Hong Kong Free Press HKFP https://www.hongkongfp.com Hong Kong's Independent English Language News Wed, 22 May 2019 08:50:50 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 No comment from top Hong Kong officials as two wanted activists granted asylum in Germany https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/05/22/first-political-refugees-hong-kong-security-chief-mum-two-wanted-activists-granted-asylum-germany/ Wed, 22 May 2019 07:56:40 +0000 https://www.hongkongfp.com/?p=204002 Two Hong Kong activists facing charges related to the 2016 Mong Kok unrest have been granted asylum in Germany. Ray Wong and Alan Li, who were leading members of the pro-independence group Hong Kong Indigenous, fled the city in 2017 ahead of their trials. Their whereabouts were first revealed by the New York Times on Wednesday. […]

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Two Hong Kong activists facing charges related to the 2016 Mong Kok unrest have been granted asylum in Germany.

Ray Wong and Alan Li, who were leading members of the pro-independence group Hong Kong Indigenous, fled the city in 2017 ahead of their trials. Their whereabouts were first revealed by the New York Times on Wednesday.

Li Tung-sing Ray Wong

Alan Li Tung-sing (left) and Ray Wong. File Photo: Stand News/Cloud.

Hong Kong’s justice chief and security chief dodged questions about the duo, and did not say if extradition was on the books.

Wong and Li were charged with rioting over the Mong Kok unrest, which took place during February 8 and 9 in 2016 – the first two days of the Lunar New Year. It was triggered by the authorities’ attempts to clear street hawkers, which escalated into a bloody clash between police and protesters.

The duo reportedly fled to Germany in November 2017 and their refugee status was granted last May. Wong told the Financial Times that the German government did not give a specific reason for granting the two men refugee status.

“I will never be able to come back if Hong Kong can extradite me back to China once I return,” he said, referring to the city’s looming extradition law update. “It is important for me to speak up as one of the first political refugees of Hong Kong.”

Ray Wong facing the police at the Mong Kok protest.

Ray Wong facing the police at the Mong Kok protest. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

According to German laws on refugees, Wong and Li would have received a three-year residence permit, with a possibility for a settlement permit afterwards if other preconditions were met.

The two men would be allowed to work in the country, and Wong told the FT that he was learning German and would start a politics and philosophy degree in September.

HKFP has reached out to the German consulate for comment.

Top officials silent

Secretary for Security John Lee told reporters on Wednesday that he would not comment on individual cases.

John Lee

Secretary for Security John Lee. File Photo: Citizen News.

Asked whether the duo’s riot charges would allow Hong Kong to request extradition, Lee said that Hong Kong’s extradition agreement with Germany included “violent crimes” but not skipping bail.

“For each case, if it satisfies the conditions listed, then law enforcement authorities will obtain legal advice and take appropriate actions,” Lee said.

He added that, typically, those who did not comply with their bail conditions would be considered “wanted” by law enforcement.

Lee’s view was echoed by Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng, who also refused to comment on the case. Cheng also declined to comment on a New York Times article that argued that Hong Kong’s “reputation as an oasis of rule of law in Asia” was under threat.

Kwok Ka-ki

Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki. Photo: inmediahk.net.

Pro-democracy lawmakers Eddie Chu said that the incident was a “signal” that foreign nations were questioning the Hong Kong government’s tactics of prosecuting activists.

Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki said that the Berlin granted refugee status to Wong and Li, knowing that the move may upset the Chinese government. Kwok said that other nations may follow suit and review Hong Kong’s status in the international community.

New People’s Party Chairperson Regina Ip called on the government to reach out to the German authorities.

“There is a lack of trust on the part of German government that [Li and Wong] will face fair trial in Hong Kong,” she said. “This is a serious assumption, and the government should clarify with Germany as a matter of priority.”

Ip added that the Germans may have been “misled” by the activists. “What is their basis for saying they have a well-founded fear of persecution?” she said, referring to the legal definition for refugees.

Regina Ip

Regina Ip. File Photo: Citizen News.

As for criticism that foreign countries are losing faith in the city, Ip said that the case was only reflective of Germany’s opinion and did not necessarily reflect the international community’s views.

Lawmaker Stanley Ng, from the pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions, blasted Germany for “hypocrisy” and betraying universal values.

“Germany, along with the UK and the US, will go to such lengths to be anti-China,” Ng wrote on Facebook.

Another activist from Hong Kong Indigenous, Edward Leung, was sentenced to six years in prison over his involvement in the Mong Kok unrest. Two other activists – Yung Wai-ip and Yuen Chi-kui – were handed three-year jail sentences earlier this month over the same incident.

Last July, Liu Xia, the widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, left China on a flight to Germany following years of de facto house arrest.


