News / Asia

China Warns of Limits to Hong Kong Freedom

A statue of the Goddess of Democracy, which symbolizes the 1989 pro-democracy movement in Beijing, is displayed at a downtown street in Hong Kong, June 3, 2014, to mark the 25th anniversary of China's bloody crackdown on Tiananmen Square on June 4.
A statue of the Goddess of Democracy, which symbolizes the 1989 pro-democracy movement in Beijing, is displayed at a downtown street in Hong Kong, June 3, 2014, to mark the 25th anniversary of China's bloody crackdown on Tiananmen Square on June 4.
Reuters
China warned Hong Kong on Tuesday that there were limits to its freedom and it should adhere strictly to the law ahead of a planned pro-democracy protest that could end up shutting down part of the financial hub's business district.
 
As the most liberal city on Chinese soil, the former British colony has grappled with Beijing since its return to Chinese rule in 1997 to preserve its freedoms and capitalist way of life under a “one-country, two-systems” formula.
 
Over the past year, however, a push by democracy activists to hold protests, as part of a campaign for the right to choose candidates for a poll in 2017 to elect Hong Kong's next leader, has stoked friction and unnerved Beijing leaders fearful of an opposition democrat taking the city's highest office.
 
China's State Council, or cabinet, reiterated in a “white paper” on the “one-country, two-systems” formula that the city, despite its wide-ranging autonomy, comes under the control of China and has limits to its freedom.
 
“The high degree of autonomy of Hong Kong is not full autonomy, nor a decentralized power. It is the power to run local affairs as authorized by the central leadership,” the cabinet said in the official report.
 
“There is no such thing called 'residual power'.”
 
Some Hong Kong residents saw the report by China's highest administrative body as a warning to Hong Kong's pro-democracy camp who have agitated for full democracy in 2017.
 
A group of activists plan to launch an online “referendum” on political reforms on June 22 before deciding on the scope of its civil disobedience street campaign.
 
A groundswell of discontent, often manifested in raucous,  protests, has grown in Hong Kong and Taiwan over the past year, as anger has mounted over China's increasing assertiveness and interference in local affairs.
 
Capitalist enclave

The “one-country, two-systems” formula was agreed between Britain and China in the 1980s as part of the deal to return the capitalist coastal enclave to communist China's rule.
 
“The practice of 'one-country, two-systems' has come to face new circumstances and new problems,” the cabinet said.
 
“Some are even confused or lopsided in their understanding of 'one-country, two-systems' and the Basic Law,” the cabinet said. The Basic Law is Hong Kong's mini-constitution.
 
Hong Kong's leader, Leung Chun-ying shrugged off suggestions the report was a political warning.
 
Instead, he said it had been prepared by Beijing over the course of a year and had been translated into seven languages so it represented Beijing's considered position on Hong Kong's political landscape, while reiterating China's sovereignty.
 
China has agreed to let Hong Kong elect its next leader in 2017 in what will be the most far-reaching version of democracy on Chinese soil.
 
Specific arrangements, however, have yet to be decided including, crucially, whether public nominations of candidates, including opposition democrats, will be allowed.
 
Senior Chinese officials have already all but ruled out public nominations, saying it is not allowed for in the law and that a small committee of about 1,200 largely pro-Beijing loyalists should choose who gets on the ballot.

You May Like

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs