World US slams China’s ‘direct attack’ on Hong Kong’s autonomy
Dozens of Hong Kong dissidents charged with security crime
Dozens of Hong Kong dissidents were charged with subversion on Sunday in the largest use yet by police of Beijing's sweeping new national security law, as authorities seek to cripple the finance hub's democracy movement. On Sunday, police confirmed 47 of them had now been charged with one count each of "conspiracy to commit subversion" -- one of the new national security crimes -- and would appear in court on Monday morning. Beijing is battling to stamp out dissent in semi-autonomous Hong Kong after swathes of the population hit the streets in 2019 in huge and sometimes violent democracy protests.
The United States has called China’s moves to change the Hong Kong electoral system “a direct attack” on its autonomy and democratic processes, saying Washington is working at “galvanising collective action” against Chinese rights abuses.
The US condemnation came on Friday, shortly after Beijing proposed legislation that would tighten its increasingly authoritarian grip on Hong Kong by making changes to the electoral committee that chooses the city’s leader, giving it new power to nominate legislative candidates.
Hong Kong Activist Joshua Wong Charged With Conspiring to Commit Subversion
China's continued crackdown on opposition voices comes just weeks after Beijing warned President Joe Biden's administration not to interfere in Hong Kong.Forty-seven people—reportedly including prominent young activists Joshua Wong, Lester Shum and Owen Chow—were charged on Sunday in the Chinese government's continued crackdown against opposition voices.
The measure, set to be approved during a week-long session of China’s rubber-stamp parliament, would further marginalise a democratic opposition decimated after Beijing imposed national security legislation following anti-government protests that rocked Hong Kong in 2019.
The US condemns China’s “continuing assault on democratic institutions in Hong Kong”, State Department spokesman Ned Price told a regular news briefing.
Price called Beijing’s moves “a direct attack on Hong Kong’s autonomy … freedoms and the democratic processes”.
“If implemented these measures would drastically undermine Hong Kong democratic institutions,” he said.
Price said Washington was working to rally allies and partners to speak with one voice in condemning China’s abuses against minority Muslims in Xinjiang and the “repression” taking place in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong elections in China’s sights as Parliament meets
Beijing’s legislature expected to tighten rules on who can run for office in Hong Kong during week-long session.The “Two Sessions”, as they are known in Chinese, include the largely ceremonial meeting of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference which convenes on March 4, followed by the more powerful National People’s Congress, which gets under way the following day.
“I don’t think anyone is satisfied yet, with the international response to what has taken place in Xinjiang. And that’s precisely why we are, in many ways, galvanising the world, galvanising collective action, to make clear that these sort of abuses against human rights in Xinjiang and elsewhere will not be tolerated,” he said.
US President Joe Biden’s administration, which took office in January, has endorsed a determination by the former US administration that China is committing genocide in Xinjiang and said that Washington must be prepared to impose costs on Beijing for its actions there, its crackdown in Hong Kong and threats towards Taiwan.
Robert Scott, a senior international economist at the Economic Policy Institute, told Al Jazeera that the US has limited options to put pressure on China.
“Certainly we can sanction China in international arenas. We can consider putting limits on their diplomats, limit their voting rights in international forums like the International Monetary Fund where China has sought increased representation,” he said.
Scott said the key was to curtail China’s growing economic power which the US had failed to do for over two decades as China filled up enormous trade surpluses and it has used these to fuel its growing influence around the world.
“There are sanctions that the United States can put in place on businesses operating in Hong Kong, especially Chinese businesses,” he said.
“Unfortunately, China has decided that it does not need the financial power that was tested in Hong Kong before it is powerful enough itself. China is sitting on some $5 trillion in foreign exchange reserves.
“It has become one of the largest foreign investors in the world. So it is going to be less damaged by the fact that businesses may move from Hong Kong to Taiwan or to Singapore and other countries.”
US says electoral changes in Hong Kong ‘assault on democracy’ .
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says new rules run counter to promises made at the handover in 1997.In a statement on Thursday, just hours after Beijing approved its plan to veto candidates for political office in Hong Kong, Blinken said the measures ran counter to the objective that Hong Kong elections “should progress towards universal suffrage”.