News / Asia

British Government Intensifies Concerns over Hong Kong

FILE - The skyline of Hong Kong's business district.
FILE - The skyline of Hong Kong's business district.
Reuters

A British government report on Hong Kong expresses “serious concerns” about press freedom and self-censorship in its former colony and about reports that leading British banks had pulled advertising from a local pro-democracy newspaper.

The six-monthly report, presented by Foreign Secretary William Hague to the British parliament on Thursday, is more explicit than London's recent summaries, reflecting rising tensions over democratic reform in the Asian financial hub.

“We believe that freedom of expression, including of the press, has played an important part in Hong Kong's success,” the report, made available by the British Consulate General in Hong Kong, said.

“As such we take seriously concerns about press freedom, including fears about self-censorship,” it adds, saying London would monitor the situation closely and noting Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying's “clear statements on press freedom.”

It details a series of recent incidents, including the stabbing in February of Kevin Lau, the former chief editor of a leading local newspaper, Ming Pao. It also notes media reports that London-based banks HSBC and Standard Chartered were among institutions that had pulled adverts from the popular Apple Daily tabloid “in response to political pressure”.

Both banks, asked in London for comment, said any changes made in their advertising would be for commercial reasons.

“The bank's selection of marketing format and channel is commercial and linked to target market and customer segment,' an HSBC spokeswoman said.

Earlier this week, HSBC cut its rating for Hong Kong equities to underweight from neutral, saying a campaign for greater democracy in the Asian financial center could sour relations with China and hurt the city's economy. The move was not mentioned in Thursday's report.

Hong Kong is now locked in an intensifying political debate over its democratic future as the government decides how to implement Beijing's promises of a city-wide vote for its next leader in 2017.

Beijing officials are insisting that candidates can only be nominated by a special committee, but democracy activists are insisting the public must be able to select politicians for the ballot, fearing leading democrats will be otherwise screened out.

A campaign of civil disobedience threatens to shut down the city's financial district later in the summer unless a meaningful democratic plan is introduced by the government.

Hundreds of thousands marched to demand full democracy last week while 800,000 voted in an unofficial referendum on potential voting plans last month.

In the foreword to the report, Hague said there was “no perfect model” but it was important for Hong Kong people to have a “genuine choice and feel that they have a real stake in the outcome.”

Chinese officials have repeatedly bristled at British comments on Hong Kong's democratic development and a recent White Paper issued by China's cabinet warned against 'foreign forces' meddling in the city.

Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997 under a 1984 agreement that provided for Hong Kong to keep its wide-ranging freedoms and autonomy under the “one country, two systems” model. The city had never been fully democratic during 150 years of British colonial rule, however.

Hague said that the “one country, two systems” concept continued to work well generally and that rights and freedoms enshrined in the agreement continued to be upheld.

You May Like

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid