China’s de-facto expulsion of NYT, WaPo and WSJ correspondents creates a new headache for the Hong Kong government. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs order that the US citizens hand in their press passes also barred them from pursuing their work in Hong Kong and Macau.
Where the affected journalists are not Hong Kong residents, this suggests that Beijing is openly infringing Hong Kong’s supposed autonomy in granting work visas (as opposed to intervening behind the scenes, as – presumably – in the FT’s Victor Mallet case).
Since it’s possible that some of the journos have Hong Kong residency, it also implies that Beijing feels it can forbid someone with the right to live and work here from working in the media (or perhaps any other profession or trade). This is absurd, not to say in contravention of the Basic Law. (More here.)
Of course, the CCP is not accustomed to legal or other curbs on its power in China’s sovereign territory. This puts the Hong Kong government in an impossible position. Its response to questions on the issue is embarrassingly vacuous, reciting stock phrases on local policy and quoting chunks of the MoFA announcement. No mention at all of what Beijing’s announcement means in practice. In this instance, the drafters of the press release had no choice.
Pray that one of the expellees does have a permanent Hong Kong ID and moves back here to carry on working.
Meanwhile, the High Court orders the MTR to release CCTV footage to a student who is suing the police for assault at Prince Edward Station on August 31. The materials can only be used as evidence for his case rather than released to the public, but at least something might now come to light.
Back to the ‘no legal curbs on its power’ CCP. Any Beijing officials watching this will see more reasons why Hong Kong needs to fix this troublesome ‘rule of law’ thing. They will probably be particularly unimpressed by the plaintiff’s use of a weird-sounding and clearly foreign legal device to get the videos – a Norwich Pharmacal Order.
None of that nonsense with the Mainland way of doing things. A Reuters report suggests that People’s Armed Police are observing the protests in Hong Kong. The PAP is the CCP’s version of a gendarmerie – paramilitary police tasked with internal order. Their presence suggests that someone in China’s paranoid hierarchy is absolutely serious about evil foreign forces being poised to use Hong Kong as a way to undermine the Party and topple the regime. The local fuzz, in their usual persuasive manner, ‘regret such an unfounded report’.
For light relief, lawmaker Regina Ip’s New (by which we mean ‘tired and faded’) People’s Party is tearing itself apart. Its other member – one Eunice Yung – is storming out in protest at being (she reckons) replaced as a candidate by a certain ex-Liberal called Dominic Lee, who (in all fairness to Eunice) sounds even more tedious. We eagerly await further developments. Zzzzzzzz….