he asked Joshua Wong to reflect on the incident, after pointing out that the student activist did seize a police officer’s water bottle and intentionally dump it on the ground when he could have simply handed it over.

Their brief encounter eventually drew an angry crowd of protesters, with some hurling verbal abuse at Lai.

The magistrate said it was not Joshua Wong’s fault that the crowd jeered at Lai and prevented him from continuing his duties. But Lee said he must speak for the officer because he was only executing his duty to ensure public safety, but was branded a Communist Party member and mainland security personnel by protesters on site.

Supporters of the four clapped in the public gallery as soon as the full verdict was heard, with a male voice cheering “yeah” before the magistrate asked the court to quiet down.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-crime/article/1967994/joshua-wong-acquitted-judge-tells-activist-reflect-his

Related:

Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Protests One Year On — China Refuses To Move — Many Protesters Say “It Will Flare Up Again. We Want Our Freedom”

September 28, 2015

.

By Kristie Lu Stout, CNN

(CNN) It was an unexpected outburst of violence that shocked Hong Kong and the world.

One year ago on Monday, police in riot gear moved in on peaceful pro-democracy protesters, using tear gas to disperse the crowds.

From these clashes emerged the “Umbrella Movement,” named for the umbrellas the protesters used to shield themselves from the tear gas and pepper spray.

For 79 days, thousands of protesters occupied Hong Kong’s financial district and elsewhere to demand true universal suffrage — one person, one vote, without the interference of Beijing.

It was the biggest political challenge to Beijing since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. But after all the passion and the protest, what has the Umbrella Movement actually achieved?

After public opinion turned, the demonstrators were cleared off the streets.

A pro-democracy protester pleads with police not to use force in Hing Kong’s Mongkok section. (AFP by Anthony Wallace)

Hong Kong’s embattled leader, C.Y. Leung, remains in charge.

And while Democrats rejected a Beijing-backed proposal for limited democracy, the “no” vote maintained the status quo.

Where are the protesters now?

The Umbrella Movement’s call for democracy was ultimately denied, and yet student protest leaders still believe it was not all for nothing.

“When I look back in the past year, I am not pessimistic nor do I feel bad about it when I see how things have calmed down,” says student protest leader Nathan Law.

“I think everyone is preparing, waiting for the right reasons to take to the streets again.”

In the early days of the Umbrella Movement, university student Glacier Kwong posted an online appeal to “Please Help Hong Kong.” The clip quickly went viral, posting over a million views.

Like Law, she too refuses to put her activism on hold.


A protester receives help after being pepper sprayed during a confrontation with the police, following a rally for the “Occupy Central” civil disobedience movement in Hong Kong September 27, 2014. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

“I am still fighting for universal suffrage,” says Kwong. “I’m also focusing on Internet issues like the ‘right to be forgotten’ and the ordinance used by police to crack down on people using the Internet to organize protests.”

Joshua Wong, the teenage face of the pro-democracy movement, has shifted his focus to 2047, when Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous status expires, leaving its future an open question.

Last week, Wong took his message beyond Hong Kong to Washington D.C. while Chinese President Xi Jinping was visiting the White House.

 
Protesters hold up a yellow umbrella and banners demanding true universal suffrage in Mong Kok. Photo by Chris Lau, SCMP.

Protesters are fighting charges

Since the handover from Britain in 1997, Hong Kong has been governed under China’s principle of “one country, two systems” — giving it rights and freedom unseen in the mainland.

Over the years, Hong Kong protesters have been exercising those rights, successfully challenging a proposed introduction of “patriotic” education in the local curriculum.

After last year’s failed demonstrations for true universal suffrage, most of the protesters returned to their classes or jobs. But life is not the same for many of them.

Protest leaders, including Joshua Wong and Nathan Law, are involved in legal proceedings on charges of unlawful assembly.

There are also growing concerns that Beijing is increasingly asserting its authority over Hong Kong, and many young activists dare not travel into mainland China.

READ: Malaysia bars entry to prominent Hong Kong democracy activists

Some have taken up other causes

Despite the pressure and scrutiny, Hong Kong’s student protesters say they are still pushing for change, but in different areas.

A Hong Kong policeman raises a baton to warn off protesters. Photo by Chris Lau for SCMP

“Once academic freedom is jeopardized, political power can control our thoughts and it will be very hard to fight for democracy at that point — so we are working on fighting for academic freedom,” said Law.

While Law focuses on maintaining academic freedom, and Kwong directs her efforts toward Internet activism, other student protesters are pursuing additional causes.

“The protest groups did split up a bit, but some are now focusing on more local problems like parallel trading,” said Kwong, referring to Chinese traders who cross into Hong Kong for cheaper goods.

Democracy remains elusive in this Chinese city, but the Umbrella Movement did at least achieve one thing.

Read the rest: Includes over 140 photos and videos

http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/27/asia/hong-kong-protests-one-year-later/

*******************************

One year on from the pro-democracy protests that brought Hong Kong to a standstill, organisers admit that China’s Communist leadership shows no sign of budging on reform, but a spark could reignite the movement.

Universal suffrage, under the International Covenant, means that there are express rights to elect or be elected. There is no express right to nominate.

Chairman of the Basic Law Institute and pro-Beijing Hong Kong barrister, Alan Hoo

Traffic has returned to key roads in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mongkok once occupied by tens of thousands of people for 79 days, calling for fully free elections.

Frustration stalks the so-called umbrella movement, a loose collective that took to the streets after Beijing said it alone would choose candidates standing for Hong Kong’s chief executive in 2017.

But protest leaders Joshua Wong and Benny Tai agree that political awareness among the young generation was the movement’s biggest achievement.

“It looks like Beijing won, but the cost was that you have a much more politically engaged population, which is not at all what they wanted,” Hong Kong University assistant professor Yvonne Chiu said.

Monday September 28 marks the day when Occupy Central was launched following more than a week of student protests, but Hong Kong’s dreams of universal suffrage goes much further back.

See the timeline of events for Hong Kong starting with 1984:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-28/timeline-hong-kong-umbrella-movement-one-year-on/6802388

A man in Hong Kong places flowers at the statue called the “Pillar of Shame” — a memorial to those killed at the Tiananmen Square student protest

Hong Kong protesters shout ‘breast is not a weapon’ as they gather at police headquarters

August 2, 2015

By Timmy Sung
South China Morning Post

Not holding placards – but bras – some 200 protesters rallied outside the police headquarters in Wan Chai this morning against the conviction of a woman who was earlier jailed for three and a half months for assaulting an officer with her breast.

Protesters feared the conviction could deter women from joining future social movements because of concerns that police would charge them with assault whenever there is bodily contact during a demonstration.

Ng Lai-ying and three other defendants who took part in a protest against cross-border traders in March were granted bail last Thursday pending an appeal, as the police started to investigate allegations that the magistrate who convicted them had been threatened.

Deputy magistrate Michael Chan Pik-kiu said although the police inspector assaulted by Ng had not suffered any injury, Ng’s attempt to accuse the inspector of molesting her made her case serious.

“Breast is not a weapon,” the protesters chanted while holding actual bras and pictures of the underwear amid a heavy police presence.

A prop with a pertinent message is placed close to police officers.

The rally organiser, called Breast Walk, said it felt “helpless” over the conviction as it was “ridiculous” for the police to turn a deaf ear to Ng’s claim that she was molested by an inspector during the protest.

“It is very shocking and regrettable that a woman’s allegation that she has been molested is turned into her causing chaos. It would deter women from taking part in social movements and deprive them of the right to participate in political activities,” said Luk Kit-ling, a spokesman for the group.

Regardless of whether they were male or female, some demonstrators wore bras on their chest to show support for Ng. They included social worker Jordi Tsang Sing-cheung, who said: “The way I dress today looks quite ugly as a male, but it is not as ugly as the judgment, which is like calling a deer a horse.” Ng was wearing a bra made of coconuts.

Before the rally began, police raised a yellow banner warning protesters it was an unlawful assembly and they could be prosecuted. But the warning was ignored. The protesters left peacefully after handing a petition to a police representative.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-crime/article/1845867/hong-kong-protesters-shout-breast-not-weapon-they-gather

Related:

Protesters in bras demonstrate outside police headquarters in Hong Kong on August 2, 2015 in support of a woman who was sentenced to jail for assaulting a police officer with her breast (AFP Photo/Philippe Lopez)

Protesters in bras demonstrate outside police headquarters in Hong Kong on August 2, 2015 in support of a woman who was sentenced to jail for assaulting a police officer with her breast (AFP Photo/Philippe Lopez)

.

