HONG KONG: BEIJING GETTING TOUGHER


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The Hong Kong protests, now in their seventh month, show no signs of abating. And with the November local election bringing in 87 percent of candidates who are anti-Beijing and pro-democracy, the Chinese government is taking measures to reign in the movement.
Last weekend, the Chinese government’s top representative in Hong Kong was replaced with an official who is considered a much tougher enforcer than his predecessor.
The new director of the Central Liaison Office in Hong Kong is Luo Huining, a senior Communist Party official who has worked closely with Chinese security services in a number of positions.
The move to put in a tougher security expert by Beijing comes just a week after the huge protest march on New Year’s Day in which over a million Hong Kong citizens took to the streets and were quickly confronted by police, who shot tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowds.
The mostly peaceful protest turned more violent, with some demonstrators destroying cash machines and vandalizing buildings. Over 400 people were arrested.
On New Year’s Eve, Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive who has received continued support from Beijing, produced a video in which she stated:
“I believe we can once again overcome our current challenges and rebuild Hong Kong. Let’s start 2020 with a new resolution to restore order and harmony in society. So, we can begin again, together.”
But this had little effect, as the massive New Year’s Day protest showed the resolve of Hong Kong citizens to continue pressing for its stated demands: an independent investigation of police violence, amnesty for all those arrested during protests, and more open democratic elections.
So far, Ms. Lam has refused to negotiate these demands.
Showing signs of increasing its crackdown on the ongoing demonstrations, the Chinese government stopped Kenneth Roth, the executive director of the, at the Hong Kong airport, denying him entrance into the city.
Roth said that Human Rights Watch had previously noted that “the Chinese government is undermining the international human rights system.”
Roth also stated, “This disappointing action is yet another sign that Beijing is tightening its oppressive grip on Hong Kong and further restricting the limited freedom Hong Kong people enjoy under ‘one country, two systems.’”
The report will be released to the United Nations today.

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