Hong Kong lagged behind its neighbors such as Taiwan, South Korea and the Philippines in terms of rights and freedoms enjoyed by individuals, an annual study by a US-based research group said:
The city was listed as a “partly free” territory, tallying an aggregate score of 63 out of 100 points in a report titled Freedom in the World 2016, compiled by Freedom House. Hong Kong was given a rating of five out of seven for political rights, with one being the freest and seven being the least free. However, it scored higher for civil liberties – a two. Those ratings remained unchanged from the previous two years’ reports.
In this year’s report, China was listed as “not free”, with an aggregate score of 16. It received the lowest rating, seven, for political rights; it got a six for civil liberties.
A little more than a year after the end of the Occupy protests against Beijing’s refusal to give Hong Kong full democracy — demonstrations that at one stage brought the city to a standstill — many in the former British colony believe the disappearance of booksellers is the most flagrant example yet of the growing threats to their unique liberties, The FT reports.
Hong Kong residents charge that Beijing is pursuing a policy of creeping “mainland-ization” which undermines Hong Kong’s democratic institutions and runs counter to the doctrine of “one country, two systems.”
“There is a growing feeling in Hong Kong of greater mainland pressure on universities and civil society as well as a greater security presence from the mainland,” says Steve Vickers, a former head of the colonial police’s criminal intelligence bureau. “The Hong Kong government appears to have considerably diminished autonomy and the liaison office seems to be strengthening its position.”
The US Congressional Executive Commission on China warned last week that “President Xi’s shift towards a hard authoritarianism is disturbing and counterproductive and will have global implications.”
“Given recent events, it is unclear when it will stop or who next will be targeted — even foreigners and Hong Kong citizens cannot feel entirely safe,” it added.
“We want to resist the recolonialization of Hong Kong by the Chinese Communist party,” says Edward Leung, who helps run HK Indigenous, one of several small, radical groups that are pushing for a more confrontational approach to Beijing and the Hong Kong government.