Freedom at risk of being 'lost' in Hong Kong, says pastor

Published 16 September 2019  |  
(Photo: Pexels/Jimmy Chan)

With pro-democracy protests continuing week after week, a Hong Kong pastor has revealed his fears over the spread of persecution to Hong Kong.

Pastor Lau Ching-hung, from the City Concern of Christians Fellowships, said that the 'one country, two systems' principle that has governed Hong Kong since the 1997 handover from Britain is at risk of becoming 'one country, one system'.

Hundreds of Hong Kongers have turned out each week to protest against possible incursions on the territory's judicial independence by Beijing.

The protests were sparked by a controversial extradition bill seeking to have suspects sent to the mainland for trial, but they evolved over the weeks and months to express concerns around democracy and human rights in the former British colony.

Leaders of the protests have called for democratic representation in the Hong Kong legislature and an end to police brutality, the latter of which is under investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Council.

The extradition bill was eventually withdrawn by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam earlier this month but it was too late to quell the protests, which continued over the weekend.

Pastor Lau told International Christian Concern (ICC) that if the bill were to pass, "we might have to worry that human rights persecution will come as a whole."

"The freedom we enjoy might be lost," he said.

Professor Ying Fuk-tsang, head of the Chinese University of Hong Kong's divinity school, suggested that reassurances from China could not be trusted.

"Although the Hong Kong government promises that criminals of political, religious, and human rights nature would not be extradited, when China wants to oppress you, they can charge you with 'unlawful assembly', 'illegal publication,' or economic crimes," he told ICC.

He said that if such a bill were to come into force in Hong Kong, it would lead to "self-censorship".

"While the government might be cautious to implement the law at first, this 'knife' is still dangling above your head. It creates fears and invites self-censorship," he said.

"For Hong Kongers, it will be much more challenging to do any ministry inside China in the future."

Speaking in the House of Commons earlier this month, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab reiterated Britain's commitment to the 'one country, two systems' principle.

"We support the one country, two systems model. It is important, as reflected in the joint declaration and the treaty-binding obligations that have been made, including to the people of Hong Kong—and including to respect the right of lawful and peaceful protest—that that is adhered to on all sides.," he said.

Over 150 parliamentarians have backed calls for the UK Government to go further in its support for the people of Hong Kong by offering second citizenship.

A letter to the Foreign Secretary organised by Christian human rights campaigners Benedict Rogers, of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, and Arise Foundation founder Luke De Pulford, said that the offer of citizenship by Commonwealth states would act as an "insurance policy" for the people of Hong Kong.

Reprints

More News in World