‘I won’t give up fighting’: barred Hong Kong politician pushes back against Beijing

Pro-democracy activist Nathan Law disqualified with 3 others after changing oath to China states he is motivated by Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo

N athan Law was on his method to ending up being a design Hong Kong resident in the eyes of the Chinese federal government.

He matured in an apolitical household living in federal government real estate, raised by working-class moms and dads who immigrated to Hong Kong from mainland China . He went to a pro-Beijing secondary school where instructors never ever had a bad word to state about Chinas authoritarian federal government and avoided subjects such as human rights and democracy motions.

But by his very first year of university, Law had actually dedicated himself totally to eliminating for higher democracy in Hong Kong and tough Chinas judgment Communist celebration. In September, at 23, he ended up being the youngest individual ever chosen to Hong Kongs legislature, part of a wave of progressive political leaders swept into workplace in the wake of mass democracy demonstrations in 2014.

Laws short legal profession concerned an abrupt end recently , when a judge disqualified him and 3 other legislators for cannot check out correctly the oath of workplace.

For years it has actually been a custom amongst the pro-democracy camp to include little acts of defiance throughout the swearing-in. Last week, Hong Kongs high court ruled that Laws actions at the event revealed his oath was insincere. He had actually prefaced his oath with a quote from Gandhi and a promise to serve the Hong Kong individuals.

Beijings strategy is extremely clear: they wish to reduce the more progressive voices in Hong Kong, he informs the Guardian. Its like a stick and carrot: they utilize the stick on the progressive forces, and the carrot with the moderate pro-democracy celebrations.

Hong Kong political leaders defy China as they are sworn in

There is a growing motion looking for to withstand closer combination with mainland China, which has actually put activists straight at chances with Chinas leaders, who have actually progressively applied higher control over Hong Kong in reaction.

The Hong Kong federal government took legal action against to have the 4 legislators eliminated from workplace, after effectively disallowing 2 pro-independence lawmakers from taking their seats in November. All 6 modified their main oaths at a swearing-in event in October 2016 , triggering the Chinese federal government to use a seldom-used power in the most direct disturbance in the citys politics given that the UK handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997.

Law might not appeal versus the judgment, rather hoping he can require the federal government to win and hold brand-new elections back his seat. Byelections are expected to occur 21 days after all appeals are tired.

Another aspect is expense. He approximates taking an appeal all the method to Hong Kongs greatest court would cost more than HK$ 1m (100,000), sending him into financial obligation and possibly making him disqualified to run in byelections if he is required to state personal bankruptcy.

Despite his positive rhetoric, Law is noticeably worn out from the experience. The intense and formerly younger lawmaker has actually been changed by a male who not smiles, dejected and tired.

Im a no one who has 2 weeks to load myself up, Law stated in a monotone voice. Its unpleasant, however the method I see it is: in the very first location I didnt have my seat, so if I lose it then its OKAY, Im simply returning to the start.

If Im fortunate, Ill have it in the future, he included.

Law stated he has no remorses, pointing out that pro-democracy legislators have actually long made political declarations throughout the oath-taking event without any reaction.

The federal governments efforts have rejected more than 185,000 citizens , about 8% of tallies cast, a voice in the legislature and robbed the pro-democracy camp of its veto power over significant legislation, among the most effective tools in a parliament stacked with pro-establishment lawmakers. Law alone got over 50,000 votes, among the greatest for a single prospect.

Long prior to he persuaded the typically practical Hong Kong electorate they would be well-served by a current university graduate who has actually been jailed a lots times, Law was on a course to privacy.

He transferred to Hong Kong from mainland China with his mom at the age of 6. His daddy worked tasks in building while his mom oscillated in between working as a street cleaner and a housewife. Their view on politics prevailed in China: keep your head down and do not make excessive hassle, a required tool for survival in a nation where speaking up can rapidly cause prison time.

