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Archive for the ‘Poilace Vivid’ Category

China condemns Germany’s Hong Kong extradition suspension

August 01, 2020

BERLIN (AP) — China has condemned Germany’s decision to suspend its extradition agreement with Hong Kong, accusing Berlin of a “serious breach of international law.” Germany’s foreign minister announced the suspension Friday following the disqualification of 12 pro-democracy candidates from legislative elections and a subsequent decision to postpone the elections. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam cited a worsening coronavirus outbreak in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory in postponing the vote.

The Chinese Embassy in Berlin expressed “strong indignation and firm opposition to the wrong remarks of German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas” in a statement posted on its website and dated Friday. Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States also have suspended their extradition treaties with Hong Kong last month after the central government in Beijing imposed a new national security law on the city. The move raised fears that Hong Kong’s freedoms and local autonomy are being taken away.

Germany’s Maas described the election decisions as “a further infringement of the rights of Hong Kong’s citizens.” The Chinese Embassy said the actions were justified and consistent with the “one country, two systems” framework under which Hong Kong, a former British colony, was handed over to Chinese control in 1997.

“The German side’s erroneous remarks on Hong Kong and the suspension of the extradition treaty with Hong Kong are a serious breach of international law and basic norms governing international relations and gross violation of China’s internal affairs,” the embassy statement said. “We firmly oppose them and reserve the right to react further.”

Germany currently holds the European Union’s rotating presidency.

Former president who brought direct elections to Taiwan dies

July 31, 2020

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui, who brought direct elections and other democratic changes to the self-governed island despite missile launches and other fierce saber-rattling by China, has died. He was 97.

Taipei Veterans General Hospital said Lee died Thursday evening after suffering from infections, cardiac problems and organ failure since being hospitalized in February. Lee strove to create a separate, non-Chinese identity for Taiwan, angering not only China, which considers the island part of its territory, but also members of his Nationalist Party who hoped to return victorious to the mainland.

Lee later openly endorsed formal independence for the island but illness in his later years prompted him to largely withdraw from public life. “President Lee’s contribution to Taiwan’s democratic journey was irreplaceable and his death is a great loss for the country,” current President Tsai Ing-wen said in a statement.

Tsai’s predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou of the Nationalists, who earlier served in Lee’s Cabinet, said Lee’s contribution to Taiwan’s democratization “deserves recognition from the people.” “Although former President Lee’s political philosophy has undergone tremendous changes after his resignation, former President Ma is still grateful for his dedication to the country and believes that history will have a fair and objective evaluation,” a statement from Ma’s office said.

Physically imposing and charismatic, Lee spanned Taiwan’s modern history and was native to the island, unlike many who arrived with Chiang Kai-shek in 1949, at the end of the Chinese civil war. At times gruff, at times personable, he left little doubt he was the man in charge in almost any setting.

“A leader must be tough and strong enough so he can put an end to disputes and chaotic situations,” he wrote in his autobiography. He was born in a farming community near Taipei on Jan 15, 1923, near the midpoint of Japan’s half-century colonial rule. The son of a Japanese police aide, he volunteered in the Imperial Japanese Army and returned to Taiwan as a newly commissioned second lieutenant to help man an anti-aircraft battery.

He earned degrees in Japan and Taiwan, as well as at Iowa State University and Cornell University in New York. He worked for the U.S.-sponsored Joint Commission on Rural Reconstruction, which sought to encourage land reform and modernize Taiwanese agriculture. He was a member of overwhelmingly Buddhist Taiwan’s Christian minority.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, noting Lee’s close ties with Japan, praised him for his contributions to bolster friendship between Japan and Taiwan. “Many Japanese people have developed special attachment to President Lee as a leader who had established freedom, democracy and universal values in Taiwan and cornerstone of Japan-Taiwan relation,(asterisk) Abe said Friday.

In 1971, Lee joined the governing Nationalist Party. As a descendant of the people who migrated to the island from China in the 17th and 18th centuries, he was part of the party’s effort to broaden its base beyond the 1949 arrivals from the mainland. He was Taipei mayor, Taiwan province governor and vice president before succeeding to the presidency in 1988.