Capitalism Meets Communism: Red Chinese New Year Envelopes Get a Yellow Umbrella Makeover in Hong Kong

February 11, 2015

.

By Oiwan Lam

A set of yellow umbrella red envelopes distributed by Um dot dot dot.

A set of yellow umbrella red envelopes distributed by Um dot dot dot.

The Lunar Chinese New Year is approaching, and that means people in Hong Kong will soon be blessing the elderly and children in their families by giving them special red envelopes.

The red envelopes, which contain money, are traditionally printed with seasonal greetings and well wishes, such as “prosperity like the blossoming flowers”, “good fortune in New Year”, “good health”, and “progress in studies”.

This year, a new envelope design features yellow umbrellas, reflecting some Hong Kongers’ New Year’s wish for genuine democracy in their city.

The pro-democracy movement demanding that the Beijing and Hong Kong governments allow citizens to nominate the candidates for the city’s top leaders did not end in December when police cleared the sit-in sites, where activists had camped out for three months. Supporters of the Umbrella Revolution — so called for protesters who used umbrellas to protect themselves from police tear gas and pepper spray — have carried on using a variety of strategies, such as participating in “shopping protests“, creating street art and hosting community education initiatives.

The umbrella-themed red envelopes are part of a fundraising project from Facebook community “Um dot dot dot“, a volunteer group that aims to keep the movement going by raising the political awareness of grassroots communities.

The top of the red envelopes read, “I want genuine blessed red envelopes and won’t pocket the empty ones”, “Love Hong Kong, we are Hong Kongers” and “Hong Kongers, keep going”. The first sentence is a reference to government propaganda that urges Hong Kong people to pocket its political reform package, which allows for a direct vote of the city’s chief executive for the first time, but doesn’t allow for citizens to choose the candidates.

https://globalvoicesonline.org/2015/02/10/red-chinese-new-year-envelopes-get-a-yellow-umbrella-makeover-in-hong-kong/

Take a closer look at the design of the envelopes below:

The envelope cover says: I want genuine blessed red envelopes and won't pocket the empty ones.

“I want genuine blessed red envelopes and won’t pocket the empty ones.”

"I want genuine blessed red envelope."

“I want a genuine blessed red envelope.”

"Love HK CUZ We're HongKongers."

“Love HK cuz we’re Hong Kongers.”

"HongKongers keep going. I want genuine blessed red envelope."

“Hong Kongers, keep going. I want a genuine blessed red envelope.”

"Love Hong Kong CUZ we are KongKongers."

“Love Hong Kong cuz we are Hong Kongers.”

Related:

Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Protesters Go Shopping — Annoying to Mainlanders and Hong Kong Police, The Message Spreads

February 11, 2015

.

Pro-democracy protesters hold up yellow umbrellas, a symbol of the Occupy Central civil disobedience movement, at Victoria Park near Causeway Bay shopping district in Hong Kong December 13, 2014. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) - RTR4HVDM

A new kind of shopping trip. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)

 

By

(Bloomberg) — Shoppers of the world, unite!

In a novel twist to influencing politics through commerce, Hong Kong protesters are going shopping to spread their pro-democracy message. Carrying the bright yellow umbrellas symbolic of the movement, they are marching through shops and driving away tourists.

“It’s part of the civil disobedience philosophy of taking resistance to everyday life,” said Sebastian Veg, director of the French Center for Research on Contemporary China in Hong Kong. “You don’t have to be camping out in front of a government office, but if you have an hour after you leave work you can set up a shopping group, chant or sing for universal suffrage and make life hard for the police.”

The shopping tours are an attempt to keep alive the debate over greater rights for the city’s leadership election in 2017, after 11 weeks of student-led rallies ended without winning concessions from China. As Hong Kong prepares for the influx of Chinese tourists coming for the Lunar New Year holiday next week, the protests may curb sales at retailers already smarting from falling revenue in December.

Annual retail sales in Hong Kong declined last year for the first time since 2003 as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s campaign against corruption and extravagance crimped spending. Luxury goods were especially hard hit, with sales slumping 16.3 percent in December. The holidays this year start on Feb. 18.

Mainland Tourists

The holidays typically see an influx of mainland tourists, who last year bumped up retail sales by one third, according to David O’Rear, chief economist for the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce. Last year, the city was the most popular destination for Chinese tourists with 47.2 million visitors, though the pro-democracy movement that occupied parts of downtown cast a shadow.

“Hong Kong will pay a heavy price,” unless it does more to cater to mainlanders who are increasingly headed to other destinations for shopping and sightseeing, warned a Jan. 26 editorial in the Global Times, a newspaper owned by the Communist Party-affiliated People’s Daily.

Protesters had occupied swathes of Hong Kong last quarter to demand that China lift a demand to screen candidates for the 2017 chief executive election. After the police evicted them from the streets in December, some of the activists decided to take to the shops.

Nearly every night, anywhere from a handful to a few dozen activists can be spotted holding yellow umbrellas in shopping districts including Mong Kok.

Executive Appeal

They were partly inspired by Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s appeal to help retailers affected by the protests by going shopping, said Amos Ho, a 37-year-old clerk at a power company, who joined some of the tours.

The other inspiration came from an earlier televised interview of a Chinese tourist at the protest zone who when asked why she was there said she was shopping, said Veg. Her mispronunciation of the Cantonese phrase for shopping was then picked up by pun-loving Internet users who transcribed it with a vulgar term referring to the male anatomy.

The protest are loosely organized via social media or fliers on the street.

“Actually this shopping protest is very funny,” Ho said.

For many, though, shopping is serious in Hong Kong. Society pages feature as many red carpet store openings as charity balls. Hong Kong is the world’s biggest importer of Swiss watches. Fully 8 percent of the luxury goods sold by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA are paid for in Hong Kong dollars.

New Year’s eve events planned next to two major Hong Kong shopping districts were canceled after the protests began.

“The point of this is since all the occupy sites were removed, the people feel like nothing was achieved,” said James Bang, a 28-year-old who lost his job after he took too much time off to join the street protests. “The people feel like nothing was achieved, no concessions, no negotiations, nothing at all. We feel we have to make a statement and go out there so people see us everyday.”

And this being Hong Kong, there’s one other point, he said: “People love to shop anyway, so it’s just perfect.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Shai Oster in Hong Kong at soster@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Shai Oster at soster@bloomberg.net Tan Hwee Ann, Neil Western

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-11/unable-to-occupy-hong-kong-demonstrators-go-shopping-to-protest

Related:

 

 

Hong Kong: Did China Breach the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration? — Law Institute Chairman Wants To Hear From Britain on Democracy for Hong Kong

December 24, 2014

Basic Law Institute chairman Alan Hoo says this is particularly important for issues such as political reform and right of abode

Cliff Buddle
cliff.buddle@scmp.com
South China Morning Post

Britain has been called upon to “come clean” on agreements it struck with China before the handover on controversial issues such as universal suffrage and right of abode.

Basic Law Institute chairman Alan Hoo SC, said the British government had been criticising China for adopting positions on matters which were the subject of agreements between the two countries in the 1980s and ’90s.

Britain had provided the blueprint for the city’s political system, including contentious elements such as functional constituencies and gradual democratic reform, he added.

“It is pretty appalling if the British government does not come clean on the suggestions on political development it made based on 150 years of experience in governing Hong Kong, which China largely accepted,” said Hoo.

He renewed a call for the UK to declassify records of the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group from that period, which he said would reveal the positions of both sides. “They should set the record straight,” he said.

His comments were made as the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee continued its inquiry into whether China had breached the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, which laid the foundations for the handover.

Hoo said there was no basis in international law for the parliamentary committee to come to Hong Kong to take evidence on how “one country, two systems” was working.

“They wanted a roadshow in Hong Kong during Occupy Central. It would have been politicians coming here to grandstand on universal suffrage. It was a recipe for disaster,” he added.

The trip did not go ahead because China refused permission for the delegation to enter Hong Kong.

There has been much debate about the status of the Joint Declaration, which was signed 30 years ago last week.

Constitutional affairs minister Raymond Tam Chi-yuen stated in the Legislative Council earlier this month that Beijing alone promised to keep Hong Kong’s way of life intact for 50 years and that Britain had “no moral duty” towards its former colony.

Hoo said the Joint Declaration placed responsibilities on both Britain and China. But the declaration was “spent” when the Basic Law, which adopted its terms, came into effect on July 1, 1997.

Britain’s duty was to ensure that China’s basic policies on Hong Kong, set out in the declaration, were faithfully implemented in the Basic Law, which it did when the country’s parliament debated the final draft of the mini-constitution in 1989, said Hoo.

