Thu, Apr 25, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Sentences prove ‘one country, two systems’ flawed: MAC

By Chung Li-hua, Ann Maxon and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

A lectern stands in front of a backdrop bearing the words “peace” and “goodwill” at the Mainland Affairs Council in Taipei in an undated photograph.

Photo: Chung Li-hua, Taipei Times

The prison terms handed down to nine members of Hong Kong’s 2014 “Occupy Central” movement exposes the shortcomings of China’s “one country, two systems” framework, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said yesterday.

The sentences were “regrettable” and proved that the “one country, two systems” framework cannot safeguard the public’s political rights, the council said in a statement.

“Occupy Central was a peaceful protest movement by Hong Kongers who were seeking democratic, universal franchise. For those participating to be met with criminal charges is deeply regrettable,” the council said.

The ability of Hong Kongers to use social movements to pursue democracy, rule of law and human rights is a priceless democratic asset and a driving force for their society, it said, adding that the territory’s administration should consider such movements beneficial in this era.

The territory’s leaders should respect and safeguard the politic rights of Hong Kongers, it said, adding that threatening citizens with criminal charges and denying them their rights only sidesteps a good opportunity to improve society.

China extols the virtues of the “one country, two systems” model, while simultaneously condensing the democratic autonomy, freedoms and rights of Hong Kongers, the council said.

The eyes of the world are on Hong Kong, it said, adding that Taiwanese would not be duped by Beijing.

Only by respecting the high degree of autonomy promised to Hong Kongers in the territory’s Basic Law would the territory’s governance conform to the principles of the rule of law and its development continue to prosper, the council said.

Representatives of the New Power Party and several human rights groups, some carrying yellow umbrellas, rallied outside the Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office in Taipei to protest the prison terms, saying: “Shame on you, Hong Kong.”

“The ruling shows that the Hong Kong judiciary has completely lost its independence and that Beijing’s promise of ‘one country, two systems’ is a lie,” Taiwan Association for Human Rights secretary-general Chiu Ee-ling (邱伊翎) said.

The verdicts and sentences breached the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Hong Kong’s Basic Law, she said.

From now on, any Hong Konger who advocates freedom and democracy could be jailed, Taiwan Association of University Professors vice secretary-general Chen Li-fu (陳俐甫) said, adding that Beijing has gone back on its pledge that Hong Kong would retain its established system under a high degree of autonomy for at least 50 years.

Its government should fight to protect Hong Kongers’ rights and ensure its judicial independence from Beijing’s influence, he said.

Two of the nine activists, University of Hong Kong law professor Benny Tai (戴耀廷) and Chinese University of Hong Kong sociology assistant professor Chan Kin-man (陳健民), issued individual statements expressing gratitude for Taiwan’s support.

It has become clear since the Umbrella movement that the Chinese Communist Party would come to exert complete jurisdiction over Hong Kong, while ignoring the territory’s autonomy and Hong Kongers’ political rights, Wong said.

“I believe that the people of Taiwan will understand what the ‘one country, two systems’ framework essentially is,” he said.

“I hope that the civil societies of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan can work more closely with each other in our fight against authoritarian regimes that aim to destroy democracy,” he said.

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