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HONG KONG CLERGY FACE ARREST AND EXTRADITION TO CHINA UNDER NEW LAWS

A draft of a controversial new national security law for Hong Kong, as proposed by China, has caused concerns that the semi-autonomous city’s vocal clergy who have supported the democracy movement could be extradited to and tried in mainland China.  The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp legislature, may formally approve the law, which broadens Beijing’s direct control over Hong Kong and erodes the city’s human rights and freedoms, at a June 28-30 meeting.  The draft covers four categories of crimes: succession, subversion of state power, local terrorist activities and collaborating with foreign forces to endanger national security, according to Christian persecution watchdog International Christian Concern.

“Under such laws, Hong Kong clergy who have been supportive of Hong Kong’s democracy movement, such as Cardinal Zen and Auxiliary Bishop Ha Chi-shing, could be extradited to mainland China to be tried,” said ICC.  “Hundreds of other protestant leaders or Christian organizations who have actively spoken out against the Hong Kong government might face the same fate.  Beijing has said it considers the mass protests that began last June as terrorist acts and any calls for Hong Kong’s independence from China as acts of sedition.”  In 1997, China had agreed for a “one country, two systems” arrangement to allow certain freedoms for Hong Kong when it received the city back from British control.  The security law undercuts the promised autonomy.

“This law compromises one-country, two-systems, and the handover agreement, and puts human rights in jeopardy,” the Hong Kong Watch wrote.  The European Parliament has voted to take China to the International Court of Justice if the law is imposed.  The United States has threatened to revoke Hong Kong’s special trading relationship with it and impose sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials.  China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency revealed an explanatory note summarizing the draft, which says Beijing will set up a central government office in Hong Kong to manage national security.  The office will have the authority to assess Hong Kong’s security, gather and analyze intelligence, advise and supervise local authorities on national security matters.

The office would also oversee education about national security in Hong Kong schools.  In case of any discrepancies between the new law and Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the former would apply.  “Hong Kong will not be a bridgehead for exterior forces that jeopardize China’s national security,” Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, wrote on Facebook.  ICC warned that “China’s legal system and its lack of transparency can criminalize anybody and place them in jail.  Many Chinese Christians are now imprisoned for trumped-up charges, such as ‘subversion of state power,’ ‘illegal border crossing,’ and ‘illegal business operation.’”

Source: Christian Post