In his early years as president, Lee met significant resistance from Nationalist hard-liners who favored the party’s tradition of mainlander domination and resented Lee’s native status. He beat back the resistance, largely by giving his detractors important political positions.

In 1990, Lee signaled his support for student demands for direct elections of Taiwan’s president and vice president and the end of reserving legislative seats to represent districts on the Chinese mainland. The following year he oversaw the dismantling of emergency laws put into effect by Chiang Kai-shek’s government, effectively reversing the Nationalists’ long-standing goal of returning to the mainland and removing the Communists from power.

Communist China saw the democratic steps as a direct threat to its claim to Taiwan, and its anger was exacerbated when Lee visited the United States in 1995. To Beijing, Lee’s visit to Cornell signaled the United States was willing to accord special recognition to the ruler of a “renegade” Chinese province.

The U.S. made sure Lee did not meet with high-ranking American officials, including then-President Bill Clinton, but its attempts to dampen Chinese anger were unsuccessful. China soon began a series of threatening military maneuvers off the coast of mainland Fujian province that included the firing of missiles just off Taiwan’s coast. More missiles were fired immediately before the March 1996 presidential elections, and the U.S. response was to send aircraft carrier battle groups to Taiwan’s east coast in a show of support. Taiwanese were uncowed and the elections went ahead, with Lee victorious.

In a celebrated interview in late 1996, Lee declared that relations between Taiwan and China had the character of relations between two separate states. This was heresy, not only in the eyes of Beijing, but also for many Nationalists, who continued to see Taiwan as part of China, and looked forward to eventual union between the sides, though not necessarily under Communist control.

In 2000, Taiwan elected Chen Shui-bian of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party as president, ending a half-century of Nationalist monopoly. His election was virtually guaranteed by a split in the Nationalist Party, which had two representatives in the race. The retiring Lee had supported one of them but was still blamed for the split, and the party moved to expel him.

In 2001, supporters of Lee formed a new pro-independence party. The Taiwan Solidarity Union also wanted to break the cultural and political connection between the island and the mainland. Lee himself backed away from wanting a formal declaration of independence for Taiwan, insisting it already was, given the island was not Chinese Communist-controlled.

In 2012, he backed independence-minded candidate Tsai of the DPP, who lost to Ma, an avatar of closer ties between China and Taiwan. Tsai ran again and was elected in 2016, upping tensions again with China. Lee was ailing by that time and played little role in the election. Tsai won re-election this year by a healthy margin over her Nationalist challenger.

Lee is survived by his wife of seven decades, Tseng Wen-hui, and their two daughters. A son died in 1982 from cancer. There was no immediate announcement about funeral arrangements.

Hong Kong disqualifies 12 opposition nominees for assembly

July 30, 2020

HONG KONG (AP) — At least 12 Hong Kong pro-democracy nominees including prominent activist Joshua Wong were disqualified for September legislative elections, with authorities saying Thursday they failed to uphold the city’s mini-constitution and pledge allegiance to Hong Kong and Beijing.

Others who were disqualified include democracy activist Tiffany Yuen from the disbanded political organization Demosisto, as well as incumbent lawmaker Dennis Kwok and three others from the pro-democracy Civic Party.

It marks a setback for the pro-democracy camp, which had aimed to win a majority of seats in the legislature this year. Earlier this month, they held an unofficial primary, with candidates including Wong topping the polls.

Wong said he was disqualified because he had described the city’s recently imposed national security law as draconian, which indicated he did not support the law and thus invalidated his candidacy. “Clearly, Beijing shows a total disregard for the will of the Hongkongers, tramples upon the city’s last pillar of vanishing autonomy and attempts to keep Hong Kong’s legislature under its firm grip,” Wong said in a Facebook post on Thursday.

Wong and many pro-democracy nominees had been asked to clarify their political stance earlier this week as their nominations were being reviewed. Kwok said the disqualification of pro-democracy nominees was a political decision that amounted to political screening.

“Today we are seeing the results of the relentless oppression that this regime is starting … to take away the basic fundamental rights and freedom that are once enjoyed by all Hong Kong people under the Basic Law,” Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, Kwok said in a news conference.

