Wed, 17 Jul 2019

Beijing on Monday ruled out any international discussion of recent mass protests of millions of people in Hong Kong against plans to allow extradition to mainland China.

Assistant foreign affairs minister Zhang Jun said the ruling Chinese Communist Party would "not allow" the topic to be discussed at the forthcoming Group of 20 (G20) nations summit this week.

"What I can tell you for sure is that G20 will not discuss the Hong Kong issue," Zhang told reporters. "We will not allow G20 to discuss the Hong Kong issue."

"Hong Kong is China's special administrative region. Hong Kong matters are purely an internal affair due China. No foreign country has a right to interfere," Zhang said.

"No matter at what venue, using any method, we will not permit any country or person to interfere in China's internal affairs."

Zhang's comments came after thousands of protesters besieged government buildings in Hong Kong on Friday in protest over government plans to allow extradition to mainland China, and to call for the release of those arrested during protests on June 12.

Crowds of mostly young people wearing black converged on immigration and tax headquarters in Wanchai, sparking temporary shutdowns of the offices, before gathering in their thousands outside police headquarters to call for the release of those arrested, and to demand an apology for police violence against unarmed protesters last week.

Police use of tear gas, batons, pepper spray, and rubber and bean bag bullets on June 12 sparked a mass protest of around two million people on June 16, possibly the largest in the city's history.

Threats to status

The amendments are widely seen as a threat to Hong Kong's way of life, which was supposed to have been protected under the "one country, two systems" framework under which the former British colony was handed back to China in 1997.

If they become law, the city could lose its status as a separate legal jurisdiction and trading entity, while journalists, visitors, rights activists, dissidents, democratic politicians, and the business community could be targeted for words and actions deemed illegal by the ruling Chinese Communist Party, and extradited to face trial in Chinese courts.

Pro-democracy lawmakers say the only solution to recurring mass protests in Hong Kong is for the government to allow fully democratic elections, a demand that was rejected by the ruling Chinese Communist Party in 2014, sparking the Occupy Central, or Umbrella movement.

Hong Kong's lawyers have also come out in support of protesters, saying that the extradition bill should be withdrawn completely, as opposed to the postponement offered by the administration of chief executive Carrie Lam.

Chinese authorities have also censored keywords related to the mass civil disobedience movement from social media platforms, and have detained people simply for retweeting posts about the protests.

Warned by police

Wei Xiaobing, a rights activist from the southwestern province of Sichuan, was held under a 15-day administrative sentence after being called in for questioning by police in Huzhou city, in the eastern province of Zhejiang, after posting about the protests.

And activist He Jiawei was taken to the police station and warned not to post about Hong Kong, or even forward others' posts, or he would be "strictly" dealt with.

He remained there on Monday.

"I can't talk right now; I'm in the police station, sorry," He said.

Sichuan activist Pei Li said she had also been warned off the topic by her local state security police. Pei said via her Twitter account that she had been threatened with "enforced disappearance" if she didn't heed the warning.

In the end, police had begun by escorting her to her hometown, but had changed theirs minds and taken her on an "enforced vacation" instead.

Pei later tweeted "Go Hong Kong!" from her Twitter account. She was apparently incommunicado on Monday.

References deleted

Activist Xie Wenfei, who was jailed for his public support of the 2014 Occupy Central movement for fully democratic elections in Hong Kong in April 2016, said he was taken on an enforced "vacation" of about four days during the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre.

"After the vacation, I posted to Facebook and WeChat, and [the state security police] told me very clearly that I wasn't to post anything political online, on pain of being regarded their enemy," Xie said.

A social media user who declined to be named said that the government's complex system of blocks, filters and human censors was deleting or blocking anything containing the words "Hong Kong," as well as any video relating to the anti-extradition marches.

"We can't express ourselves clearly," the social media user said. "The words 'Hong Kong' keep getting deleted."

"Anyone who posts footage or photographs of Hong Kong immediately gets their account shut down," they said.

Reported by Wen Yuqing for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Lu Xi for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

Copyright © 1998-2018, RFA. Published with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036

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