Before Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese democracy activist, won the Nobel peace reward in 2010 , Law had little interest in the ideas of flexibility and social justice.

But after Liu was granted the reward while serving an 11-year sentence for subversion, Laws principal knocked Liu in front of the whole school, stating he was simply a tool of foreign forces attempting to interfere with Chinas order, echoing the Beijing line.

I was puzzled, Law stated. I believed just an excellent individual might win the Nobel peace reward, due to the fact that its the most distinguished and honourable reward.

After the school assembly, he started to check out Lius work and about democracy motions around the globe, changing practically over night.

At university he signed up with the trainee union, taking part in class boycotts throughout demonstrations versus a patriotic education curriculum and ultimately turning into one of the leaders of an 11-week sit-in in 2014 requiring direct elections for Hong Kongs leader.

Those demonstrations, called the umbrella motion, cannot win any concessions from the federal government, however motivated a generation of youths to end up being more politically active. Laws seat in the legislature was extensively viewed as a direct outcome of the presentations, providing it a symbolic worth the federal government aspired to eliminate.

Laws moms and dads frequently informed him to avoid of politics, his mom consistently stating: Don’t tinker the Chinese Communist celebration they are awful however you can never ever win.

His shock election success appeared to defy that belief, a minimum of for a time, till Law was once again shocked by his abrupt disqualification.

Beijing wishes to guarantee Hong Kong is quickly managed, and due to the fact that they opt to reduce our voices, there has actually been certain damage to our democracy, Law stated.

Losing his seat in parliament came at completion of a mentally hard week. The day prior to he was ejected from the legislature, Liu Xiaobo passed away of liver cancer under heavy guard in a Chinese health center. It was the exact same day as Laws 24th birthday.

The 13 July is not an event for me, despite the fact that it is my birthday, he stated. An ethical giant has actually passed away, its wrong for event.

In his existing crisis, Law has actually taken motivation from Liu.

I do not even attempt to consider rest due to the fact that I have a substantial obligation on my shoulders and I wont quit battling, he stated. So can we if Liu Xiaobo can continue under much harsher situations.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/18/i-wont-give-up-fighting-barred-hong-kong-politician-pushes-back-against-beijing


Xi Jinping: any challenge to China’s power in Hong Kong ‘crosses a red line’

President cautions versus any effort to mess up the mainland through Hong Kong, as scuffles break out in between competing demonstration groups

Hong Kong need to not be utilized as a launchpad to challenge Beijings authority and any questioning of Chinas sovereignty in the area crosses a red line, Chinese president Xi Jinping has actually stated throughout a go to marking 20 years given that the handover of the previous nest.

Little more than an hour prior to his speech, democracy protesters were assaulted by pro-China demonstrators and carried away by cops as they tried to progress the everyday flag-raising event.

Any effort to threaten Chinas sovereignty and security, challenge the power of the main federal government and Hong Kongs Basic Law, or utilize Hong Kong to perform seepage and sabotage activities versus the mainland is an act that crosses a red line, Xi stated. It is definitely impermissible.

Xi likewise stated Hong Kong had to do more to secure Chinas nationwide security and carry out patriotic education programs. Both of these concerns stay deeply undesirable amongst city citizens and previous federal government efforts to enact security legislation and nationwide education stimulated mass demonstrations.

His remarks were a clear caution to progressively singing political factions requiring higher autonomy from China and even straight-out self-reliance.

Xi took a trip to Hong Kong for an uncommon three-day check out to mark 20 years considering that the city was restored to China by the UK after 156 years of colonial guideline, and inaugurate the citys brand-new federal government. Xi formerly checked more than 3,100 soldiers in the biggest program of military may because the handover in 1997 and visited the scheduled website of a questionable extension of a Beijing museum.

Avery Ng, the chairman of the League of Social Democrats, stated activists had actually suffered an entire brand-new level of intimidation and direct violence throughout Xi Jinpings go to, developed to protect the Communist celebration leader from dissenting voices. He stated: I advise individuals of Hong Kong: do not quit … Once we quit then we will for specific gradually degrade into exactly what is ending up being of China today.

