US Report — Radio Free Asia – Community News
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US Report — Radio Free Asia

Changes in Hong Kong’s political system, imposed on the city by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), amid an ongoing crackdown on public dissent have turned the city’s legislature into a “rubber stamp” and have undermined the independence of judges, according to a US administration. report.

“Changes in Hong Kong’s elections and the composition of the legislature now ensure that pro-Beijing lawmakers will always have a majority, turning the once-competitive Legislative Council into a parliamentary parliament,” says the Economic and Security Review Commission (ESRC) between the US and China. ) said this week in its annual report to Congress.

Meanwhile, judges in cases brought under a draconian national security law that came into effect on July 1st, 2020 are now being chosen from a list approved by the CCP-backed national security apparatus, “effectively stripping Hong Kong’s judiciary of its former independence,” the report said.

“The changes will enable the Hong Kong government to ensure that all national security cases are assigned to government-designated judges, making the results beneficial to the government and the CCP,” it said.

Taiwanese strategic analyst Shih Chien-yu said he was surprised that the report named some national security judges, suggesting that the US conducted very detailed investigations for the report.

“This is an overview of the erosion of judicial independence in Hong Kong over the past year, and of the principles underlying due process,” Shih told RFA. “It calls” [judges] to show that the situation has deteriorated very quickly.”

“The criticism is very direct, showing that [the authors] think the situation is already very serious and unlikely to change,” he said.

CCP version of history

The report also cited new powers granted to the government to prevent people from entering and leaving the city, amid a net outflow of tens of thousands of permanent residents in the year after the law went into effect.

Due to sweeping changes to the city’s education curriculum, teachers are now required to deliver CCP-approved versions of history amid a culture in which anyone who criticizes the government is informed in the classroom, something prohibited by national security law. the report said.

“Authorities use these new powers to fire” [teachers] for unapproved speech,” it read. “Educators are forced to twist reality and history in order to… [CCP] in a positive light.”

It said the government also has the power and capacity to impose internet censorship in Hong Kong at any time amid an ongoing crackdown on media criticism of the government, including the forced closure of the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily and the arrests of several senior journalists.

Hong Kong Democracy Council founder Samuel Chu said the report accurately reflects the reality of Hong Kong, which is that the city is now much like any other part of China.

“They recommend some very specific actions, such as treating Hong Kong as part of China’s WTO membership, and how” [China] suppresses or takes advantage of American companies to further their plans in Hong Kong,” Chu said.

Political commentator Joseph Cheng said the wording of the report makes it very clear that Hong Kong is now under authoritarian rule.

“This report attaches great importance to freedoms [once] which the Hong Kong people enjoy, especially with regard to immigration and emigration,” Cheng said.

“They are particularly concerned about…whether Hong Kong people will be subjected to unnecessary and unjustified restrictions when leaving Hong Kong,” he said.

“The report is a pretty damning critique of Hong Kong.”

Jimmy Lai honored

The Hong Kong government rejected the findings.

“The [Hong Kong] The administration once again urges the United States to respect international law and basic standards of international relations,” it said in a statement on Nov. 18.

“Any attempt to interfere in China’s internal affairs through Hong Kong will fail and we will resolutely continue to fulfill our responsibility to ensure national security.”

In New York, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) presented prison terms Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai with his 2021 Gwyn Ifill Press Freedom Award.

“Lai has become a powerful symbol of the struggle to maintain press freedom in Hong Kong as the Chinese Communist Party increasingly exercises control over the territory,” the CPJ said in a statement on its website.

“In jail, without bail, the outspoken critic of the Chinese government and advocate for democracy is charged with charges that could leave him in prison for the rest of his life,” the post read.

Lai is on trial under the national security law for “conspiracy with a foreign power” over alleged attempts to lobby the US to impose sanctions on Hong Kong and Chinese officials.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.