HONG KONG-CHINA The Party, on Hong Kong. Jimmy Lai’s son calls on the UN for his release

The office for former British colony (and Macao) affairs will come under the direct control of the CCP and not the government. A new blow to the autonomy of the city, already weakened by the security law. Sebastian Lai: My father is in jail on “fabricated” charges. Elizabeth Tang case: her sister was also arrested.

Hong Kong () – The Chinese Communist Party wants to strengthen its control over Hong Kong. According to a proposal circulated yesterday, the office responsible for the affairs of the former British colony (and Macao) will report directly to the CCP Central Committee and no longer to the State Council (the Chinese government).

This measure, which is part of a more general plan to centralize power in the hands of Xi Jinping, according to several observers, threatens to further reduce the autonomy of the city, based on the principle of “one country, two systems”. The first blow to Hong Kong’s “traditional freedoms” came in 2020 with Beijing’s imposition of the draconian National Security Law, which silenced the city’s pro-democracy front.

Symbolic of government repression is the court case of Catholic media mogul Jimmy Lai, one of many pro-democracy figures now in jail. On March 14, together with his father’s foreign lawyers, Sebastian Lai asked the UN Human Rights Council to intervene in favor of his release.

Lai Jr told the UN body that Hong Kong authorities had imposed “disproportionate and long terms of detention” on his father based on “fabricated” charges. He stressed that his mother is only in prison for defending freedom of expression and association in Hong Kong. The municipal executive described the son’s statements as “unfounded”.

The 75-year-old pro-democracy tycoon has been in prison since December 2020. He is serving a sentence for participating in unauthorized demonstrations and is awaiting trial (scheduled for September) on four counts: two of conspiracy for collusion with other countries or “foreign elements “; one of conspiracy with foreign forces; and the last for conspiring to print, publish, sell, distribute and reproduce “seditious” publications.

Life imprisonment is also provided for violating the Security Law. For the crime of sedition, the maximum sentence is two years. In December, Lai was convicted of fraud in connection with the activities of Apple Dailythe independent newspaper he founded and which was closed in 2021 after being investigated for threats to national security.

Recently, the arrest of Elizabeth Tang, a trade unionist accused of violating national security, caused a stir. She was detained on March 9 immediately after visiting her husband, Lee Cheuk-yan, another Democratic figure awaiting trial in jail for an alleged security law violation.

For the time being, Tang has been granted bail. Two days after her arrest, the police also detained her sister and the brother of Albert Ho (another prominent Democratic figure on trial), accused of attempting to tamper with evidence against the humanitarian activist. They too were granted bail.

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