Hong Kong elections postponed amid repression

Tony Chung

Hong Kong will postpone¬†Legislative Council elections originally scheduled for Sept. 6 by one year, citing a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. In making the announcement July 31,¬†Chief Executive Carrie Lam¬†invoked the city’s Emergency Regulations Ordinance. (HKFP, RTHK) But Beijing’s political imperatives are pretty clearly behind the decision. This was acknowledged by Lau Siu-kai, vice¬†president of the¬†Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macau Studies, Beijing’s own leading think-tank on the semi-autonomous territories.¬†Framing the issue in Great Power¬†terms, Lau said that¬†“the serious international situation between the United States and China…prompts Beijing into doing something to prevent the hostile forces from taking over LegCo and to make sure that the national security is safeguarded.” (RTHK)

Postponement of the elections comes after several opposition candidates had been barred from running. Hours before Lam made her announcement, prominent dissident Joshua Wong¬†pledged that he and other banned candidates would carry on the struggle. “Our resistance will continue on and we hope the world can stand with us in the upcoming uphill battle,”¬†he told reporters. (HKFP)

Two days before the announcement, Hong Kong police rounded up four former members of pro-independence group Studentlocalism‚ÄĒaged 16 to 21‚ÄĒon suspicion of “inciting secession” under the new National Security Law. The group’s ex-convenor Tony Chung, 19, became the first prominent political figure to be arrested under the controversial law. He and the others had recently disbanded the group in response to passage of the legislation.¬†(HKFP)

Hong Kong police have also issued arrest warrants for six pro-democracy activists living in exile‚ÄĒthe first time the city’s authorities have used the National Security Law to target persons living outside the territory.¬†The targeted dissidents¬†include Samuel Chu, a US citizen who runs the DC-based Hong Kong Democracy Council;¬†Nathan Law, a prominent opposition figure who recently relocated to the UK after fleeing Hong Kong;¬†and Simon Cheng, a former British consulate¬†employee who was granted asylum in the UK after claiming he was tortured in China.¬†(The Guardian, HKFP)

Photo of Tony Chung: HKFP

  1. Macau next for Beijing’s repression?

    We note with trepidation that authorities in Macau this year banned an annual photographic exhibition on the 1989¬†Tiananmen Square massacre. The Democratic Development Union’s open-air exhibition has taken place unhindered for two decades. However, the Municipal Affairs Bureau withdrew its authorization for the 2020 show in May, as¬†Hong Kong Free Press¬†reported.¬†

  2. Fascism with Chinese characteristics?

    From a¬†New York Times¬†profile of scholars around one¬†Tian Feilong¬†who have emerged as the intellectual enablers of Xi’s crackdown in Hong Kong:

    A number of these scholars, sometimes called “statists,”¬†have worked on policy toward Hong Kong… Their proposals have fed into China‚Äôs increasingly uncompromising line, including the security law, which has swiftly curbed protests and political debate.

    As well as earnestly citing Mr. Xi’s speeches, these academics draw on ancient Chinese thinkers who counseled stern rulership, along with Western critics of liberal political traditions. Traditional Marxism is rarely cited; they are proponents of order, not revolution.

    Many of them make respectful nods in their papers to Carl Schmitt, the German legal theorist who supplied rightist leaders in the 1930s and the emerging Nazi regime with arguments for extreme executive power in times of crisis…

  3. Joshua Wong charged ‚ÄĒagain

    Two dozen people in Hong Kong, including pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, have been charged with participating in an illegal assembly at a vigil on June 4 commemorating the crackdown on protesters in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen square in 1989.¬†The new chrges come just as¬†Wong made a court appearance on similar charges related to a protest last year. The verdict is expected later this year. (Reuters)

    Undeterred, Wong immediately filed a lawsuit challenging his disqualification from the Legislative Council elections. (Jurist)

  4. Jimmy Lai arrested under HK National Security Law

    Jimmy Lai, owner of pro-democracy newspaper¬†Apple Daily, was arrested early Aug. 10 under Hong Kong’s new National Security Law for alleged collusion with foreign powers. Hundreds of officers also raided the offices of the newspaper. (CPJ,¬†HKFP)

    In another strange¬†echo of the Maoist era,¬†Chinese state media are calling Jimmy Lai and his top collaborators the “Gang of Four.” The other three are¬†former Hong Kong chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang, and prominent activist attorneys¬†Martin Lee Chu-ming¬†and¬†Albert Ho Chun-Yan. (China Daily)

  5. US and China swap sanctions

    At least 10 people are reported to have been arrested under the National Security Law in the sweeps on Aug. 10, including Agnes Chow Ting, a former member of political group Demosisto. (Jurist) China has meanwhile retaliated for the US sanctions on 11 officials involved in the Hong Kong repression by placing sanctions on 11 US political figures, including Senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton and Pat Toomey. (Jurist)

  6. More Hong Kong activists arrested

    Among 16 Hong Kong activists detained on “rioting” charges is Democratic Party district council member¬†Lam Cheuk-ting. The charges stem from an incident last year in which the activists were themselves set upon by a mob on a subway platform.