<img class="gu-image"itemprop="contentUrl"alt="Chinese"president xi jinping and hong kongs brand-new president carrie lam leave after her swearing-in event."src="
https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/4a79eb8ac131c3093eb2de9dc609537a4283c0cf/0_108_1752_1051/master/1752.jpg?w=300&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&fit=max&s=bf1dc7720ce3fa6cdef5c9c19d49c3a8″/&gt; Chinese president Xi Jinping and Hong Kongs brand-new president Carrie Lam leave after her swearing-in event. Photo: Kin Cheung/AP

In the scuffles prior to Xis speech, crowds of cops rapidly surrounded the pro-democracy group. A number of prominent leaders, consisting of Joshua Wong and experienced legislator Long Hair Leung Kwok-hung, were handcuffed and removed.

The demonstration leaders were later on launched. They implicated authorities of attacking them while in custody. None of the enemies were apprehended by cops. Wong, 20, stated he remained in a group assaulted by pro-China gangsters and triads which the authorities had actually not done anything to secure them.

He got in touch with Hong Kongs population to require to the streets on Saturday afternoon. It is time for Hong Kong individuals to come out onto the streets to require democracy, he stated, including: We are simply wanting to safeguard our fundamental human right to have a serene presentation.

Eddie Chu, another democracy leader, contacted people to support those on the frontline of this weeks demonstrations by signing up with todays march. It is crucial to let these actions not be forgotten by society. The Communist celebration attempts extremely tough … to marginalise activists. Then we can not anticipate in the future that there will still be flexibility of speech and flexibility of action, if these demonstrations are silenced. If Hong Kong individuals do not desire Hong Kong to end up being a police/thug state then please come out this afternoon, #peeee

. If we do not take the opportunity to reveal our civic power to the world, to the Communist celebration and to the punks the Hong Kong circumstance will absolutely end up being even worse in the future.

Leung required action versus exactly what he called the contamination of goons, authorities, authority and the abundant.

I advise the Hong Kong individuals to come out, to collect themselves in Victoria park. We will get rid of. We will not be weakened. Let those who have to be weakened, be weakened, he informed press reporters.

Xi was likewise in Hong Kong to swear in the citys brand-new leader, Carrie Lam, who was chosen in a securely managed contest by a committee loaded with Beijing patriots. Lam echoed Xis beliefs, providing her speech in Mandarin, commonly spoken in mainland China however a minority language in Hong Kong.

I will strongly act, in accordance with the law, versus any acts that will weaken the nations sovereignty, security and advancement interests, Lam stated, echoing much of the exact same styles as the Chinese president.

Hong Kong was enabled to keep liberty of speech and the right to assembly after its go back to China under a structure called one nation, 2 systems. The city has actually long been a sanctuary for those who want to challenge the orthodoxy on the mainland, extending back more than 100 years to the Qing dynasty.

Sun Yat-sen, extensively considered as the dad of modern-day China, started his political awakening as a trainee in Hong Kong, and ultimately led the very first federal government after the fall of the royal system.

But Hong Kongs liberty of expression has actually been under attack recently. 5 publishers of books vital of Chinas management vanished in 2015 and later on resurfaced in Chinese authorities custody in telecasted confessions.

Hong Kong authorities prohibited a pro-independence rally set up for Friday, stating it would breach the Basic Law, the citys mini-constitution.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/01/hong-kong-xi-jinping-china-power-protests

How China changed Hong Kong: views from the city

As the 20th anniversary of the handover from the UK to China is marked, the Guardian talks to residents and officials about the shifts since 1997

Hong Kong is preparing to mark the 20th anniversary of the handover of the territory from the UK to China. The moment will bring thousands on to the streets some to celebrate and others to protest. Here the Guardian asks six Hong Kong residents about their memories of 1997 and their thoughts on the citys future.

