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Head Off a Tiananmen Massacre in Hong Kong

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“Two of the world’s powerful autocracies, both rooted in the idea and practice of communist dictatorship, are bent on encroaching upon freedom and democracy on two different fronts: Ukraine and Hong Kong.”

Yang Jianli, president of Initiative for China, Teng Biao, a human-rights lawyer, and Hu Jia, winner of the Sakharov Prize, are former political prisoners of China. They write:

Thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators turned out in Hong Kong on Monday, defying a government crackdown over the weekend that saw riot police using tear gas, pepper spray and batons against protesters. As demonstrations grow against Beijing’s violation of its promise to allow universal suffrage, there is a danger that the infamous 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square could be repeated in Hong Kong.

“Requiring voters to select leaders from two to three candidates selected by a committee controlled by Beijing is not meaningful “universal suffrage.'”

The crisis began in June, when Beijing released a white paper that reneged on the “One Country Two Systems” principle laid out in the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 and the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s constitution.

[Also see – Democracy in China: ‘The struggle for Hong Kong,’ or ‘The Great Leap Sideways’]

China had pledged that Hong Kong could rule itself on all matters apart from defense and foreign affairs, and voters could freely choose their own leader.

Instead, the white paper claimed that Beijing has complete jurisdiction over Hong Kong, with the only autonomy being what the central government decides to grant. All aspects of local government are subject to oversight by Beijing, and even judges must meet its standard of patriotism. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chinese Social Media Gripped by Street Vendor’s Execution

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Zhang Jing carries the ashes of her husband Xia Junfeng, a 36-year-old street vendor, from Dongling Funeral Home on Sept. 26 in Shenyang, China

“Early this morning, the Court sent its people to summon me to see Xia Junfeng for the last time,” Zhang Jing, a young woman in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang, wrote on her Sina Weibo microblog account on Wednesday morning. “I feel like I’m going crazy, but I’m getting ready to go now.” Accompanied by police escorts, she then rode to the detention center where her 36-year-old husband had been held for the last four years. After they said their last goodbyes, he was put to death—marking the tragic end of case that has sparked outrage and despair across China. Read the rest of this entry »