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Chris Patten: Hong Kong protesters shouldn’t lose heart

Lord Chris Patten, Hong Kong’s last governor, urged the city’s protesters not to lose heart but to continue their fight with dignity.

Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong, talks during an FCC webinar on May 20, 2020. Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong, talks during an FCC webinar on May 20, 2020.

The former chairman of Britain’s Conservative Party was speaking during an FCC webinar on the future of Hong Kong where he answered a wide variety of questions from members. On the question of the future of Hong Kong’s protest movement, Patten said:  “They shouldn’t lose heart. They shouldn’t lose their sense of dignity and decency and moderation.”

Patten took the guest seat in the webinar the week after a report from the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) cleared its force of misconduct during last year’s anti-government protests.

Patten said the report “divides the community even more” and described it as “a blow to the hopes we all had to return to normality”.

“And normality is a situation in which people can express their views if they choose to do so and not be run off the streets,” he added

On the recent arrests of leading pro-democracy figures on charges of involvement in unlawful assemblies, Patten described the move as “an attempt to intimidate the rest of Hong Kong”.

On the COVID-19 outbreak, Patten praised Hong Kong and Taiwan for their response to the epidemic, saying that Hong Kong “dealt with it brilliantly”. He added that freedom of the press in the city had given residents the information they needed to act quickly. Patten was critical of the Chinese government for quashing the voices of whistleblower doctors in the early stages of the epidemic, but added that the Chinese people “behaved heroically” in their response to the crisis.

Following the event, Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong issued a statement in which it accused Patten of “distorting the one country, two systems principle” and tarnishing China’s international image.

LIAISON OFFICE IN HONG KONG

One Country, two systems means what it says. It does mean that Hong Kong has a high degree of autonomy and that’s one reason why people have continued to invest in Hong Kong. It’s one reason why it’s responsible for, I guess, two thirds, maybe more, of mediated direct investment in and out of mainland China. So I don’t think one should spend too much time questioning whether what was done by the joint liaison office and the Hong Kong Macau affairs office was in breach of the joint declaration – of course it was. It’s a breach of the promises to Hong Kong people about local autonomy.

PRO-DEMOCRACY ARRESTS

The arrest of 15 well-known democratic leaders for doing what I think in one case 1.7 million people or more had done. Nobody accuses them of violence but they took part in demonstrations which as I say were attended by 1.7 million people. Now I read what the UN Human Rights observer has said about that and I totally agree with it. It’s pretty outrageous  and we all know what it’s an attempt to do. It’s an attempt to intimidate the rest of Hong Kong. The idea that President Xi Jinping should be terrified of Margaret Ng is really pretty incredible.

LEGCO

Even in the last few years when people have disagreed strongly about things, there’s been a general recognition, as I understand it, that the chairmanships and deputy chairmanships of the committee would be shared out across the chamber, and I think it’s a thoroughly bad thing that that has gone.

IPCC REPORT

Back in June last year, I said that one way of ending the demonstrations and bringing calm back to the city would be to establish an independent inquiry transparent under judicial powers to look at what had happened. And I think with much more legal argument behind it, Andrew Lee, the former chief justice, argued for the same without making any political points about it. Now it just happens to be a subject about which I know a bit because after the Good Friday agreement in Northern I Ireland I was tasked to chair the committee which reorganised policing. It was a Labour government that appointed me, I came from the Conservative Party. I had a group of international experts, I had a group from both sides of the Catholic and Protestant communities and we did it transparently and openly and we produced a report which the whole community could accept. We had I think 20…30…40 public meetings with huge crowds at them and it turned into a sort of reconciliation commission. That’s the point of these things. To finish up with an IPCC report which just divides the community even more really is a blow to the hopes we all had of a return to normality in Hong Kong. And normality is a situation in which people can express their views if they choose to do so and not be run off the streets.

