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Posts tagged as “hong kong law”

2047 is Now. What is the Future of Hong Kong?

We haven’t posted anything for a couple of days on this site. It seemed nothing more could be said about the brutality of Hong Kong’s police, but no other news seems worth writing about in comparison.

By now, pretty much everyone that has been paying attention at all knows about the police siege of Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Hundreds of students are trapped there. The police won’t let them leave unless they “surrender,” which would almost certainly mean being subjected to torture and abuse. Naturally, the students don’t want to surrender, for that reason, and also because they believe they are fighting for their home, their freedom, and their rights. They deserve and need the entire free world’s support.

In 2047, the “one country, two systems” agreement that was negotiated between the U.K. and the Chinese government at the handover in 1997 officially ends, and Hong Kong becomes completely subject to the arbitrary legal system of mainland China, where there is no rule of law, lawyers are regularly arrested and detained, the rights of citizens are non-existent, and people accused of “crimes” are disappeared into black jails, with no contact with lawyers or family.

But today, it is clear that it is already 2047 in Hong Kong.

In the past couple of days, Hong Kong’s highest court ruled that Carrie Lam’s ban on face masks is unconstitutional, violating the Basic Law.

Today, the CCP said that Hong Kong’s courts cannot rule on the constitutionality of legislation passed by the Hong Kong government. Only the CCP can. Read this important thread: https://twitter.com/stuartlauscmp/status/1196565359026999296

[China’s] constitution and the Basic Law jointly form the constitutional foundation of [HK]. Whether HK’s legislation is consistent with the HK Basic Law can only judged and decided by the National People’s Congress standing committee. No other parties can judge or decide.”

CCP National People’s Congress overrules Hong Kong’s High Court

If Hong Kong’s courts cannot decide what Kong Kong’s laws mean and whether or not they are in accordance with Hong Kong’s constitution (the Basic Law), then there is no reason for them to exist. There is no longer any rule of law in Hong Kong.

There is also now evidence that authorities are transporting arrested pro-democracy demonstrators out of Hong Kong. Carrie Lam may have withdrawn the extradition bill that started the demonstrations, but everyone knows that the CCP will do whatever it wants, regardless of what any law says.

If this is actually happening now in Hong Kong, it’s a scene that reminds us of the worst atrocities visited on people in all of human history. It is terrifying. Given what we know is happening in Xinjiang to the Uyghurs, it is certainly possible that these young people will disappear into China’s gulag, where they will have no rights at all. Pray that they will be released soon, unharmed.

It is already 2047 in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Demonstrations Continue – With Masks

As many have reported, the Hong Kong mask ban law introduced by Carrie Lam a couple of days ago appears to have had no effect whatsoever on the demonstrations. Lam said that they would be a deterrent on violence and protesting. Predictably, they have not. In fact, violence may have increased. In any case, the demonstrations continue, and as long as the Hong Kong police do not get involved, the demonstrations seem to be mostly peaceful.

More radical protesters have vandalized quite a lot of businesses seen as pro-Beijing, especially subway and train stations (of Hong Kong’s MTR subway and train system, which protesters view as having assisted the police). ATM machines of banks based in mainland China have been vandalized. Stores of businesses based in mainland China and of pro-Beijing businesses have been attacked as well. All of this has led to the entire MTR subway and train system being shut down, banks and grocery stores closing, and shopping malls being closed.

It is likely that the HK government is behind many of the closures, as part of a plan to have the general public blame the inconvenience on the protesters, so that they lose support. Like the other measures tried by the government, it is unlikely to work. The Hong Kong people know what is going on and understand who is behind it. Making life harder for the people of Hong Kong will only increase their anger, and their anger will be directed primarily at the government.

The Hong Kong government is like a football team (American football!) with only one play in its playbook (continually ratchet up pressure and violence on the Hong Kong people), and they run that play over and over, even though just about every time they get tackled for a loss. Most of the fans in the stands (international observers) are heckling them, hoping that the underdog team (the pro-democracy demonstrators) win the game. The demonstrators are using their hearts and determination, their intelligence and creativity, against enormous odds to win. Let’s all hope they do.

Carrie Lam Would Quit “If She Could.” What is the Path Forward?

Multiple news sources are posting on a Reuters report on Carrie Lam’s talk with a group of business leaders. Reuters obtained a leaked audio recording of Lam’s remarks.

During her talk, Lam said she had caused “unforgivable havoc” by introducing the extradition bill, and that she now has very limited room to maneuver politically to resolve the crisis, as it has become a national security issue for the Beijing government.

If I have a choice, the first thing is to quit, having made a deep apology.

Carrie Lam in Reuters report on her remarks to Hong Kong business leaders

It’s nice that Lam recognizes her enormous blunder, but at this point it is really too late for regrets. Since Beijing has elevated the crisis to a national level, and is not willing to back down lest it “lose face,” Lam must do everything that she can to convince Beijing to completely withdraw the bill. She must also try to restore the Hong Kong government’s relationship with the people to the state it was in before she introduced the bill. This is a next-to-impossible task, given that she has already (no doubt at Beijing’s orders) flatly rejected all of the protesters’ demands, and given the police brutality experienced by the people of Hong Kong. Restoring trust in the government and in the police will be a long-term, arduous, and challenging process, and that process cannot begin at all as long as Beijing and the HK government will not negotiate with the protesters in good faith.