“They also try to drive fear and oppression into our hearts and this, we must not let them succeed,” he said. Other nominees were still being reviewed, the government said in a statement expressing support for the disqualifications.

“We do not rule out the possibility that more nominations would be invalidated,” it said. Earlier Thursday, Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Lee Cheuk-yan denounced the new national security law imposed by Beijing in response to last year’s massive protests calling for greater freedoms. He criticized authorities for arresting four youths under the law on suspicion of inciting secession via online posts.

“Hong Kong politics keeps changing,” said Lee. “Now they are using the national security law against the young people … these young people are being charged just for the things they said.” The four, aged between 16 to 21, were detained Wednesday for announcing on social media that they had set up an organization for Hong Kong independence. An organization called Studentlocalism – which disbanded ahead of the national security law taking effect on June 30 – said in a Facebook post that four of its former members had been arrested on secession charges.

Lee spoke ahead of a court appearance with 14 other pro-democracy activists, including former lawmaker Martin Lee and media tycoon Jimmy Lai. The group was arrested in April over anti-government protests last year and was charged with participating and inciting others to take part in an unauthorized assembly.

Lee said the U.N. Human Rights Committee recently affirmed that the notification of an assembly is not a requirement, and that participation in an unnotified assembly should not be a criminal offense.

“It very clearly vindicates us, we are exercising our rights,” Lee said.

Associated Press journalist Alice Fung in Hong Kong contributed to this report.

4 arrested under new Hong Kong security law for online posts

July 30, 2020

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong police have signaled their intent to enforce a new Chinese national security law strictly, arresting four youths Wednesday on suspicion of inciting secession through social media posts.

Three males and one female, aged 16 to 21, were detained, a police official said at an 11 p.m. news conference. All are believed to be students. “Our investigation showed that a group has recently announced on social media that they have set up an organization for Hong Kong independence,” said Li Kwai-wah, senior superintendent of a newly formed unit to enforce the security law.

The 1-month-old law has chilled pro-democracy protesting as activists along with academics and others wonder if their activities could be targeted. The central government in Beijing imposed the national security law on the semi-autonomous Chinese territory after city leaders were unable to get one passed locally. The move has raised fears that Hong Kong’s freedoms and local autonomy are being taken away.

Police did not identify the suspects or their group. An organization called Studentlocalism — which announced it was disbanding just before the law took effect — said on Facebook that four former members had been arrested on secession charges, including ex-leader Tony Chung.

The police action appeared to target the Initiative Independence Party, which says on its Facebook page that it consists of former Studentlocalism members who have completed their studies and are overseas.

The party, which also posted the news of Wednesday’s arrests, advocates for independence because it believes full democracy for Hong Kong is impossible under Chinese rule, its Facebook page says. Li said only that the group in question had set up recently and that the posts were made after the law took effect late on June 30.

“They said they want to establish a Hong Kong republic, and that they will unreservedly fight for it,” he said. “They also said they want to unite all pro-independence groups in Hong Kong for this purpose.”

He warned anyone who thinks they can carry out such crimes online to think twice. Police have made a handful of other arrests under the new law, all of people taking part in protests and chanting slogans or waving flags deemed to violate the law.

China promised Hong Kong would have its own governing and legal systems under a “one country, two systems” principle until 2047, or 50 years after Britain handed back its former colony in 1997. China, in justifying the new law, says issues such as separatism are a national security concern and, as such, fall under its purview.

The latest arrests came one day after a leading figure in Hong Kong’s political opposition was fired from his university post. Hong Kong University’s council voted 18-2 to oust Benny Tai from his position as an associate law professor, local media reported.

Tai has been out on bail since being sentenced to 16 months in prison in April 2019 as one of nine leaders put on trial for their part in 2014 protests for greater democracy known as the Umbrella Movement.

In a posting Wednesday on his Facebook account, Tai said he intended to continue writing and lecturing on legal issues and asked for public support. “If we continue in our persistence, we will definitely see the revival of the rule of law in Hong Kong one day,” Tai wrote.

