Mainland Chinese and HK officials lied to UN Human Rights Council about city’s high degree of autonomy, activists say

19-Mar-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Officials from mainland China and Hong Kong had lied to the UN Human Rights Council about the city’s high degree of autonomy being intact, activists said on Sunday while claiming that the erosion of local freedoms had reached a critical juncture.

A coalition of campaigners made the remarks two days after Hong Kong’s No 2 official Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said at the five-yearly Universal Periodic Review session in Geneva that the “one country, two systems” principle was successfully implemented.

Under the policy, Hong Kong is granted a high degree of autonomy by Beijing.

When French representatives raised suggestions about guaranteeing freedom of expression, assembly and association in Hong Kong, the Chinese delegation said this was “accepted and already implemented”.

Activists on Sunday claimed officials had lied at the session.

“This is the first time ever that so many countries have expressed concern about Hong Kong’s human rights situation at the Universal Periodic Review, showing that the status quo has reached a critical juncture,” said Law Yuk-kai, director of the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, an INGO.

“The international community has sensed the problems, and they fear that the rights of their citizens in Hong Kong could be harmed.”

The international community has sensed the problems, and they fear that the rights of their citizens in Hong Kong could be harmed

Law Yuk-kai, Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor

Law, who was part of the coalition, was joined by other groups including the Civil Human Rights Front and the Confederation of Trade Unions.

The Chinese delegation also told Australian officials that rights, freedoms and the rule of law was upheld in Hong Kong.

When Canada recommended that people in Hong Kong should be able to join the government without distinction, the delegation said this was “accepted and being implemented”.

The suggestions raised by the countries were among others put forth to local and mainland officials in Geneva.

Form a dedicated committee to keep an eye on Hong Kong, British lawmakers urged

On Sunday in Hong Kong, Billy Li On-yin, convenor of the Progressive Lawyers Group – a pro-democracy civil group of legal professionals and students – said no countries had put forward recommendations to the city in the last periodic review.

“Now, five years later, foreign countries have given Hong Kong all these recommendations,” Li said. “You can tell that serious incidents have happened and that the international community feels compelled to speak up.”

You can tell that serious incidents have happened and that the international community feels compelled to speak up

Billy Li, Progressive Lawyers Group

Li cited an example in 2014 when Beijing issued a “white paper” stating that Hong Kong judges were administrators – much like the chief executive and top officials – who had a “basic political requirement” to love China.

Bonnie Leung Wing-man, deputy convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front, an alliance of pro-democracy groups, said: “The Chinese delegation looked at human rights with Chinese characteristics, which are not up to international standards.”

US Consul Kurt Tong refuses to apologise for questioning Hong Kong’s autonomy

Confederation of Trade Unions general secretary Lee Cheuk-yan said he was shocked by Matthew Cheung’s remarks about Hong Kong seizing opportunities in the “Greater Bay Area” and “Belt and Road Initiative” – two plans by Beijing to push China’s economy forward.

“He dared to say that the one country, two systems principle is working great, when it is actually not,” Lee said. “The meeting is about human rights. Why did he talk about the bay area, as well as the belt and road plan?”

He dared to say that the one country, two systems principle is working great, when it is actually not

Lee Cheuk-yan, Confederation of Trade Unions

Lee cited the ban in September by local authorities on the Hong Kong National Party, a separatist group, as an example of erosion of rights.

A Hong Kong government spokesman later said on Sunday that Cheung “stressed in no uncertain terms” in Geneva that the city was determined to safeguard its rule of law and freedom. These were core values of Hong Kong and the cornerstone of the city’s long-term prosperity and stability, he added.

“[Cheung] made it absolutely clear that human rights and freedom in Hong Kong were fully protected by the Basic Law, as well as the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance and other laws, and that judicial independence is guaranteed by the Basic Law and underpinned the rule of law,” the spokesman said.

He also quoted Cheung as saying that “the power of final adjudication [in Hong Kong] is vested in the Court of Final Appeal, which may invite judges from other common law jurisdictions [to sit in].”

According to the spokesman, the chief secretary also told session members that Hong Kong ranked first in Asia in judicial independence and was one of the safest cities globally, as well as being the world’s freest economy for 25 consecutive years.

The Universal Periodic Review is a mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council that centres on an assessment of related issues among member countries.

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/mainland-chinese-hong-kong-officials-124425491.html

 


Category: Hong Kong

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