‘Unfounded’: Hong Kong denounces US and UK reports of declining freedoms | Politics News
The territory’s government is telling countries to stop “interfering” in its internal affairs after damning assessments on freedoms.
Hong Kong reacted with fury to what it described as “unfounded and ludicrous allegations” in key reports from the UK and US that the territory’s democratic rights and freedoms continued to deteriorate.
In a biannual update released Thursday, the UK, which governed Hong Kong as a colony before its return to China in 1997, said “alternative voices in the executive, legislature, Hong Kong’s civil society and media have been all but extinguished”.
The United States reached a similar conclusion in its report covering the 12 months from March 2021: “The (Chinese) authorities have taken measures that have eliminated the ability of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy opposition to play a significant role in the governance of the city and have effectively criminalized peaceful political expression. criticism of central and local governments,” he said.
The Hong Kong government quickly dismissed the assessments.
“We strongly oppose the baseless and ridiculous allegations against the Hong Kong SAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) government made by foreign countries through various reports,” he said in a statement, adding that Hong Kong continued to enjoy a “high degree of autonomy” under the “one country, two systems” that was adopted upon its return to Chinese rule.
“The HKSAR government urges foreign countries to stop interfering in China’s internal affairs through Hong Kong affairs,” he said.
The latest reports from the UK and the US come after the resignation of two judges from Britain’s Supreme Court of the territory’s highest court, citing the impact of the national security law that China imposed there almost two years old.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Thursday dismissed the move as “politically motivated.”
“Always so dynamic”
The UK report highlighted the closure of independent and pro-democracy media, including Stand News which was forced to close in December after a police raid and the arrest of its current and former editors.
The hugely popular Apple Daily also ceased publication in June after its assets were frozen and offices raided. Its founder, tycoon Jimmy Lai, is one of the most high-profile people to be arrested under the national security law and remains in jail after being denied bail.
The report also notes the targeting of British NGO Hong Kong Watch, which it describes as a “blatant and unacceptable example of how the authorities appear to be trying to use the law to censor even those outside the borders. of Hong Kong”.
Both reports also noted changes to elections in Hong Kong to ensure only “patriots” can stand for election, with fewer Legislative Council seats chosen by popular vote and many pro-democracy politicians jailed or disqualified. Voter turnout in December was the lowest of any election since the handover.
They also noted the crackdown on any form of commemoration in Tiananmen Square with the banning of the annual vigil to remember those killed in 1989, the closure of a museum about the incident and the removal of statues marking the incident.
“As the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to Beijing approaches, Hong Kong’s freedoms are shrinking as the PRC (People’s Republic of China) strengthens its power,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. accompanying the latest report on the Hong Kong Policy Act. . “Differences between Hong Kong and mainland Chinese cities are narrowing due to the PRC’s continued crackdown.”
China imposed the security law in June 2020 after huge pro-democracy protests, some of which turned violent, swept the city in 2019. The sweeping law criminalizes acts Beijing considers secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign powers.
On Friday, Hong Kong said the law had “restored stability” and the government had retained an “unwavering commitment” to the rule of law and judicial independence.
He insisted the security law was not a curb on Hong Kong’s freedoms, which China has promised to honor for at least 50 years.
“Law-abiding people will not break the law unintentionally,” the government said.
He also insisted that Hong Kong’s media landscape remained “as vibrant as ever” with some 211 organizations registered with the government.
“The media can exercise their right to monitor the work of the Hong Kong SAR government, and their freedom to comment on or even criticize government policies remains unrestricted as long as it is not against the law,” the official said. government.