While the 2014 movement failed in its bid to expand democracy, protests returned last year over a legislative proposal that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to face trial in mainland China.

Although the legislation was eventually shelved, protester demands expanded to include calls for democratic change and an investigation into alleged police abuses. They grew increasingly violent in the second half of the year.

In a statement issued after the vote to remove Tai, the Chinese government’s liaison office in Hong Kong said it was “a punishment for evil doing.”

Associated Press writers Ken Moritsugu in Beijing and Sylvia Hui in London contributed to this report.

South Korea reports case spike, US states tighten controls

July 25, 2020

BEIJING (AP) — South Korea on Saturday reported more than 100 new coronavirus cases for the first time in four months while South Africa announced a surge in infections and some U.S. states tightened anti-disease controls.

South Korea’s 113 new cases included 36 workers returning from Iraq and 32 crew members of a Russian freighter, the government said. Authorities had warned to expect a spike in cases from abroad and appealed to the public not to be alarmed.

China, which has relaxed most of its anti-disease controls after case numbers dropped off, reported 34 new cases in a new surge of infections. That included 29 that were contracted within the country.

Worldwide, a total of 638,352 deaths and 15,672,841 cases have been reported, according to data compiled from government announcements by Johns Hopkins University. South Africa, Africa’s hardest-hit country, reported more than 13,104 new confirmed cases, raising its total to 408,052. The government has reported 6,093 deaths.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said Thursday schools will “take a break” for a month to protect children. Despite rising infections, restaurant and hospitality workers protested this week, demand a loosening of restrictions on their industries.

India, the country with the third-highest infection total behind the United States and Brazil, reported its death toll rose by 740 to 30,601. The government reported a surge of 49,310 new cases, raising its total to 1,287,945.

The Home Ministry issued an advisory Friday calling for Independence Day celebrations on Aug. 15 to avoid large gatherings. In the United States, Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi tightened controls on bars to protect “young, drunk, careless folks.” Bars already were limited to operating at 50% capacity. Now, patrons will have to sit down to order alcohol and sales stop at 11 p.m.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans ordered bars closed and banned restaurants from selling alcoholic drinks to take away. That came after more than 2,000 new cases were reported for the surrounding state of Louisiana, including 103 in New Orleans.

Arizona reported 89 additional deaths, raising the state’s fatality total to 3,142. The state reported 3,349 new cases, raising its total to 156,301. The United States has suffered 145,391 deaths and has 4.1 million confirmed cases.

Millions of Americans who are temporarily out of work face the loss of a $600 weekly supplement to unemployment benefits that is due to end July 31. Legislators in Washington are negotiating a new relief bill. Democrats in Congress want to renew the $600 supplement. Republicans who control the Senate want to limit benefits to 70% of what people made before the outbreak.

In Australia, Premier Daniel Andrews of the southern state of Victoria announced five deaths and 357 new cases. Victoria, where the death toll has risen to 61, earlier closed its border with neighboring New South Wales.

In Europe, French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced travelers from the United States and 15 other countries where viral circulation is strong must be tested on arrival unless they can show proof of a negative test in the past 72 hours.

Other countries on France’s list range from South Africa, Israel and Qatar to Brazil and Peru. In Yemen, 97 medical workers have died of the virus, a serious blow to a country with few doctors that is in the midst of a 5-year-old war, the humanitarian group MedGlobal said in a report.

The “overwhelming death toll” will have “immense short-term and long-term health effects,” said the report’s lead author, Kathleen Fallon.

AP journalists around the world contributed to this report.

Seoul mayor left note saying ‘sorry’ as South Korea mourns

July 10, 2020

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Seoul’s mayor left a note saying he felt “sorry to all people” before he was found dead early Friday, officials in the South Korean capital said as people began mourning the liberal legal activist seen as a potential presidential candidate.

Mayor Park Won-soon had been found dead in wooded hills in northern Seoul hours after his daughter reported to police he had left her a “will-like” verbal message and disappeared. His body was found after hours of searching near the last location of his phone. Police said there were no signs of foul play at the site but refused to disclose his cause of death.

