Posts Tagged ‘mainland China’

Hong Kong Democracy Leader Defiant as Three Jailed for Months

August 17, 2017

HONG KONG — An appeals court jailed three leaders of Hong Kong’s democracy movement for six to eight months on Thursday, dealing a blow to the Chinese-ruled city’s youth-led push for universal suffrage and prompting accusations of political interference.

Joshua Wong, 20, Alex Chow, 24, and Nathan Law, 26, were sentenced last year to non-jail terms including community service for unlawful assembly, but Hong Kong’s Department of Justice applied for a review, seeking imprisonment.

Wong was jailed for six months, Chow for seven months and Law for eight months. Law had been the city’s youngest ever democratically elected legislator before he was stripped last month of his seat by a government-led lawsuit.

The three appeared stern but calm as their sentences were delivered by a panel of three judges.

The former British colony, which has been governed under a “one country, two systems” formula since it was returned to Chinese rule in 1997, was rocked by nearly three months of mostly peaceful street occupations in late 2014, demanding Beijing grant the city full democracy.

The so-called “Umbrella Movement” civil disobedience movement, that drew hundreds of thousands of protesters at its peak, was triggered after Wong and his colleagues stormed into a courtyard fronting the city’s government headquarters.

They were later charged with participating in and inciting an unlawful assembly.

Just before sentencing, a defiant Wong told around one hundred supporters who thronged into the High Court lobby, some weeping, that he had no regrets and urged them to keep fighting for full democracy.

“I hope Hong Kong people won’t give up. Victory is ours. When we are released next year I hope we can see a Hong Kong that is full of hope. I want to see Hong Kong people not giving up. This is my last wish before I go to jail.”

Wong also told Reuters earlier that Hong Kong’s democratic movement was facing its “darkest era” and that he’d lost confidence in the city’s vaunted legal system, long considered one of the best in Asia.

The Department of Justice said in an earlier statement that the trio were not convicted for exercising their civil liberties, but because their conduct during the protest included “disorderly and intimidating behaviour”.

It added there was “absolutely no basis to imply any political motive”.

Critics disagreed.

“The outlandish application seeking jail time is not about public order but is instead a craven political move to keep the trio out of the Legislative Council, as well as deter future protests,” China director at Human Rights Watch, Sophie Richardson, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Hong Kong enjoys a free judiciary, unlike on the mainland where the Communist Party controls the courts which rarely challenge its decisions.

The jail terms will curtail the political ambitions of the trio, barring them for running for seats in the legislature for the next five years.

In recent months, dozens of protesters, mostly young people, have been jailed for their roles in various protests, including a violent demonstration that the government called a riot in early 2016.

(Reporting by Venus Wu and James Pomfret; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Three Young Hong Kong Democracy Leaders Jailed for Months

August 17, 2017

HONG KONG — A Hong Kong appeal court on Thursday jailed three prominent young Hong Kong democracy leaders for several months for “unlawful assembly” linked to the city’s months-long pro-democracy protests in 2014.

The three are 20-year-old Joshua Wong, former student leader Alex Chow, 26, and Nathan Law, 24, the youngest ever democratically elected lawmaker in Hong Kong. They were jailed for six, seven and eight months respectively.

The former British colony, which last month celebrated the 20th anniversary of its return to Chinese rule, was gridlocked by nearly three months of street protests in 2014’s “Umbrella Movement” that failed to convince Beijing to allow full democracy in the city of 7.3 million.

(Reporting by Venus Wu and James Pomfret; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Backlash in Hong Kong over China rail link (Beijing not worried…) — Hong Kong is being swallowed up by China

July 25, 2017

AFP

© AFP | The new rail project linking Hong Kong to the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou is one of a number of cross-border infrastructure projects, including a bridge to the mainland and the neighbouring casino enclave Macau

HONG KONG (AFP) – A plan for mainland border staff to be stationed on Hong Kong soil as part of a new rail link to China sparked a backlash Tuesday as concern grows about Beijing’s reach into the city.It is illegal for mainland law enforcers to operate in semi-autonomous Hong Kong under the city’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law.

But there are already concerns that Chinese operatives are working undercover after the alleged abductions of a city bookseller and a reclusive Chinese businessman.

The rail link plan comes at a time when fears are worsening that Hong Kong’s freedoms are under threat from an ever more assertive Beijing.

The high-speed connection out of the harbourfront West Kowloon station is set to open in 2018, linking to the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou 80 miles (130 km) away and then onto China’s national rail network.

A proposal backed by the Hong Kong government’s top advisory body Tuesday would see mainland border staff control a special immigration zone at the Hong Kong terminus.

There are already numerous transport connections between Hong Kong and the mainland, but Chinese immigration checks are done on the other side of the border.

City leader Carrie Lam insisted the new checkpoint arrangement was not a breach of the Basic Law and was designed to cut travel time.

“The crux of the matter is really to find a means that is legal to support this convenience for the people of Hong Kong,” Lam told reporters.

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Priscilla Leung said such joint immigration areas were common around the world and that Hong Kong would be “leasing” the portion of land at the terminus to China.

“Outside the zone both the officers and everyone else have to obey the laws in Hong Kong,” she told AFP.

But opponents say the new plan is a clear breach of the Basic Law and another sign that Hong Kong is being swallowed up by China.

Veteran lawyer and democracy advocate Martin Lee, who helped draft the Basic Law in the 1980s, said creating an exception within Hong Kong where mainland Chinese laws are enforced would set a “dangerous precedent”.

It would put at risk the semi-autonomous “one country, two systems” set-up guaranteed when Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997, Lee told AFP.

The government wanted to force through the plan to make Hong Kong people “feel closer to Beijing, the sovereign power”, added opposition legislator Claudia Mo.

The plan now needs approval from the city’s legislature, which is weighted towards the pro-China camp.

The rail link is one of a number of cross-border infrastructure projects, including a new bridge to the mainland and the neighbouring casino enclave Macau.

Passengers from Hong Kong could reach Beijing in under 10 hours on the new line, but controversies have plagued the project, with snowballing costs now at HK$84.42 billion ($10 billion).

Hong Kong’s first female leader has Beijing’s backing but pro-independance and human rights groups call her “a nightmare for Hong Kong’s freedoms”

July 1, 2017

HONG KONG — Carrie Lam, who was sworn in as Hong Kong’s first female leader on Saturday, is a former student activist who climbed the rungs of the civil service over 36 years, and a tough, capable and possibly divisive Beijing-backed leader.

Lam, most recently Hong Kong’s number two official, has to unify the Chinese-ruled city as public resentment swells at Beijing’s growing interference in its affairs despite being promised a high degree of autonomy.

She also has to reinvigorate the economy and address growing social inequalities and high property prices, issues Chinese President Xi Jinping highlighted at her swearing-in ceremony.

Several sources who have worked with Lam say she’s intelligent, hard-working and able to push controversial government policies, earning her the trust of Beijing factions who strongly lobbied for votes on her behalf when she was chosen in March.

But her hardline and pro-Beijing tendencies, say critics and opposition democrats, risk sowing further social divisions in the former British colony that returned to China 20 years ago under a “one country, two systems” formula that guarantees it wide-ranging freedoms.

“Carrie Lam … is a nightmare for Hong Kong,” said student activist Joshua Wong in March, one of the leaders of the student-led “Umbrella Movement” protests in 2014 which blocked the streets for 79 days demanding full democracy.

“Theoretically, the chief executive is a bridge between the central government and the Hong Kong people. But Lam will be a tilted bridge. She will only tell us what Beijing wants, and won’t reflect what the people want to the communist regime.”

Lam, dubbed “the fighter” by media, was once the most popular official in the cabinet of staunchly pro-Beijing former chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, who in 2012 won a similar election restricted to just 1,200 voters.

“Picking Carrie as chief secretary was Leung’s best appointment,” said a senior government official who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media. But she could also sometimes be a “bully”, he added.

SOFTER IMAGE

Lam’s popularity began to slip just as a younger generation of protesters rose to prominence, and tumbled further during the course of her election campaign this year.

