World Hong Kong: Tiananmen vigil group disbands after police probe
Hong Kong police order Tiananmen vigil group to delete websites
Organisers of Hong Kong's annual Tiananmen vigil said they had been ordered by national security police to delete their online presence as Chinese mainland-style internet curbs become more commonplace in the city. Beijing's increased control over Hong Kong's internet has rattled some international businesses in the city. Social media giants such as Facebook, Twitter and Google say they have ceased cooperating with police requests because of the security law.Google and Facebook this year halted plans for an undersea cable that would have connected California and Hong Kong, partly because of security concerns.
A Hong Kong group that organises an annual vigil on June 4 to remember protesters killed in China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown says it is disbanding after facing “national security” charges.
The democracy group is the latest of dozens of civil society bodies to fold over the past year – from a key trade union grouping to the largest teachers’ union – after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law in the city.
“I believe Hong Kong people, no matter their capacity, will continue to commemorate June 4 as before,” Richard Tsoi, secretary of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, told reporters on Saturday.
Hong Kong elite selects powerful new 'patriots only' committee
Hong Kong's political elite will select a powerful committee on Sunday which will choose the city's next leader and nearly half the legislature under a new "patriots only" system imposed by Beijing. The financial hub has never been a democracy -- the source of years of protests -- but a small and vocal opposition was tolerated after the city's 1997 handover to authoritarian China. Huge and often violent democracy rallies exploded two years ago and Beijing has responded with a crackdown and a new political system where only those deemed loyal are allowed to stand for office.
A vote on the same day to disband was supported by 41 of its members with four opposed, Tsoi said.
Authorities froze 2.2 million Hong Kong dollars ($283,000) of the group’s assets this month after it was charged with inciting subversion under the new law.
Activist group Student Politicism, which had four current and former members charged this week, will also close, it said on its Facebook page on Friday.
Hong Kong authorities have repeatedly denied curbing human rights and freedoms, saying law enforcement has been based on evidence and has nothing to do with the background, profession or political beliefs of those arrested.
An authoritarian chill cloaks most aspects of life in the former British colony after the new law, which prescribes terms of up to life in jail for anything China deems to be subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
Hong Kong elects a new electoral committee "reserved for the patriots"
© AFP Hong Kong's political elite means a powerful committee on Sunday, which will choose the next leader of the city and nearly half of the legislature, in the part of a new system "reserved for the patriots" imposed by Beijing. "This is an important election although the number of people who can participate is not high," said the current Hong Kong leader, Carrie Lam, adding that the new system would ensure that the "Anti-Chinese troublemakers" could no longer "obstruct" to the government.
Since the new law was introduced, most democratic politicians and activists have been jailed or fled abroad.
Probe against the group
Alliance leaders Albert Ho and Lee Cheuk-yan, already jailed over large anti-government protests in 2019 that roiled the city, were also charged with inciting subversion, as well as another of its officials, vice chairwoman Chow Hang Tung.
Group members Tang Ngok-kwan, Leung Kam-wai, Chan To-wai and Tsui Hon-kwong have been charged with failing to provide information police had sought by a deadline of September 7.
Police asked for details about the group’s membership, finances and activities in an August letter it sent to reporters.
The letter accused the Alliance of being “an agent of foreign forces” and said missing the deadline could result in a fine of 100,000 Hong Kong dollars ($13,000) and six months in jail.
EPA official's ties to China-linked university spark questions
President Biden appointed a senior-level official to the Environmental Protection Agency who did not quit his job at a Hong Kong university.Chris Frey was appointed in February to serve as deputy assistant administrator for science policy at the EPA’s Office of Research and Development. In May, Frey disclosed that he was on an unpaid leave of absence from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
Earlier this month, police raided the premises of the closed June 4th Museum dedicated to the Tiananmen victims.
In August, the group had said the museum, which closed on June 2 over a licensing investigation by authorities, had reopened online as the independently operated “8964 Museum”.
Hong Kong traditionally holds the world’s largest annual June 4 vigil, although police banned the last two events over coronavirus concerns. Mainland China bans commemorations and heavily censors the topic.
China has never provided a full account of the 1989 crackdown. Officials gave a death toll of about 300 days afterwards, but rights groups and witnesses say thousands may have been killed.
Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula that guaranteed its freedoms and independent legal system. China denies interfering with its way of life.
Hong Kong's largest pro-democracy labour union votes to disband .
Hong Kong's largest pro-democracy labour coalition voted to disband Sunday, blaming threats to its leadership's safety as China imposes a sweeping clampdown on dissent in the semi-autonomous city. Its leadership decided to put the group's future to a vote two weeks ago, amid what chairman Wong Nai-yuen said were mounting "threats on the leadership's personal safety" and former chief organiser Mung Siu-tat's decision to resign and flee the city. The union voted to disband at an emergency general assembly on Sunday afternoon.