A mourning station was set up at a hospital to receive mourners for five days. Some politicians and civic activists visited the hospital to pay respects to Park. His funeral is to be held next week. Seoul government officials said Park canceled his scheduled appointments and did not come to work Thursday without explanation.

South Korean media including SBS television network reported Thursday night that one of Park’s secretaries had lodged a complaint with police on Wednesday night over alleged sexual harassment for an extend period.

Police later confirmed that a complaint against Park had been filed but cited privacy issues in refusing to elaborate, including on whether the complaint was about sexual behavior. Seoul’s city government said a note left by Park was found at his residence.

“I feel sorry to all people. I thank everyone who has been with me in my life,” the note shown on TV said. It continued with a request his remains be cremated and scattered around his parents’ graves.

The U.S. Ambassador to South Korea, Harry Harris, expressed his sadness at Park’s death. “My condolences to his family and to the people of Seoul during this difficult time,” his tweet said. Park, 64, was a longtime civic activist and human rights lawyer before he was elected Seoul mayor in 2011. He became the city’s first mayor to be voted to a third term in June 2018. A member of President Moon Jae-in’s liberal Democratic Party, he had been considered a potential presidential candidate in 2022 elections.

Park led an aggressive campaign to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the city of 10 million people, shutting down thousands of nightspots and banning rallies in major downtown streets. But the capital has become a new center of the outbreak in South Korea since the country eased its rigid social distancing rules in early May. Authorities are struggling to trace contacts of infected people as clusters arise in a variety of places.

Mayor of South Korean capital found dead after 7-hour search

July 10, 2020

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The missing mayor of South Korea’s capital, reportedly embroiled in sexual harassment allegations, was found dead early Friday, more than half a day after giving his daughter a will-like message and then leaving home, police said.

Police said they located Park Won-soon’s body near a traditional restaurant in wooded hills in northern Seoul, more than seven hours after they launched a massive search for him. There were no signs of foul play and no suicide note was found at the site or in Park’s residence, Choi Ik-su, an officer from the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, told reporters. He refused to elaborate on the cause of Park’s death.

Choi said rescue dogs found Park’s body, and police had recovered his bag, cellphone and business cards. His daughter called police on Thursday afternoon and said her father had given her “a will-like” verbal message in the morning before leaving home. She didn’t explain the contents of the message, said an officer at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency who was responsible for the search operation.

Police said they mobilized about 600 police and fire officers, drones and tracking dogs to search for Park in the hills where his cellphone signal was last detected. They said the phone was turned off when they tried to call him.

His daughter called police after she couldn’t reach her father on the phone, the Seoul police officer said, requesting anonymity because she was not authorized to speak to the media about the matter. Kim Ji-hyeong, a Seoul Metropolitan Government official, said Park did not come to work on Thursday for unspecified reasons and had canceled all of his schedule, including a meeting with a presidential official at his Seoul City Hall office.

The reason for Park’s disappearance wasn’t clear. The Seoul-based SBS television network reported that one of Park’s secretaries had lodged a complaint with police on Wednesday night over alleged sexual harassment such as unwanted physical contact that began in 2017. The SBS report, which didn’t cite any source, said the secretary told police investigators that an unspecified number of other female employees at Seoul City Hall had suffered similar sexual harassment by Park.

MBC television carried a similar report. Choi, the police officer, confirmed that a complaint was filed with police against Park on Wednesday. He refused to provide further details, citing privacy issues.

Police officer Lee Byeong-seok told reporters that Park was identified by a security camera at 10:53 a.m. at the entrance to the hills, more than six hours before his daughter called police to report him missing.

Fire officer Jeong Jin-hyang told reporters rescuers used dogs to search dangerous areas on the hills. Park, 64, a longtime civic activist and human rights lawyer, was elected Seoul mayor in 2011. He became the city’s first mayor to be voted to a third term in June 2018. A member of President Moon Jae-in’s liberal Democratic Party, he had been considered a potential presidential candidate in 2022 elections.

Park had mostly maintained his activist colors as mayor, criticizing what he described as the country’s growing social and economic inequalities and corrupt ties between large businesses and politicians.