 (AP Photo/Vincent Yu). Chief executive-elect Carrie Lam wipes her eyes as Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, right, and her husband Lam Siu-por, center, stand during the flag raising ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong handover to China

Her attempt to push through a planned Palace Museum in Hong Kong, showing artefacts from the museum in Beijing’s Forbidden City, was criticized for being presented as a done deal without public consultation, highlighting what some describe as her “autocratic” style, according to a source who knows her.

She is not well regarded by the opposition democratic camp, with most of the 300 or so democrats seen having voted for former Financial Secretary John Tsang.

The bespectacled Lam was also criticized by student leaders for being “vague” after their televised meeting failed to defuse the 2014 protests. The demonstration ran out of steam two months later and ended with police clearing the streets.

(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan). Pro-democracy activists paste the words "Chinese Communist Demon Claws" on a defaced photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping before attempting to march in protest towards the venue where official ceremonies are held to mark the 20...
(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan). Pro-democracy activists paste the words “Chinese Communist Demon Claws” on a defaced photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping before attempting to march in protest towards the venue where official ceremonies are held to mark the 20th Anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China

During her campaign, Lam attempted to present a softer, more populist image, but was ridiculed for gaffes including not appearing to know how to use subway turnstiles.

She was also lampooned for a late-night hunt for toilet paper which took her to her posh former home on the Peak after she failed to find any at a convenience store.

The daughter of a Shanghainese immigrant who worked on ships and a mother who had never received a formal education, Lam grew up in a cramped apartment shared by four siblings and several families.

A devout Catholic and a student of sociology at the University of Hong Kong, Lam took part in social activism before joining the government. She is married with two sons.

Lam joins a select group of female leaders who have risen to the top job in Asia in recent years including Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, hugely distrusted by China, and ousted South Korean president Park Geun-hye, who angered Beijing with her plans to deploy a U.S. missile defense system to counter the threat from North Korea.

(Reporting by Venus Wu; Editing by James Pomfret and Nick Macfie)

(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan). Pro-democracy activists try to march with a replica of a casket with the word meaning "Respect for the dead" towards the venue where official ceremonies are held to mark the 20th anniversary of Chinese rule over Hong Kong in Hon...
(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan). Pro-democracy activists try to march with a replica of a casket with the word meaning “Respect for the dead” towards the venue where official ceremonies are held to mark the 20th anniversary of Chinese rule over Hong Kong.
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The Latest: Xi vows no tolerance for anti-China acts
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HONG KONG (AP) – The Latest on the swearing-in of Hong Kong’s new leader (all times local):

10:45 a.m.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is vowing no tolerance for any acts seen as jeopardizing Hong Kong and China’s stability and security.

In his address during a swearing-in ceremony for Carlie Lam, the semi-autonomous Chinese region’s chief executive, Xi pledged Beijing’s support for the “one country, two systems” blueprint under which Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

However, he said Hong Kong had to do more to shore up security and boost patriotic education, apparently referencing pieces of legislation long-delayed by popular opposition.

And he warned that anyone threatening China or Hong Kong’s political stability would be crossing a red line and their actions would be considered “absolutely impermissible”- words certain to concern those already wary of tightening restrictions on political life in the city.

Xi was due to return to Beijing midday Saturday. His three-day visit aimed at stirring Chinese patriotism had prompted a massive police presence. Protesters fear Beijing’s ruling Communist Party is increasing its control over the city’s political and civil affairs, undermining a pledge to permit it retain its own legal and other institutions for 50 years.

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9:15 a.m.

Carrie Lam has been sworn in as Hong Kong’s new leader on the city’s 20th anniversary of its handover from British to Chinese rule.

Lam became the semi-autonomous Chinese region’s chief executive Saturday in a ceremony presided over by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Lam and her Cabinet swore to serve China and Hong Kong and to uphold the Basic Law, the territory’s mini-constitution.

The life-long bureaucrat was selected through a process decried by critics as fundamentally undemocratic, involving just a sliver of a percent of Hong Kong’s more than 3 million voters.

A little over a kilometer (mile) away, a small group of activists linked to the pro-democracy opposition clashed with police and counter-protesters. Protesters fear Beijing’s ruling Communist Party is increasing its control over the financial center’s affairs.

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HONG KONG — When crowds calling for greater democracy occupied the streets of Hong Kong three years ago, a skinny teenager led them. When voters went to the polls last year, they elected a 23-year-old legislator, the youngest in the city’s history. And when calls for Hong Kong’s independence from China gained momentum, young people were again at the forefront.

Many of the most influential voices in Hong Kong today belong to those who have little or no memory of this former British colony’s return to Chinese rule two decades ago. But this generation’s identity has been shaped by the handover.

People between the ages of 18 and 29 in Hong Kong are more likely than at any time since 1997 to see themselves broadly as Hong Kongers, according to a survey by the University of Hong Kong. Only about 3 percent now describe themselves broadly as Chinese, the lowest level since the handover.

By contrast, Carrie Lam, who will be sworn in Saturday as Hong Kong’s new chief executive, says she wants to make sure that children will learn from an early age to say, “I am Chinese.”

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China says Hong Kong handover agreement ‘no longer relevant’

June 30, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Hong Kong’s police officers intervene in an altercation between Pro-China protesters and pro-independence representatives during President of China Xi Jinping’s three-day visit to mark the 20th anniversary of the handover from Britain to China

BEIJING (AFP) – In the midst of celebrations marking 20 years since Britain returned Hong Kong to China, Beijing declared that the document which initiated the handover “is no longer relevant.”The remarks on Friday came a day after UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson stressed Britain’s commitment to the historic Sino-Britain Joint Declaration, which gave Hong Kong rights unseen on the mainland through a “one country, two systems” agreement.

The U.S. State Department also said Thursday that the US “remains concerned about any infringement of civil liberties in Hong Kong,” and expressed support for the “further development of Hong Kong’s democratic systems.”

Image may contain: 1 person, suit and closeup

 Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang (By KIM KYUNG HOON for REUTERS)

In response to the US and UK statements, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang detailed Hong Kong’s “comprehensive achievements with the support of the central government and mainland.”

Citing Hong Kong’s low unemployment rate and free economy during a regular press briefing Friday, Lu said: “Now Hong Kong has returned to China for almost two decades and this communique is a historical document.”

“It’s no longer relevant,” Lu said, “and the UK has no sovereignty, governing power or the right to supervision over Hong Kong.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who arrived in Hong Kong on Thursday to lead handover anniversary celebrations, has said that he wanted to ensure the continuation of the “one country, two systems” set-up.

Xi’s three-day visit comes three years after “Umbrella Movement” protesters crippled the city for months as they camped out on thoroughfares, calling for reforms and the protection of Hong Kong’s unique status.

A huge security operation has been put in place for the Chinese president’s visit and the anniversary celebrations, with thousands of police deployed to keep demonstrators away.

The Sino-British declaration said Hong Kong would be a “Special Administrative Region” of China, and would retain its freedoms and way of life for 50 years after the handover date on July 1, 1997.

As part of the deal, Hong Kong was guaranteed rights including freedom of speech and an independent judiciary, but there are concerns those liberties are disappearing as Beijing becomes ever more assertive.

Young activists calling for self-determination or independence have emerged as a result.

“I’ve no doubt that Hong Kong’s future success will depend on the rights and freedoms protected by that treaty,” UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said.

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China’s Xi tells Hong Kong he seeks ‘far-reaching future’ for its autonomy — New York Times Says This Is A City In Trouble

June 29, 2017

Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling

China’s President Xi Jinping (second from right) is greeted by well-wishers upon his arrival at Hong Kong’s international airport on Jun 29, 2017 as Hong Kong’s outgoing Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (third from right) and incoming leader Carrie Lam (right) follow. (Photo: AFP/Anthony Wallace)

HONG KONG: Chinese president Xi Jinping said on Thursday (Jun 29) China would work to ensure a “far-reaching future” for Hong Kong’s autonomy, but he faces a divided city with protesters angered by Beijing’s perceived interference as it marks 20 years of Chinese rule.

Britain returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule on Jul 1, 1997, under a “one country, two systems” formula which guarantees wide-ranging freedoms and judicial independence unseen in mainland China.

Beijing has promised Hong Kong’s capitalist system will remain unchanged for “at least” 50 years until 2047, but it has not clarified what happens after that.

“Hong Kong has always tugged at my heartstrings,” Xi said on arrival at Hong Kong airport for the handover anniversary in front of flag-waving crowds at the start of a three-day visit.

“… We are willing, together with different sectors of Hong Kong society, to look back on Hong Kong’s unusual course in the past 20 years, draw conclusions from the experience, look into the future and to ensure ‘one country, two systems’ is stable and has a far-reaching future.”

Xi’s message was consistent with those of other senior Chinese leaders visiting Hong Kong, that Beijing will safeguard the city’s development and prosperity.

In reality, however, fears of the creeping influence of Communist Party leaders in Beijing have been starkly exposed in recent years by the abduction by mainland agents of some Hong Kong booksellers who specialized in politically sensitive material and Beijing’s efforts in disqualifying two pro-independence lawmakers elected to the city legislature.

Xi did not respond to journalists, including one who asked whether Liu Xiaobo, China’s Nobel Peace Laureate and jailed dissident, would be released and allowed to travel overseas to be treated for cancer.

Speaking later, Xi praised Hong Kong’s outgoing leader, Leung Chun-ying, who cracked down hard on pro-democracy Occupy protests in 2014, for his substantial contributions to the country, “especially safeguarding national security”.

“These past five years have not been easy at all,” Xi added.

He urged officials to support incoming leader Carrie Lam, who will be sworn in on Saturday, and contribute to the “China dream”.

An annual Jul 1 protest pressing social causes, including a call for full democracy, is expected to take place after Xi leaves on Saturday. On Wednesday night, police arrested several well-known pro-democracy activists, some of whom scrambled up a monument symbolizing the city’s handover from British to Chinese rule.

Among them was student leader Joshua Wong, who said on his Facebook page on Thursday his detention for more than 16 hours was highly unusual and police had yet to take his statement.

HONG KONG “HAS BEEN LIED TO”

Part of the major rift under Chinese rule in Hong Kong has been a push by activists, including the 2014 street protests, to get China to live up to a constitutional promise under Hong Kong’s mini-constitution to allow universal suffrage as an “ultimate aim”.

“This promise has been shattered under the watchful eyes of the whole world,” organizers of Saturday’s planned rally wrote in a statement. “Hong Kong has been lied to for 20 years. Let’s retake Hong Kong for a real and fully fledged democracy.”

A massive security presence is expected with thousands of police deployed to maintain order as protests simmer.

At least 200 protesters sat in sweltering heat outside Hong Kong’s highest court on Thursday night to demand the release of dissident Liu.

“Xi Jinping should release Liu Xiaobo,” said Annie Tam, who watched as her six-year-old son held a candle. “I respect Liu very much. He really is sacrificing himself for democracy.”

The streets of Hong Kong have been festooned with Chinese banners and paraphernalia, including two huge harbourfront screens carrying celebratory messages. Upwards of 120,000 youngsters will join China patriotic activities at a time of growing disillusionment with Beijing among the city’s younger generation.

“We … just hope our people can live in peace and contentment,” said Lee Wing-lung, 66, a retired engineer standing opposite the hotel where Xi is staying, taking snapshots with his phone.

“I hope Hong Kong can have a good and peaceful atmosphere.”

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said in London Britain hopes that Hong Kong will make more progress toward democracy.

“As we look to the future, Britain hopes that Hong Kong will make more progress toward a fully democratic and accountable system of government,” Johnson said in a statement.

“Britain’s commitment to Hong Kong – enshrined in the Joint Declaration with China – is just as strong today as it was 20 years ago.”

Many observers point out that the British did nothing to promote democracy until the dying days of more than 150 years of colonial rule. Britain, looking for new trade partners as Brexit approaches, is also keen not to upset China, the world’s second-largest economy.

Chris Patten, Hong Kong’s last governor, told the Guardian newspaper British “kowtowing” to China would become increasingly craven after Brexit.

Read more at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/china-s-xi-tells-hong-kong-he-seeks-far-reaching-future-for-its-8989586

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Once a Model City, Hong Kong Is in Trouble

June 29, 2017

HONG KONG — When Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule two decades ago, the city was seen as a model of what China might one day become: prosperous, modern, international, with the broad protections of the rule of law.

There was anxiety about how such a place could survive in authoritarian China. But even after Beijing began encroaching on this former British colony’s freedoms, its reputation as one of the best-managed cities in Asia endured.

The trains ran on time. Crime and taxes were low. The skyline dazzled with ever taller buildings.

Those are still true. Yet as the 20th anniversary of the handover approaches on Saturday, that perception of Hong Kong as something special — a vibrant crossroads of East and West that China might want to emulate — is fading fast.

Never-ending disputes between the city’s Beijing-backed leadership and the pro-democracy opposition have crippled the government’s ability to make difficult decisions and complete important construction projects.

Caught between rival modes of rule — Beijing’s dictates and the demands of local residents — the authorities have allowed problems to fester, including an affordable housing crisis, a troubled education system and a delayed high-speed rail line.

Many say the fight over Hong Kong’s political future has paralyzed it, and perhaps doomed it to decline. As a result, the city is increasingly held up not as a model of China’s future but as a cautionary tale — for Beijing and its allies, of the perils of democracy, and for the opposition, of the perils of authoritarianism.

Vendors selling secondhand clothing and goods in Sham Shui Po, one of the city’s poorest areas.

 

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Rush hour on the MTR, Hong Kong’s clean and efficient subway system.

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“More and more, there is a sense of futility,” said Anson Chan, the second-highest official in the Hong Kong government in the years before and after the handover to Chinese rule. She blames Beijing’s interference for the city’s woes. “We have this enormous giant at our doorstep,” she said, “and the rest of the world does not seem to question whatever the enormous giant does.”

Others spread the blame more broadly. They point to the opposition’s reluctance to compromise and policies that weaken political parties, including multiseat legislative districts that allow radical candidates to win with a minority of votes.

“This kind of a political atmosphere will disrupt many of the initiatives that may come along,” said Anna Wu, a member of the territory’s executive council, or cabinet.

A high-speed rail station planned for Hong Kong is a half-finished shell — years after every other major city in China has been linked by bullet trains.

Hong Kong ranks only after New York and London as a center of global finance, but it has no world-class museums. After 15 years of delays, construction of a cultural district intended to rival Lincoln Center has started, but funding from the legislature could be disrupted in the coming days.

Widespread complaints about test-obsessed schools leaving students ill-equipped to compete against those in mainland China have not led to education reform. Nor has the government found a way to address simmering public anger over skyrocketing rents and housing prices.

Hong Kong was once known for the speed and efficiency with which it built huge planned communities with ample public housing every several years. But it has not managed to do so since Britain returned it to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997.

Read more:

Celebration and protest as China’s Xi visits divided Hong Kong for handover anniversary — “Not everyone trusts our government anymore” — “Hong Kong has seriously deteriorated into one of the mainland (Chinese) cities.”

June 29, 2017

Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks after his arrival at the airport in Hong Kong, China, ahead of celebrations marking the city’s handover from British to Chinese rule, June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
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By Venus Wu and James Pomfret | HONG KONG

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Hong Kong on Thursday to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the former British colony’s return to China, but he faces a divided city, with many resentful of perceived interference by Beijing in its affairs.

Britain returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997, under a “one country, two systems” formula which guarantees wide-ranging autonomy and judicial independence not seen in mainland China.

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks after his arrival at the airport in Hong Kong, China, as Hong Kong Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam and Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying listen ahead of celebrations marking the city’s handover from British to Chinese rule, June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
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The central government in Beijing has promised Hong Kong’s capitalist system will remain unchanged for “at least” 50 years until 2047, but it has not clarified what happens after that.

“Hong Kong has always tugged at my heartstrings,” Xi said on arrival on the airport tarmac before flag-waving crowds.

“… We are willing, together with different sectors of Hong Kong society, to look back on Hong Kong’s unusual course in the past 20 years, draw conclusions from the experience, look into the future and to ensure ‘one country, two systems’ is stable and has a far reaching future.”

Fears of the creeping influence of Communist Party leaders in Beijing have been highlighted in recent years by the abduction by mainland agents of some Hong Kong booksellers who specialised in politically sensitive material and Beijing’s efforts in disqualifying two pro-independence lawmakers elected to the city legislature.

Xi did not respond to journalists, including one who asked whether Liu Xiaobo, China’s Nobel Peace Laureate and jailed dissident, would be released and allowed to travel overseas to be treated for cancer.

 

Credit Kin Cheung/Associated Press

An annual July 1 protest pressing social causes, including a call for full democracy, is expected to take place after Xi leaves on Saturday. On Wednesday night, police arrested pro-democracy protesters, some of whom scrambled up a monument symbolising the city’s handover from British to Chinese rule.

[For a package of handover stories, reut.rs/2sje26J]

Part of the major rift under Chinese rule in Hong Kong has been a push by activists, including massive street protests in 2014, to get China to live up to a constitutional promise under Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, to allow universal suffrage as an “ultimate aim”.

“This promise has been shattered under the watchful eyes of the whole world,” organisers of Saturday’s planned rally wrote in a statement. “Hong Kong has been lied to for 20 years. Let’s retake Hong Kong for a real and fully fledged democracy.”

MASSIVE SECURITY

A massive security presence is expected with thousands of police deployed to maintain order as protests simmer, some near his hotel, as well as at the rally on Saturday that some say could draw more than 100,000 people.

Xi, on his first visit to Hong Kong as China’s president, will oversee the swearing in of the city’s first female leader, Carrie Lam. He will also visit the local People’s Liberation Army garrison and meet establishment figures, while his wife, Peng Liyuan, is expected to visit a kindergarten and an elderly home.

The streets of Hong Kong have been festooned with Chinese banners and paraphernalia, including two huge harbourfront screens carrying celebratory messages. Upwards of 120,000 youngsters will join China patriotic activities at a time of growing disillusionment with Beijing among the city’s younger generation.

“We … just hope our people can live in peace and contentment,” said Lee Wing-lung, 66, a retired engineer standing opposite the hotel where Xi will stay, taking snapshots with his phone.

“I hope Hong Kong can have a good and peaceful atmosphere.”

Over the past five years, under Xi’s tenure as Chinese leader and amid a ferocious crackdown on civil society and critics on the mainland, the squeeze on Hong Kong’s autonomy has intensified, say some diplomats, activists and citizens.

“Xi Jinping’s visit is a great chance for us to protest against him,” said Law Sui-Yung, 63, a retired primary school teacher, who watched Xi’s arrival on a giant screen in the shopping district of Causeway Bay with a muted crowd of around 150 people.

“In recent years, especially after he took office, Hong Kong has seriously deteriorated into one of the mainland (Chinese) cities,” she added.

(Additional reporting by William Ho, Jasper Ng and Doris Huang; Editing by Michael Perry and Nick Macfie)

Student protest leader Joshua Wong shouts as he is carried by policemen as protesters are arrested at a monument symbolising the city’s handover from British to Chinese rule, a day before Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to arrive for the celebrations, in Hong Kong, China June 28, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Hong Kong firms join forces to make deals under Silk Road plan

June 19, 2017

Companies will draw on their experience to initially establish infrastructure projects and industrial parks in Thailand and Vietnam

By Josh Ye
South China Morning Post

Monday, June 19, 2017, 8:48pm

Hong Kong companies will form a consortium to build infrastructure projects and industrial parks in Thailand and Vietnam under mainland China’s Silk Road project, the Trade Development Council says.

Council president Vincent Lo Hong-sui said over 40 business leaders from Hong Kong and Shanghai formed a delegation while visiting the two countries last month and met both prime ministers.

He added that this was one of many steps in further involving Hong Kong companies with the “One Belt, One Road” initiative.

Lo said the statutory body was now forming “a consortium of local companies” to help them enter these developing markets as a collective force.

“We are looking to build infrastructure projects and industrial parks in countries under the belt and road initiative.”

The initiative was launched by Beijing in 2013 to promote the building of railways, roads, power plants and other infrastructure projects in 60 countries from Asia to Europe on its old Silk Road to promote trade and economic growth.

The council has identified eight countries out of the 65 under the scheme as the initial destinations for Hong Kong investment – Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Nicholas Kwan, research director at the council, said Hong Kong investors were seasoned in managing supply chain systems across countries.

 Vincent Lo says numerous multibillion-dollar deals will be closed this year. Photo: Sam Tsang

Lo said the development level of many of the belt and road countries reminded him of mainland China three decades ago.

“Hong Kong investors have garnered a lot of practical experience in developing mainland China,” he said. “This experience is unique and will definitely benefit other countries.”

He said the council aimed to close several deals this year and estimated some projects were worth more than US$10 billion.

Lo added that chief executive-elect Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor had told him the next administration would fully support the council in furthering deals with countries linked to the trade initiative.

The council also announced that it would host its second belt and road summit in September, which looked to introduce more concrete plans for local firms to enter relevant countries.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/economy/article/2099050/hong-kong-firms-join-forces-make-deals-under-silk-road-plan

Taiwan lawmakers launch support group for Hong Kong democracy

June 12, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Lawmakers in Taiwan launched a new group to help promote democracy in Hong Kong on Monday, a move likely to rile Beijing ahead of the 20th anniversary of the handover of the city from Britain back to China.

TAIPEI (AFP) – Lawmakers in Taiwan launched a new group to help promote democracy in Hong Kong on Monday, a move likely to rile Beijing ahead of the 20th anniversary of the handover of the city from Britain back to China.Taiwan and Hong Kong are thorns in Beijing’s side — both saw huge anti-China protests in 2014, known respectively as the Sunflower Movement and Umbrella Movement.

Ties with self-ruling Taiwan have worsened under China-sceptic President Tsai Ing-wen, who took office last year.

Beijing still sees Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified and wants Tsai to acknowledge that the island is part of “one China”, which she has refused to do.

In semi-autonomous Hong Kong, frustration at a lack of political reform and fears that freedoms are under threat have led to the emergence of groups calling for self-determination or even independence from China, infuriating Beijing.

The new “Taiwan Congressional Hong Kong Caucus” comprises 18 lawmakers who say they want to help promote democracy in Hong Kong, including Huang Kuo-chang — one of the leaders of the Sunflower Movement and now a lawmaker with the New Power Party, which he heads.

Four other NPP legislators are part of the caucus, with the other members coming from Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

“We have seen that the Beijing government continues to suppress Hong Kong people’s pursuit of true democracy,” Huang told reporters Monday.

The caucus would offer “assistance” by helping campaigners and lawmakers in both places to exchange views and discuss public policies, he added.

Huang and other top activists from the Sunflower Movement have been barred from entering Hong Kong since 2014.

High-profile Hong Kong pro-democracy activists and lawmakers, including Joshua Wong and Nathan Law, also attended the launch.

Law described Taiwan as an “ally”.

“We need to be united and share our experiences more as we are faced with suppression,” Wong added.

The 20-year-old emphasised that he did not advocate independence for Hong Kong — his and Law’s party Demosisto is calling for self-determination.

But political analyst Willy Lam said Beijing would not differentiate between independence activists and campaigners like Law and Wong.

Lam predicted Chinese authorities would “ferociously attack” the new group as evidence of collusion between pro-independence forces.

Taiwan has never formally declared independence from China and Beijing has said it would react with force if it ever did.

Tsai’s DPP is traditionally pro-independence, fuelling Beijing’s suspicion of her government.

Hong Kong is deeply divided into those calling for more democracy and pro-China voices as it approaches the July 1 handover anniversary.

Law was attacked by pro-Beijing demonstrators at Hong Kong airport in January on his return from a trip to Taiwan.

Wong and Law were both greeted by pro-China protesters in Taipei on that visit, during which they participated in an exchange of views between the democratic movements of Hong Kong and Taiwan.