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Ex-governor Chris Patten says extradition bill ‘worst thing’ for Hong Kong since 1997, as Carrie Lam faces grilling https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/05/22/ex-governor-chris-patten-says-extradition-bill-worst-thing-hong-kong-since-1997-carrie-lam-faces-grilling/ Wed, 22 May 2019 05:36:13 +0000 https://www.hongkongfp.com/?p=203985 Hong Kong’s current leader Carrie Lam again found herself at odds with colonial-era governor Chris Patten on Wednesday over the controversial extradition law. Patten said the law would be the “worst thing” to happen in Hong Kong since the 1997 handover, adding that it would remove the firewall between the city and mainland China. The […]

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Hong Kong’s current leader Carrie Lam again found herself at odds with colonial-era governor Chris Patten on Wednesday over the controversial extradition law.

Patten said the law would be the “worst thing” to happen in Hong Kong since the 1997 handover, adding that it would remove the firewall between the city and mainland China.

Chris Patten

Chris Patten. File Photo: HKFP.

The Chinese system had “no real distinction between the courts, the security services and what the party wants to happen,” Patten told Bloomberg in London.

However, Chief Executive Carrie Lam continued her defence of the proposal, which would allow Hong Kong to transfer fugitives to jurisdictions where the city has no existing deal.

“Recently, some of the lawmakers have applied a double standard,” she said during a legislative Q&A on Wednesday. “If it is the central government weighing in, they would say it is interference and disrupting One Country, Two Systems… but they think it’s reasonable that they go to distant countries to invite them to intervene.”

Her comments came days after democrats visited Europe and the US, urging foreign countries to put pressure on Hong Kong.

Lam added that the pro-democracy camp was to blame for “losing six weeks” of legislative time, which could otherwise have been used to vet the proposal. Democrats have sought to stall the bill, whilst lawyers, journalists, foreign politicians and businesses have raised concerns over the risk of residents being extradited to the mainland.

‘Not an ideal method’

On Monday, security chief John Lee announced that the bill will circumvent committee-level scrutiny at the legislature and move directly to the full council.

John Lee

John Lee. Photo: inmediahk.net.

Lam told lawmakers that the situation would not become a new norm: “This was not an ideal method. Some people are worried that this precedent would mean that every bill will go to the full council directly – this would be impossible.”

Lawmaker Wong Kwok-kin from the pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions suggested that any extradition request from China could be approved by the country’s top courts, as an additional safeguard. Lam replied that she would discuss the option with Beijing.

wong kwok kin

Wong Kwok-kin. File Photo: HKFP/Kris Cheng.

She added that the law would not give “carte blanche” for Hong Kong’s chief executive to do what she wants.

“In the whole process, the chief executive’s role is to start the extradition process… and to refer it to the courts to deal with openly,” Lam said. “Hong Kong also has the media as the fourth estate, which can monitor the government. If the courts say there is insufficient evidence for transfer, the chief executive cannot order it.”

Democrats held a brief protest before the start of the Q&A session, which ended with pro-democracy lawmakers Kwok Ka-ki and Roy Kwong ejected from the chamber.

extradition china protest rally hong kong

Photo: Jennifer Creery/HKFP.

On Wednesday, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urged lawmakers to vote against the bill in a statement.

“The Chinese regime has shown on multiple occasions that it needs no solid grounds to punish critical voices,” said Cedric Alviani, the head of RSF’s East Asia bureau.

“If such a regulation was adopted, Beijing would no longer have to resort to abduction, and would simply be able to seize whoever they wish to silence under a false accusation.”


The Hong Kong Free Press #PressForFreedom 2019 Funding Drive seeks to raise HK$1.2m to support our non-profit newsroom and dedicated team of multi-media, multi-lingual reporters. HKFP is backed by readers, run by journalists and is immune to political and commercial pressure. This year’s critical fundraiser will provide us with the essential funds to continue our work into next year.

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In Pictures: Inflatable Tank Man sculpture appears in Taiwan ahead of Tiananmen Massacre anniversary https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/05/22/pictures-inflatable-tank-man-sculpture-appears-taiwan-ahead-tiananmen-massacre-anniversary/ Wed, 22 May 2019 04:07:26 +0000 https://www.hongkongfp.com/?p=203955 A giant inflatable “Tank Man” sculpture has appeared in the Taiwanese capital, almost 30 years after the Tiananmen Massacre. “Tank Man” was an unidentified man who stood in front of a row of tanks on June 5, 1989, the morning after the Chinese military’s crackdown on Beijing protesters who had been calling for reforms for […]

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A giant inflatable “Tank Man” sculpture has appeared in the Taiwanese capital, almost 30 years after the Tiananmen Massacre.

taiwan tank man tiananmen massacre

An artwork of Tank Man by Taiwanese artist Shake, inspired by a sketch of dissident Chinese artist Baidiucao, is on display in front of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei on May 21, 2019. Photo: Sam Yeh/AFP.

