Why is 90-year-old Cardinal Zen standing trial in Hong Kong? | News

Political activist Alex Chow has not forgotten the kindness of Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, the retired head of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong, who came around him when he was behind bars 5 years in the past.

Cardinal Zen has lengthy been recognized for his work as a jail chaplain. On the day Chow met him on the Pik Uk correctional centre, a most safety jail in Hong Kong’s New Territories, the aged priest had taken a public minibus to the jail, some 40 minutes experience into the hills from the densely-packed metropolis.

The 2 talked for 45 minutes, “perhaps an hour”, with the jail officer giving up his seat so Zen, then in his mid-80s, may sit down.  For Chow, jailed for his function within the peaceable 2014 Occupy Hong Kong protests, the cardinal was a supply of consolation and reassurance and a much-needed connection to the surface world.

“It meant loads to me,” Chow, who was later launched on bail forward of the attraction he ultimately gained, instructed Al Jazeera. “I may see his real concern for others and staunch opposition to injustice. I felt like I used to be genuinely in his prayers and one of many individuals he cared about.”

The 90-year-old former head of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong now faces a trial of his personal.

On Monday he’ll face courtroom with 5 others, together with common Cantopop singer and LGBTQ activist Denise Ho, and lawyer Margaret Ng over a now-defunct fund that they set as much as assist pay the authorized charges of individuals going through trial in relation to the 2019 protests.

They had been arrested in early Might underneath the Nationwide Safety Regulation and accused of “colluding with overseas forces”.

Launched on bail, they had been charged on Might 24 with failing to register the fund.

From left, Hong Kong scholar Hui Po-keung, Catholic Cardinal Joseph Zen, barrister Margaret Ng and singer Denise Ho arrive for an appearance at a court in Hong Kong
Cardinal Zen was leaning on a strolling stick for assist as he arrived in courtroom with fellow defendants – scholar Hui Po-keung, left, lawyer Margaret Ng and singer Denise Ho – in Might [File: Kin Cheung/AP Photo]

All have pleaded not responsible and, within the 5 days allotted for proceedings, their defence is anticipated to argue that the group had a proper to affiliate underneath Hong Kong’s Fundamental Regulation, the mini-constitution that has been in place because the British handed the territory over to China in 1997.

Beijing imposed the safety regulation in June 2020.

“The Chinese language authorities needs to chop off all types of organizing and solidarity that run outdoors of the Communist Social gathering’s management in Hong Kong,” William Nee, analysis and advocacy coordinator at Chinese language Human Rights Defenders, stated in an emailed response to questions. “The truth that Cardinal Zen is compassionate, caring, and well-respected in Hong Kong truly makes him a risk to the ruling authorities.”

Vatican criticised

Zen was ordained in 1996 and named Bishop of Hong Kong in 2002, changing into the chief of the territory’s Catholics, now numbering greater than 400,000. In 2006, in a ceremony in Rome, he was made a cardinal by Pope Benedict.

All through his profession, Zen has proven assist for democratic reform and giving the individuals of Hong Kong extra say of their authorities. He held a “walkathon” for common suffrage, plenty in remembrance of the 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Sq. and visited the Occupy Hong Kong website to supply ethical assist to the 1000’s who had gathered there.

After his retirement in 2009, Zen turned extra essential of Beijing, which broke off relations with the Vatican in 1951 and created its personal Communist Social gathering-led Chinese language Patriotic Catholic Affiliation. He has been particularly essential of a 2018 deal underneath which Pope Francis recognised seven bishops appointed by Beijing, which was purported to carry the mainland’s Catholics, thought to quantity about 12 million, collectively.

“Cardinal Zen made the last word self-sacrifice,” Andreas Fulda, creator of The Wrestle for Democracy in Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, instructed Al Jazeera in emailed feedback. “Deep down he should have recognized that the dictatorship in Beijing would by no means budge. Undeterred he advocated for Christians in mainland China. Firmly dedicated to the precept of non-violence he was a part of an influential ecumenical alliance of religion leaders advocating for liberal democracy in Hong Kong.”

Pope Benedict XVI (L) gives the ring to new cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun during a Holy Mass in St. Peter Square, Saturday 25 March 2006 i
Zen turned the top of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong in 2002 and was made a cardinal by Pope Benedict in March 2006 [File: Ettore Ferrari/EPA]

The Catholic Church has been criticised for failing to take a firmer stand over Zen’s arrest and trial.

