Thousands of protesters — 10,000 if you ask organizers, 6,200 if you ask police — took to the streets in Hong Kong in an annual New Year’s Day protest against Beijing’s increasingly visible hand in the city, the South China Morning Post reports. By both organizer and police estimates, this year’s protest turnout was several thousand more than the last two years.
- A primary drive for these protests was the news last week that the National People’s Congress (NPC) voted to allow “Chinese immigration checks and the enforcement of mainland Chinese laws” within part of a high-speed railway being built in Hong Kong.
- SCMP notes other reasons for the rally: “opposition to changes to the rule book for the city’s legislature, which protesters fear will enable the Hong Kong government to force through unpopular legislation, including a highly contentious national security law”; and
- The “political persecution of [pro-democracy] leaders, social injustices, urban planning without consultation and the monopolies held by some big corporations.”
- Hong Kong celebrity Andy Lau, attending the protest, told Reuters that “If we have the right to demonstrate then we should. But I’m not feeling positive. I think things will get worse.”
More on the political situation in Hong Kong:
- Opinion, by Yi-Zheng Lian: Is Hong Kong really part of China? / NYT (paywall)
Legal expert Julian Ku responded, “As a formal legal matter, HK has never been “independent” since at least Qianlong [1735-1796]. China validly ceded HK to UK, and UK validly returned it. So I don’t see any persuasive legal or historical case here.”
- ‘Rule without law’: Hong Kong lawyers hit back as leader Carrie Lam attacks ‘elitist mentality’ / HKFP
- Geopolitics and Trump
Making China Great Again / New Yorker
Evan Osnos gives a masterful summary of how Trump’s “retreating from the front” of international leadership has changed the geopolitical game for China leading into 2018.
China tops Eurasia Group’s list of 2018 geopolitical risks / CBS
- Ivory ban
China ban on African elephants’ ivory finally takes effect / Quartz
- South China Sea
The South China Sea fell off Trump’s radar last year. He may have to pay attention in 2018. / Washington Post
China’s underwater surveillance network puts targets in focus along maritime Silk Road / SCMP
China’s air force targets South China Sea with new strategic expert in top ranks / SCMP
- Human rights
Tibetan language campaigner Tashi Wangchuk faces up to 15 years in jail for ‘inciting separatism’ / HKFP
China rushes to Pakistan’s defence after Trump’s outburst / Times of India
China fires up advanced hypersonic missile challenge to US defenses / SCMP