“Tank Man” was an unidentified man who stood in front of a row of tanks on June 5, 1989, the morning after the Chinese military’s crackdown on Beijing protesters who had been calling for reforms for over a month.

taiwan tank man tiananmen massacre

An artwork of Tank Man by Taiwanese artist Shake, inspired by a sketch of dissident Chinese artist Baidiucao, is on display in front of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei on May 21, 2019. Photo: Sam Yeh/AFP.

Situated outside the landmark Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, the balloons were installed by a local artist named Shake.

taiwan tank man tiananmen massacre

An artwork of Tank Man by Taiwanese artist Shake, inspired by a sketch of dissident Chinese artist Baidiucao, is on display in front of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei on May 21, 2019. Photo: Sam Yeh/AFP.

She said she hoped China would become democratic one day: “So I think it is important to the Taiwanese people to continue discussing this topic – preventing people from forgetting this event and reminding the Taiwanese people that the regime in China is dangerous… This thing has already been washed away by [China’s] authoritarian political view,” she told Reuters.

taiwan tank man tiananmen massacre

An artwork of Tank Man by Taiwanese artist Shake, inspired by a sketch of dissident Chinese artist Baidiucao, is on display in front of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei on May 21, 2019. Photo: Sam Yeh/AFP.

The stunt coincided with the 2019 June 4 International Symposium, which was held over the weekend alongside a series of commemorative events in Taiwan. A candlelight vigil, lectures, and seminars will also be held to mark the 30th anniversary.

See also: In Pictures: Performers across the world pose as iconic ‘tank man’ to commemorate China’s Tiananmen Massacre

Free speech is protected in democratic Taiwan, though Beijing considers the island to be part of its territory.

In 2016, the artist and cartoonist Badiucao conducted a performance in Adelaide, Australia to pay tribute to “Tank Man.”

Tank Man Badiucao

The Tank Man performance in Adelaide in 2016. Photo: Badiucao.

He later launched a campaign to encourage other people around the world to pose as the lone protester.


The Hong Kong Free Press #PressForFreedom 2019 Funding Drive seeks to raise HK$1.2m to support our non-profit newsroom and dedicated team of multi-media, multi-lingual reporters. HKFP is backed by readers, run by journalists and is immune to political and commercial pressure. This year’s critical fundraiser will provide us with the essential funds to continue our work into next year.

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Boy or girl? Hong Kong at centre of banned China gender test https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/05/22/boy-girl-hong-kong-centre-banned-china-gender-test/ Wed, 22 May 2019 04:06:11 +0000 https://www.hongkongfp.com/?p=203986 by Catherine Lai Shady middle-men are openly advertising on Chinese social media to smuggle blood samples of pregnant women to Hong Kong to skirt the mainland’s ban on gender testing, an AFP investigation has found. The business thrives on a well-organised underground network that serves the huge demand for illicit sex-selective abortion in mainland China –- driven […]

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by Catherine Lai

Shady middle-men are openly advertising on Chinese social media to smuggle blood samples of pregnant women to Hong Kong to skirt the mainland’s ban on gender testing, an AFP investigation has found.

The business thrives on a well-organised underground network that serves the huge demand for illicit sex-selective abortion in mainland China –- driven by limits on family size and an entrenched cultural preference for sons.

baby toddler

File Photo: Jenna Norman, via Unplash.

Chinese authorities vowed to crack down on the trade in 2015.

But dozens of blood smuggling agents are openly advertising services on the Twitter-like platform Weibo and on websites, despite China’s proven ability to scrub digital content.

Gender testing — except on medical grounds — is outlawed in China, where sex-selective abortions have helped created a surplus of about 31.6 million men, with some 115 boys born for every 100 girls last year.

A long-standing one-child policy was eased to permit two children in 2016 but gender testing continues, with many parents of daughters trying for a son the second time around.

Gender testing is legal in Hong Kong, with some clinics apparently turning a blind eye to the origins of the smuggled samples.

Three agents contacted by an AFP reporter posing as a customer offered to arrange in-person appointments with medical testing labs or transport blood samples to Hong Kong for around US$580, promising results starting from six weeks into pregnancy.

Upon payment of a deposit, the agent sends a testing kit to the client through a delivery service. One advised using an app to hire a nurse who could come to the patient’s home in mainland China to extract blood.

 ‘Nothing will go wrong’ 

The client sends the blood sample to Shenzhen from where it is smuggled across the border to Hong Kong. The agents did not directly address questions about how the samples would be transported, but assured the reporter they would arrive safely at their destination.

travel border shenzhen crossing departure

File photo: GovHK.

“They will be taken to the lab in a designated vehicle, the samples can be safely sent over for testing, nothing will go wrong,” one representative said, adding that results would be sent out in one working day.

Other agents use human smugglers. In February, a 12-year-old girl headed to Hong Kong was caught at the Shenzhen border carrying 142 vials of blood samples from pregnant women in her backpack.

