Tag Archives: Hong Kong

Sweeping victories for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong elections

Good news: In elections yesterday in Hong Kong, pro-democracy candidates won a landslide victory, capturing control of 17 of 18 local councils.

Some 2.94 million people voted in the election, compared with 1.4 million in 2015.

Pro-democracy candidates won close to 60% of the total vote on Sunday, but achieved a landslide in terms of seats because of the first-past-the-post system, local media report. Pro-democracy contenders were victorious in 347 of the 452 district council seats up for grabs; pro-Beijing candidates won 60 seats; while independents – many of them pro-democracy – got 45, according to the South China Morning Post.

In the last election four years ago, pro-Beijing councillors won 298 seats, but the distribution of these seats meant they took control of all 18 district councils.

The official response from the China-appointed leader of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), Carrie Lam, was somewhat conciliatory:

After the social unrest in the past five months, I firmly believe that the vast majority of the public would share my wish for the peaceful, safe and orderly situation to continue.

The HKSAR Government respects the election results. There are various analyses and interpretations in the community in relation to the results, and quite a few are of the view that the results reflect people’s dissatisfaction with the current situation and the deep-seated problems in society. The HKSAR Government will listen to the opinions of members of the public humbly and seriously reflect.

Without doubt these results make it difficult for China to use military force on Hong Kong. The elected leadership throughout all but one district will oppose and stymie such actions. To make it happen the Chinese will literally have to arrest everyone.

In a sense, Hong Kong is becoming the West Berlin of China. It is now a path for ordinary Chinese citizens dissatisfied with communist rule to see another option. For totalitarian regimes, this is never a good thing, as when compared to free societies they never do better.

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China officially withdraws extradition bill that sparked Hong Kong protests

The Chinese government has now officially withdrawn the extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong citizens to be tried within China and that triggered the on-going Hong Kong protests.

We will have to see if this defuses the situation. The protesters have put forth other demands, such as calling for an investigation of the Hong Kong police, instigated by their sometimes violent behavior in response to the protests. More important, the protests have also demanded the return of real elections to Hong Kong, something the Chinese government eliminated in recent years.

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Clashes in Hong Kong protests escalate

This link provides a lot of videos of this past weekend’s protests in Hong Kong, all of which suggest that the protesters are responding to the police’s harsher enforcement with their own harsher actions.

It also appears that the protests began with a peaceful march of tens of thousands, and only became violent when the police tried to shut the protest down.

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More “Free Hong Kong” protesters at NBA-Chinese exhibition games

Maybe we aren’t sheep: A group of protesters showed up at a Washington Wizards exhibition game yesterday against a Chinese basketball team with more “Free Hong Kong” signs, chanting the same throughout the game.

NBA officials however continue to kowtow to China’s demand to squelch these American protests, in America:

During the pregame singing of the Chinese national anthem, there were additional protests, with activists holding up signs and yelling, “Free Hong Kong.” One couple displaying a Tibetan flag left after being confronted by security. Yells of “Free Hong Kong” continued to ring out over the course of the game, as protesters migrated to different sections of the arena.

Security confiscated a “Free Hong Kong” sign from a group of protesters sporting the t-shirts. Later in the first quarter, the protesters displayed a smaller sign reading “Google Uyghurs,”—referring to Chinese Muslims incarcerated in state prison camps—which was also confiscated. [emphasis mine]

Meanwhile, the satirical website, the Babylon Bee, captures the stupidity and anti-Americanism of the NBA perfectly: NBA Now Requiring All Players To Stand For Chinese National Anthem, adding that “Anyone who doesn’t comply will be shot, a beloved Chinese custom that should further smooth things over with the authoritarian regime.”

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Two fans removed from NBA game for holding “Free Hong Kong” signs

They’re coming for you next: Two fans were removed from an NBA exhibition game in Philadelphia (home to the Liberty Bell) yesterday for holding up “Free Hong Kong” signs.

This is a continuation of the recent story which started when the general manager of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, had tweeted support for the Hong Kong protesters. Because the NBA has many financial ties with China (including a training camp in a region in China where they also have their death camps), the NBA demanded and got an apology from that general manager, and has since been taking whatever action it can to squelch any criticism of China within or linked to the league. The removal of these two fans is part of that oppressive campaign, all aligned with this demand by China:

“We are strongly dissatisfied and we oppose [any] claim to support Morey’s right of free expression. We believe that any speech that challenges national sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech,” CCTV said in its statement in Chinese, which was translated by CNBC.

What disturbs me most about this story is that it could not have happened if only the NBA had demanded it. It required the willing cooperation of the Philadelphia 76ers management, the security detail at the stadium, and the crowd surrounding these fans.

In the past all Americans would have told the Chinese to go jump in a lake. We would have laughed at these demands, even those businesses whose financial dealings with China that might be lost by taking such a stand.

If anything, Americans in the past would have suddenly started showing up at every NBA game, carrying hundreds of “Free Hong Kong” signs. At this moment I see no evidence of this happening. Americans apparently are now the sheep that dictatorships like China can nonchalantly rule, at their whim.

