Hong Kong and Taiwan feel the Beijing squeeze – China politics and current affairs news from April 27, 2017
The Hong Kong government is preparing for the 20th anniversary of its return to Chinese rule by arresting over a dozen key figures in the resistance to that rule, the New York Times reports (paywall). Nine pro-democracy advocates connected to protests last November were arrested on April 27 under charges including unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct in public, while the day before, two pro-independence politicians and three of their assistants were arrested for protests during oath-swearing ceremonies in Hong Kong’s legislative council.
President Xi Jinping is expected to visit the former British colony in July, and democracy advocate Joshua Wong suggested the arrests were to “prove that everything is under control” to Beijing. Speaking to the AFP, Wong was more blunt: “I believe the police have set out to arrest all street activists so they won’t dare to protest when Xi Jinping visits.” Wong himself still dares to protest: The Times reports that he is planning a “large civil disobedience protest” for July 1.
Beijing also sought to press its claims on Taiwan on April 27 through a measure requiring “anyone who publishes or distributes national maps” to include it, along with almost all of the South China Sea, as part of China. The punishment for breaking the law could be as much as 1 million yuan ($145,000), an amount specifically chosen to “intimidate,” Reuters reports.
Taiwan is in an even tougher spot than usual with regards to China: Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-Che 李明哲 was detained over a month ago in southern China, and has still not been released or even heard from. Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen flagged this as a major issue in an interview with Reuters, and two respected legal scholars, Jerome A. Cohen and Yu-Jie Chen, recently wrote that the detention “threatens a key pillar of cross-straits relations.”
Opinion: Xi Jinping’s dilemma / NYT (paywall)
“Ultimately, Mr. Xi will need to decide whether he wants to be a political strongman or an economic reformer,” writes Richard McGregor.
- Chinese hackers shift focus to Asia after U.S. accord / Financial Times (paywall)
- China military apologizes for mocked photoshopped navy picture / Reuters
- The tech challenge of reporting under China’s watchful eye / NYT (paywall)