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World Former Hong Kong lawmaker lands in Australia; to continue pro-democracy work

11:57  09 march  2021
11:57  09 march  2021 Source:   reuters.com

Dozens of Hong Kong former lawmakers charged under national security law

  Dozens of Hong Kong former lawmakers charged under national security law The Hong Kong authorities charged 47 opposition activists with violating the city's national security legislation on Sunday, in the biggest application of the law since it was imposed by Beijing last year. © Anthony Kwan/Getty Images Benny Tai, associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong and co-founder of activist group Occupy Central with Love and Peace (OCLP) reports to the Ma On Shan Police Station on February 28, in Hong Kong. If found guilty of "conspiracy to commit subversion" they could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

By Kirsty Needham

a man holding a sign: FILE PHOTO: Former pro-democracy lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung appears outside West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts in Hong Kong © Reuters/LAM YIK FILE PHOTO: Former pro-democracy lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung appears outside West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts in Hong Kong

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Ted Hui has arrived in Australia where his family will settle after the Australian government provided an exemption to its closed border policy and assistance with flights, he said on Tuesday.

A former Democratic party lawmaker, Hui left Hong Kong late last year after facing criminal charges over the 2019 pro-democracy protests.

His arrival in Australia comes as 47 pro-democracy activists have been charged in Hong Kong with conspiracy to commit subversion under a new national security law, because they participated in an unofficial primary last July to select the strongest candidates for a legislative council election.

Crowds gather outside court after Hong Kong dissidents charged

  Crowds gather outside court after Hong Kong dissidents charged Hundreds of democracy supporters gathered outside a Hong Kong courthouse on Monday chanting slogans and flashing protests symbols as some of the city's best-known dissidents were expected to appear in the dock later charged with subversion. Some chanted slogans including "Release all political prisoners" and "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times" -- the latter a slogan authorities say is now illegal under the new security law. Others flashed the three-finger "Hunger Games" salute that has been embraced by fellow democracy campaigners in Thailand and Myanmar.

Hui, a member of the legislative council since 2016, was preselected to represent Hong Kong island for the election.

He said it had been painful to watch in the past week as his close colleagues were jailed after being denied bail in marathon hearings in the subversion case.

"As a participant in the primary election and a winner, I see it as a ridiculous act and unreasonable for the regime to put any accusation on us when it was totally peaceful," he told Reuters in a telephone interview. He is undergoing a 14-day mandatory quarantine after arriving in Australia on Monday.

"It is only because it is against Beijing's will that people are thrown into jail."

Hui said he had decided to move to Australia from Britain, where he has spent the past three months, to spread the international reach of the pro-democracy activists.

Economic freedom index 2021: Hong Kong drops off list for first time

  Economic freedom index 2021: Hong Kong drops off list for first time Hong Kong has been booted off an index of economic freedom that it used to lead, dealing another blow to the city's standing as a global business hub. © Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images Two pedestrians using umbrellas on Kowloon's Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront after Typhoon Higos swept Hong Kong overnight on Aug. 19, 2020. On Wednesday, the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank, revealed its annual ranking of the world's freest economies, leaving the former British colony off the list.

"I feel more responsible now as an exile to tell the world how ridiculous it is," he said.

Hui said during the interview that the coronavirus pandemic was stable in Australia, and he would be able to undertake face-to-face lobbying work.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday announcing his move, Hui said that Australia and New Zealand are important members of the Five Eye intelligence sharing group that also includes the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, which have endorsed the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.

"I hope that my lobbying work will make the two countries tougher against China, have stronger support and actions towards the freedom of Hong Kong," he said in the post.

As part of his lobbying, Hui told Reuters he would also seek more flexible visas for Hong Kong people seeking to come to Australia.

Hui said he was grateful to the Australian government for granting a visa and a place on a repatriation flight from London. He said he did not intend to apply for political asylum.

Australia's home affairs office said it did not comment on individual cases.

Jane Poon, a representative of pro-democracy community group Australia Hong Kong Link, said Hui's arrival would encourage Australia's large Hong Kong community.

"He would be able to contribute a lot in lobbying work, especially as Australia has been a main battlefield against the (Chinese Communist Party)," Poon told Reuters.

Hong Kong police ordered HSBC to freeze Hui's bank accounts in December after he said he would go into exile in Britain to continue his pro-democracy activities.

(Reporting by Kirsty Needham; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

China legislature endorses reducing public vote in Hong Kong .
BEIJING (AP) — China’s ceremonial legislature on Thursday endorsed the ruling Communist Party’s move to tighten control over Hong Kong by reducing the role of its public in picking the territory’s leaders. The measure drew condemnation from Britain and the U.S. and accusations it will disenfranchise Hong Kong's people. It adds to a crackdown against a protest movement in Hong Kong calling for greater democracy. The crackdown has prompted accusations Beijing is eroding the autonomy it promised when the former British colony was returned to China in 1997 and is hurting its status as a global financial center.

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