Yau Wai-ching, disqualified lawmaker

Hong Kong people have been forced to pay for a deceit.

Yau Wai-ching in Hong Kongs Sheung Wan district. Photograph: Benjamin Haas for the Guardian

At midnight on 30 June 1997, I remember a heavy rain and my eyes nearly closing, almost falling asleep. But I didnt. I was forced to concentrate on my parents old television screen, watching two flags: one was the flag of United Kingdom, the other was Chinas. I tried to ask my mom about what was happening on that screen, but I could not understand, except for the one phrase that I learned that evening: handover.

Nothing changed the next day. In my world as a six-year-old I was waiting till September when I would become a primary 1 student. My parents said the handover meant nothing to them as they still had to work and pay taxes. Everything seemed to remain unchanged, exactly what the Chinese government promised to the Hong Kong people.

But then year by year, Cantonese began to be replaced by Mandarin, our constitutional laws made in the 1980s have been amended and interpreted by the Chinese government, and values among Hong Kongers changed after an influx of more than a million immigrants from China since 1997. Those mainlanders have come to dominate much of the social atmosphere. Locals are now always blamed as discriminating against those new immigrants if we ever expressed a different viewpoint and sometimes we are even slandered as fascists or racists.

In these past 20 years, Hong Kongers still believe in law and justice, fairness and democracy, but we no longer believe in the system and rules created by the Chinese government. Instead of becoming more like Hong Kong, the Chinese government will use any type of propaganda or immigration policy to make us more like them.

We have started to realise that the United Kingdom and China signed a treaty in 1984 that was supposed to protect Hong Kong, but it has turned out to be a deception and a joke. Since the handover all Hong Kong people have been forced to pay for that deceit.

Holden Chow, pro-establishment lawmaker

Hong Kong is part of China and we are Chinese: this is a fact and never in dispute.

Holden Chow at his office in Hong Kongs legislative council. Photograph: Benjamin Haas for the Guardian

I was in UK back in 1997 doing my A-levels, and I returned to Hong Kong before 1 July to witness the handover ceremony. As a patriot, I was always happy to see the handover and the establishment of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the Peoples Republic of China. I believe the one country, two systems works well: Hong Kong indeed has been able to sustain prosperity and with the full support from central government, we even have survived global economic crisis.

It is reasonable for us to expect challenges and conflicts to arise in the course of implementing the one country, two systems principle. But what really matters is how do we resolve such conflicts. The opposition or the so-called pan-democrats probably prefer stirring up conflicts, or to simply blow everything out of proportion. Owing to the Occupy movement orchestrated by the opposition, Hong Kong has become heavily divided. The pan-democrats might clock up public support in the course of instigating upheaval in the city, but that is done at the expense of the citys interests.

As a member of the pro-establishment camp, I reckon settling conflicts in an amicable way is a better choice than what the opposition has been doing.

The majority of Hong Kong people have never supported the notorious idea of Hong Kong independence. Hong Kong is part of China and we are Chinese: this is a fact and never in dispute.

The growth and development of China indeed offers opportunities to Hong Kong too. I trust one country, two systems is the best option for Hong Kong and for mainland China too, and the central government fully understands this. The opposition has always been falsely accusing that the city has totally lost our autonomy and rule of law, which is utterly untrue. A robust one country, two systems regime could be upheld only if the opposition stops attempting to ruin the trust between Hong Kong and central government, such as peddling separatism, or condoning the wrongful conduct in oath-taking saga.

Zhang Zhenping, dumpling stall owner

For all of Hong Kongs faults, its still a more free place.

Zhang Zhenping, a dumpling stall owner originally from Tianjin, China, in her shop in Hong Kong. Photograph: Benjamin Haas for the Guardian

When I first arrived in Hong Kong from China in the early 90s, there was intense energy. I came here to make money, and even though I do not have a lot of education or culture, I lived well and I could provide for my family making dumplings in a restaurant.