    Hong Kong police faced widespread criticism after protesters accused them of standing by on July 21, 2019, at the Yuen Long subway station, where at least 45 people were injured when men carrying sticks and metal bars attacked commuters and protesters. (NYT, HKFP)

  7. Hong Kong activists arrested at sea

    China’s marine police have captured 12 Hongkongers trying to flee to Taiwan by speedboat, including activist Andy Li, who was out on bail after having been arrested under the National Security Law.¬†The group set out from Sai Kung and were headed for Kaohsiung in Taiwan. They were intercepted by a detachment of marine police based in China’s Guangdong province. (HKFP)

  8. Exiled Chinese dissident speaks at RNC

    In an extremely depressing development, the truly heroic Chinese dissident¬†Chen Guangcheng, known for his work fighting against forced abortions under China’s one child policy, spoke in support of Trump at the Republican National Convention (which was held on the White House premises in unseemly manner). In his speech,¬†Chen attacked “the policy of appeasement of former administrations‚ÄĒincluding Obama and Biden.”¬†CNN reported it with the headline “Chinese dissident brought to US by Obama administration praises Trump at RNC.” The conservative¬†CNS News¬†accuses the networks of “cutting away” as Chen began his speech.

    Chen has been used as a political football before, but it is terribly sad to see him offering himself up to a would-be dictator this way.

  9. Joshua Wong arrested ‚ÄĒagain

    Joshua Wong was arrested as he walked into Hong Kong’s Central Police Station Sept. 24 as part of a regular check-in‚ÄĒthis time not only for attending an unauthorized demonstration last October, but also for violating a ban on wearing a mask during that gathering. An obvious irony, as masks are now mandatory in Hong Kong as a measure to contain COVID-19. (NYT)

  10. Another Hong Kong activist charged under national security law

    The West Kowloon Magistrates’¬†Court in Hong Kong charged former pro-independence group leader Tony Chung with secession, sedition and money laundering, under the new national security law adopted by China’s legislative body in June. (Jurist)

  11. Hong Kong democracy activists plead guilty

    Pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and¬†Ivan Lam¬†pleaded¬†guilty Nov. 23 to charges stemming from their involvement in a 15-hour¬†siege of the city‚Äôs police headquarters¬†on June 21, 2019. Facing charges including “organizing an unauthorized assembly,” they each may face up to five years in prison. (Jurist,¬†HKFP,¬†SCMP)

    On Nov. 16, the first person charged under the new National Security Law ¬†entered a not guilty plea.¬†Tong Ying-kit, 24, is charged with inciting secession and engaging in terrorist activities for his actions during protests on July 1, when he allegedly drove a motorcycle into a group of police officers, carrying a banner reading “Liberate Hong Kong; Revolution of Our Times,” a¬†popular slogan¬†of the movement. (Jurist)

  12. Hong Kong democracy activists sentenced to prison

    Three Hong Hong democracy activists were sentenced to prison for their involvement in the 2019 protests. Joshua Wong was sentenced to 13 months, Agnes Chow received 10 months, while Ivan Lam was sentenced to seven months. (Jurist)

  13. Jimmy Lai arested again, denied bail

    Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been denied bail following his arrest for alleged fraud. He is set to remain behind bars until the next court date in April, 2021. 

    Lai, 73, and two other Next Digital executives were formally charged in connection to the use of Next Digital’s headquarters in Tseung Kwan O New Town. 

    Lai, along with¬†Next Digital¬†director Royston Chow and administrative director Wong Wai-keung, was detained after reporting to a police station. They appeared at West Kowloon Magistrates’¬†Courts on the next¬†morning, Dec. 3. They stand accused of using the offices for purposes not allowed in the building lease.

    Lai, founder of the pro-democracy Apple Daily, was denied bail as the judge ruled he may abscond or reoffend. Chow, meanwhile, was granted bail of HK$200,000 and Wong was granted bail of HK$100,000.

    In August, police raided the Apple Daily headquarters and arrested top executives‚ÄĒincluding Lai‚ÄĒfor suspected “collusion with foreign forces”¬†under the newly-imposed national security law. None have yet been formally¬†charged. (HKFP)

  14. Jimmy Lai formally charged under National Security Law

    Jimmy Lai, led to court in handcuffs and metal chain, was formally charged with colluding with a foreign power under the National Security Law. (NPR, NYT, Al Jazeera)

    Charges have also been announced against pro-democracy activist Tam Tak-chi. While Tam is being tried for sedition under Hong Kong‚Äôs Crimes Ordinance, his case is inextricably linked to the new National Security Law (NSL). Tam was arrested by the newly-created Department for National Security (DNS), and was initially investihated for NSL crimes. At the prosecutor’s request, he is to be tried by an NSL-designated judge. The prosecution cites Tam’s use of slogans including “Disband the police force,” “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times,” and “Five demands, not one less.” (HKFP)

