Once again, a news medium critical of the government in Hong Kong has announced its dissolution. The online publication “Citizen News” announced on Sunday evening (local time) that operations would be completely shut down from January 4th. The reason for the step was the “deteriorating environment for the media”, which is why the safety of its employees can no longer be guaranteed.
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The pro-democracy medium “Stand News” only closed at the end of December after Hong Kong authorities arrested several leading journalists from the publication. In June, the pro-democracy newspaper “Apple Daily” was forcibly shut down after the tabloid was targeted by the authorities for alleged violations of the so-called security law. Its founder, Jimmy Lai, is in jail.
The vague wording of the wording of the law makes it easier to take action against activities that China classifies as subversive, separatist, terrorist or conspiratorial – and thus targets critics of the Hong Kong government and the Chinese leadership. More than 100 activists have been arrested or awaiting trial. Many have already been convicted. Many opposition members have fled abroad for fear of prosecution.
Hong Kong Legislative Council filled with “patriots”
The influence of the Chinese central government in Hong Kong has grown massively since the mass pro-democracy protests of 2019 in the financial metropolis. This was also the case with the elections in Hong Kong. As reported by the AFP news agency, the new members of the Hong Kong Legislative Council were sworn in after their controversial election in December.
In a symbolic ceremony, which reflected the new political realities of Hong Kong, the 90 MPs took their oath on Monday. The city’s coat of arms was replaced by that of China.
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The parliamentary elections were held for the first time on the basis of a new electoral law that drastically reduced the number of directly elected representatives and multiplied the number of representatives loyal to Beijing. In addition, all candidates were checked for their “patriotism” and their political loyalty to China before the vote.
The G7 and other Western states criticized the election as undemocratic. The largest pro-democracy parties did not nominate candidates. Dozens of prominent members of the opposition – including many who had won seats in parliament in the previous election – were arrested, excluded from the election or fled abroad for violating the National Security Act. The turnout was only around 30 percent.
The leadership in Beijing justifies its action with the need to restore stability after the mass protests. Pluralism will continue to be tolerated, they say. Critics, including many Western countries, accuse the Beijing government of having broken its promise that the former crown colony of Hong Kong would retain freedoms and autonomy after the transfer from Great Britain to China in 1997. (dpa, AFP)