ONE COUNTRY TWO SYSTEMS

I think there’s been a significant change in China – in Beijing – since Xi Jinping became president or dictator for life complete with a personality cult which is extraordinary. Ten to 12 years after 1997 things went pretty well, not perfectly. The promises of giving Hong Kong greater accountability, more opportunities for developing democratic institutions – a promise which was explicitly made before 1997 and afterwards both by Liu Ping, the director then of the Hong Kong Macau affairs office, and by the Foreign Ministry in Beijing – those promises were rowed back on. But by and large Hong Kong was allowed to get on with its own life and people’s determination to have the Rule of Law, to have all the freedoms you associate with Hong Kong’s success. By and large that wasn’t interfered with but just as Xi Jinping came in and dissidents were rounded up, they were tougher on human rights. I think it’s also true that Xi Jinping saw that liberal democracy, as he would define it, as an existential threat to what he wanted to do. There was an instruction to government and party officials sent out in 2013 which said that all these things like teaching history openly, like the Rule of Law, like giving people greater accountability, like developing civil society… all these things are a threat to the Communist Party so we must attack them. And it became public because a very brave woman in her 70s called Gao Yu leaked this, and it’s all there, including the stuff about patriotic education. so I think that the sad point is that in the last few years, Xi Jinping and his court have regarded Hong Kong and Hong Kong’s freedoms as an existential problem for them because Hong Kong represents so much of what they dislike.

Chris Patten: Hongkongers need to stop talking about killing one another and talk to each other

Chris Patten spoke about Hong Kong and its political issues at the FCC. Chris Patten spoke about Hong Kong and its political issues at the FCC.

Chris Patten, Hong Kong’s last colonial governor, said he hopes Hongkongers on opposing political sides will have a “dialogue” instead of talking about “killing one another”, following a university campus spat over independence.

Lord Patten of Barnes, who was at the FCC to promote his new book, First Confession: A Sort of Memoir, which explores the former Conservative MP’s “obsession” with identity politics, also spoke about Joshua Wong’s incarceration, and the future of the One Country Two Systems framework.

During a discussion about the pro-democracy and pro-independence movements in the city, Lord Patten reiterated his view that the latter would only serve to dilute any campaign to bring democracy to the city.

His visit came just days after a university row saw pro-independence students clash with their peers from the mainland over posters advocating independence for Hong Kong, which were put up at the Chinese University campus, heightening simmering tensions in the city.

“What I hope is that people will start talking to one another again. I hope there’ll be a dialogue. You can’t simply expect people to accept your values or standards or political judgements without talking to them about it. You can’t trample ideas into the dust. You have to talk to people and listen to people,” he said.

“People should be prepared to talk to one another, not fight another, or not talk about killing one another, or not putting out posters welcoming people’s suicides,” he told the packed club lunch on September 19, where guests included former Hong Kong Finance Secretary John Tsang and ex-Chief Secretary Anson Chan.

Lord Patten said he hoped Hong Kong – “a city which I love as much as anywhere in the world” – would continue to thrive.

When asked what he would do if he were the UK’s leader, he said: “First of all I’d be pleased that the last six-monthly report by the Foreign Office was a bit more honest and outspoken than some reports had been in the past. Secondly, I would begin from the assumption that we shouldn’t believe that you can only do business with China over Hong Kong or over anything else from a position of supine deference. The fact that the Chinese do it is because other countries allow them to. I don’t think it should be something we necessarily criticise them for if they can get away with it. If they can get away with weaponising trade, for example, they’ll go on doing it. But I don’t think they respect you for it and I don’t think its the only way you can do business.

“I would come to Hong Kong, I would make a speech saying that I thought Hong Kong was fantastic, that I thought it was a jewel in the crown for China potentially as we go forward into the future; that it represented in the 21st century an issue which is going to be dominant – that is how you balance economic and political freedom and what sort of role China has in the world today, what sort of role it’s prepared to take in global governance, how it’s prepared to make more of the footprint that it should have because of its economic strength and power.

“And I would hope to go on to China and say similar things.” He add that he would also raise the issue of Liu Xiaobo’s wife. Liu Xia, who has been under house arrest since her husband, a prominent dissident since the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests, won the Nobel prize in 2010.  She was last seen in a video recorded in August and posted on social media in which she asks for time to grieve. Many of her supporters and friends, however, have expressed concern for her welfare.

Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen also came in for criticism from Lord Patten as he was asked for his thoughts on the upcoming trials of nine pro-democracy activists involved in Occupy Central. Lord Patten said he was “loathe to comment on ongoing legal processes in Hong Kong”, and instead chose to speak specifically about Joshua Wong, Alex Chow and Nathan Law – jailed in August for their part in the 2014 protests.