The tests analyse small fragments of foetal DNA in a pregnant woman’s blood and can detect the presence of a Y chromosome. They are also used to screen for chromosomal disorders such as Down’s syndrome.

They can often accurately predict the gender of a foetus weeks before doctors can see the sex organs in an ultrasound.

Some mainlanders take the legal option of travelling directly to Hong Kong for gender testing.

harrassment metoo sexual street woman silhouette

File photo: Tam Wai.

“I have three daughters already. To be honest I want a son,” a 39-year-old man surnamed Wang told AFP outside a lab in Kowloon where his wife was getting her blood tested.

Wang, who circumvented the one-child policy as many well-connected or wealthy Chinese families do, said he was under intense parental pressure to produce a male heir and had made the journey from the southern province of Guizhou.

“Chinese people still want to have a son to carry on the ancestral line, this is an antiquated way of thinking, but back home there are lots of people who think this way,” he explained.

He added he and his wife would terminate the pregnancy in China if it turned out be a girl.

“Right now she’s only about 50 days along, so it can be solved by taking some medicine,” he said.

 ‘Ethically unacceptable’ 

The trade raises questions over the willingness of Hong Kong labs to ignore their own rules. According to industry guidelines, laboratory technicians should not test blood without a patient referral from a local doctor, and risk losing their licence if they do.

It is illegal to mail or transport blood samples out of China without a permit, but Hong Kong only outlaws importing blood samples if a person has reason to suspect that it contains an infectious agent.

The city’s Department of Health told AFP the number of cases it investigated every year has tripled since 2016 but none was prosecuted due to insufficient evidence.

A lab that one agent claimed to be working with told AFP it does not perform tests on couriered samples and denied working with mainland middle-men.

Multiple Chinese government departments did not respond to requests for comment.

Hong Kong lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki, who is also a doctor, called on the territory’s government to work with mainland authorities to take down the networks.

Kwok Ka-ki

Kwok Ka-ki. Photo: In-Media.

“Ethically this is completely unacceptable because this will only encourage more people to perform gender selection,” he told AFP.

“And in mainland China, gender selection has already led to many tragedies and a skewed population with more males than females — they are all directly affected, so how can we abide this?”


The Hong Kong Free Press #PressForFreedom 2019 Funding Drive seeks to raise HK$1.2m to support our non-profit newsroom and dedicated team of multi-media, multi-lingual reporters. HKFP is backed by readers, run by journalists and is immune to political and commercial pressure. This year’s critical fundraiser will provide us with the essential funds to continue our work into next year.

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The post Boy or girl? Hong Kong at centre of banned China gender test appeared first on Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. Author: AFP.

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Nepal bans China’s Alipay and WeChat digital wallets https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/05/22/nepal-bans-chinas-alipay-wechat-digital-wallets/ Tue, 21 May 2019 23:50:48 +0000 https://www.hongkongfp.com/?p=203970 Nepal said Tuesday it has banned popular Chinese digital wallets Alipay and WeChat to prevent the loss of foreign currency earnings from tens of thousands of Chinese tourists. Over 150,000 Chinese holidaymakers visited Nepal last year, many using digital wallets to pay in hotels, restaurants and shops in tourist areas — especially in Chinese-run businesses. […]

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Nepal said Tuesday it has banned popular Chinese digital wallets Alipay and WeChat to prevent the loss of foreign currency earnings from tens of thousands of Chinese tourists.

Over 150,000 Chinese holidaymakers visited Nepal last year, many using digital wallets to pay in hotels, restaurants and shops in tourist areas — especially in Chinese-run businesses.

alibaba alipay wechat nepal

Laxmi Prapanna Niroula, a spokesman for the country’s central bank which announced the ban on Monday, said that Nepal was losing out since the actual transactions took place in China.

“We have enforced a ban on Alipay and WeChat Pay because the country is losing foreign currency earnings through its usage. Action will be taken if anyone is found using the platforms,” Niroula told AFP.

Niroula said there was no information available on the volume of transactions concerned.

Alipay, started by e-commerce giant Alibaba and owned by its affiliate Ant Financial, and WeChat Pay, built into Tencent’s popular messaging service, have hundreds of millions of users between them and are China’s dominant payment platforms.

“Chinese tourists often ask for digital payment options. With the ban, people are bound to lose business,” said Sushil Koirala, who runs a tea shop in Thamel, Kathmandu’s main tourist area.

A street in Thamel has even earned the name Chinatown because of the high number of Chinese-run hotels and restaurants.

Tourism is a major revenue-earner for impoverished Nepal, home to eight of the world’s 14 peaks over 8,000 metres (26,000 feet).

Tourism contributed 7.8 percent to the Himalayan nation’s economy in 2017, creating over a million jobs, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Last year it welcomed more than a million visitors for the first time.


