Tag Archives: hong kong

The Carrie Lam report exposed how the ‘Executive Dominant’ political system failed Hong Kong

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Throughout 2019, Hong Kong was in midst of a political crisis. The non-consulted Extradition Bill triggered protests against the government, then entrenched by police brutality. At the dawn of 2020, the city was hit with the Coronavirus crisis, and the government created a crisis of its own by mismanaging its economic, health and homeland security policies.

Instead of concentrating on protecting the citizens, Chief Executive Carrie Lam seemingly put her effort in filing a complaint on the performance of her own government to the Beijing authorities. The report was leaked to Apple Daily (a Hong Kong-based Chinese language newspaper) and it caused an uproar in the mass media towards her character.

Apple Daily reported on 22/02/2020 that Carrie Lam laid the blame not only on opposition parties and “radical elements” of the protest movements, she fiercely attacked her Executive Council for being incompetent and pro-government parties for being unsupportive, while some pro-government legislators even criticised her with personal attacks. She also asked Beijing to allow those from Hong Kong who were stuck in Wuhan to return home, so ‘the Hong Kongers can feel Beijing actually cared about them’.

This report exposed a few weaknesses in Hong Kong’s political system:

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Why we should do more to support the Hong Kong protest movement

The 2019 General Election Liberal Democrats manifesto calls for standing to a peaceful world; not only because this is our value, but also everyone deserves a better world. When we jointly face challenges in our support for liberal democracies, stable partnerships are often fostered. One such alliance calls for “Honouring our legal and moral duty to the people of Hong Kong by reopening the British National Overseas Passport offer, extending the scheme to provide the right to abode to all holders”. Nonetheless, do words suffice in supporting the civilians in Hong Kong who are among those standing in defiance of brutal dictatorships?

Since the 2019 autumn conference, the situation in Hong Kong deteriorated substantially. By the end of December 2019, more than 7000 protesters had been arrested according to the figures from Hong Kong Police Force. For all that, it did not include those who disappeared after arrests, or those being transported to Mainland China. Two thirds of those arrested were between eleven to twenty five years old, and half of them were students. Some who were reported to have disappeared were later found dead under suspicious circumstances. New York Times investigations revealed police tactics on the day nearly caused a mass stampede as police deployed tear gas without warning, cornering civilians into a dead end. Demonstrators in that incident adverted mass injuries by shattering glass and forcibly entering an office building for refuge.

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The mandate of heaven and coronavirus

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At the risk of appearing crude, crass and unfeeling, this article is going to focus on the political and economic consequential dangers of the coronavirus. This should not be taken in any way as an attempt to belittle the deaths of 805 Chinese (as of the early hours of Sunday morning) or the grief that their friends and families are suffering. Every human life is precious. But as the death toll mounts and the quarantine is extending, the economy suffers and this suffering will result in political consequences.

In Hubei Province there are an estimated 50 million people in quarantine. That is 50 million people who are now not working. Neither are they in the shops, restaurants or cinemas spending money. The Chinese government have imposed severe travel restrictions throughout the country and restricted gatherings in public places in every major city.

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18 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Arcuri interview suggests Johnson abused his position as Mayor
  • Umunna: Repressive scenes in Hong Kong are ‘totally unacceptable’
  • Lib Dems: Leadsom shows Tories have no answers to key questions facing businesses
  • Swinson: Liberal Democrats will scrap business rates

Arcuri interview suggests Johnson abused his position as Mayor

Responding to Jennifer Arcuri’s interview on ITV last night, Liberal Democrat Shadow Culture Secretary Layla Moran said:

The evidence is mounting that the Prime Minister, the then mayor of London at the time, absolutely abused his position to forward the business interests of his friend Jennifer Arcuri. This flouts the very rules he was meant to uphold and is

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1 October 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Rise in homeless deaths demands end of Vagrancy Act
  • UK govt must not be silent on situation in Hong Kong
  • Tories cannot call themselves the law and order party
  • Cable: End ‘weaponising’ of social care

Rise in homeless deaths demands end of Vagrancy Act

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has renewed her call for the Vagrancy Act to be scrapped following the publication of new ONS statistics revealing a rise in the deaths of homeless people in 2018.