He criticised the Justice Secretary’s decision to appeal their original non-custodial sentences, saying it was politically motivated. “He’s grown up. He must know, as I said earlier, that actions have consequences, and not to understand what signal that would send to the rest of the world, strikes me as being, to be frank, a little naive,” he said.

Referring to a Reuters report that Yuen had insisted on reviewing the sentences despite opposition from fellow prosecutors, Lord Patten added: “Perhaps it would have been wise to take the advice which we were told he was receiving from someone in his department.”

British government needs to be robust over Sino-British Joint Declaration, says Jonathan Dimbleby

BBC presenter and historian, Jonathan Dimbleby, left, talked about the state of world politics when he appeared at the FCC. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC BBC presenter and historian, Jonathan Dimbleby, left, talked about the state of world politics when he appeared at the FCC. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC

The British government should be “very robust” over whether it believes the Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong’s handover has been violated, veteran broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby said, the week after China’s foreign ministry dismissed the treaty as a “historical document that no longer has any realistic meaning”.

The BBC Question Time host and historian said that while the U.K. government had last week reiterated that the 1984 treaty was binding, the overall criticism had been “muted”.

He said that if it was agreed that a violation had taken place, then it would “call into question whether you could trust China’s word when it came to signing documents”.

“I think that the British government should be very robust in saying whether or not this agreement has or has not… been violated,” he said

He added that he believed that independent trading relations, post-Brexit, could “overshadow concern for the evolution of democracy here [in Hong Kong]”.

Dimbleby revealed that as a journalist in the 1990s he came across minutes of meetings conducted in the late 1980s between the British government and Beijing that showed the U.K. government of the time had little intention to push for democracy in Hong Kong after the handover. In public, he said, the Conservative government was assuring Hongkongers that they would achieve democracy as part of the agreement.

Watch Jonathan Dimbleby’s Q&A session

“In the way that one does as a writer or journalist… I came across minutes of meetings conducted in late 80s between the British government and the Beijing government. In public, if you look back… the British government were saying to the people of Hong Kong yes, you will have democracy and we want you to have more of it, we will fight for that.

“Simultaneously the British government was reassuring Beijing they had no intention of rocking the prevailing apple cart and central government need have no fear that democracy would be taken forward in the way that a lot of people, as the polls showed here, wanted it to be.

“I came away from that experience and wrote about it without great faith in how my government would deal with Beijing,” Dimbleby told the packed July 5 club lunch.

The night before, Dimbleby had taken part in a BBC World Questions debate alongside Joshua Wong, one of the student leaders of Occupy Central and the founder of the pro-democracy Demosisto party. He praised the 20-year-old, saying: “Joshua Wong is a remarkable illustration of the intelligent young of this generation.”

In a change to the usual club lunch formula, the floor was opened up to questions from the outset. Dimbleby was asked what he thought of Brexit, the U.K. General Election outcome, and Donald Trump as president.

He said: “I woke up like many people after my country voted for Brexit in a state of shock and astonishment. Those who supported Brexit were equally astonished because they never expected to win.”

On the U.S. question, he continued: “Like many people I believed that Donald Trump would never emerge as President of the United States. I thought it would be catastrophic if he did and that most people in the United States would recognise that to be the case.

“Latterly in my own country I did not imagine the Prime Minister, who was a vicar’s daughter, who said there were no circumstances in which she would call a snap election, deciding to do so. The Conservatives are in office, but they’re hardly in power. And the rest of the world is on tenterhooks.

“I think we’re in very uncertain times, I think we are in quite alarming times with the unpredictability of the American President.

“The one thing about the leaders of Russia and China is that they may behave in unpredictable ways but we are quite clear about what their broad intentions are in the West and that is hugely unsettling… for all people in a way that I never imagined.”

Dimbleby added: “If you’re a journalist you have to be glass half full and I’m generally half glass full, but I’ve never felt closer to being glass half empty.”

FCC archives: Not just a soundbite – Chris Patten’s plea as the Handover approached

FCC member and Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, asks the world’s press not to forget the territory after the Handover in this piece reproduced from the 1997 special edition of The Correspondent

Former HK Governor Chris Patten at the Foreign Correspondents' Club in October 1998. Photo by Kees Metselaar Former HK Governor Chris Patten at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in October 1998. Photo by Kees Metselaar

The journalists are coming. At last count more than 8,400 of them to cover one of the greatest end-of-millennium peacetime stories.