  15. Jimmy Lai released on HK$10 million bail

    Jimmy Lai was granted bail Dec. 23 on charges related to fraud and national security. Prosecutors lost a bid to overturn HK$10 million bail granted by a judge. The 73-year-old media tycoon had been held in jail for 20 days. (Jurist, SCMP)

  16. Jimmy Lai ordered back to jail

    Hong Kong’s highest court,¬†the Court of Final Appeal,¬†ordered Jimmy Lai¬†back to jail on Dec. 31, just days after he was freed on bail. (NYT)

  17. Hong Kong activists sentenced for illegal border crossing

    The Yantian District People’s Court in the Chinese city of Shenzhen on Dec. 29 sentenced 10 Hong Kong activists to imprisonment ranging from seven months to three years for illegal border crossing. The Shenzhen coast guard authorities intercepted the boat taken by the group from a port in Hong Kong on Aug. 23, in waters under Guangdong province’s jurisdiction. The group was alleged to be en route to Taiwan while facing charges in Hong Kong over anti-government protests. (Jurist)

  18. Hong Kong chief justice calls for independent judiciary

    The outgoing chief justice of Hong Kong’s highest court addressed criticisms of the city‚Äôs judicial system and stressed the importance of the rule of law in a final¬†press conference¬†on Jan. 5. Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma, who will retire this week, expressed his own hopes for the future of Hong Kong. Citing several articles of Hong Kong’s¬†Basic Law, Ma argued that in order to “uphold¬†the rule of law,”¬†the judiciary must be independent from interference.

    Ma’s comments come a week after his court revoked bail for pro-democracy businessman Jimmy Lai. China’s government-run People’s Daily had¬†criticized¬†a lower court’s decision to release Lai, saying that the court had “seriously misunderstood”¬†the new security law imposed by the Chinese government and “undermined its authority.” (Jurist)

  19. Hong Kong activists appear in court over Tiananmen Square vigil

    A total of 24 Hong Kong activists appeared Feb. 5 in the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on charges stemming from their participation in the June 4 vigil commemorating the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Prominent pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong and media tycoon Jimmy Lai were among the 24 present in court. Both were released from jail to attend the preliminary hearing. (Jurist)

  20. Hong Kong releases guidelines for ‘national security education’

    Hong Kong’s Education Bureau¬†released¬†guidelines Feb. 4 for a new “national security education”¬†curriculum that would see children as young as six being taught about the offenses of secession, collusion, terrorism and subversion under Hong Kong’s national security law (NSL).

    The guidelines come as the latest development in the government’s implementation of the NSL that came into effect in July.¬†Article 10¬†of this controversial law stipulates that “[t]he Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall promote national security education in schools and universities‚Ķto raise the awareness of Hong Kong residents of national security and of the obligation to abide by the law.”

    According to one¬†circular, the aim of the new curriculum is to “develop in students a sense of belonging to the country, an affection for the Chinese people, a sense of national identity, as well as an awareness of and a sense of responsibility for safeguarding national security.”¬†Furthermore, it aims to encourage students to be “good citizens who‚Ķshow respect for the rule of law and abide by the law.”¬†The new curriculum places emphasis on encouraging submission and “law-abidingness”¬†in students. Almost¬†40%¬†of the participantsin Hong Kong’s 2019 anti-government protests were students. (Jurist)

  21. Jimmy Lai denied bail ‚ÄĒagain

    The Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal¬†denied¬†pro-democracy publisher Jimmy Lai’s request for bail on Feb. 9. The court ruled that Judge Alex Lee, who originally granted Lai‚Äôs bail, ‚Äúmisconstrued‚ÄĚ Article 42 of the new National Security¬†Law as equal to the less stringent standard set out in the local¬†Criminal Procedure Ordinance. (Jurist)

  22. Jimmy Lai arrested again ‚ÄĒwhile in jail

    Hong Kong pro-democracy tycoon Jimmy Lai was “arrested” again Feb. 17 while already in jail, this time on suspicion of assisting a fugitive captured by China last year,¬†according¬†to local newspaper Oriental Daily.¬†

    Lai is reportedly suspected of helping Andy Li, one of 12 fugitives who were captured at sea by the Chinese coast guard last year, apparently while trying to reach Taiwan. In December, 10 of the fugitives were sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from seven months to three years for illegal border crossing.

    Andy Li was being investigated for suspected national security crimes, and the other fugitives potentially face charges in Hong Kong over mass anti-government protests in 2019. Because of his suspected aid, Lai has been charged with colluding with foreign forces under the Beijing-imposed National Security Law. (Jurist)

  23. Jimmy Lai denied bail ‚ÄĒagain

    Hong Kong’s High Court on Feb. 18¬†denied another bail application made by Beijing critic and pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying,¬†according¬†to the South China Morning Post. Lai was arrested under national security law in August 2020 when authorities raided his newspaper’s headquarters. (Jurist)