Britain also had a responsibility to tell Hong Kong people what the legislative intent was behind each and every article of the Basic Law, “especially when it comes from a Joint Declaration or JLG agreement”, he added. Hoo also said Britain had a monitoring role in ensuring that basic policies continued for 50 years.

A spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said a recent change of policy meant the British government was now looking at files over 20 years old with a view to releasing them, including files on Hong Kong.

“However, the Joint Declaration states that proceedings of the Joint Liaison Group shall remain confidential unless otherwise agreed,” the Foreign Office spokesperson said.

“The UK government remains fully committed to the Sino-British Joint Declaration. We believe that Hong Kong’s success is underpinned by its autonomy, rights and freedoms, guaranteed by the Joint Declaration, which enshrined the commitment of the governments of the United Kingdom and the People’s Republic of China to Hong Kong’s prosperity, stability and way of life, in accordance with the ‘one country, two systems’ principle.”

Hoo said some JLG records, such as those concerning right of abode, had already effectively been declassified because they had been turned into legislation. The records should therefore be released to provide a complete picture, he added.

Hong Kong: Most Democracy Protesters Vow To Continue Call For Election Reforms; Media Tycoon Jimmy Lai Arrested, Quits Tabloid

December 12, 2014

HONG KONG Thu Dec 11, 2014 11:57pm EST

Tycoon and Apple Daily Newspaper owner Jimmy Lai shouts slogan before he is taken away by police officer at an area previously blocked by pro-democracy supporters, outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong, December 11, 2014. REUTERS-Athit Perawongmetha
Tycoon and Apple Daily Newspaper owner Jimmy Lai shouts slogan before he is taken away by police officer at an area previously blocked by pro-democracy supporters, outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong, December 11, 2014.  Credit: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha
.
(Reuters) – Hong Kong publishing tycoon Jimmy Lai, an outspoken critic of Beijing, has stepped down as editor-in-chief of the popular Apple Daily after being arrested for refusing to leave a key pro-democracy protest site in the center of the city.Hong Kong police arrested nearly 250 activists on Thursday and cleared most of the main protest site near the Central business district, marking an end to more than two months of street demonstrations in the Chinese-controlled city.

Public broadcaster RTHK said on Friday all of those arrested, including Lai, had been released.

Lai, a self-made millionaire, has been the main financial patron of the pro-democracy movement since Hong Kong’s 1997 handover to Communist Party rulers in China.

“Jimmy Lai was taken away around 5 pm (on Thursday). Jimmy Lai also resigned as editor-in-chief of Apple Daily, and Next Media’s Print Media CEO Ip Yut-kin will succeed (him),” a video clip shown on Apple Daily’s website said.

Next Media Ltd (0282.HK) publishes Next Magazine and the pro-democracy Apple Daily tabloid newspaper.

Lai has come under the scrutiny of Hong Kong’s anti-graft agency this year. In August, agency officers raided his home, and the following month he went to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). It is common for the agency to call in individuals for questioning as part of its investigations.

Tents and debris are removed near the government headquarters building at the financial Central district in Hong Kong December 11, 2014. REUTERS-Athit Perawongmetha
Tents and debris are removed near the government headquarters building at the financial Central district in Hong Kong December 11, 2014.  Credit: REUTERS by Athit Perawongmetha

Police reopened the multi-lane highway in downtown Admiralty district on Thursday night after clearing the main protest site, ending one of the most serious challenges to China’s authority since the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations and bloody crackdown in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

Frustrated retailers whose takings have been badly hit by the protests welcomed the resumption of business.

“I’m glad it’s over, I can take a breather,” said 60-year-old Sammy Wu who owns a tailor shop in a plaza adjacent to the main protest site near the city’s administrative headquarters.

“Our business fell 50 percent during the occupy period. Now I expect the sales can be up by 20 percent as compared with last month.”

Mainland tourists had shunned Hong Kong, a renowned shoppers’ paradise, with tours dropping by up to 30 percent during the tense standoff between pro-democracy activists and the city’s police force.

Protesters set up camp on the main road in the Admiralty district in September, locking down the area and causing traffic chaos.

On Friday, taxi, buses and trucks were seen driving down the main thoroughfares, past government buildings and the city’s PLA headquarters, where thousands of brightly colored tents and large scale art installations had been dotted.

(Additional reporting by Lizzie Ko; Writing by Farah Master; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

****************************

Police dismantled the remains of the pro-democracy protest camp in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong on Thursday. Credit Pedro Ugarte/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Hong Kong Protesters Lose a Last Bastion, but Vow to Go On

The New York Times

HONG KONG — Constance So, a slightly built university student, wept as she looked for a way past the tightening ring of police officers closing in on the last of the sizable protest camps in Hong Kong.

With friends urging her to avoid an arrest record, Ms. So, like many others, decided to give up voluntarily. There was no violence, only a few defiant final stands and many tearful goodbyes, as the nearly three-month Umbrella Movement disbanded.

“It was like my home,” Ms. So said. “I’m leaving my friends behind. I feel like I’m betraying them.”

For the Hong Kong authorities and their superiors in Beijing, the peaceful end to the protest is likely to be seen as a major victory. They repeatedly rebuffed demands for a greater degree of democracy in this former British colony, and defused the longest sustained political uprising on Chinese territory in many years without a bloody crackdown.

Yet even in their defeat, the protesters, most of them college students, left with a new sense of political identity, a willingness to challenge the almighty power holders in Beijing, and a slogan from a science-fiction film that many of them repeated as they cleared out of the encampment in Hong Kong’s Admiralty district: “We’ll be back.” (A sliver of a protest camp remains in Causeway Bay, a busy shopping area.)

Read the rest:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/12/world/asia/hong-kong-protests.html?ref=world&_r=0

Related:
.
 (Includes links to articles on Hong Kong from 2 prior weeks)

Hong Kong and Taiwan Making Life More Difficult for China’s President Xi

December 1, 2014

.

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during a joint news conference with U.S. President Barack Obama at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing following their meeting held on the sidelines of the APEC leaders’ meeting. An electoral pummeling for Taiwan{2019}s pro-Beijing ruling party and a new spike in pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have delivered a reality check to Xi just when he was riding a wave of high-profile diplomacy. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

By RALPH JENNINGS and CHRISTOPHER BODEEN

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — An electoral pummeling for Taiwan’s pro-Beijing ruling party and a new spike in pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have delivered a reality check to Chinese President Xi Jinping just when he was riding a wave of high-profile diplomacy.

Xi’s message of a better economic future by joining forces with Beijing rather than aligning against it doesn’t seem to be working with the electorate in Taiwan, where voters turned out in droves over the weekend to support the chief opposition Democratic Progressive Party in local elections.

The DPP advocates more distance between Taiwan and China and taps into concerns many Taiwanese have over any eventual unification with authoritarian Beijing.

Likewise, Xi’s message is not working with the Hong Kong protesters, who clashed with police early Monday as they tried to surround government headquarters to revitalize their flagging movement in the face of Beijing’s intransigence on democratic reforms.

The Hong Kong protests reminded Taiwanese voters of what Taiwan could become in the event of unification with China, said Kweibo Huang, associate professor of diplomacy at National Chengchi University in Taipei.

In this Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014 file photo, Taiwan’s ruling Nationalist Party mayoral candidate Sean Lien, center, bows as he concedes lost in the Taipei mayoral election at his party’s headquarters in Taipei, Taiwan. An electoral pummeling for Taiwan{2019}s pro-Beijing ruling party and a new spike in pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have delivered a reality check to Chinese President Xi Jinping just when he was riding a wave of high-profile diplomacy. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying, File)

“Hong Kong consolidated Taiwan voter worries about relations with mainland China,” Huang said.

The DPP won seven of nine races for mayors and county chiefs, delivering a major setback to the ruling Nationalist Party, which advocates greater economic integration across the Taiwan Strait.

That poses a complex challenge for Beijing, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to take control of the island by force if necessary. The poll results build on months of opposition among the young and middle class to Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou’s steps to further reduce economic barriers between the sides and propel them toward talks on political unification.

Concerns in Hong Kong that the economic rise of mainland China marginalizes the former British colony also are high among the pro-democracy protesters there. Likewise in Taiwan, many residents fear the island’s economy could be swallowed up by China, flooding its labor market to keep wages low as living costs rise.