The ONS data shows that there were an estimated 726 deaths in 2018, an increase of over 20% on the previous year. The highest numbers of deaths were …

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4 September 2019 – today’s press releases

Time to put Liberal Democrat Voice to bed for the night, unlike our Parliamentary Party in the Lords, who are preparing for a long night of voting to stop Conservatives filibustering.

It’s been a dramatic day in Westminster, although there seem to be no shortage of those these days. But the media operations continues regardless…

  • Kicking the can down the road will not prevent Windrush-style scandal for EU citizens
  • Lib Dems: We have a duty to stand with the people of Hong Kong
  • Davey slams Spending Review as “fantasy figures”
  • Jane Dodds delivers maiden speech in Parliament
  • PM cannot be allowed to use an election to

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18 July 2019 – yesterday’s press releases

There was a bit of a glitch yesterday, as the press releases ended up in my spam folder for some reason. Things seem to be back to normal, so the usual service resumes here…

  • Welsh Lib Dems – time to embrace zero-carbon housing
  • Lib Dems: EU resolution a vital step in UK’s duty to stand up for people of Hong Kong
  • Davey demands urgent action as knife crime epidemic continues to spread
  • Umunna: OBR report shows No Deal Brexit would be unforgivable
  • Lib Dems: Johnson’s ‘fishy tales’ have no plaice in Number Ten
  • Lib Dems: Milestone victory to block no-deal
  • Gauke talks the talk but can’t walk

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2 July 2019 – today’s press releases

Umunna: Johnson Brexit policy will result in £90bn hit to the public purse

The Chancellor has today confirmed that the Government is already having to hold back £26-27 billion of fiscal headroom to deal with the disastrous impact of a No Deal exit from the European Union, and that even more than that will be needed. Furthermore, the Government’s own analysis shows that a disruptive No Deal Brexit will hit the public purse by £90 billion as a minimum.

Commenting on the Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s remarks, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Treasury and Business, Chuka Umunna MP, said:

Boris Johnson plans to give

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A global advert for the Hong Kong Anti Extradition Bill campaign – implications for the Remain Campaign

An advertisement to support the Hong Kong Anti Extradition Movement appeared in 14 newspapers around the world on 27th June. The press was puzzled by 2 questions: who created the campaign and how did they manage to execute it?

Two million Hong Kong citizens participated in the Hong Kong anti extradition bill protest on 21st June. The protesters made three demands:

  1. the amendment of the bill to be retracted;
  2. the definition of the clashes between police and civilians on 12th June as ‘riot’ to be retracted; and,
  3. an independent commission to be formed in order to investigate the police behaviour on 12th June.

The Hong …

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Protesting the Hong Kong Extradition Bill – the story so far…

A million Hong Kong citizens went on a peaceful demonstration in Hong Kong on 12th June 2019 protesting against the government’s proposed Extradition Bill. Not only did the government refuse the demands of the demonstrators to retract the Bill, but they also described the movement as a “riot”. The police used heavy handed tactics to disperse the crowds including deployment of tear gas and pepper water spray, cornering and beating up protesters with police clubs and the making of arrests.

The government’s tactics infuriated those citizens who had not joined the demonstration, including those residing in overseas. The death of a …

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18 June 2019 – today’s press releases

Cable: Looks like Boris will lie down and let Heathrow expansion happen

Responding to the publication of Heathrow’s plan for a third runway which will include diverting rivers, moving roads and rerouting the M25 through a tunnel under the new runway, Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Twickenham MP Vince Cable said:

Expanding Heathrow is the wrong decision for the country and for South West London, where air pollution, air traffic noise, and congestion are already a blight. Heathrow’s plan all but confirms this.

The economics of Heathrow expansion also look questionable at best while it will do nothing for regional economies. Above

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How Brexit diminishes the rights of British Nationals overseas

I was in Hong Kong in March, and most of my friends had asked me the same question: How’s the progress with BN(O) equal rights movement and how did Brexit affect it?

So what is BN(O)? It stands for British National (Overseas). According to the Home Office website, it means ‘Someone who was a British overseas territories citizen by connection with Hong Kong was able to register as a BN(O) before 1 July 1997.’ They are not granted Right of Abode anywhere, including the UK and HK.