After he was charged on Might 24, pictured strolling into courtroom leaning closely on a stick, the church launched a brief assertion noting that he had pleaded not responsible and that it will “intently monitor” occasions.

“Cardinal Zen is at all times in our prayers and we invite all to wish for the Church,” it concluded.

On Thursday, when the pope was requested about spiritual freedom in China and Zen’s looming trial, he stated that whereas it was “not simple to know the Chinese language mentality”, it needed to be “revered”, in line with a report in Catholic Information.

On Zen, he stated: “He says what he feels and we see that there are limitations [in Hong Kong]”.

The pope, who spoke as he flew dwelling from the Congress of Leaders of World and Conventional Religions in Kazakhstan, added that he most well-liked to “select the trail of dialogue”.

Reviews stated China’s President Xi Jinping, who was additionally on the assembly, refused an invite for talks with the pope as a result of his schedule was full.

‘Objective of life’

Zen’s trial is the most recent in reference to the 2019 protests, which started with mass marches in opposition to a proposed invoice that might enable extradition to the mainland and, amid a perceived lack of motion from the federal government and heavy-handed police ways, developed into typically violent calls for for extra democracy within the Chinese language-ruled territory.

The group arrange the 612 Humanitarian Aid Fund in July 2019, naming it after the primary critical confrontation between protesters and police the earlier month outdoors the barricaded constructing of the Legislative Council the place politicians had been as a result of debate the contentious invoice. Police used rubber-coated bullets and tear gasoline in opposition to protesters, and dozens had been arrested.

They wound up the fund in October final yr after police introduced that it was underneath investigation.

The fund’s closure, and the trial of those that based it, may even have repercussions for the 1000’s going through prices from the 2019 protests whose authorized prices may run into the a whole lot of 1000’s of Hong Kong {dollars}.

CHRD’s Nee stated the shortage of funding choices may undermine these defendants’ proper to a good trial.

“It was doable earlier than to crowdsource a few of these prices however by chopping off the flexibility to take action, Beijing will make it rather more troublesome for individuals to afford the authorized sources to mount a stable defence,” he famous.

Zen has been out on bail pending trial.

At his first public look after his arrest, he addressed the Salesian Vocations Workplace (China Province) about his motivations in life and why he had entered the priesthood.

He famous that the world was “chaotic” and that some had been pushed by the necessity to pursue “cash, wealth, and energy” however he believed life meant studying what it means to be an individual of integrity, stuffed with a way of justice and kindness.

“That is the aim of life,” the retired bishop stated.

Regardless of his longstanding assist for democratic reform, Zen had largely prevented any backlash from the authorities.

After the bishop’s arrest, newly-installed Hong Kong chief John Lee, a former police officer and safety chief, stated the arrest was not associated to Zen’s background or beliefs, however that individuals who broke the regulation wanted to be held to account.

For Chow, now residing in the US, the choice to arrest and prosecute a person many in Hong Kong regard because the territory’s “ethical conscience” is additional proof of how a lot the territory has modified.

“Him being prosecuted is telling,” he stated. “It actually exhibits how the Hong Kong authorities has shifted its mentality [and] the longer term trajectory of the way it would possibly method spiritual freedom or political speech; whether or not Hong Kong will stay a free society or whether or not that’s lengthy gone.”

‘Stay or go?’ Hong Kong’s handover generation face tough choice | Human Rights News

Taipei, Taiwan – “Ought to I keep or ought to I am going?” That is the query dealing with a lot of Hong Kong’s younger individuals, 25 years after town returned to Chinese language rule.

On the time of the handover in 1997, Beijing promised the previous British colony 50 years of self-government, in addition to civil and political rights that don’t exist on the Communist Celebration-ruled mainland. However Beijing’s intensifying crackdown on town’s freedoms – together with a nationwide safety legislation handed in 2020 that has stamped out virtually all dissent – has irrevocably altered life for the individuals of Hong Kong.

“The issues that we assumed that will at all times be right here simply progressively light, just like the system itself, like freedom of speech, press freedom, all of this, and we misplaced religion in our authorities,” stated Iris, a 25-year-old Hong Konger who was born within the yr of the handover.