Hong Kong was a far more equal place 20 years ago and there was more economic growth for everyone. People like me at the bottom still got bonuses and although I worked hard, sweating in kitchens making hundreds of dumplings, wontons and buns every day, my money felt like it was worth more. Now Im working even harder for less.

Since the handover life has become much harder for ordinary working people, prices for everything is going up and it has hit people like me the most. These changes dont affect the rich, but I only make food, because I dont have any culture and I can never be rich.

These days all the economic opportunities are in China; Hong Kong cant compete. My old boss from the restaurant closed his business here and went back to Beijing. He said he could make more money there.

I chose to stay, so I opened a dumpling stall three years ago. Its not much, but Im my own boss a little boss, but still a boss.

But despite all the hardship and bitterness, I feel better here. I go back to my hometown in China maybe once a year. People have money, but they have so much life pressures and are miserable.

I dont want to go back to the mainland, I dont like the politics there at least here people can say what they want. For all of Hong Kongs faults, its still a more free place.

Amy Cheung, artist

We seem to march towards unprecedented polarisation at every level of society.

Artist Amy Cheung at her home in Hong Kong. Photograph: Benjamin Haas for the Guardian

I was studying in London in 1997, a year that marked my identity enlightenment. In Britain, many people asked me once they knew that I came from Hong Kong: How do you feel about Hong Kong being returned to China? Are you scared? Dont you worry about your liberal way of life being crushed by the Communist China? Are they going to control your press, internet, restrict your freedom of speech, religion, travel, currency and the rule of law?

Others speculated: You must be so happy that Hong Kong now returns to the embrace of the Motherland, ending your shame of living as colonised subject. You can now stand tall with pride to acknowledge that you are sons and daughters of the dragon, with 5,000 years of civilisation, part of a great China the Middle Kingdom.

My face went blank. Cold sweat. I opened my mouth but my tongue vanished. My brain scanned through the large quantity of information that had been spoon-fed to me since I was born, all data, facts, names, workbooks, trainings for tests and examsthat I excelled at to get to where I was. But I was so ignorant about the constituencies of my identity, cultural heritage; moral, ethical and national value; belief systems, duties, rights and all collateral issues related.

Was this intentional negligence a colonial education package? I still wonder. Twenty years ago, identity politics had failed to arrest either learners or educators attention, unlike today. I was thoroughly embarrassed by my inability to feel any emotion at that critical juncture of our history. I was not altogether indifferent, although it seems hard now to imagine that my generation grew up apolitical.

However, I did witness the self-determination discourse that took off steadily after 1997. An awareness of our political identity burst into our communal consciousness, from the momentum gathered around the anti-subversion law, anti-national education protest, the annual 1 July rally, umbrella revolution, and the endless paralysing fight between the pro-establishment and pan-democratic camp.

In 2017, I felt breathless to experience Hong Kong at such a high emotional altitude. Blood is easily boiled, grey zones get greyer, reconciliations are almost impossible. I dont know how, but we seem to march self-destructively towards an unprecedented polarisation at every level of society.

Karl Mayer, businessman

Hong Kong people are survivors who stand up quickly after a fall.

Karl Mayer, a German businessman, in front of Hong Kongs Victoria Harbour. Photograph: Benjamin Haas for the Guardian

For a fast-moving city like Hong Kong, change is inevitable. Still little had changed immediately after the handover to China and for the first years the only obvious change was the knowledge that now the Chinese army was stationed in Prince Edward building hoisting the Chinese flag in the middle of Hong Kong.

In the late 90s, Hong Kong still seemed to remain a free city running its own system and still flourishing from being considered the gateway to China. Even the first chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, at least tried to protect the interests of Hong Kong people and negotiate with the Chinese government on eye level. This, however, rapidly changed with the arrival of the new millennium and the gold-rush atmosphere in mainland China.

