Hong Kong accused the US yesterday of interfering in China's internal affairs by voicing support for electoral reform in the southern city as Beijing began reviewing Hong Kong's mini-constitution. \n"Hong Kong's constitutional development is part of the internal affairs of our country ... The US government should respect this position and should not interfere," a government spokesman said in a statement. \nThe rebuke came after Washington voiced serious concern over Beijing's decision to press ahead with re-interpreting Hong Kong's Basic Law despite a lack of consultation with local citizens on the controversial issue of universal suffrage. \n"We are seriously concerned that Beijing has decided to issue an interpretation of the Basic Law on this important issue before Hong Kong people have fully aired the issues," the State Department said in a statement on Friday. \nThe statement, on the department's Web site, said Washington "strongly supports" the Hong Kong people's desire for democracy, electoral reform and universal suffrage. "It is important that the people of Hong Kong be permitted to determine the pace and scope of constitutional developments," it said. \nCritics said the Beijing review was aimed at stifling Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement and would erode the high degree of autonomy the former British colony was promised when China took it back in 1997. \nTop officials of China's parliament, the National People's Congress (NPC), joined by a handful of Hong Kong delegates, split into small groups yesterday to discuss re-interpretations of two clauses in the Basic Law that set out how its chief executive and lawmakers are chosen. \nTsang Tak-sing, a Hong Kong member of the NPC who is attending the Beijing meetings, said after the discussions all members in his group were in favor of a review on the Basic Law. \n"About 20 representatives voiced their opinions. They think the revision's draft is in line with the meanings of the Annexes, that it was very accurate. They say it's not an amendment nor a supplement but a legal explanation and it would help understanding [in the clauses]," Tsang told Hong Kong reporters in Beijing. \nHe said delegates had been handed two documents summarizing views of different groups in Hong Kong. \nOne was submitted by the constitutional development task force headed by Hong Kong Chief Secretary Donald Tsang, whose group was tasked with collating Hong Kong people's views on the pace of reform. Tsang Tak-sing said the document contained comments that voiced concerns on the reinterpretation. \nThe other document was collected by Qiao Xiaoyang, deputy secretary-general of the NPC's Standing Committee, when he met earlier this week with prominent Hong Kong figures appointed to the parliament and to a national political consultative body. \nTop NPC officials are expected to vote on the final draft on Tuesday. \nFriday's US statement came after veteran Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmaker Martin Lee paid a controversial visit to Washington in March to argue that Hong Kong should have direct elections for its leaders and legislature from 2007. Pro-Chinese figures branded him a "traitor" for the visit.
South Korea yesterday said that it would lift COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings next week as the country prepares to switch to a “living with COVID-19” strategy amid rising vaccination levels. A new panel established this week is drawing up a plan for a gradual lifting of curbs, aiming to lift restrictions and reopen the economy next month on the expectation that 80 percent of the adult population will be fully vaccinated. From Monday, the South Korean government is to allow gatherings of up to four unvaccinated people and ease operating-hour restrictions imposed on venues such as restaurants, cafes and cinemas, South
Japan’s Mount Aso erupted yesterday, spewing a giant column of ash thousands of meters into the sky as hikers rushed away from the popular tourist spot. No injuries were immediately reported after the late-morning eruption in southwest Japan, which sent rocks flying in a dramatic blast captured by nearby CCTV cameras. People were warned not to approach the volcano as it ejected hot gas and ash as high as 3,500m, and sent stones tumbling down its grassy slopes. Authorities were checking if any hikers had been trapped or injured, officials told local media, as TV footage showed dozens of vehicles and tour buses
‘AVOIDABLE SITUATION’: After being tortured in his home country, a Sri Lankan and his family are at risk of deportation from the UK, despite his academic fellowship A scientist conducting groundbreaking research into renewable energy is facing deportation with his family to Sri Lanka, where he was tortured, after receiving contradictory information about his case from the British Home Office. Nadarajah Muhunthan, 47, his wife, Sharmila, 42, and their three children, aged 13, nine and five, went to the UK in 2018 after Muhunthan, who is working on thin-film photovoltaic devices used to generate solar power, was given a prestigious Commonwealth Rutherford fellowship. The award allowed him to reside to the UK for two years to research and develop the technology. His wife obtained a job caring for
A top global law firm is no longer representing the University of Hong Kong (HKU) in seeking the removal of a Tiananmen memorial from its campus after it came under heavy criticism in the US for helping China purge dissent, the Washington Post reported. Mayer Brown is the latest international company to face pressure over how its actions in China contradict its more progressive statements in the West. The 8m high Pillar of Shame sculpture by Danish artist Jens Galschiot has stood on HKU’s campus since 1997, the year the city was handed back to China. It features 50 anguished faces and tortured