Hong Kong faces critical test in 2021 as China ups the ante

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NEW DELHI: Hong Kong has withstood a year of political crackdown in 2020 with Beijing tightening its grip on the former British colony drawing sharp reactions from the global powers.

The implementation of Hong Kong’s national security law by the Chinese Communist Party was the catalyst. the “one country, two systems” arrangement appears more fractured than ever before.

Jimmy Lai, media tycoon and founder of Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper, was of opinion the new law was the “death knell of Hong Kong.”

“The national security law has done great damage to the whole democratic movement. We have to stand firm and be prepared to go to prison, in turns,” Lai had said.

The U.S cancelled its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, as did Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand. The U.S had also withdrawn Hong Kong’s preferential trade and financial status, while sanctions were placed on Chinese government officials, including Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

On Sunday Foreign ministers from the United States, Canada, Britain and Australia condemned last week’s arrest of over 50 democracy activists in Hong Kong in a joint statement, calling on China to respect the freedom of the people on the island.

Hong Kong police made the arrests last Wednesday in dawn raids, the biggest crackdown since China imposed a security law in 2020, which opponents say is aimed at quashing dissent in the former British colony.

“It is clear that the National Security Law is being used to eliminate dissent and opposing political views,” the foreign ministers said in the joint statement.

“We call on the Hong Kong and Chinese central authorities to respect the legally guaranteed rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong without fear of arrest and detention.”

Hong Kong’s National Security Law, under which the arrests were made, is a breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and undermines the “one country, two systems” framework, according to the statement.

The legislation“has curtailed the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong. It is clear that the National Security Law is being used to eliminate dissent and opposing political views,” the statement said. “It is crucial that the postponed Legislative Council elections in September proceed in a fair way that includes candidates representing a range of political opinions,” they said.



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