Hong Kong lost its role as gateway to China and international customers started to deal directly with the mainland. Hong Kongs response was to quickly adapt by trying to establish the city as an entertainment, amusement, shopping and tourism hub and the concept worked out with masses of tourists flowing into Hong Kong every year especially from China.

Becoming part of China will remain the big topic over the next 30 years and the subtle efforts from Beijing to infiltrate Hong Kong with language, education and the election system will become more overt and direct and will affect also other areas such as finance, trade, taxes and politics. To communicate this to the HK people and the world in a positive way will be the most important role of the newly elected chief executive.

The stream of tourists will eventually ebb, especially from China who will start travelling to countries further abroad. Although they enjoy excellent food and views in Hong Kong, the city does not bring home fond memories of being treated respectfully, kind and politely.

Only having old and rich people in a city who only come in the winter to rest and enjoy the warmth and pleasantries of Hong Kong will turn the city into something like Monaco in Europe.

On the other hand I have to say that I experienced Hong Kong people as survivors who stand up quickly after a fall and adapt rapidly to new situations as they have shown after the handover.

Richard Margolis, former UK diplomat

China must keep its promises but Hong Kong has to keep its side of the bargain as well.

Richard Margolis, a former UK diplomat who negotiated the terms of Hong Kongs handover to China. Photograph: Benjamin Haas for the Guardian

Twenty years after the handover, the key elements which make Hong Kong different from China are still present: freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of conscience and an independent judiciary. Will this continue, especially since Hong Kongs importance to China has receded in the past 20 years? Answer: yes but only if both Hong Kong and Beijing keep their sides of the bargain.

Before explaining this, a couple of basic notions which are often overlooked:

  • It is not and never has been a necessary condition for Hong Kongs survival for China to be ruled by people who share the values that underpin Hong Kong.
  • All that is required of Chinas leaders is that they perceive a balance of advantage to them in continuing to accept Hong Kongs separateness.

That balance of advantage is less overwhelmingly obvious than it was 20 years ago, but still exists, in my view. And Chinas leaders have huge challenges excess industrial capacity, excess debt, slowing growth, rapidly ageing population which means that their overwhelming preference is for Hong Kong to get on with its separate existence, do what it needs to do to adapt to a changing world, stay competitive and not bother Beijing.

But Hong Kong has had a tendency since the handover to ask for special deals, such as CEPA (Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement). And Hong Kong business people acquired the habit of lobbying in Beijing in pursuit of their interests in Hong Kong. All of these activities seem to me against the spirit of the handover arrangements, which were: You leave us alone and we wont bother you.

So my conclusion is that it is, of course, essential that China keep its promises but Hong Kong has to keep its side of the bargain as well.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/28/how-china-changed-hong-kong-views-city-handover-1997-uk-residents

We must resist until China gives Hong Kong a say in our future

We must resist until China gives Hong Kong a say in our future

If Beijing allows human rights to deteriorate in Hong Kong, its freest city, then the whole country will lose all hope of reform

Hong Kongs leader Leung CY Chun-ying is preparing to leave office following a five-year term marred by allegations of corruption, controversial remarks, and unfulfilled promises. He will be the first chief executive not to serve a second term.

With elections for his successor scheduled for 26 March, what does the future hold for Hong Kong?

There are four contenders now seeking the top job.

  • John Tsang Chun-wah, Leungs former financial secretary and the current crowd favourite, has 60% of the populations support, according to polls.
  • Carrie Lam Cheung Yuet-ngor, Leungs second-in-command, is a close second and reportedly Beijings favored candidate.
  • Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee is the founder and chair of the pro-Beijing New Peoples party. Polls show that more than 50% still oppose her election.
  • Woo Kwok-hing is the final candidate. The first to launch his campaign, Woo differs from the other candidates in that he is a retired judge.

