Sunday, July 2, 2017

Protests rock Hong Kong as Xi draws `red line'

Jul 02 2017 : The Times of India (Chennai)
Protests rock Hong Kong as Xi draws `red line'
Hong Kong:

Tells Rebels China Won't Tolerate Any Challenge To Its Authority
Chinese President Xi Jinping swore in Hong Kong's new leader on Saturday with a warning that Beijing won't tolerate any challenge to its authority in the divided city as it marked the 20th anniversary of its handover from Britain to China.Police blocked roads, preventing pro-democracy protesters from getting to the harbour-front venue close to where the last colonial governor, Chris Patten, handed back Hong Kong to China in 1997. Xi said that Hong Kong should crack down on moves towards “independence“.
“Any attempt to endanger China's sovereignty and security, challenge the power of the government... or use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland is an act that crosses the red line and is absolutely impermissible,“ Xi said.He also referred to the “humiliation and sorrow“ China suf fered during the first Opium War in the 1840s that led to ceding Hong Kong to the British.
Hong Kong has been racked by demands for full democracy and by calls for independence. “Making everything political or deliberately creating differences and provoking confrontations will not resolve the problems,“ Xi said, adding Hong Kong “cannot afford to be torn apart by reckless moves or internal rifts“.
Xi's speech was his strongest yet to the city amid concerns over what some perceive as increased meddling by Beijing, illustrated by the abduction by mainland agents of some Hong Kong booksellers and Beijing's efforts in disqualifying two pro-independence lawmakers elected to the city legislature.
The tightly choreographed visit was full of pro-China rhetoric amid an unprecedented security lockdown close to the scene of pro-democracy pro tests in 2014 that witnessed clashes and tear gas rising between waterfront skyscrapers.
Under the mini-constitution, the Basic Law, Hong Kong is guaranteed wide-ranging autonomy for “at least 50 years“ after 1997 under a “one country , two systems“ formula praised by Xi. It also specifies universal suffrage as an eventual goal. But Beijing's refusal to grant full democracy triggered three months of street protests in 2014 that posed one of the greatest populist challenges to Beijing in decades.
In the afternoon, tens of thousands gathered in a sprawling park named after Queen Victoria, demanding Xi allow universal suffrage.Protesters also called for the release of cancer-stricken Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who was given medical parole earlier this week but remains on the mainland. “Suppression by the regime has never let up and I don't see any end in sight,“ said 20-year-old activist Nathan Law, Hong Kong's youngest legislator.
Some demonstrators mar ched with yellow umbrellas, a symbol of democratic activism in the city , and held banners denouncing China's Communist “one party rule“.Others criticised China's foreign ministry which on Friday said the “Joint Declaration“ with Britain over Hong Kong, a treaty laying the blueprint over how the city would be ruled after 1997, “no longer has any practical significance“. At the end of the rally a white banner read: “Cry in grief for 20 years“.
Xi in the morning addressed a hall of mostly pro-Beijing establishment figures, after swearing in Hong Kong's first female leader, Carrie Lam, who was backed by China. Xi hinted the central government was in favour of Hong Kong introducing “national security“ legislation, a controversial issue that brought half a million people to the streets in protest in 2003 and forced former leader Tung Chee-hwa to step down.

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