PLG member Alvin Cheung writes: "The independence and relevance of Hong Kong’s judiciary may now be in doubt [...] Interventions from Beijing are likely to dictate outcomes to Hong Kong’s courts not only in cases directly involving political rights, but also cases that involve major policy initiatives such as public infrastructure projects."
Speaking at the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club on 14 August 2018, shortly before his political party was banned, Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) spokesperson Andy Chan pointedly drew parallels between developments in Hong Kong and those in East Turkestan [Xinjiang] and Tibet. That comparison smacks of hyperbole. As the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office noted in its latest six-monthly report on Hong Kong, the territory “continues to be a prosperous and vibrant city” – a world away from the concentration camps of Xinjiang. Nor is Chan – who previously declared armed insurrection a possible way forward for his party – a particularly compelling advocate.
Hong Kong’s judiciary remains widely admired for its independence. But the numbers of worriers are growing. “The discretion of prosecutions is ultimately held by a political appointee. There is no insulation from that political process,” says Alvin Cheung of New York University [who is also a member of the Progressive Lawyers Group].
On August 17, a Hong Kong appeals court sentenced student democracy activists Joshua Wong, Alex Chow, and Nathan Law to six to eight months imprisonment. The three had earlier been convicted of crimes related to unlawful assembly during a demonstration in 2014 when they had crossed a police barrier, but the lower court had sentenced them only to community service and a suspended jail sentence, arguing that their breach had been a form of political expression. But even in Hong Kong, a city which has enjoyed political freedoms absent elsewhere in China, it was the preservation of “public order” the court chose to emphasize. “To disrupt public order and public peace in the name of free exercise of powers,” said court Vice President Wally Yeung Chun-kuen, “will cause our society to descend into chaos.” The new sentence, which the three plan to appeal, also carries a five-year prohibition on running for elected office in Hong Kong. Progressive Lawyers Group member Alvin Y.H. Cheung was interviewed by ChinaFile about the jailed activists.
(ChinaFile) Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping visited Hong Kong on Thursday to mark the 20th anniversary of the July 1, 1997 return of the territory to China from the United Kingdom. Since the handover, many Hong Kongers have chafed under Beijing’s rule—tensions that culminated with the Umbrella Revolution in late 2014, when tens of thousands of citizens called for a more participatory form of government for their semi-autonomous territory of roughly 7.5 million people. What’s next for Beijing’s relationship with Hong Kong, and for the policy of “One Country, Two Systems”? Progressive Lawyers Group members Alvin Cheung and Antony Dapiran contributed to this conversation.
(The Irish Times) As far as securing more democratic representation for Hong Kong going forward, the situation appears grim, said Alvin Cheung, a researcher at New York University School of Law’s US-Asia Law Institute and formerly a Hong Kong lawyer.
“It is difficult to see how any meaningful bargain for electoral reform in Hong Kong can happen for the foreseeable future,” he said.
“Beijing has demonstrated no willingness to reverse its hard-line policies on Hong Kong; this in turn has directly contributed to the rise of localist and pro-independence parties, at the expense of mainstream pro-democracy parties...Unless Beijing is prepared to change course and regain the trust of the Hong Kong public, there seems to be little point in discussing changes to how the legislature or the chief executive are selected,” said Cheung.