Why Beijing would want Lam to remain in office at this point is very difficult to understand. She has proven herself incapable of handling the crisis and incompetent as a chief executive. Her personal regrets and misgivings are signs that she perhaps has learned something from her mistakes, but if Beijing will not allow her to act on what she has learned, her new understanding of the situation is meaningless for Hong Kong.

What would a reasonable path forward look like? In our opinion, the Hong Kong government, with the support of Beijing, can start by doing these things:

  1. Remove Carrie Lam from office (accept her resignation) and elect/appoint a chief executive respected by the protesters and acceptable to Beijing.
  2. Release an announcement by the new chief executive that the extradition bill has been completely withdrawn and will not be resurrected under any circumstances. Re-affirm the “one country, two systems” principles and the Basic Law. Reject any pressure by Beijing to erode the rights of the Hong Kong people.
  3. Announce a general recognition of the Hong Kong people’s right to assemble and have their grievances addressed in stated in the Basic Law; stop the “white terror” at Hong Kong businesses (e.g. Cathay Pacific Airlines). Reject pressure from Beijing to make HK businesses comply with their demands that are not in accordance with Hong Kong law.
  4. Announce a general amnesty for all protesters and release any still held, with some exceptions (maybe) for those involved in extreme assaults against police.
  5. Remove riot police and other special tactics units from the streets, unless extreme elements within the protest groups continue attacks against police, civilians, infrastructure, or government buildings and property. Strictly instruct and train riot police and special tactics units that they cannot violate the rights of the people, and that they cannot under any circumstances use violent tactics, unless they encounter resistance, and even then, limited force may only be used in order to secure an arrest. Violations of people’s rights or excessive force by police must be met by dismissal from the police force and potential prosecution.
  6. Remove any and all CCP-controlled personnel (People’s Armed Police or other infiltrators) from the HK police force.
  7. Independently investigate and remove any police officers identified as having used excessive force from their duties, and prosecute those that used extreme violence without any justifiable cause. The HK police leadership must not be seen as protecting officers violating the law and the rights of the people.
  8. Re-affirm the rule of law and allow the people of Hong Kong to freely elect their own representatives to the government, per the agreements between China and the U.K in the handover treaties and as set down in the Basic Law, reversing the CCP Standing Committee’s ruling on universal suffrage.

In short, the Hong Kong government should meet the protesters Five Demands.

Finally, if Beijing wants to truly restore Hong Kong, it should announce that the Basic Law will be the governing law in Hong Kong in perpetuity, not just until 2047. Although the Hong Kong people, with good reason, do not trust Beijing, only that step will truly have a chance of giving the people of Hong Kong confidence that their freedom in the future is ensured.

We understand that the CCP will not take our recommendations on this matter; nevertheless, this is what we believe to be reasonable and necessary steps for Hong Kong to be truly restored.

SCMP: Editorial and a Related Article on Hong Kong’s Economy and Political Situation

The South China Morning Post published an editorial titled, “More than money needed to resolve city’s political crisis.” The editorial argues, as the title says, that the political situation in Hong Kong cannot be resolved by pumping money into HK’s economy. We agree. As we said in this article on this site, “You can only buy people off for so long.”

Hong Kong is facing both political and financial problems, some brought on by the U.S. tariffs, and others brought on by Beijing and the HK government’s ham-fisted handling of the political situation (brought on by the proposed extradition amendment to HK’s laws) and the resulting protests. As committed authoritarians and statists, Beijing just cannot see why people would be angry at the loss of their political freedoms and right to self-determination. They seem to think that if people are prospering financially, then they won’t care what kind of government they have. That might be true in mainland China, where the people have never had political freedom or lived under the rule of law. Hong Kong is a much different case. Once people are free, they will not willingly surrender their freedoms. This is a huge blind spot for Beijing.

The SCMP editorial concludes:

The political crisis can only be resolved by political measures. It is incumbent upon the Lam administration to gear up for the challenge, not just to help businesses weather the storm, but also tackle the root of the problem.

SCMP Editorial

The editorial is no doubt in response to measures introduced by the HK government to deal with HK’s economic problems, reported on in a related article cited in their editorial.

The sweeteners, spanning help for small businesses to student subsidies and fee waivers for low-income households, will cost the government nearly 50 per cent more than it had originally planned for one-off measures in the annual budget for this year, which carried the price tag of HK$42.9 billion.

Making the announcement, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po
 cited a host of reasons for the relief measures but studiously avoided the word “protests”, describing the anti-government demonstrations of the past two months instead as “recent social incidents”.

SCMP Article

The SCMP editorial is spot-on. Unfortunately, unless and until the CCP is willing to allow political freedom in China as a whole and let the Chinese people exercise their right to self-determination that all people naturally have, this problem will not be resolved.