As a lawyer, he was credited with winning the country’s first sexual harassment conviction. He has also been an outspoken critic of Japan’s colonial-era policies toward Korea, including the mobilization of Korean and other women as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers.

Park also established himself as a fierce opponent of former conservative President Park Geun-hye and openly supported the millions of people who flooded the city’s streets in late 2016 and 2017 calling for her ouster over a corruption scandal.

Park Geun-hye, a daughter of late authoritarian leader Park Chung-hee, was formally removed from office in March 2017 and is currently serving a decades-long prison term for convictions on bribery and other charges.

Seoul, a city of 10 million people, has become a new center of the coronavirus outbreak in South Korea since the country eased its rigid social distancing rules in early May. Authorities are struggling to trace contacts amid surges in cases linked to nightclubs, church services, a huge e-commerce warehouse and door-to-door sellers in Seoul.

Park Won-soon led an aggressive anti-virus campaign, shutting down thousands of nightspots and banning rallies in major downtown streets.

Japan will reorient missile defense posture as Aegis Ashore is suspended

London, UK (SPX)

Jul 02, 2020

Japan’s announcement on the suspension of the deployment of Aegis Ashore missile defense systems marks a potential shift in the country’s security strategy. The turning point depends on the substitute for Aegis Ashore. The country is now considering pre-emptive strike capabilities as a possibility, targeting missile launchers in North Korea first instead of intercepting incoming missiles. Intercepting attacks and proactively neutralizing threats shows a substantial change in Japan’s defense posture, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Vera Lin, Associate Aerospace, Defense and Security Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Pre-emptive strike capabilities is a constitutional option as it is interpreted as an act of defense abiding Article 9, which formally forbids Japan from acts of war. Including first-strike options as possible Aegis Ashore substitutes falls within Japan’s shift towards a proactive defense posture to neutralize threats offshore.”

GlobalData forecasts a sustained level of spending for missile procurement for 2021-2025. Japan is aiming to strengthen missile defense shields to prepare against immanent security threats such as North Korea’s ballistic missile simultaneous launch capability.

According to GlobalData’s latest report ‘Japan – FY 2020 Defense Budget Analysis, Competitive Landscape and Forecasts’, Japan allocated US$105m for the procurement of Vertical Launching systems for land-based Aegis Ashore system. The program’s suspension cited technical difficulties, rising costs and concerns of falling booster rockets on residential areas.

Lin continues: “Suspending Aegis Ashore is removing a key part of the interoperable missile defense system which consists of two levels: the sea-based Aegis destroyers used to shoot down incoming missiles and the land-based Aegis Ashore for missile interception. This is a major setback for greater self-sufficiency in missile defense amidst a degrading security environment as North Korea and China increase ballistic missile capabilities. However, replacing Aegis Ashore with a first-strike option would be an opportunity to normalize a more autonomous military force, although it may prove difficult due to political opposition”

The estimated budget for deploying the two Aegis Ashore interceptor batteries amounted to approximately US$1.5bn as part of a wider missile defense strategy between Japan and the US. The two countries are also collaborating on a range of missile development programs, driving Japan’s increase in defense expenditures. The soaring costs of Aegis Ashore and eventual suspension reveals a dilemma between reconciling ambitions for pre-emptive missile defense and economic pressures from a contracting post-COVID-19 economy.

Lin concludes: “Cooperation between the two allied countries will continue, as the US is invested in Japan’s Aegis Ashore missile shield to combat emerging threats from North Korea and China. Reinforcing Japan’s missile defense capabilities will provide better footholds to expend more resources for the US security strategy in the Indo-Pacific.”

Source: Space War.

Link: https://www.spacewar.com/reports/Japan_will_reorient_missile_defense_posture_as_Aegis_Ashore_is_suspended_says_GlobalData_999.html.

UK to open citizenship path to Hong Kongers from January

July 22, 2020

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s government announced Wednesday that it will open a new special pathway to obtaining U.K. citizenship for up to 3 million eligible Hong Kongers as of January, taking another step toward solidifying a policy denounced by China.