As Anson Chan said in a speech in Manila the other day, if Hong Kong can survive that, the rest should be easy.

But will it? That’s the 64,000 dollar question all those interviewers, commentators, analysts and writers will be posing as they report this postscript of Empire.

I’ve been asked the question a million times already – well, it feels like a million times – and will no doubt be asked again and again before Britannia glides through the great bowl of light that will illuminate our magnificent harbour shortly after June 30 has turned into July 1.

FCC members know my answer pretty well. It is that Hong Kong will go on being one of the greatest cities in the world – provided that the promises of the Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong’s future are honoured.

I have no doubt that so long as the combination of political freedom and economic liberty, underpinned by the rule of law, is preserved and strengthened, Hong Kong can fulfil its potential as the New York of Asia.

That’s been at the heart of the debate we have been having these last five years. The people of Hong Kong understand that if if some of our critics don’t. Some of them think the 28th and last British governor of Hong Kong should have tip-toed round this issue and gone for a quiet life.

Will Hong Kong remain free? What do you really think of Hong Kong’s future prospects?

That was never an option. The choice was clear cut. Either I stood up for the people of Hong Kong and the freedoms and rights they were promised by Britain and China in the Joint Declaration, at the risk of having the occasional row with China; or I could have done what the Chinese wanted me to do – and spent the last few years in a row with the democrats who, by any measure, represent majority opinion in this community.

What sort of questions would journalists be asking me and Britain now if I had chosen the latter course? I know what those questions would have been and, frankly, I could not have answered them with a clear conscience.

But questions remain, and they will be fired in from every corner of the globe as the transition reaches its midnight climax. Can it work? Will it work? Will Hong Kong remain free? What do you really think of Hong Kong’s future prospects?

I’ll answer as I always do – as a rational and curious optimist with a belief in the people of Hong Kong. They have made this place the spectacular success story it is today and they can go on to a better tomorrow.

They can do that so long as they continue to demonstrate the self-confidence to stand up for their rights, as they did so recently in the face of threats to roll back some of their civil liberties. These are people who know what it’s like to live in a free society.

It will not be for the people of Hong Kong alone to speak up for those rights and freedoms. Britain will continue to do so. So will many others.

The media should keep the spotlight on Hong Kong, too. Not just at the historic moment when the flags change, but in the weeks and months and years – the decades – that follow.

Hong Kong must not be allowed to become a sound bite of history. Don’t forget – none of us should forget – that China has promised in the Joint Declaration to allow Hong Kong to continue pretty much as you find it today for the 50 years up to the year 2047.

Now that’s a story worth watching.

Update: Lord Patten, on June 28, gave an interview to The Guardian where he spoke of a sequence of “outrageous breaches” of the Sino-British handover agreement.

He said: “I don’t think that the outlook outside the European Union is one in which we are more likely to behave honourably towards Hong Kong than we have inside.”

“The worry is that there will never be a point at which we say to the Chinese: ‘No,’” Patten added.

Read the full article here.

Chris Patten on Trump, Brexit, Article 23 and India

Chris Patten arrives at the FCC Chris Patten arrives at the FCC

Here’s a round-up of the Q&A with Chris Patten following his talk at the FCC on November 25.

PATTEN ON INDIA

Look, I don’t mean any disrespect to my own country or to France, speaking as a member of the Legion d’honneur, or to China or to Hong Kong, but I happen to think India is the most interesting country in the world. And I don’t just say that because you asked the question. I don’t mean by that that I think that India is poised to become a superpower. Actually I’m not sure it is. I think that’s partly because I think thats partly to India’s benefit and I think it’s partly because Indians don’t want it to be. But India is an extraordinary democracy and democracy and the system of government in India have held together an astonishingly diverse society, ethnicities, religions, languages, in a way that simply wouldn’t have worked without that safety valve. I think other communities could have blown apart or could have seen the development of a bamboo gulag. India hasn’t done that.

India’s constitution had at its heart seculism (sic), socialism, and I’m afraid the socialism wasn’t a great success. It’s joined the world economy, it has very, very effective multinationals which on the whole follow pretty clean internationally recognised corporal governance guidelines. There is now a lot more Indian investment in the UK than there is UK investment in India and I hope that the present government will avoid the temptation we’ve seen in other countries to become more nationalist if the economic climate becomes a bit more difficult. India I think is concerned about its relationship with China but because of that it would be a mistake I think for others in the United States or Europe to try to use India as a sort of democratic pawn in a geo-strategic argument with China, I think that would be a huge huge error.