“Total, our era is fairly hopeless in regards to the future,” she stated, asking that solely her first title be used. The workplace employee stated many Hong Kong individuals see her era as “cursed”.

Hong Kongers born across the time of the handover grew up in an environment of resistance to Beijing’s encroachment on their lifestyle. They have been youngsters throughout mass demonstrations towards a proposed nationwide safety legislation in 2003 and youngsters in the course of the 2014 Occupy Central protests triggered by Beijing’s refusal to permit direct elections for town’s chief.

These demonstrations have been adopted in 2019 by mass protests towards plans to permit extraditions to the mainland. The protests, which started peacefully earlier than descending into violence, expanded to incorporate requires better autonomy and even independence from Beijing.

Beijing responded the next yr by imposing draconian nationwide safety laws banning vaguely outlined acts of subversion, secession, terrorism or collusion with international forces. Since then, many of the metropolis’s political opposition has been jailed or pressured into exile, dozens of civil society organisations have disbanded, and important and unbiased media retailers have been pressured to shut. Beneath a sweeping overhaul of the electoral system, solely candidates deemed to be “patriots” can contest seats within the metropolis’s legislative chamber.

Occupy Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s Occupy Central protests in 2014 have been triggered by Beijing’s refusal to permit direct elections for town’s chief [File: Daniel J. Groshong/Bloomberg]

Towards the backdrop of diminishing freedoms, practically 60 p.c of younger individuals expressed a want to to migrate in 2021, in line with a survey by the Chinese language College of Hong Kong. As a gaggle, younger Hong Kongers are extra politically energetic than older residents, with surveys performed in 2019 displaying that some 87 p.c of these aged 18-29 supported the pro-democracy protests and 63 p.c saying that they had personally taken half.

Hong Kongers aged below 25 have fewer choices to flee town’s new political actuality than older residents. Whereas these born earlier than the July 1, 1997, handover are entitled to a British Nationwide Abroad passport, which since final yr has offered a pathway for residency in the UK, youthful residents should look to employment, research or household channels to to migrate.

“As somebody who was born in 1997, generally you’re feeling like your future has already been determined by individuals who have been born earlier than 1997, and you aren’t a part of the dialog of what your future appears like,” stated Anna, who requested to be recognized solely by her first title.

The 25-year-old political activist has been residing in exile exterior of Hong Kong since getting involving in operating Telegram channels that have been utilized in organising the 2019 protests. Such actions have landed different protesters with prolonged jail sentences.

Anna stated the choice had been troublesome for her and her household – one which not all younger Hong Kongers are in a position or able to make.

Gary Pui-fung Wong, a lecturer at Leeds College whose analysis contains Hong Kong’s cultural historical past, stated the mixed pressures of being a Hong Konger and a teen are a potent combine.

Many individuals of their 20s are going by a transitional section as they start to suppose extra significantly about their future careers and household prospects, Wong stated. Even earlier than 2019, he stated, this was troublesome in Hong Kong, the place renting – not to mention shopping for – a flat is out of attain for many younger individuals.

“In the meanwhile they should think about the way forward for town into their very own private plan,” Wong instructed Al Jazeera.

“If the combination of Hong Kong into the Chinese language mainland continues than this metropolis could also be dealing with some elementary change, in order that they want to consider migration and particularly if the UK and Canada are opening up choices for some [university] graduates to maneuver.”

Hong Kông exodus
Tens of 1000’s of individuals have exited Hong Kong as a result of imposition of a draconian nationwide safety legislation and a few of the world’s longest-lasting COVID restrictions [File:Justin Chin/Bloomberg]

For younger Hong Kongers who’ve chosen to remain within the metropolis, some have discovered a goal by town’s localist motion. The motion, which emerged over the previous 15 years, has sought to protect the distinction between Hong Kong and mainland China, whether or not it’s the Cantonese language, colonial-era structure, or cha caan teng cafes that serve hybrid Western-Cantonese delicacies.

Jen, a 25-year-old Hong Konger who runs a cultural house and carries out analysis into Hong Kong tradition, stated exploring town’s tradition can permit a modicum of free expression whilst overtly political activism is restricted.

