Fri, 22 Sep 2023

Hong Kong, June 30 (ANI): With the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Hong Kong will mark the 25th anniversary of the city's transfer of sovereignty from British to Chinese rule on Friday.

While attending the event today, Xi said that the future of Hong Kong will surely be brighter if "one country, two systems" is firmly upheld and implemented.

The former British colony is midway through the 50-year promise of "a high degree of autonomy," given by Beijing under a framework known as "one country, two systems." It is also swearing in its newly appointed leader, hardline former police officer John Lee.

The city's authorities will celebrate with an official ceremony. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), this curated image belies the Hong Kong government's repression.

Media reports say National Security police intimidated the League of Social Democrats, the territory's last active pro-democracy political party, into abandoning plans to protest. The security police even searched the homes of six members of the League of Social Democrats (LSD), one of the last pro-democracy groups still active in the city, the Hong Kong Free Press reported.

"They also appear to be holding the group's chairman, Avery Ng, under arbitrary house arrest. Even the release of results from a public opinion survey about the handover is being postponed under police pressure. The government has barred some media from covering the ceremony, while police set up a labyrinth of barriers to make sure Xi will see no sign of dissent," the HRW said.

When Beijing assumed sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997, it promised to respect the city's freedoms - a guarantee enshrined in the territory's functional constitution - and rights protected in the Basic Law, and under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

But Beijing broke that promise. When the people of Hong Kong escalated protests to demand their rights, Beijing imposed a draconian National Security Law on the city, put top pro-democracy leaders behind bars, transformed the legislature into a rubber stamp, and dismantled the city's free press and civil society.

On top of that, it appointed a policeman with an abusive past as the next chief executive. Yet Hong Kong people are still resisting, according to HRW. This week, after pro-Beijing groups draped public housing estates in a sea of Chinese flags, some residents risked arrest by covering them with white or black cloth signifying mourning, graffitiing them, or taking them down.

They also posted sarcastic comments online. One showed a photo of the British Queen visiting Hong Kong surrounded by excited children and entitled it, "Hong Kong children brutally suppressed by the British Queen." Netizens commented on the photo, saying how "Hong Kong was so poor [during British times] we didn't even have ... metal barriers all over the place like now! Grateful for the Chinese Communist Party!"According to the rights group, concerned governments should avoid these official handover events and not risk legitimizing Beijing's insults to Hongkongers. Instead, they should publicly show their support for Hong Kong people's steadfast struggle for human rights. (ANI)

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