Hong Kongs mini-constitution, the Basic Law, clearly states that the chief executive should be selected by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures. In 2007, Beijing further pledged that the 2017 chief executive election would be implemented by method[s] of universal suffrage.

Yet despite all these promises, we must ask, how legitimate is this democratic election for the chief executive?

A close examination of the current electoral process reveals that it will be exceedingly undemocratic. Despite the 2014 pro-democracy movement known as the Umbrella Revolution, the selection method remains the same.

The next chief executive will be chosen by a 1,200-member election committee, a body that reflects the interests of a business-driven, pro-establishment, China-friendly, and elitist group. The fact that the committee is partially made up of members appointed by the Chinese central peoples government reveals how rigged the supposedly democratic system is.

The result is that Hong Kong citizens are denied true universal suffrage. Leung, the outgoing leader, was nicknamed 689 to reflect the meagre number of votes he received from the election committee to make him chief executive: just 689 out of 1,200. Lacking a popular mandate, Leung went on to become vastly unpopular. A 2013 poll by the Hong Kong University showed that 55% disapproved of Leung and a mere 31% supported him. When he steps down, Leungs legacy will be a society that is more divided than ever before.

Without universal suffrage and direct elections, Hong Kong citizens cannot expect any better this time around. No matter if it is Carrie Lam, who has come under fire for formulating plans to build a Beijing Palace Museum in Hong Kong without public consultation; John Tsang, who prioritises business interests; or pro-establishment Regina Ip, the candidates are all products of a small, inner circle of politics dominated by elitist interests.

While some think that a new chief executive might bring about change, ultimately Chinese president Xi Jinping will continue to wield iron-fisted control over Hong Kong. Therefore, a leadership change cannot act as a source of hope as it will never provide a solution for Hong Kongs dependency on China.

Since a simple change of face in a system controlled by an authoritarian regime cannot bring true change, we call for a representative, democratically elected chief executive. If China allows the human rights of Hong Kong, its freest city, to deteriorate, China itself will lose all hopes of reform. Without Hong Kong as a beacon of civil liberties, what hope can China have for developing a respect for rule of law and human rights?

As is the tradition, Chinese officials visit Hong Kong annually to celebrate the transfer of sovereignty. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Hong Kongs return from British to Chinese control and may see the first visit to by Xi as president.

As we prepare for this possibility, we again emphasize this: no matter the outcome of the elections, the fact that we are only offered candidates from a pre-selected pool is telling of the fact that the current system denies us a truly democratic vote.

To have genuine democratic elections is to have a say in our future, and until we reach such a day, we will continue to resist.

Joshua Wong is the secretary general and co-founder of Hong Kong political party Demosisto and Emily Lim is a bachelors degree student in international studies and history at Emory University in Atlanta.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/23/we-must-resist-until-china-gives-hong-kong-a-say-in-our-future

Hong Kong, where history has become a battleground for Beijing

Hong Kong, where history has become a battleground for Beijing

Residents of the city are being encouraged to engage with their past warts and all and not allow it to be airbrushed

Stepping off the subway in his army uniform, Victor Yu prepared to face the onslaught ahead. Instead of charging into a crowd armed with rifles, he was met with smartphones, overwhelmed on a street in Hong Kong by pictures and selfies rather than enemy fire.

Yu is a member of Watershed, a local historical group working to raise awareness of what they feel is Hong Kongs forgotten history. The performance comes at a time when instruction of the citys history is becoming increasingly politicised, with recent government attempts to bury details that may be embarrassing for China.

About 20 volunteers dressed in period British military uniforms have been gathering on the streets of the city over the past month to mark the 75th anniversary of Black Christmas, when in 1941 British forces in Hong Kong surrendered to the Japanese, the first ever for a Crown colony.

Most Hong Kongers dont know anything about the battle to defend the city, they can only remember the Japanese occupation and think we gave up without a fight, said Taurus Yip, 24, co-founder of the group. All they know is the Japanese occupation was harsh and lasted for three years and eight months, that line is repeated over and over.