“I feel lots of people are speaking about migrating to a different place, however I really feel that after 2019, lots of people have additionally change into curious about – or really feel the significance of – researching and understanding Hong Kong tradition,” she instructed Al Jazeera.

“I do really feel that there’s one thing that may be accomplished [here], offering house for various cultural occasions. We can not do massive scale protests or rejoice June 4 [the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square killings in Beijing], however that doesn’t imply all the things has stopped. I need to proceed with small-scale stuff.”

Olivia, a media employee born across the time of the handover, stated that whereas she is mentally making ready for extra draconian adjustments, such because the closure of her media outlet, she has discovered solace in her neighborhood.

“Although we can not make our voice [heard], we will nonetheless connect with people who find themselves round us,” Olivia instructed Al Jazeera, requesting to solely be referred to by her first title.

Recalling a latest go to to a good friend who’s serving a jail time period over his political activism, she stated she realised the significance of staying in Hong Kong to assist her buddies in troublesome circumstances.

“Although we can not contact one another [when I visited], we may solely see one another and speak to one another, we have been connecting. I can see him smile,” she stated. “I can hear his voice, and that’s actually necessary. That’s one of many explanation why I’m nonetheless staying in Hong Kong.”

Taiwan delays scheme to help Hong Kongers over spying fears | Politics News

Taiwan has indefinitely delayed a scheme that might have made it simpler for professionals from Hong Kong and Macau to grow to be everlasting residents or residents, after considerations from lawmakers about attainable infiltration by Chinese language brokers.

The scheme by the island’s Mainland Affairs Council would have allowed professionals who had labored for 5 years in Taiwan and earned an revenue at double the nationwide minimal wage to use for extra everlasting standing. They’d additionally not have been required to resign their Hong Kong or Macau citizenship in the event that they utilized to grow to be Taiwanese, not like strange residents of China.

Most overseas professionals can apply for everlasting residency after 5 years of employment however folks from Hong Kong and Macau had been required to fulfill different standards comparable to having Taiwanese household, a Taiwanese partner, or working in particular industries.

Legislator Lo Chih-cheng, who heads the ruling Democratic Individuals’s Social gathering Worldwide Affairs Division, mentioned lawmakers had been involved that it was troublesome to find out who was an actual “Hong Konger” or “Macanese.”

“Some folks in Taiwan are inclined to see the so-called Hong Kong folks as completely different from the Hong Kong folks they used to know,” he mentioned. “There are considerations about China’s infiltration into Hong Kong society and there are additionally considerations about Hong Kong folks working for Beijing.” 

Taiwanese had been vocal supporters of Hong Kong’s 2019 democracy protests, which have been credited with giving a lift to President Tsai Ing-wen’s 2020 reelection marketing campaign, which had been struggling within the months earlier than the demonstrations started.

The protests and their aftermath have carried additional significance to Taiwanese for instance of how Beijing’s guarantees can’t be trusted.

Limits to assist

Former European colonies, Hong Kong and Macau had been returned to Chinese language sovereignty within the late Nineteen Nineties and till not too long ago loved sure rights and freedoms not discovered within the mainland underneath the so-called “one nation, two methods” framework that Beijing additionally provided as a possible governance construction for Taiwan, which it claims as its personal territory.

For Hong Kong, “one nation, two methods” was supposed to guard the territory’s particular place and assure that individuals might proceed their ‘lifestyle’ with all its rights and privileges for at the very least 50 years.

The imposition of the nationwide safety laws in 2020 has successfully ended these freedoms, whereas Macau is because of see stronger nationwide safety legal guidelines this 12 months.

However whereas a few of these concerned within the protests have discovered refuge in Taiwan, the opposition to migration is a sign that even in Taiwan there are limits to how far it desires to go in supporting these fleeing Beijing.

Legislators from Tsai’s DPP and the pro-Taiwan independence New Energy Social gathering have been a number of the most vocal of their concern about potential safety dangers.

“There’s plenty of virtually unanimous symbolic assist for Hong Kongers within the sense the place Taiwanese can take a look at what’s taking place in Hong Kong and be like ‘we don’t need that to occur to us, and we really feel unhealthy for what’s taking place to Hong Kongers,’” mentioned Lev Nachman, a postdoctoral analysis fellow on the Harvard Fairbank Middle.