The strict terms of BN(O) made most think that it is a travel document, but it is more than that, such as:

  1. They are eligible to join Her Majesty’s Civil Service, and are eligible to vote if they have lived in the UK for more than six months;
  2. may become British citizens by registration after residing in the UK for more than five years and possessing ILR for more than one year;
  3. would not be subjected to the annual quota of 1000 people if they wanted to apply to stay in UK under the working holiday scheme;
  4. their status is for life and is not be lost in case of Dual or Multiple Nationality, though their siblings cannot inherit the status.

According to the official figures, currently there are more than 800,000 BN(O) holders. Although the numbers are dwindling, they have no intention to withdraw it, and still use the passport to travel overseas. 

Our former leader Lord Paddy Ashdown campaigned for giving BN(O) holders the right of abode since years ago. There was also a seminar organised by the House of Lord with various campaign groups to call for the extension of BN(O) rights in March this year. 

The goal of the campaign groups is to fight for extending their rights. In a radio interview, Choy Ki, one of the representatives of BN(O) Association, mentioned, ‘BN(O) is not only a travel document, but a national identity with a lot of rights under the jurisdiction of the UK.’

The current political spectrum, however, has complicated the issue. For BN(O) holders, Brexit means our visa free travelling status to our EU neighbours could no longer be available. This is important because EU member states offered visa free travel for the HK passport holders, and most BN(O) holders are eligible to obtain one.

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LibLink: Alistair Carminchael: The people of Hong Kong look to the UK to keep the promises we made to them

This week in Parliament, Alistair Carmichael asked an urgent question on the Foreign Office’s lack of action per the conviction of Hong King’s Umbrella Movements’s leaders. The Umbrella Movement had protested for 79 days for free and fair elections in 2015.

This week nine of the Umbrella Movement’s leaders were convicted of rarely used public order offences from the days of colonial rule. Chris Patten, the last British Governor of Hong Kong, described it as being “appallingly divisive to use anachronistic common law charges in a vengeful pursuit of political events which took place in 2014”.

The response of our own Foreign Office was a silence. How embarrassing, and not for the first time.

It was only 1997 that the UK handed Hong Kong back to China. It was a handover that allowed the UK to divest itself of another vestige of empire while entering into a treaty with China which sought to provide autonomy of the former colony and a continued progression towards democracy. It was Chris Patten’s not insubstantial legacy which gave both Britain and China obligations for fifty years until 2047.

He was quick to point out a former Lib Dem leader who had stood up so vociferously for the people of Hong Kong:

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10 April 2019 – today’s press releases

Moran: Recognition of Palestine cannot wait a moment longer

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has today called on the UK Government to recognises Palestine following the Israeli election.

Ms Moran, the first MP of Palestinian decent, previously introduced the Palestinian Statehood (Recognition) Bill which would require the UK Government to recognise the State of Palestine within 3 months of the Bill being passed. It had support from Lib Dem, Labour, SNP, Plaid and Green MPs.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said:

The dead heat between Gantz and Netanyahu means uncertainty for Palestinians continues. We now wait with baited breath for the

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Paddy Ashdown: China vs Trump could cause Pacific conflict

Paddy Ashdown has been in Hong Kong this week, talking to the Foreign Correspondents Club about international relations and how the relationship between the Chinese leadership and Donald Trump could unfold. It’s not a pretty sight. Here is his speech in full. He revisits the theme of many of his speeches in recent years about the change in the global balance of power as China’s influence increases. He also has some candid and critical comments about the UK’s time governing Hong Kong.

Peace in the Pacific Region, and very probably the wider world, will depend on two questions.

How will the United States cope with decline?

And how will China fulfil her potential as a super power.

Not long after I returned from Bosnia in 2006, in the middle of the era of small wars, I was asked if great wars were now a thing of the past. I replied no; unhappily the habit of war, large and small, seems inextricably locked into the human gene. But I did not believe that, once we were passed the fossil fuel era, the most likely place for a great conflagration would be the Middle East. If we wanted to see where future great wars might occur, we should look to those regions where mercantilism was leading to an increase in nationalist sentiment and imperialist attitudes, as it did in Europe in the nineteenth century. The only region in the world, I concluded, which matched this description, was the Pacific basin. Nothing I have seen in the intervening decade alters this judgement.

