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07 Nov

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

China tells foreign countries not to intervene in Hong Kong affairs

(Xinhua)   November 07, 2016

(File photo)

China said on Monday foreign countries should not intervene in Hong Kong affairs as foreign media voiced concerns following Chinese top legislature’s interpretation of the Basic Law of Hong Kong.

The move came in the wake of a handful of legislators-elect publicly advocating “Hong Kong independence” and insulting the Chinese nation at the swearing-in ceremony for the sixth Legislative Council of Hong Kong last month.

“We hope the international community can recognize the true colors of the pro-independence forces, and fully understand the necessity and legitimacy of the interpretation by the top legislature,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at a regular news briefing.

“Hong Kong is a special administrative region under the Chinese central government, and its affairs fall within China’s domestic domain and should be free from foreign intervention,” Lu said.

The pro-independence forces’ attempt to separate Hong Kong from China is against the law and the people’s will, and damages China’s sovereignty and security and the interests of Hong Kong and foreign countries, the spokesperson said.

Lu called on the international community to support the Chinese central government and Hong Kong government to safeguard national sovereignty, security and unity, and preserve the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.

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Beijing makes landmark ruling on future of former British colony, barring two pro-democracy parliamentarians from office

Two Hong Kong pro-democracy legislators, Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus ‘Baggio’ Leung, who staged protests at their swearing-in ceremony, have been banned from office by China. This is Beijing’s most direct intervention in Hong Kong’s legal system since the 1997 handover from British rule. On Sunday, police in Hong Kong used pepper spray against protesters who marched against Beijing’s interference

Hong Kong is facing a severe political crisis after China barred two pro-independence politicians from the city’s legislature.

In a highly controversial move, Beijing said Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus “Baggio” Leung would not be able to hold office, striking a blow to the burgeoning movement calling for greater autonomy from the mainland.

The ruling, which amounts to Beijing’s most direct intervention in the territory’s legal system since the 1997 handover to Chinese rule, is expected to spark renewed street protests in the former British colony.

During a chaotic swearing-in ceremony last month, Yau and Leung thumbed their noses at Beijing by refusing to declare their allegiance to China and carrying blue flags reading: “Hong Kong is not China.”

The pair’s oaths are invalid and they will not be able to retake them, China’s rubberstamp legislature said, one day after thousands marched through the streets of Hong Kong to protest against Beijing’s interference.

Those wishing to hold public office must “sincerely and solemnly” declare allegiance to China, it said.

Legislators must swear allegiance to “the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China”, according to the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution.

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The ‘one country, two systems’ principle and the Sino-British Joint Declaration are now completely shattered and irrelevant

Protesters clash with police at China Liaison Office, where they occupied the road and were pepper sprayed.

Protesters clash with police at China Liaison Office, where they occupied the road and were pepper sprayed. Photograph: Yeung Kwan / Pacific / Barcroft

The Chinese government’s decision to bar two elected lawmakers from taking up their seats marks the beginning of the end of Hong Kong.

Samuel Johnson once said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”. And today China has said that in Hong Kong, patriotism is so vital that it trumps freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of thought, which are all now completely irrelevant.

By preventing the two pro-independence politicians from taking office, the Chinese government has opened the door to disqualify anyone from Hong Kong’s government if they are determined to not be loyal to Beijing.

This sets a very, very dangerous precedent because China has now started to form a habit of ruling Hong Kong by decree. Rule of law has become nonexistent in Hong Kong and there is no telling how that’s going to affect the confidence of foreign investors. We have to plug the dyke, but there’s nothing Hong Kong people can do and that explains all the fear, anger, resentment and frustration you now see in the city.

Of course, according to the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the power of interpretation is vested in Beijing, but that sort of power should not be used lightly. Every policeman has the power to stop you in the street and haul you off to the station if you’re acting suspiciously, but no one expects every policemen to do that lightly. Beijing is abusing its power.

Beijing loyalists in Hong Kong’s legislature will say, ‘We need to protect the integrity of the motherland, you’re not allowed to say things like ‘Hong Kong is not China.’’ They worry these sentiments will spread to places like Tibet and Xinjiang, western Chinese provinces with large populations of ethnic minorities and a history of chafing under Beijing’s yoke.

The Chinese government never promised “one country, two systems” to Tibet or Xinjiang, but that promise was made to Hong Kong. However, that and the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which sought to safeguard freedoms in the former colony, is now completely shattered and has become irrelevant. China’s mandarins now behave exactly like the Big Brother in George Orwell’s 1984. Whatever and whenever they find something politically incorrect, they will just change it and make it bend to their will.