“However that’s qualitatively completely different from say substantive assist when it comes to coverage. We see plenty of variation, which means that not everybody desires a pro-Hong Kong coverage,” he mentioned.

Nachman led a analysis staff in 2021 that surveyed 1,000 Taiwanese folks about their emotions about Hong Kong and located that whereas most had been sympathetic that didn’t translate right into a need for legislative motion, in line with outcomes revealed in Overseas Coverage.

Ever since their return to Chinese language rule, and the relief of visa necessities, Hong Kong and Macau have emerged as widespread locations for mainland Chinese language. Hong Kong’s inhabitants has swelled by a million since its 1997 handover whereas Macau’s inhabitants has grown 50 % from round 418,000 in 1999 to just about 650,000, in line with World Financial institution information.

Lo mentioned many Taiwanese had been additionally involved in regards to the potential competitors posed by Hong Kong’s highly-educated workforce, regardless of the seemingly enhance for the island’s economic system.

“Personally, I believe we must always take this chance to recruit one of the best abilities from Hong Kong given the deterioration of human rights and freedom in Hong Kong, it’s the greatest alternative for Taiwan to recruit to draw one of the best expertise,” he mentioned.

Generational threat

Taiwanese have aired their scepticism in regards to the new immigration scheme on-line, notably from social media accounts related to pro-Taiwan independence views, mentioned Chen-en Sung, the deputy CEO of the Taiwan New Structure Basis, a government-aligned authorized group.

 

 

He advised Al Jazeera lots of their considerations about Chinese language infiltration by folks from Hong Kong and Macau had been hypocritical as a result of Taiwanese have additionally labored on behalf of Beijing’s pursuits.

“Even when [new immigrants] are pro-China initially, I believe Taiwan is an open society, and we’ve got the capability to accommodate these views, to not point out that plenty of our personal residents have pro-China and anti-independence views,” he mentioned.

Eric Tsui Sing-yan, a visiting scholar at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Taiwan Historical past, nevertheless, says there may be motive for warning over, regardless of having fled the town himself in 2020 for worry he might be investigated for 2 books he wrote on Hong Kong.

“This query is difficult. Individuals from Hong Kong usually are not one hundred pc secure as a result of Hong Kong is a posh place with all kinds of individuals,” he advised Al Jazeera, citing a decades-long infiltration marketing campaign by the Chinese language Communist Social gathering from Hong Kong’s commerce unions into the higher echelons of society.

Tsui mentioned the difficulty largely comes all the way down to demographics: most individuals underneath 30 are more likely to be low-risk because of their well-documented dislike of Beijing and pro-Hong Kong emotions, whereas older folks with potential enterprise ties to the mainland had been extra high-risk.

He mentioned Taiwan’s present insurance policies unintentionally courted the second group by specializing in professionals and folks able to making substantial monetary contributions.

“The present coverage attracts excessive threat teams and drives away the low threat teams,” Tsui mentioned. “Sure, there’s a safety threat, however it’s not equal amongst all Hong Kongers. The chance is completely different in several generations.”

In 2020, Taiwan established an workplace to assist these fleeing political prosecution in Hong Kong after about 200 former protesters fled there, in line with activist estimates. Since then, the workplace has helped some 100 protesters, in line with authorities media, though efforts have been hampered by two years of strict border controls to include COVID-19.

The federal government can be not obligated to assist any potential refugees as it’s not get together to any worldwide refugee conventions because of Taiwan’s disputed political standing.

Lately, nevertheless, measures had been loosened to permit college students from Hong Kong and Macau to review at Taiwanese excessive colleges and vocational colleges, whereas many already research at Taiwanese universities.

These measures don’t straight apply to professionals from Hong Kong and Macau who’re already working in Taiwan and want to stay completely.

About 11,000 folks from Hong Kong moved to Taiwan final 12 months, in line with authorities information, a fraction of the 89,000 who left the town between June 2020 and June 2021.

The overwhelming majority have as a substitute chosen to maneuver to the UK, the territory’s former colonial ruler, the place anybody born earlier than the 1997 handover – round 5.4 million folks – is eligible for a particular immigration scheme. The UK House workplace says greater than 100,000 folks have utilized for the scheme since January 2021.