By legislator Ted Hui
Twenty years ago, Hong Kong was promised a high degree of autonomy, democracy and rule of law. Under “one country, two systems” and the Basic Law, Hong Kong should be enjoying the separation of executive, legislative and judicial power. Now we can all see how Beijing is backtracking on its promise.
China’s meddling in Hong Kong’s internal affairs has become increasingly frequent and more obvious in recent years. Whether extending a law in Hong Kong banning disrespect to China’s national anthem, trying to impose a co-location arrangement which allows mainland immigration officers to exercise jurisdiction within Hong Kong territory, or putting pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong and Nathan Law in jail, these actions alarmingly put Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedom of expression at risk.
The denial of entry to human rights campaigner Benedict Rogers is another sign of the incipient erosion of rights in Hong Kong. Rogers lived in Hong Kong for several years and had intended to conduct a private visit.
It is bizarre for Hong Kong’s authorities to treat this visit as one that poses a threat to the country, and their decision to refuse his entry came with no clear or valid explanation.
I definitely wouldn’t want to see a day when tourists and investors from different countries who have different views and ideals from China are barred from entering Hong Kong and deemed to be ‘subversive’. This will greatly affect not only our freedom but could impact our economy as well.
The UK government’s concern and demand for an explanation on this issue was understandable. I strongly believe it is the perfect time for the international community to look closely into Hong Kong’s current situation.
Human rights and freedom of speech are universal values. Freedom of expression is a fundamental international human right. We have to be reminded of Hong Kong’s obligation under the international law. Articles 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights state that:
‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers’, ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association’, ‘No one may be compelled to belong to an association’.
A few days before Mr. Rogers was barred from entering Hong Kong, I met him in London with some Members of Parliament, and representatives of think tanks, NGOs, media representatives and students in the UK. The meeting was an eye-opener for both sides on how important exposing the real situation of Hong Kong is – both morally and economically.
Hong Kong has been fighting for 20 years to finally experience the Real Promise. Now with the help of international friends who value the true meaning of freedom and democracy, we will keep on fighting.
Ted Hui is a Democratic Party politician in Hong Kong. He is a Legislative Councillor for Hong Kong Island and a member of the Central and Western District Council for Chung Wan.