I think that India’s development is something which matters to the whole world and I think part of India’s success is Indian soft power: Indian literature. The best novels these days are written by – there are some good ones written by Americans – but the best novels are on the whole written by Indians. The Indian cinema which, I know the Chinese cinema has been very good but perhaps more restricted, Bollywood has been a fantastic success, though it may not matter so much to members of the audience who are Chinese, Indian cricket has alas been all too successful as an export of Indian soft power. So I think India is an extraordinary story, it’s not going to simply move up a straight line up the graph paper but by 2040 the largest population in the world will be Indian with the largest economically active population outstripping China which will have, I’m sure, problems it can overcome in moving from having a huge labour surplus to a labour deficit and to having the second largest group of people in the world who will be Chinese pensioners. So India faces some big responsibilities and big challenges, and I think it’s going to be a very exciting story.

ON FREE TRADE AND BREXIT

I totally agree with you that we have to engage in the argument just as we have to engage in the argument with tabloids and social media about whether or not it is important to tell the truth in election campaigns. I think those are issues which really demand international and strong leadership and I think one of the lessons from Brexit in Britain was that political leaders hadn’t been sufficiently bold and vigorous in taking on some of the criticisms of the European Union.

On free trade I just make two very swift points. First of all, we all know, I mean there’s a wealth of statistical evidence that those who do worst from protectionism are the poor. If you’re well off you cope. If you’re poor you find the cost of the everyday items you buy goes up and you don’t find yourself working in a job where productivity is being raised because of greater competitiveness. In Britain we made the terrible mistake… we’re so centralised as an economy that we didn’t do what the Danes have done for example which is to ensure that public spending programmes are adjusted to take much greater account of the areas where there are real difficulties with declining industries and workforces which are undertrained and underprepared for industrial generational change. And I think we’ve also failed with basic education in some parts of Britain.

In America I mentioned earlier that the Americans spend 0.1% of GDP on labour market issues like retraining. The average for the OECD countries as a whole is six times that. So when I said to some of my Republican friends ‘of course the answer to problems in Michigan or Indiana or the Rust Belt is to spend more on retraining, to do more for education, to look at tax and spend policies and the role they can play in reducing social inequity’, they look at me as though I’m a sort of Keynesian communist. But it’s true. There is an important role for those government policies in addressing the problems which free trade can bring to people who work in declining industries.

Look, I go occasionally to Indiana to Notre Dame University, as the French would call it, a very very good Catholic university in the middle of Indiana, and you go through a lot of Rust Belt to get there. Could you have saved those industries? Maybe. Could we have saved the horse and cart as the principle means of getting from A to B. I suppose so. But we’d have all been much poorer had we done so. I think that unfortunately the people who are most likely to suffer from Trumpian protectionism if it happens are the people who voted for Mr Trump, just as in Britain the people who are most likely to suffer from the consequences of Brexit are the people in some of the disadvantaged parts of the country which voted for it. I think that’s a real tragedy and will actually put our democracies under some pressure in the future.

ON ARTICLE 23 AND ARTICLE 158

Well, maybe it was a good thing that I wasn’t around when they (articles 23 and 158) were accepted, though they weren’t a matter for negotiation between the then colonial power and China. But we did have strong views about Article 23 and we managed to avoid any suggestion that Article 23 should lead to legislation while I was governor and one reason why I didn’t think we needed to do anything about Article 23 was that I thought that subversion was something which I was unlikely to encounter as governor of Hong kong. It has a sort of rather quaint Leninist tone to it and pretty well since the 17th century – Guy Fawkes and all that – subversion hasn’t been a big issue in British politics.

More seriously, I think there is a different sort of relationship which if I was in government in Hong Kong would concern me, and that is the relationship between social and economic issues and political issues. I think that there are some serious issues which young people and other people raise about their futures, about the competitiveness of Hong Kong in the future, about the extent to which their employment opportunities are more narrowed than would have been the case with their parents. So I think there are some social issues – housing another one, and competition from the north for jobs. I think there are some serious issues there and perhaps play into the debate about political issues and those need to be addressed.