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Chinese head in Hong Kong invokes emergency powers

Escalation: Carrie Lam, the Chinese-appointed chief executive in Hong Kong, today invoked emergency powers in her effort to stem the anti-Chinese demonstrations that have been on-going now for four months.

[P]rotesters here can now face criminal penalties of up to than $3,000 and a year’s imprisonment simply for wearing the masks they have used to defend themselves against tear gas and the possibility of arrest.

And, having invoked emergency powers, Lam is now in a position to do almost anything. As the New York Times sums it up: “Under the emergency powers, Mrs. Lam has a wide discretion to create new criminal laws and amend existing laws — all without going through the legislative process.” Newspapers can be censored or shuttered, web sites closed down, property seized, searches carried out galore, and so forth.

It appears that China is beginning the process of cracking down, and will likely do it incrementally, in the hope this will defuse the response, both by the Hong Kong population and the international community.

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China withdraws extradition bill that sparked Hong Kong protests

The Hong Kong government today announced that it is withdrawing the extradition bill demanded by China that sparked Hong Kong protests.

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, said Wednesday that the government would withdraw a contentious extradition bill that ignited months of protests in the city, moving to quell the worst political crisis since the former British colony returned to Chinese control 22 years ago.

The move eliminates a major objection among protesters, but it was unclear if it would be enough to bring an end to intensifying demonstrations, which are now driven by multiple grievances with the government.

“Incidents over these past two months have shocked and saddened Hong Kong people,” she said in an eight-minute televised statement broadcast shortly before 6 p.m. “We are all very anxious about Hong Kong, our home. We all hope to find a way out of the current impasse and unsettling times.”

Her decision comes as the protests near their three-month mark and show little sign of abating, roiling a city known for its orderliness and hurting its economy.

The article suggests that the protests will still go on, that the “genie is out of the bottle.” I am not so sure.

Regardless, what this means is that, as of now, China is admitting that its effort to eliminate Hong Kong’s democratic systems and fold it completely into the communist power structure of the mainland has failed. This does not mean that China will stop trying, merely that they will now pause in this effort.

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Police ramp up violence against Hong Kong protesters today

This weekend’s Hong Kong protests against China’s rule resulted in increased violence by the police against the protesters.

In the evening, clashes between police and demonstrators broke the peaceful rhythm in the afternoon rallies, repeating the pattern of past weekend protests. Police deployed water cannon trucks several times, unleashing blue-dyed water that would make it easier for police to identify frontline protesters. Police chased down protesters and beat them up with batons, injuring multiple people in the head. One person was injured in the left eye, reportedly by a police-fired projectile.

On Hennessy Road, where many protesters had gathered, police fired multiple rounds of tear gas and sponge grenades. Police also confirmed that they fired two live rounds near Victoria Park. There were no reported injuries in the area. It is unclear why police decided to deploy their service weapons at the time.

Toward midnight, violence spread into subway stations in Kowloon district. At the Prince Edward metro station and several other stations in Kowloon, police charged into the station and into train cars, deploying pepper spray and beating their batons. Officers arrested at least a dozen individuals. Several unarmed passengers were seen bleeding from injuries.

More details at the link. It appears that the protests were peaceful for most of the day, until the police decided to move in and try to shut them down.

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Hong Kong arrests three prominent protest leaders

In a sign that China has no intention of compromising with the protesters in Hong Kong, authorities there today arrested three of the most high-profile leaders of the protest movement.

Two were active in protests in 2014.

Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow, who rose to eminence as the student leaders of pro-democracy demonstrations in 2014, were detained Friday, ahead of what is expected to be a tense weekend in the city. Authorities banned a march planned for Saturday, and warned they would use force and possibly arrest those who defy the order.

Police said Wong and Chow face charges of participating in an unauthorized assembly and inciting others to participate in an unapproved assembly, while Wong faces an additional charge of organizing an unapproved assembly, in relation to a June 21 protest at police headquarters. Both were released on bail Friday. …

The sweep came ahead of a sensitive political anniversary in the semiautonomous Chinese territory. This Saturday marks five years since Beijing announced an electoral-reform plan that denied Hong Kong free elections — a decision that triggered 79 days of pro-democracy protests.

More here, including information about other arrests in addition to the three above.

I’m not sure China’s actions here are going to prevent demonstrations tomorrow. For example,

The bespectacled Wong, who was 17 when he became the face of the student-led civil disobedience movement in 2014 that blocked major roads for 79 days, has not been a prominent figure in the latest protests, which have no identifiable leaders.

The same thing applies to the others who were arrested. There doesn’t appear to be anyone in particular running these protests, which means arresting a few scapegoats and banning further demonstrations will probably not work. We shall find out this weekend.

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Hong Kong police fire water cannons, gunshot, against protesters

The first gunshot and use of water cannons by Hong Kong police occurred today against protests opposed to increased Chinese rule over that former British colony.

Earlier Sunday, after thousands of people marched peacefully in pouring rain, a group of hardcore protesters erected makeshift roadblocks and threw bricks and Molotov cocktails at riot police. After firing tear gas in an attempt to dispers the crowds, police drove water cannon vehicles onto the streets for the first time during the protests, unfurling signs warning demonstrators they would deploy the jets if they did not leave. The jets were later fired down from the moving trucks down a road towards a crowd of protesters who ran away.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

There is also no additional information about the gunshot, though it appears it caused no injuries.

