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Hong Kong under Siege

The political situation in Hong Kong is increasingly tense, as the former British colony’s special status under the ‘one country, two systems’ arrangement appears to be faltering. The inauguration of a high speed railway connecting Hong Kong to Guangzhou on 23 September and a new bridge that links Hong Kong to Zhuhai and Macau on 23 October has raised fears among Hong Kongers that closer linkages to the mainland will allow the Chinese government to exert more control over their society. These fears are mainly rooted in the decision to enforce mainland Chinese laws at the West Kowloon Terminus in Hong Kong, which critics argue will eventually undermine the independent judicial system of Hong Kong. The deterioration of Hong Kong’s political situation was also apparent in a string of other incidents. In early October, Victor Mallet, Asia News Editor at the Financial Times, was first denied renewal of his work visa in Hong Kong and then refused entry to the city one month later, a de facto expulsion ostensibly related to his chairing a public meeting with a leader of an independentist party in the city. On 3 November, an exhibition by Badiucao, a Chinese-Australian political artist, was cancelled in Hong Kong over ‘threats’ from Chinese authorities. One week later, Ma Jian, a renowned Chinese writer residing in England, had two scheduled speeches at literary festival in Hong Kong cancelled due to his criticisms of the Chinese government—the events were later rearranged as the hosts changed their mind at the last minute. Adding to these worrisome situations was the trial on 19 November of Chan Kin-man, co-founder of the Occupy Central Movement in 2014, and of his fellow campaigners. Although the trial is still pending, the controversies surrounding the proceedings, along with the other aforementioned contentious events, have already stained Hong Kong’s image as a beacon of freedom in Asia. NLiu

(Sources: ABC; CCTV.com; Financial Times; Hong Kong Free Press; Reuters; South China Morning Post; The Guardian; Washington Post; Xinhua)

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