The Hong Kong Free Press #PressForFreedom 2019 Funding Drive seeks to raise HK$1.2m to support our non-profit newsroom and dedicated team of multi-media, multi-lingual reporters. HKFP is backed by readers, run by journalists and is immune to political and commercial pressure. This year’s critical fundraiser will provide us with the essential funds to continue our work into next year.

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‘No evil law’: Democrats hope to rally 300,000 Hongkongers to fresh protest against extradition law on June 9 https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/05/21/no-evil-law-hong-kong-democrats-hopes-draw-300000-new-china-extradition-law-protest-june-9/ Tue, 21 May 2019 15:39:13 +0000 https://www.hongkongfp.com/?p=203881 Opponents of the Hong Kong government’s controversial extradition bill are hoping to repeat the large-scale protest march they held in April with an even higher turnout. The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), a coalition of pro-democracy groups, announced on Tuesday that the rally will be a response to the government’s move to unilaterally accelerate the […]

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Opponents of the Hong Kong government’s controversial extradition bill are hoping to repeat the large-scale protest march they held in April with an even higher turnout.

The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), a coalition of pro-democracy groups, announced on Tuesday that the rally will be a response to the government’s move to unilaterally accelerate the bill’s journey through the legislature. Protesters are scheduled to march on June 9 from Causeway Bay to the government’s headquarters in Admiralty.

civil human rights front extradition march chrf

Democrats announce a new protest march against the extradition law. Photo: Labour Party, via Facebook.

“If [Chief Executive] Carrie Lam isn’t concerned about 130,000 people, this time we will aim for 300,000,” said CHRF convenor Jimmy Sham, referring to the turnout from the previous demonstration on April 28.

Earlier in the day, Lam stood firm behind the move to circumvent the bills committee, though she called it a “very difficult decision.”

extradition china protest rally hong kong

The April 28 anti-extradition law rally. Photo: inmediahk.net.

“This is not an act of disrespect of the Legislative Council,” Lam told reporters.

“We have simply no option in order to break the deadlock and the impasse that we have seen… This is more, I would describe, a responsible and decisive act of the executive.”

Security chief John Lee announced on Monday that the bill will resume its second reading at the full Legislative Council on June 12, bypassing committee-level scrutiny.

It marks an apparent u-turn for the administration which said, a week earlier, that the executive branch would not intervene to help lawmakers resolve their differences. Pro-democracy lawmakers have stalled the legislative process of the bill, which would allow Hong Kong to transfer fugitives to jurisdictions with which the city has no pre-existing extradition deal.

Lawyers, journalists, foreign politicians and businesses have raised concerns, in particular, over the risk of residents being extradited to the mainland.

‘Foreign forces’ involved

Lam also defended the involvement of Beijing’s office in Hong Kong, saying it was “reasonable” because the matter had escalated beyond local politics. On Friday, the director of the China Liaison Office Wang Zhimin summoned over 100 loyalists and told them to back the extradition bill.

“At the later stages, this incident saw some changes – which some people describe as foreign governments, foreign forces getting involved, and even using this [bill] to disrupt the relationship between the central government and Hong Kong, and recklessly attacking the judiciary and human rights system in the mainland,” Lam said.

“This then is not just an internal matter for the bill or the Hong Kong government, but has escalated to the level of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ and the Basic Law.”

han zheng two sessions

First Vice-Premier Han Zheng meeting Hong Kong and Macau delegates. Photo: screenshot.

In Beijing, the Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng, who is responsible for overseeing Hong Kong’s affairs, met with a delegation from the Hong Kong Federation of Fujian Associations on Tuesday.

Han told attendees that the central government fully supports Lam’s administration, and that the bill was in accordance with Basic Law requirements and would benefit Hong Kong’s rule of law.

‘Very confused’

However, the latest move from the administration also fueled further scepticism – even from outside the pro-democracy camp. Lawmaker Michael Tien said he was “taken aback” that the government decided to effectively contradict the House Committee, which was trying to source solutions from within the legislature.

Michael Tien

Michael Tien. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

“The House Committee had a 5pm deadline to gather written proposals to resolve the deadlock. We don’t know what would happen before 5pm today… If there is a miracle before then, will the government still insist on the June 12 date?” Tien said.

Miriam Lau, an honorary chair of the pro-establishment Liberal Party and the former head of the legislature’s House Committee, said that the government was introducing unnecessary confusion.

“The House Committee hasn’t even decided to disband the bills committee – it is still consulting with lawmakers over what to do,” Lau told RTHK. “Then, apropos of nothing, the government actively requested the [deadline] of June 12 – it seems very confused.”

“I believe that if there is procedure, then people should follow procedure. Otherwise, it sets a bad example,” Lau added.

The chief executive also encountered protesters on Monday evening while attending an anniversary event hosted by Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao.

As Lam was giving a speech, artists Sampson Wong and Ching Chin-wai held up placards with the slogan “Withdraw the evil law” in silent protest.