We live in one of those periods of history where the structures of power in the world shift. These are almost always turbulent times and all too often, conflict ridden ones too. How new powers rise and old powers fall, is one of the prime determinants of peace in times like this. The Pacific basin is about to be the cockpit in which this drama is about to be played out

The United States is the most powerful nation on earth and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. But the context in which she holds that power is completely different from what it was. Over the last hundred years or so – the American century – we have lived in a mono-polar world dominated by the American Colossus. This is no longer true. We live now in a multi polar-world – by the way very similar to Nineteenth century Europe where balance among the five powers – the so called Concert of Europe – meant peace and imbalance meant war.

We have seen this before. The end of the European empires after the Second World war led to great instability and much conflict, not least in this region. Britain, by and large, accepted her decline and, mostly, dealt with it in a measured and civilised fashion. We will come onto what that means for Hong Kong in a moment. France, by contrast lashed about soaking first Indo China and then North Africa in blood. The Belgians were even worse in the Belgian Congo.

How the United States copes with her relative decline from the world’s only super power, to primus inter pares in a multi-polar world, is one of the great questions which will decide what happens in this region in the next decade. President Obama seemed to understand this. President Trump, it seems does not. His policies of isolationism, protectionism and confrontation towards China are foolish and dangerous. It is foolish because he is abandoning American leadership of the multilateral space and that will not strengthen America as he suggests, but hasten her decline. Its is dangerous because US isolationism will weaken multilateral instruments which are the only means of resolving conflicts and tackling global problems, such as climate change.

China’s position as a mercantile super-power is already established. It was inevitable that she should now seek to consolidate her trading strength by becoming a political and military super power, too. This is a perfectly natural ambition. It’s the way super powers behave – indeed it’s the way they have to behave to protect their position. This therefore, should not, in and of itself, be a matter of alarm or criticism.

It is natural too – and good – that China should seek to fill the vacuum of leadership in regional and global multilateral institutions left by President Trump’s retreat from this space. It is far better for us all to have an engaged China, than an isolated one.

The last great strategic opportunity faced by the West was the fall of the Soviet Union. We should then have reached out to engage Russia, to draw her in, to help her re-build and reform. Instead we foolishly treated Moscow with triumphalism and humiliation, orchestrated largely by Washington. The result was inevitable and he’s called Vladimir Vladimirovic Putin.

We are now faced with a second equivalent opportunity. Can we reach out to build constructive relationships with a rising China?

On the face of it, the signs have been hopeful.

China has seemed keen to be a good world citizen. She has engaged constructively in multilateral institutions – look at the WTO as an example; look at her support for the UN Security Council resolution on sanctions for North Korea; look at her engagement with international forces to tackle the scourge of the Somali pirates around the Horn of Africa; look at her participation in international disaster relief – for instance in north east Pakistan; look at her involvement with UN peace keeping to which she has committed more troops under multi-national command than the United States and Europe combined. Yes, they are mostly in Africa where she has good reasons to want to keep the peace. But there is nothing new in that. Western nations too only send troops to keep the peace, where it is in their interests to do so.

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The death of Hong Kong’s freedoms

 

The Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Falkner chaired a discussion on 8th February on the demise of Hong Kong’s political freedoms since the transfer of its sovereignty to China. The event was organised by the Henry Jackson Society at the Palace of Westminster.

The speakers were Joshua Wong (a Hong Kong student and co-founder of the political party Demosisto), Angela Gui (daughter of detained publisher Gui Minhai) and Benedict Rogers (Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission).

2017 marks the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule.  The freedoms for Hong Kong citizens, guaranteed under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, have been increasingly undermined, with additional concerns now being raised about the abduction of individuals who are not Chinese citizens and which are taking place beyond Chinese borders.

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LibLink: Edward McMillan-Scott: Britain’s obligation towards Hong Kong

Former MEP Edward McMillan-Scott, who until June was a Vice President of the European Parliament with responsibility for human rights, has written about the current situation in Hong Kong. First he sets out the context:

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Postcard from China (2): The Pearl of the Orient

alex payton british consulate hong kongShould the Head of State be elected? Who should be allowed to be a candidate, and who should be allowed to vote?

Hong Kong currently faces these questions in its quest for universal suffrage and a democratic future, and was the recurrent theme during the second part of the trip to China organised by the British Chinese Project, in which I and three other Lib Dem delegates – Merlene Emerson, Sarah Yong and Steven Cheung – took part along with representatives from the other two main …

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