In a statement, the Home Office said holders of the British National Overseas passport and their immediate family members can move to the U.K. to work and study. The change to immigration rules was introduced after Beijing imposed a new, sweeping national security law on Hong Kong.

“Today’s announcement shows the U.K. is keeping its word: We will not look the other way on Hong Kong, and we will not duck our historic responsibilities to its people,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.

Britain announced in early July it was extending residency rights for some 2.9 million people eligible for the British National Overseas passport in Hong Kong, stressing that it would uphold its duty to the former British colony after the new law was imposed.

Eligible individuals from Hong Kong currently can come to the U.K. for six months without a visa. With the rule change, they will have the right to live and work in the country for five years. After that, they will be allowed to apply for settled status and then again for citizenship.

Those eligible can access the British job market at any skill level and without a salary threshold, but won’t have access to public funds. The U.K. introduced a special, limited type of British nationality in the 1980s for people who were a “British dependent territories citizen by connection with Hong Kong.” The passports did not confer nationality or the automatic right to live and work in Britain, but entitled holders to consular assistance from U.K. diplomatic posts.

Britain handed over Hong Kong, its former colony, to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997 under a “One Country, Two Systems” framework that was supposed to guarantee the city a high degree of autonomy and Western-style civil liberties not seen on mainland China.

The new national security law, enacted just ahead of the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong becoming a special administrative region of China, criminalizes subversive, secessionist or terrorist activities and collusion with foreign forces to intervene in the city’s affairs.

In some cases, mainland China will assume legal jurisdiction and suspects could be sent there for trial. The changes are seen by many as Beijing’s boldest move yet to erase the legal firewall between the semi-autonomous territory and the mainland’s authoritarian Communist Party system.

Beijing has said that Britain’s move to offer refuge to Hong Kong residents constitutes interference in internal matters.

UK ratchets up criticism of China over Uighurs, Hong Kong

July 19, 2020

LONDON (AP) — Britain and China issued new salvos of criticism against each other Sunday, with the U.K. foreign secretary hinting that he may suspend the U.K.’s extradition arrangements with Hong Kong over China’s moves against the city-state.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also accused Beijing of “gross and egregious” human rights abuses against its Uighur population in China’s western province of Xinjiang. In response, the Chinese ambassador to Britain warned that China will deliver a “resolute response” to any move by Britain to sanction officials over the alleged rights abuses.

The comments were the latest signs of sharply increased tensions between the U.K. and China. Issues include China’s treatment of its Uighur minority and a new, sweeping national security law that China imposed on Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous territory that Britain handed over to China in 1997.

Britain’s recent decision to prohibit Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from being involved in the U.K.’s superfast 5G mobile network has further frayed bilateral relations. Raab said Sunday that Britain’s government has reviewed its extradition arrangements with Hong Kong and that he plans to make a statement Monday in parliament on the topic.

Earlier this month, Australia suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in response to China’s imposition of security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory. Critics see the new law as a further erosion of the rule of law and freedoms that Hong Kong was promised when it reverted to Chinese rule.

Raab added that while Britain wants good relations with China, it could not stand by amid reports of forced sterilization and mass education camps targeting the Uighur population in Xinjiang. “It is clear that there are gross, egregious human rights abuses going on. We are working with our international partners on this. It is deeply, deeply troubling,” he told the BBC.

Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese ambassador, denied there were concentration camps in Xinjiang during an interview with the BBC and insisted there are “no so-called restriction of the population.” When confronted with drone footage that appeared to show Uighurs being blindfolded and led onto trains, Liu claimed there are many “fake accusations” against China.

Beijing was ready to respond in kind should Britain impose sanctions on Chinese officials, Liu added. “If the U.K. goes that far to impose sanctions on any individuals in China, China will certainly make a resolute response to it,” he said. “You have seen what happened between China (and) the United States … I do not want to see this tit-for-tat between China-U.S. happen in China-U.K. relations.”

Liu also said Britain “should have its own independent foreign policy, rather than dance to the tune of the Americans like what happened to Huawei.” The criticism echoed comments this week by a Chinese government spokeswoman who accused Britain of colluding with Washington to hurt Huawei and “discriminate, suppress and exclude Chinese companies.”

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