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1.7 million protest China in Hong Kong

A gigantic protest — estimated to be 1.7 million people strong — against China’s effort to limit freedoms in Hong Kong filled that city’s streets today, despite pouring rain and in defiance of police orders.

Sunday’s action, billed as a return to the peaceful origins of the leaderless protest movement, drew more than 1.7 million people, making it one of the largest rallies since the protests began about three months ago, according to organisers the Civil Human Rights Front.

It ended a weekend of protests that, as of early Monday, saw no major confrontations with police for the first time in weeks.

Hong Kong has always been China’s equivalent of West Berlin in East Germany, a leak in the monolith communist state that in the long run can only make that communist state unsustainable. Khrushchev temporarily solved this problem (for about forty years) by building a wall around West Berlin that blocked East Germans from entering it. Khrushchev’s act eventually failed, and when it did it took down the Soviet Union.

What will China do? In 1989 the Chinese communists shut down all opposition, far more brutally than Khrushchev, killing thousands in Tiananmen Square. Can the do the same now in Hong Kong?

At the moment this is very unclear.

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Hong Kong airport reopens as protesters retreat

It appears the actions by Chinese riot police yesterday has caused the airport protesters in Hong Kong to back off and allow the airport to reopen.

Most of the protesters left the airport Tuesday after riot police tried to enter the terminal, fighting with demonstrators who barricaded entrances with luggage carts. The brief clash led to several injuries.

The violence included protesters beating up at least two men they suspected of being undercover Chinese agents. Airport security appeared unable to control the crowd, and paramedics later took both men away. Police have acknowledged using “decoy” officers, and some protesters over the weekend were seen being arrested by men dressed like demonstrators — in black and wearing face masks.

Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times, identified one of the men as a journalist at the nationalistic Chinese tabloid. “Fu Guohao, reporter of GT website is being seized by demonstrators at HK airport,” Hu wrote on his Twitter account. “I affirm this man being tied in this video is the reporter himself. He has no other task except for reporting.”

The protesters apologized that some of them had become “easily agitated and overreacted.” On posters, the demonstrators said they have been “riddled with paranoia and rage” after discovering undercover police officers in their ranks.

Meanwhile the article describes other clashes elsewhere in Hong Kong. The conflict in Hong Kong does not appear to be over, by any means.

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Riot police attack Hong Kong airport protesters

Riot police today attacked the Hong Kong airport protesters, storming into their midst with batons and pepper spray.

CNN International reported, following the police operation that reporters witnessed at least four arrests and that officers appeared to be targeting specific people. To get through the protesters, police used pepper spray and batons to push back the crowd. According to an official statement from Hong Kong police, airport officials requested that the riot officers enter the airport to rescue a man who protesters had apprehended and accused of being an undercover police officer. The South China Morning Post also reported that the airport received a court injunction requesting police remove the protesters from the premises, though Hong Kong police did not issue an official statement to that effect and officers left without clearing out every protester.

Pro-democracy protesters shut down the airport Tuesday for the second day in a row, forcing administrators to cancel all flights, in a bid to get the China-controlled Hong Kong government to listen to their demands. Some protesters appeared to panic and target others suspected of working for the communist government after officials admitted this weekend that officers had dressed up as protesters to infiltrate the marches.

So far this attack today does not appear to be an effort to shut the protest down with violence. It appears that after extracting two men, possibly pro-China reporters, the police retreated, though the authorities are now limiting access to the airport, probably with the goal of starving the protest with a lack of new supporters.

A very sad messy situation. The Chinese want to impose its tyranny on Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s citizens want to remain free. The result are street protests that can only turn violent, one way or the other, because China’s government is very unlikely to back down.

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As protesters shut down Hong Kong airport, government brings military into city

Be prepared for bad news: While protesters against a new Chinese law in Hong Kong have shut the airport down, the Chinese government has begun to bring its military into the downtown area.

The initial cause of these protests is an attempt by China to impose a new extradition law on Hong Kong that would allow them to extradite people from Hong Kong into mainland China.

The changes will allow for extradition requests from authorities in mainland China, Taiwan and Macau for suspects accused of criminal wrongdoings, such as murder and rape. The requests will then be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Several commercial offenses such as tax evasion have been removed from the list of extraditable offenses amid concerns from the business community. Hong Kong officials have said Hong Kong courts will have the final say whether to grant such extradition requests, and suspects accused of political and religious crimes will not be extradited.

The government has sought to reassure the public with some concessions, including promising to only hand over fugitives for offenses carrying maximum sentences of at least seven years.

It appears that the population in Hong Kong does not trust the Chinese government that has ruled them since the British left in 1999. They fear the misuse of this law in order to arrest anyone the Chinese government doesn’t like.

The question is whether the Chinese can do in Hong Kong what they did in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Then the government moved the military in and massacred the protesters, effectively ending any political opposition to communist rule. If they do this in Hong Kong they will also end the lingering freedom in that city left over from British rule..

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