China Daily: Return to Rule of Law in Hong Kong

Chinese state-run media arm China Daily reports that legal scholars in mainland China are saying that Hong Kong must return to the rule of law to solve the current problems.

Returning to the rule of law is the only way to solve the current problem in Hong Kong, leading legislators and legal scholars on the mainland said on Thursday.
The rule of law is central to Hong Kong society, but recent violence has damaged its value hurt people around the country, said Han Dayuan, member of Hong Kong Basic Law Committee under the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the country’s top legislature.

China Daily report

Is their sense of irony completely broken? Will the Beijing government allow an independent judiciary, evidence-based trials, presumption of innocence, and the other important aspects of a free and fair legal system in mainland China? Doubtful. How do they dare to presume to tell Hong Kong, which does have a fair legal system, what they need to do? Thus far, all Beijing has done is to undermine Hong Kong’s legal system. That’s what started the protests in the first place. What an embarrassing article for China Daily.

SCMP Opinion: Carrie Lam Could End the Protests with One Speech

In an opinion piece appearing today in the South China Morning Post, Richard Harris – chief executive of Port Shelter Investment – argues that Carrie Lam could end the protests with a single speech, and he provides the text of such a speech in the article. Key points to his model speech:

  • An apology for proposing and complete withdrawal of the amendments to Hong Kong law allowing extradition of Hong Kong citizens to mainland China for trial and guarantees that it will never be revived.
  • An independent study by an “overseas judge” who will be “be tasked to investigate all aspects of the recent disturbances in Hong Kong,” so that the HK government can learn from the protests and improve.
  • Amnesty from legal action for the protesters.
  • Amnesty from legal action for the HK police.
  • Negotiations between the HK government and the protesters, and amnesty from legal action for the negotiators for the protesters.
  • Significant investment by the HK government into infrastructure, education, increased minimum wage.
  • Review and improvement of the HK government bureaucratic structures.

Many of these proposals make sense, especially complete and utter abolishment of any effort to subject HK citizens to mainland Chinese law, negotiations with the protesters, and legal amnesty. But without concrete, significant, guaranteed steps to give HK citizens more political self-determination, these proposals will be fruitless in the long run. You can only buy people off for so long. Likewise, unless the Beijing government backs negotiations, negotiates in good faith, and honors agreements without restrictions, none of this will make any difference. Negotiations that do not bear results or agreements that Beijing reneges on at their own convenience will just make the HK people angrier.

SCMP: Hong Kong law scholar Benny Tai gets bail

The South China Morning Post reports that legal scholar Benny Tai has been released from jail. Who is Benny Tai, and why is this significant news?

Background: The current protests in Hong Kong are not the first major protests against Beijing’s interference in Hong Kong’s politics and government. In fall/winter 2014, the Hong Kong people protested against the CCP Standing Committee reforms to the rules for electing the Hong Kong Chief Executive in the “Umbrella Revolution.” The “revolution” went on from September 16th to December 15th, 2014, and the circumstances and protests were very similar to what is happening now in Hong Kong.

Government officials in Hong Kong and in Beijing denounced the occupation as “illegal” and a “violation of the rule of law”, and Chinese state media and officials claimed repeatedly that the West had played an “instigating” role in the protests, and warned of “deaths and injuries and other grave consequences.

Wikipedia, citing Washington Port article by Anne Applebaum ( https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/anne-applebaum-chinas-familiar-bogeyman-for-the-hong-kong-protests/2014/10/03/d883ac5e-4b3a-11e4-891d-713f052086a0_story.html?noredirect=on )

Wow, that sure sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It’s typical of one-party/one-ruler dictatorships throughout the world to blame the problems of their countries on the U.S. and western democracies, and it’s happening again in Hong Kong now. The CCP cannot accept that the actual reason for the protests is their repressive, oppressive policies and government.

Benny Tai was one of the leaders of the Umbrella Revolution.

Tai and another co-founder of the protests, sociologist Chan Kin-man, were sentenced to 16 months in jail after they were convicted over the unprecedented civil disobedience movement, during which protesters brought several parts of the city to a standstill for 79 straight days seeking greater democracy.

South China Morning Post

Tai, Chan and Chu were all convicted of one count of conspiracy to cause public nuisance, while Tai and Chan were also convicted on one count of inciting others to commit public nuisance.

South China Morning Post

Tai got sixteen months in jail for “conspiracy to cause public nuisance” and “inciting others to commit public nuisance.” That harsh sentence was under Hong Kong’s legal system, where defendants are according a fair trial under the rule of law.

The Hong Kong judiciary has had a longstanding reputation for fairness and was rated as the best judicial system in Asia by one survey in 2008.

Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Hong_Kong#targetText=Under%20the%20principle%20of%20’one,the%20Laws%20of%20Hong%20Kong.

Now imagine what would happen to Benny Tai if he was extradited to China stand trial for “disrupting the harmony of the state” or some such nonsense. This is exactly why the Hong Kong people started the ongoing protests.

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