And it won’t be to Hong Kong’s benefit if over the next few years there is a sort of traffic jam in the relationship between the Legislative Council and the Executive, if things can’t get done because of an argument or a log jam there. Hong Kong has a reputation for getting things done rather more rapidly than other places and I would hate to see that ended.

ON WHAT HE WOULD PRIORITISE IF HE WERE HONG KONG’S CHIEF EXECUTIVE

The first election campaign that I took part in was in New York in 19 – I’m very old now – 1965 and one of the candidates, when he was asked what the first thing he would do if he won the election was, replied ‘demand a recount’. The first thing I would do is go to mass and say a prayer, and after that I would try I think, whoever I was, to establish a dialogue with people on whichever side of the argument didn’t agree with me. I think it’s corrosive of government when disagreements turn into quarrels.

ON DONALD TRUMP AND THE RIGHT WING

I think that it’s not just America that this is an issue, that a greater emphasis on nationalism and national identity, on nativism, can easily turn into an effort to define oneself against the other. It can easily seem to be ungenerous, it can easily seem to want to lock out minorities, it can easily seem racist. I think the most wonderful words in America are the ones on the seal: E pluribus unum, which has been a fantastic message to the rest of humanity, bringing together people from every conceivable language and background and shaping a great country. City on a hill.

You sit as I did recently in a deli on Maddison Avenue and you watch every sort of identity and humanity walking past the window. And how do those people define themselves? Are they Afro-American New Yorkers? Are they Catholic Polish Americans? Are they Vietnamese Americans? Are they Chinese Americans? The one thing they all are is Americans. And I think that it would be a terrible error if Mr Trump was seen to be celebrating the whiteness of American society without recognising all the other colours which go to make up that extraordinary American flag.

So that’s what I think I would want to say to Mr Trump and since that was what I would say to him, I think I’d probably cancel the appointment of the chairman of Breitbart as his main strategic adviser. Anybody whose appointment is so enthusiastically welcomed by the great Wizard of whatever he is of the Ku Klux Klan is not somebody I’d like to spend an evening with.

Chris Patten: Pro-independence antics are making a mockery of Hong Kong’s democracy campaign

Chris Patten talking at the FCC about Trump, Brexit and Hong Kong democracy Chris Patten talking at the FCC about Trump, Brexit and Hong Kong democracy

Former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten today blasted those who ‘make a mockery’ of Hong Kong’s democracy movement and said it would be a tragedy if democracy campaigners lost the moral high ground because of the antics of some of those seeking independence for the city.

Speaking at a sold-out lunch at the city’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Lord Patten castigated the young pro-independence lawmakers who refused to swear allegiance to China after being elected to the the Legislative Council, stating “taking an oath is a serious business”.

“I think two years ago many brave young people in Hong Kong established moral high ground about democracy in governance and I think it would be a tragedy if that high ground was lost because of the antics about so-called independence for Hong Kong,” he said.

“Taking an oath is a serious business… Taking oaths isn’t something of a lark.

“Paragraph 3 sub section 1 (of the Joint Declaration) talks about the territorial integrity of China and national unity including the SAR and the rest of the country, so in my view it would be dishonest, dishonourable and reckless of somebody like me to pretend that the case for democracy could be mixed up with an argument about the independence of Hong Kong – something which is not going to happen, something which dilutes support for democracy and something which has led to all sorts of antics which should not take place in a mature society aiming to be a full democracy.”

Lord Patten was at the FCC to talk about the world after Trump and Brexit, but well aware that the huge number of press attending the event would be keen to bring up Hong Kong, he headed off their questions by issuing his very direct statement.

The latest chapter in Hong Kong’s volatile politics began with the September election to the city’s Legislative Council of pro-independence ‘Youngspiration’ candidates Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching.

The pair made headlines around the world when, during their oath-taking ceremony, they refused to swear allegiance to China, used bad language and sported banners that read “Hong Kong is Not China”. Their behaviour led Beijing to make an “interpretation” of Hong Kong’s Basic Lawthe city’s mini-constitution that was adopted after the handover from Britain to China in 1997 – which saw the newly-elected legislators barred from holding office.

Beijing’s actions, seen by many as interference in the city’s affairs, led thousands to take to the streets in protest, sparking clashes with police.

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