The Hong Kong Free Press #PressForFreedom 2019 Funding Drive seeks to raise HK$1.2m to support our non-profit newsroom and dedicated team of multi-media, multi-lingual reporters. HKFP is backed by readers, run by journalists and is immune to political and commercial pressure. This year’s critical fundraiser will provide us with the essential funds to continue our work into next year.

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Jailed Chinese rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang appeared ‘gaunt and lethargic’ in new video, wife says https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/05/21/jailed-chinese-rights-lawyer-wang-quanzhang-appeared-gaunt-lethargic-new-video-wife-says/ Tue, 21 May 2019 12:56:26 +0000 https://www.hongkongfp.com/?p=203883 Chinese prison authorities have allegedly released the first video footage of rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang since his imprisonment. His wife Li Wenzu said it showed him in poor physical and mental health. On Monday, Li and Wang’s sister tried to visit the lawyer at Linyi Prison in Shandong province. They were previously denied visits because […]

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Chinese prison authorities have allegedly released the first video footage of rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang since his imprisonment. His wife Li Wenzu said it showed him in poor physical and mental health.

On Monday, Li and Wang’s sister tried to visit the lawyer at Linyi Prison in Shandong province. They were previously denied visits because authorities claimed the visiting room was undergoing renovation.

Li Wenzu 709 crackdown

Li Wenzu (centre). Photo: Li Wenzu, via Facebook.

Li said that prison officials met with her four times over the course of the day to dissuade her from seeing Wang face-to-face. During the fourth and final meeting, they showed her a 3-minute video clip of Wang – the first time he has been seen since his 2015 detention.

“[Wang] looked gaunt, his expressions were slack and his response was lethargic. His gaze shifts around when he speaks, and when he finishes a sentence it takes ages for him to stammer out the next,” Li said in a Facebook post.

“Today I travelled miles from Beijing to Linyi, spending nearly nine hours on an overnight train. However, Linyi Prison is using a pre-made ‘Wang Quanzhang video’ to substitute an in-person meeting. This series of strange actions, which makes a simple thing complicated, makes me even more worried for [Wang’s] physical and mental condition.”

Li added that the video left “her heart bleeding” and she would continue to insist on a meeting with Wang. On Tuesday, Li and the “709 relatives” – family members of those detained in the 2015 crackdown – went to the prison again, and shouted Wang’s name outside the prison walls.

Wang was detained as part of the “709 crackdown” in 2015, a wide-reaching clampdown on Chinese lawyers and activists. Wang was charged with inciting subversion of state power last February, but he was not heard from again until July last year.

He finally faced trial on Boxing Day last year – a secretive arrangement that his wife only learned about two days in advance. On the day of the trial, Chinese authorities placed Li under de facto house arrest to stop her from going to the Tianjin courthouse.

wang quanzhang

Wang Quanzhang. Photo: RFA.

Wang was sentenced to four and a half years in prison on January 28 for subversion of state power. The trial took place behind closed doors, and little was known about it except that Wang fired his state-approved lawyer within minutes.

On Monday, Li argued that there was no legal basis for Linyi Prison officials to stop her from seeing Wang, or for them to use the video as a substitute.

Dubious letters

On May 10, Li said that she received a letter from him dated May 7, saying that he was “reflecting on his mistakes.”

However, Li said she became suspicious of the letter because it cited two lines of poetry and had different handwriting. “Have you been practicing calligraphy for four years? At first glance, it is an intimate love letter, but the longer I look at it the more distant it feels,” she wrote in a reply.

wang quangzhang

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The next letter purportedly from Wang also drew Li’s suspicion, since it seemed to reply to her latest letter but bore a postmark of May 10.

“Today I received your reply, I didn’t cry, I was so happy I laughed! You received on May 10 the letter I sent on the 11th. Seems like Linyi Prison has a 6G connection!” Li wrote. “Next time, no matter what, don’t forget to sign your name and include the date.”

Spurred by her dissatisfaction with the letters, Li and other relatives of the victims of the 709 crackdown decided last Friday to go to Linyi Prison in person.


The Hong Kong Free Press #PressForFreedom 2019 Funding Drive seeks to raise HK$1.2m to support our non-profit newsroom and dedicated team of multi-media, multi-lingual reporters. HKFP is backed by readers, run by journalists and is immune to political and commercial pressure. This year’s critical fundraiser will provide us with the essential funds to continue our work into next year.

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The post Jailed Chinese rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang appeared ‘gaunt and lethargic’ in new video, wife says appeared first on Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. Author: Holmes Chan.