“Ma Ying-jeou’s policies don’t seem to be producing a trickle-down effect. Voters had the feeling that, today Hong Kong, tomorrow Taiwan,” said Joseph Cheng, an expert on Chinese politics at City university of Hong Kong.

pro-democracy protesters scuffle with police officers on the main road outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Sunday, November 30, 2014, stepping up their movement for genuine democratic reforms after being camped out on the city’s streets for more than two months. An electoral pummeling for Taiwan{2019}s pro-Beijing ruling party and a new spike in pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have delivered a reality check to Chinese President Xi Jinping just when he was riding a wave of high-profile diplomacy. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

Beijing has limited room to adjust to changes in Taiwan and Hong Kong, given its fears of stoking pro-democracy sentiment at home and its long-established positions on the two territories.

It has long pushed for Taiwan to accept the “one country, two systems” policy it negotiated for Hong Kong when it was returned by Britain in 1997, which allows the city some autonomy and a separate economic and judicial system, but places it firmly under Beijing’s ultimate authority.

Xi has continued to push the “one country, two systems” approach with Taiwan despite broad opposition among the island’s 23 million people.

He also has made it clear that he won’t be backing down from his insistence that candidates for Hong Kong’s chief executive in 2017 inaugural elections first be vetted and approved by a Beijing-appointed panel.

In this Monday, Dec. 1, 2014 file photo, a protester is arrested by police officers outside government headquarters in Hong Kong as pro-democracy protesters try to surround the headquarters, stepping up their movement for genuine democratic reforms after camping out on the city’s streets for more than two months. An electoral pummeling for Taiwan{2019}s pro-Beijing ruling party and a new spike in pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have delivered a reality check to Chinese President Xi Jinping just when he was riding a wave of high-profile diplomacy. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)

Xi’s unwavering line stands in contrast to his soft power push in foreign policy that seeks to portray the world’s second-largest economy as strong and confident, while assuaging fears over how China plans to use that newfound strength.

In recent weeks, Xi has hosted the annual summit of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Beijing, attended the G-20 meeting in Australia and visited Fiji to boost China’s contacts with the Pacific islands. He’s put forward proposals for a regional free trade area and an Asian lending institution that could rival the World Bank, casting Beijing in the global leadership role it has craved but long shied from.

Appearing relaxed and in control, the president followed up with a major foreign policy address on Saturday, speaking both of China’s growing integration with the international community and its firm resolve to not compromise on its territorial claims.

“China must have its own style of large country foreign relations,” Xi said. “Travel the road of peaceful development, but at the same time, never abandon our legitimate rights, and definitely do not sacrifice our national core interests.”

While received with maximum fanfare abroad, Xi may have a harder time convincing public opinion in Taiwan and Hong Kong, both of which lie far closer and feel greatly more threatened by China’s rise.

A former Japanese colony, Taiwan split from the Chinese mainland amid civil war in 1949, and its government is regarded by Beijing as the illegitimate administration of a renegade province.

Since 2008, Taiwan and China have signed 21 trade, transit and investment agreements, but protesters in March occupied parliament in Taipei to stop ratification of a China trade liberalization deal. The demonstrators’ ranks grew into the tens of thousands.

When Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule, Beijing said it would allow universal suffrage in the 2017 election for chief executive. However, Beijing’s demand that candidates be endorsed by a pro-Beijing panel have dented expectations of full democracy as promised.

Repeating scenes that have become familiar since their movement began in late September, Hong Kong protesters carrying umbrellas battled police armed with pepper spray, batons and riot shields early Monday. The protesters, many wearing surgical masks, hard hats and safety goggles, chanted “I want true democracy.”

Although the Hong Kong protests were not a leading campaign issue in Taiwan, analysts said voters considered their own government’s growing ties with China when ousting the Nationalists from nine mayoral and county magistrate jobs, a steeper-than-expected loss for the ruling party. Two of those positions were won by independents.

Following Saturday’s defeat, Premier Jiang Yi-huah and his Cabinet members tendered their formal resignations but remained on as a caretaker government. The electoral battering puts the Nationalist Party on the defensive ahead of a 2016 presidential election that Ma is barred from contesting due to term limits.

In both Hong Kong and Taiwan, the business and political elite generally back closer ties with China, while young people see their future prospects threatened by mainland competition. There are also wide fears that civil rights, such as a free press and independent political organizations, will be eroded by politicians and businessmen seeking to ingratiate themselves with Beijing.

Given those feelings, China needs more than just strong business ties to win over a democratic electorate, said Hsu Yung-ming, a political scientist with Soochow University in Taipei.

“Whether getting too close to China will be dangerous, that was a big issue,” Hsu said.

Bodeen reported from Beijing.