World Hong Kong legislature approves China loyalty laws
Hong Kong ends longest recession in decades
Hong Kong's economy jumped back into growth in the first quarter of the year, official figures showed Monday, ending the city's most pronounced period of recession in its modern history. The international financial hub has been battered the last two years by a triple whammy of the US-China trade war, months of social unrest and then the coronavirus pandemic. It recorded six consecutive quarters of negative growth, a more prolonged downturn than during both the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the 2007-08 global crash.That came to an end on Monday when the government announced the economy grew 7.8 percent on year in the first three months of 2021.
Hong Kong's opposition-devoid legislature approved new powers on Wednesday allowing the government to sack public office holders and bar election candidates from standing if they are deemed "disloyal" to local authorities or China.
The new laws are part of sweeping changes that Beijing has ordered for Hong Kong's already limited electoral system which will dramatically reduce the number of directly elected politicians and ensure only "staunch patriots" enter politics.
Hong Kong’s China emigres ‘cherish’ fast-disappearing freedoms
Those who moved to Hong Kong because it offered more freedoms than anywhere else in China are increasingly anxious.Ten years since becoming an accidental immigrant, Ying strives to take advantage of the city’s freedoms to the fullest, even as they have come under threat from the National Security Law and the ongoing crackdown on pro-democracy politicians and activists.
Along with a sweeping national security law, the political changes are part of a broad campaign to quash dissent after huge and often violent democracy protests rocked the finance hub in 2019.
Forty legislators approved the new law with just one dissenting vote in a chamber cleared of opposition members late last year ahead of the current political overhaul.
Under the new powers, all public office holders will be required to make a "pledge of loyalty" that they must adhere to throughout their term.
It includes principal government officials, cabinet members, legislators and judges as well as members of the legislature.
It also includes over 470 district councillors -- local neighbourhood officials who are the only people Hong Kongers can choose via universal suffrage.
Hong Kong's Joshua Wong handed extra jail time for Tiananmen vigil
Jailed Hong Kong dissident Joshua Wong was handed an additional 10-month sentence on Thursday after he pleaded guilty to taking part in an "unlawful" protest last year over the Tiananmen Square crackdown. On Thursday, four of those activists -- Joshua Wong, Lester Shum, Tiffany Yuen and Janelle Leung -- were handed jail terms after pleading guilty to unlawful assembly charges last month. Wong -- one of the most recognisable faces of Hong Kong's democracy movement -- is currently serving a total of 17.5 months in jail for two convictions linked to the 2019 protests.
At the end of 2019, pro-democracy district council candidates won a landslide in a thumping rebuke of Beijing.
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At least 26 district councillors resigned in the weeks leading up to Wednesday's legislature meeting.
The law grants authorities sweeping vetting powers. Political views of public office holders will be weighed against a "positive" and "negative" list designed to weed out disloyalty and any acts that might "endanger national security".
Critics say the definitions in those lists are overly broad.
Loyalty vetting will also continue beyond the pledge and throughout a person's term.
A public official will be immediately suspended if the Secretary for Justice finds him or her disloyal.
Those who are eventually disqualified for their views will also be barred from standing for election for five years.
"Some people might seem serious when taking the oath but can commit unlawful acts afterwards," Regine Ip, a pro-Beijing lawmaker, told the legislature, adding she was "very glad" to vote for the new law.
Authorities are also writing up a separate suite of laws that will also empower a committee -- with help of police intelligence -- to vet all election candidates for whether they are a national security threat.
Hong Kong closes Taiwan office amid rise in diplomatic tensions .
Suspension of operations comes amid tension over Hong Kong’s National Security Law, exiles moving to self-ruled island.A Hong Kong government representative did not provide on Tuesday an explanation for the decision to halt operations at the Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office, adding only that the decision was not related to the recent rise in coronavirus cases in Taiwan.