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In Pictures: Shots of Hong Kong’s Bank of China under construction, following the death its architect I.M. Pei aged 102 https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/05/21/pictures-shots-hong-kongs-bank-china-construction-following-death-architect-i-m-pei-aged-102/ Tue, 21 May 2019 12:30:55 +0000 https://www.hongkongfp.com/?p=203905 US architect I.M. Pei, known for his distinct modern style of bold lines and unique structures, died last week in New York, aged 102. Embed from Getty Images The China-born mastermind was behind Hong Kong’s iconic Bank of China Tower, which opened in May, 1990. Construction of the 72-storey building began in 1986 and lasted […]

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US architect I.M. Pei, known for his distinct modern style of bold lines and unique structures, died last week in New York, aged 102.

Embed from Getty Images

The China-born mastermind was behind Hong Kong’s iconic Bank of China Tower, which opened in May, 1990.

bank of china tower hong kong under construction

Photo: Courtesy of LERA Consulting Structural Engineers.

Construction of the 72-storey building began in 1986 and lasted until 1990.

bank of china tower hong kong under construction

Photo: Courtesy of LERA Consulting Structural Engineers.

The skyscraper was the tallest building in Hong Kong at 315 metres before it was unseated by the Central Plaza in Wan Chai.

bank of china tower hong kong under construction

Photo: Courtesy of LERA Consulting Structural Engineers.

A distinctive feature of Hong Kong’s skyline, the triangular-shaped tower was controversial over the planners’ failure to consult feng shui masters over its design.

bank of china tower hong kong under construction

Photo: Courtesy of LERA Consulting Structural Engineers.

It has also been criticised by feng shui practitioners for its sharp edges.

Bank of China Tower.

Bank of China Tower. File photo: pxhere.com.

Publicity for the glittering tower was halted in 1989 as student protests in Beijing escalated, culminating in the Tiananmen Square massacre.

finance-bank-of-china-building-central

Bank of China building. Photo: GovHK.

According to the bank, “The tower is symbolic of strength, vitality, growth and enterprise, representing Bank of China Hong Kong’s rapid development.”

I.M. Pei won awards for more than half of his almost 50 designs – including the prestigious Pritzker Prize in 1983.


The Hong Kong Free Press #PressForFreedom 2019 Funding Drive seeks to raise HK$1.2m to support our non-profit newsroom and dedicated team of multi-media, multi-lingual reporters. HKFP is backed by readers, run by journalists and is immune to political and commercial pressure. This year’s critical fundraiser will provide us with the essential funds to continue our work into next year.

funding drive press for freedom

The post In Pictures: Shots of Hong Kong’s Bank of China under construction, following the death its architect I.M. Pei aged 102 appeared first on Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. Author: Hong Kong Free Press.

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Hong Kong extradition bill: ‘A massacre of our freedom’ – media tycoon Jimmy Lai blasts Chief Exec. Carrie Lam as ‘evil’ https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/05/21/hong-kong-extradition-bill-massacre-freedom-media-tycoon-jimmy-lai-blasts-chief-exec-carrie-lam-evil/ Tue, 21 May 2019 12:10:36 +0000 https://www.hongkongfp.com/?p=203808 Apple Daily owner Jimmy Lai has blasted Chief Executive Carrie Lam as “evil” over plans to amend Hong Kong’s extradition laws. The media mogul’s Q&A at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Central came shortly before the government announced its decision to fast-track the bill at the legislature. Lai said the controversial bill poses a grave […]

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Apple Daily owner Jimmy Lai has blasted Chief Executive Carrie Lam as “evil” over plans to amend Hong Kong’s extradition laws. The media mogul’s Q&A at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Central came shortly before the government announced its decision to fast-track the bill at the legislature.

Lai said the controversial bill poses a grave threat to freedoms in the city, adding: “I think the former Chief Executive (CY Leung) looks like an angel compared to Carrie Lam now. I never thought Carrie Lam could be so evil.”

Jimmy Lai

Jimmy Lai. Photo: Apple Daily.

“When you’re dealing with the devil it is always wrong,” Lai added. “It is China… they are shameless in backtracking on all their promises. They have no sense of law.”

Hong Kong proposed legal amendments in February to allow the city to handle case-by-case extradition requests from jurisdictions with no prior agreements – most notably China and Taiwan. The plan would enable the chief executive and local courts to handle extradition requests without legislative oversight, though lawyersjournalistsforeign politicians and businesses have raised concerns over the risk of residents being extradited to mainland China.

Secretary for Security John Lee announced the same day that the government would bypass the usual committee-level scrutiny and table the bill at the legislature’s main chamber. It came after weeks of clashes between rival lawmakers stymied efforts to vet the legal amendments. Pro-establishment lawmakers and pan-democrats have been paralysed by a deadlock over who the legitimate bills committee chairperson may be, with physical fights breaking out as both camps jostled for control over the meeting.

‘Massacre’ of freedom

Lai said the impending extradition amendments sound the death knell for Hong Kong’s freedoms: “It is the last straw on the back of the camel of our One Country Two Systems,” he said. “In one swoop it finishes Hong Kong. It is a massacre of our freedom, of our legal system, of the free press – everything.”