The oath-taking saga is merely an excuse to make sure Hong Kong will be reined in. Chinese officials needed an issue and pounced at the first opportunity, because in Beijing’s eyes Hong Kong has become uncontrollable and disobedient, especially after the umbrella movement.

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Capital’s schools closed for three days and building work halted as harmful pollutants reach level more than 16 times safe limit

Indian children run in smog

Young Indian runners take part in the New Delhi 10k Challenge amid heavy smog on Sunday. Photograph: Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images

The Indian government has declared severe levels of toxic air pollution in Delhi an “emergency situation” as administrators announce a plan to temporarily shut construction sites and a coal-fired power station to bring the situation under control.

Schools in the capital will be closed for three days and traffic may be rationed, following six days of heavy smog and concentrations of harmful particles so high they cannot be measured by most air quality instruments.

The level of PM2.5 pollutants, which are the most harmful because they can reach deep into the lungs and breach the blood-brain barrier, have reached at least 999 in parts of the city this week, more than 16 times the safe limit of 60.

On Sunday, Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, announced emergency measures aimed at protecting residents, including a five-day ban on construction and demolition, thought to be a major contributor to pollution levels.

Bulldozers are to be used to put out fires at the Bhalswa landfill, which constantly smoulders.

Kejriwal said: “People should stay home as much as they can [and] work from home.”

A coal-fired power station in Badarpur, south-east Delhi, will stop operating for 10 days, along with diesel generators in the city.

Kejriwal has called on neighbouring states to enforce laws against burning agricultural waste.

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On Tuesday the UN votes on a resolution by African states to halt the work of Vitit Muntarbhorn, reflecting deep international divisions on gay rights

Associated Press and staff

Thailand’s Vitit Muntarbhorn, right, was appointed in September as the UN’s first independent investigator into crimes against LGBTI people.

Thailand’s Vitit Muntarbhorn was appointed in September as the UN’s first independent investigator into violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Photograph: Jean-Marc Ferr?/UN Photo

African nations are seeking to suspend the work of the first UN independent expert charged with investigating violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Botswana’s ambassador to the UN, Charles Ntwaagae, said on Friday that African nations want the general assembly to delay consideration of a Human Rights Council resolution adopted on 30 June that authorised the appointment of an expert to monitor LGBT rights to discuss “the legality of the creation of this mandate”.

Ntwaagae told the 193-member world body that a general assembly resolution introduced by African nations seeking a delay also calls for suspending the activities of the first expert, Vitit Muntarbhorn, from Thailand, who was appointed in September, pending a determination of the legality.

The assembly is expected to vote on the African resolution on Tuesday.

The Human Rights Council resolution establishing the LGBT expert was adopted by a vote of 23-18 with six abstentions, reflecting the deep divisions internationally on gay rights.

The UN has worked to improve the rights of the LGBT community in recent years but has repeatedly run into opposition from some member states, especially from countries in the Middle East and Africa as well as China and Russia. According to a UN human rights report last year, at least 76 countries retain laws used to criminalise and harass people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, including laws criminalising consensual same-sex relationships among adults.

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Glenn Palmer, a three-term incumbent linked to the Patriot movement, is among the west’s most controversial local officials and could stay in office after Tuesday

in Grant County, Oregon

Glenn Palmer is seeking re-election on Tuesday.

Glenn Palmer is seeking re-election on Tuesday. Photograph: Blue Mountain Eagle

There’s an election on Tuesday, and voters in Grant County, Oregon, face a stark choice. They have to choose their sheriff, and the result of that race will resonate far beyond the county. Many observers will see it as a referendum on the gains made in the west last year by the Patriot movement.

Just as in the presidential race, those involved see it as having an almost existential significance. “This is a pivotal moment in the history of Grant County, and the entire west,” says Todd McKinley, the wiry, clean-cut contender who’s hoping to dislodge the three-term incumbent, Glenn Palmer.

The Guardian spoke with McKinley in a coffee shop in the main street of John Day (population 1,707) . He chose a window table at the far end of the coffee house. When told that other interviewees had asked to meet here, he said with a smile, “It’s a good spot. You can watch your back.”

Even more than in other small towns, people here seem to have a sense that they are being watched and listened to closely. Some feel the need to hold their political opinions close to their chests.

Not so for McKinley, who has spent his whole policing career in the Grant County sheriff’s office, working alongside his opponent from 2001 onwards. But over the years, his relationship with Palmer grew strained, due in part to his former boss’s unusual political connections with the Patriot movement, which refers to a range of anti-government groups, including militias, tax protesters and so-called “sovereign citizens”.

“I believe the sheriff’s office [should be] more about policing and less about politics,” he said.

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