The arrest this week of pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai in Hong Kong reveals the repressive reality of the city’s new made-in-China national security law. It also sends a sharp signal to the remaining independent media in the territory: watch your step, or you could be next. Lai, his two sons and 4 top executives of the Next Digital media group were all arrested under the new law. On the same day, police raided the offices of Next’s flagship publication, Apple Daily , deploying over 200 officers to search the premises for almost 9 hours. China imposed the national security law in June, bypassing the local legislature and breaching the principle of non-interference in the city’s governance. The new law established a comprehensive PRC-style national security regime overriding aspects of Hong Kong’s common law legal system. The national security law is designed to make dissent all but impossible in Hong Kong, including in the … [Read more...] about What Jimmy Lai’s arrest means for Hong Kong’s independent media
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A day after 500 police officers raided its newsroom and arrested five executives , Hong Kong's pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily printed 500,000 copies featuring the raid and the arrest on its front page. "We must press on," read the headline, citing a passage from the paper's CEO Cheung Kim-hung. On Friday, police formally charged Cheung and Editor-in-Chief Ryan Law with collusion with a foreign power. The other three executives are facing further investigation. Hong Kongers across the city lined up in the morning to try to secure a copy of the paper following Thursday's raid. Sales of Apply Daily spiked on Friday, and many customers bought several copies to show support for the paper, newsstand owners said. Watch video 01:48 Apple Daily editors arrested in massive raid Despite the defiant mood, the dramatic raid and arrest have sparked a new wave of concern among experts and observers, with some characterizing the operation as an obvious … [Read more...] about How is Beijing reshaping Hong Kong through the national security law?
Hong Kong's legislature passed an electoral reform bill on Thursday that is set to increase the number of pro-Beijing lawmakers in the city's legislative council. At the same time, it reduces the public's ability to choose elected representatives. The changes are part of a set of reforms to Hong Kong's electoral system endorsed by China's rubber-stamp parliament in March. Beijing's move at the time drew widespread international condemnation as a severe encroachment of the semi-autonomous territory's rights enshrined under the "one country, two systems" framework. What do the reforms entail? The latest changes allow Hong Kong's national security department to carry out background checks to ensure candidates for public office are "patriotic," which critics say shuts out pro-democracy lawmakers who oppose Beijing-friendly policy. Watch video 02:32 China tightens control on Hong Kong legislature The law also expands the number of seats in … [Read more...] about Hong Kong passes new electoral law reducing voting rights
China has passed a controversial new security law, giving it new powers over Hong Kong, following more than a year of pro-democracy protests. But what does the new law involve and what will be its affects? Why has Beijing introduced a national security law? Critics of the national security law believe it has been introduced to crush the pro-democracy protests that have roiled the Asian financial hub for the past year, while tightening China’s direct control and bypassing the city’s nominal parliament. The UK has accused Beijing of breaching a binding deal when Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 to guarantee the city’s way of life until 2047. What do we know? The new law is even worse and more overarching in scope than many had anticipated, introducing life sentences or long jail terms for vaguely defined national security crimes, grouped into four sections: subversion, secession, terrorism and colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security. The 66 … [Read more...] about Q&A: What does the new security law mean for Hong Kong?
The top US diplomat in Hong Kong said the imposition of a new national security law had created an "atmosphere of coercion" that threatens both the city's freedoms and its standing as an international business hub. In unusually strident remarks to Reuters this week, US Consul-General Hanscom Smith called it "appalling" that Beijing's influence had "vilified" routine diplomatic activities such as meeting local activists, part of a government crackdown on foreign forces that was "casting a pall over the city". Smith's remarks highlight deepening concerns over Hong Kong's sharply deteriorating freedoms among many officials in the administration of President Joe Biden one year after China's parliament imposed the law. Critics of the legislation say the law has crushed the city's democratic opposition, civil society and Western-style freedoms. The foreign forces issue is at the heart of the crimes of "collusion" with foreign countries or "external elements" detailed … [Read more...] about China’s attacks on ‘foreign forces’ threaten Hong Kong’s global standing – top US envoy
Hong Kong authorities on Friday, May 14, froze assets belonging to jailed media tycoon Jimmy Lai, including all shares in his company, Next Digital - the first time a listed firm has been targeted by national security laws in the financial hub. Also among assets targeted were the local bank accounts of three companies owned by him, Hong Kong's Secretary for Security John Lee said in a government statement. The statement, issued after the market close, said Lee had issued notices "in writing to freeze all the shares of Next Digital Limited held by (Jimmy) Lai Chee-ying, and the property in the local bank accounts of three companies owned by him". Lai was sentenced to 14 months in prison for taking part in unauthorized assemblies during pro-democracy protests in 2019. He faces three alleged charges under a sweeping new national security law imposed by Beijing, including collusion with a foreign country. The move against his assets was also made … [Read more...] about Hong Kong freezes listed shares of media tycoon Lai under security law
Beijing has broken its legal obligations by undermining Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy and used a national security law to "drastically curtail freedoms" in the global financial hub, according to a report by Britain on its former colony. In a foreword in the six-monthly report covering July-December 2020, British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said a sweeping national security law Beijing imposed on the city in June 2020 was being used to stifle political opposition. There had been "clear breaches" of the 1984 Joint Declaration, signed by then Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that guaranteed wide-ranging freedoms for Hong Kong, Raab said. The report criticized Beijing's overhaul of Hong Kong's electoral system, prosecution decisions made by the Department of Justice and the contentious security law . "We have therefore now declared China to be in a state of ongoing non-compliance with the Joint … [Read more...] about UK report says Hong Kong security law used to ‘drastically curtail freedoms’
Prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activist and media tycoon Jimmy Lai was sentenced to 14 additional months in prison Friday for his role in organizing anti-government protests in 2019. Seven other pro-democracy activists, including youth campaigner Figo Chan, activist Avery Ng, as well as former pro-democracy lawmakers Lee Cheuk-yan and Leung Kwok-hung, were also handed new sentences. The latest prison sentences come amid growing concerns from international rights groups and Western countries about waning freedoms in Hong Kong. Why were they sentenced again? Lai and several other activists were charged with "incitement to take part in an unauthorized assembly." The new sentencing involves a pro-democracy protest in October 2019 on China's "National Day" marking the anniversary of the founding of communist China. Widespread clashes between protesters and police broke out during National Day protests that year. Although the 2019 march attended by the activists who … [Read more...] about Hong Kong: Jimmy Lai and pro-democracy activists given more jail time
Two executives from Hong Kong's pro-democracy Apple Daily appeared in court on Saturday on charges of collusion and were denied bail after authorities deployed a sweeping security law to target the newspaper, a scathing critic of Beijing. Chief editor Ryan Law and chief executive Cheung Kim-hung are accused of colluding with foreign forces to undermine China's national security over a series of articles that police said called for international sanctions. Chief magistrate Victor So said there were insufficient grounds "for the court to believe that the defendants will not continue to commit acts endangering national security ". It is the first time the political views and opinion published by a Hong Kong media outlet have triggered the security law, which was imposed last year by Beijing to stamp out dissent in the financial hub. Apple Daily and its jailed owner Jimmy Lai have long been thorns in Beijing's side, with unapologetic support for the city's pro-democracy … [Read more...] about Pro-democracy Apple Daily media executives denied bail under security law in Hong Kong
Hong Kong will continue to invite foreign judges to its courts and the city's legal system remains "hard as a rock", Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday, June 8, amid international concern about the impact of a sweeping national security law. Worries over the ability of Hong Kong's judicial system to uphold human rights while applying the new law independently intensified last week when the judiciary said British judge Brenda Hale would step down from the top court next month. Hale, Britain's former Supreme Court president, is one of 13 overseas non-permanent judges on the Court of Final Appeal, whose presence has long been seen as a symbol of the rule of law after Britain returned its former colony to China in 1997. Lam, speaking at her regular weekly news conference, said she would not speculate on Hale's reasons for stepping down when her three-year term expires. "But I believe the judiciary in Hong Kong is as hard as a rock," she said. "The … [Read more...] about Foreign judges remain part of Hong Kong’s ‘hard as a rock’ judicial system – Lam