Jimmy Lai

Jimmy Lai. Photo: FCC screenshot, via Facebook Live.

Lai is the founder and chairperson of Hong Kong-listed media company Next Digital, which publishes the pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily. When asked whether he would emigrate from Hong Kong over the threat posed by the bill, he said: “I cannot leave. I’m the head of the opposition media. The captain can’t jump ship.”

“Maybe we will never win. Maybe we will just sink with the ship. But we must fight while sinking,” he said.

The tycoon expressed concern over declining press freedom in the city, saying that self-censorship is rife among most local media outlets and international titles should leave the city now.

Lai ruled out the possibility of having an English language edition of Apple Daily to expand its international readership: “It cannot survive,” he said, adding that the demand can be met by international media that are not beholden to the Chinese government.

He also thanked CY Leung for giving prominence to Apple Daily. The former chief executive has been naming-and-shaming companies who advertise in the local newspaper since March.


The Hong Kong Free Press #PressForFreedom 2019 Funding Drive seeks to raise HK$1.2m to support our non-profit newsroom and dedicated team of multi-media, multi-lingual reporters. HKFP is backed by readers, run by journalists and is immune to political and commercial pressure. This year’s critical fundraiser will provide us with the essential funds to continue our work into next year.

funding drive press for freedom

The post Hong Kong extradition bill: ‘A massacre of our freedom’ – media tycoon Jimmy Lai blasts Chief Exec. Carrie Lam as ‘evil’ appeared first on Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. Author: Jennifer Creery.

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Hong Kong transport authorities approve Cathay Pacific LGBT ad after backlash https://www.hongkongfp.com/2019/05/21/hong-kong-transport-authorities-approve-cathay-pacific-lgbt-ad-backlash/ Tue, 21 May 2019 11:49:50 +0000 https://www.hongkongfp.com/?p=203965 A Cathay Pacific advert featuring two men holding hands can now be displayed across Hong Kong’s transport network, after its reported ban sparked a public outcry. Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post reported Monday that the city’s airport and MTR train operator had barred the gay-friendly ad from its crowded terminals, citing sources. The news emerged […]

The post Hong Kong transport authorities approve Cathay Pacific LGBT ad after backlash appeared first on Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. Author: AFP.

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A Cathay Pacific advert featuring two men holding hands can now be displayed across Hong Kong’s transport network, after its reported ban sparked a public outcry.

cathay gay ad

Photo: Cathay Pacific.

Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post reported Monday that the city’s airport and MTR train operator had barred the gay-friendly ad from its crowded terminals, citing sources.

The news emerged just after Taiwan’s parliament legalised same-sex marriage last week in a landmark first for Asia, placing the island at the vanguard of the region’s burgeoning gay rights movement.

By contrast, campaigners have criticised semi-autonomous Hong Kong for lagging behind on equality issues.

Neither Cathay Pacific nor the transport authorities directly confirmed or denied the ban which triggered a massive backlash.

cathay pacific gay men

Photo: Facebook.

LGBT group Big Love Alliance launched a campaign on Monday encouraging Hong Kongers to share on social media photos of themselves holding hands with their same-sex partners or friends at the airport or the MTR.

As public pressure mounted, airport authorities said on Tuesday the advert now had their full blessing.

The ad is deemed “not in infringement of the Airport Authority’s established guidelines on advertisements displayed in the terminal”, a spokesperson said in a statement.

JCDecaux, an agency that handles advertising bookings for the MTR Corporation, also appeared to have reversed course.

“We have advised… that the design can be posted at MTR stations,” a JCDecaux spokeswoman in Hong Kong told AFP.

Ray Chan

Ray Chan. Photo: inmediahk.net.

Ray Chan, Hong Kong’s first openly gay lawmaker, welcomed the move saying public and media pressure have made transport officials and their advertising agencies “right their wrong”.

The city airport is operated by a Hong Kong government body, while the MTR Corporation is majority-owned by the government.

Hong Kong does not recognise same-sex marriage or civil unions and only decriminalised homosexuality in 1991.

But a British lesbian won the right to live and work in Hong Kong with her partner in a landmark ruling last year hailed by rights groups.

A separate case has been lodged by two Hong Kong men directly challenging the same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional.


Kong Tsung-gan‘s new collection of essays – narrative, journalistic, documentary, analytical, polemical, and philosophical – trace the fast-paced, often bewildering developments in Hong Kong since the 2014 Umbrella Movement. As Long As There Is Resistance, There Is Hope is available exclusively through HKFP with a min. HK$200 donation. Thanks to the kindness of the author, 100 per cent of your payment will go to HKFP’s critical 2019 #PressForFreedom Funding Drive.

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The post Hong Kong transport authorities approve Cathay Pacific LGBT ad after backlash appeared first on Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. Author: AFP.

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