Victor Yu rides the subway in Hong Kong on December 25, 2016 to an event marking 75 years since the British surrendered to the Japanese during World War II. Photograph: Benjamin Haas for the Guardian

The event was inspired by a similar campaign in London last year, when uniformed actors handed out cards bearing the names of soldiers killed during the Battle of the Somme.

But beyond serving merely as a memorial, Hong Kongs history buffs hope to foster a common identity in a city that has traditionally lacked a cohesive sense of self.

Hong Kong people just want to get rich and emigrate because they dont have a sense of citizenship about the place, Kevin Ng, another organiser of the event, said in an interview. What were trying to do is use history as a foundation, to show there were hundreds of Hong Kong people willing to die for their home, and then we can create a sense of belonging.

History is increasingly a battleground for that sense of belonging, where the Chinese government hopes to instill patriotism while younger people identify with a Hong Kong identity thats separate from China.

A proposed revision in September to the way history is taught, with the government saying too much emphasis has been put on political history and not enough on society and culture, was met with resistance from teachers who worry the move is designed to bolster patriotic education.

Introducing national education was beaten back in 2012, but the concept still remains a priority for Beijing.

At a public forum earlier this year on renovating Hong Kongs history museum exhibits to tackle events beyond 1997, a chorus of seemingly organised, mostly elderly residents made demands that any expansion would promote a sense of belonging to the China and the Communist party, rather than a local, uniquely Hong Kong identity.

Local history education is very political, said Allan Pang, a member of the University of Hong Kong history society who has researched school curricula.

The textbooks and syllabus try to sidestep so-called embarrassing issues like June 4th or the 1967 riots, Pang added, referring to the date of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, an event that spurred 1.5 million people, more than a quarter of the population at the time, to march in Hong Kong in the largest ever protest.

Members of historical group Watershed pose in Hong Kong during an event marking 75 years since the British surrendered to the Japanese during World War II. Photograph: Benjamin Haas for the Guardian

Last year the Hong Kong police revised the history section of their website to remove references to leftists and Communists as agitators and bomb makers during months of deadly rioting in 1967. The changes led to an outcry from historians and former police officers and the original text was eventually restored.

In another move that alarmed conservationists, Hong Kongs post office unveiled a plan to cover royal cyphers found on colonial-era mailboxes to avoid confusion. But some saw a more sinister subtext as the decision came in the wake of comments made by a former Beijing official berated Hong Kong for its failure at decolonisation.

Britain handed Hong Kong to China in 1997 under a framework known as one country, two systems where the former colony was allowed to maintain its institutions and freedoms.

But in Chinas push to hold sway over history education in Hong Kong can backfire. While teachers generally have free reign to interpret government-issued guidelines as they see fit, some schools are decidedly pro-Beijing.

Nathan Law became a student protest leader and the youngest ever pro-democracy lawmaker despite attending a school that echoed the Chinese government line on history and politics.

The day after Chinese democracy activist Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, the president of Laws school denounced Liu, saying he didnt respect China and colluded with hostile foreign forces.

The Nobel committee made a mistake and the school president warned students not to support Liu or his ideas, Law said.

In my history classes I didnt learn anything about Hong Kong before 1997, Law recalled.

In class we never talked about the 4th of June, freedom or human rights, and instead put the focus on glorifying Chinese history.

The school presidents attack on the Nobel laureate spurred Law to do his own research, eventually inspiring his democracy activism.

That free flow of information in Hong Kong ensures academic freedom, said Lui Tai-lok, a professor at The Education University of Hong Kong, since even if students are taught one point of view in the classroom, they are free to read other interpretations.

I cant see there ever being one single body that ensures there is one interpretation, one mode of delivery and one one way of telling students what to say, Lui said.

But he warned against Hong Kong people becoming complacent: If things go wrong we have to blame ourselves for not standing up.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/27/hong-kong-history-battleground-beijing