Hong Kong after 20 years

A new report by the Henry Jackson Society has today highlighted how human rights have deteriorated in Hong Kong over the last two decades. The report, Hong Kong After Twenty Years: The Rollback of Civil, Human, and Legal Rights, makes the following findings: A startling and dramatic decrease of Hong Kong’s democratic and legal rights in only 10 years, indicated on a wide front of indicators. China has engaged in a number of direct and indirect ways to subvert both the legislative process and judicial system in Hong Kong, making those sectors beholden to Beijing. Lacking the legal means of extradition, Chinese police simply resort to illegal kidnappings of those who present Chinese leaders with difficulty. Chinese attempts at fostering nationalist education curriculum in 2014 backfired and are behind the rise of the Umbrella Movement. Only 3.1% of Hong Kong youth identify as Chinese. Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index saw Hong Kong go from 18th place in 2002 to 73rd place in 2017.

The UK is torn between its desire for trade relations with Beijing and its moral responsibility to uphold the Joint Declaration. It is at a crossroads and will eventually have to choose one or the other. Commenting on the report, former Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Sir Richard Ottaway, said: “All supporters of human rights will be concerned by reports that freedom of assembly and freedom of speech and the press are being undermined in ways both overt and indirect. A free press and the right to demonstrate peacefully are essential to the functioning of a free society and are among the most crucial pillars upholding Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy. We should closely monitor the preservation of these freedoms, and must be robust and persistent, both publicly and privately, in affirming our support for these fundamental rights.”

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