Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Friday a plan to restrict visas to current and former Chinese Communist Party officials who “undermined” Hong Kong’s autonomy. Additionally, Pompeo said the families of such officials could also be subject to the punishment.
“The CCP has stepped up efforts to undermine Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy by announcing Beijing’s authority to ‘supervise’ Hong Kong’s governance, accusing at least one member of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council of misconduct, and moving to unilaterally and arbitrarily impose national security legislation on Hong Kong,” Pompeo said in his remarks.
Pompeo’s announcement comes as Beijing inches closer to passing a national security law handing over significant control to the Chinese Communist Party. However, the move would be a violation of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, Pompeo argued, under which the British government gave Beijing back control over Hong Kong, but promised to allow its autonomy.
Pompeo added, “Beijing’s continued actions undermine its commitments and obligations in the Sino-British Joint Declaration to respect Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy. At the same time, Beijing continues to undermine human rights and fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong by putting pressure on local authorities to arrest pro-democracy activists and disqualify pro-democracy electoral candidates.”
President @realDonaldTrump promised to punish the CCP officials responsible for eviscerating Hong Kong’s freedoms. Today, we are taking action to do just that– we've announced visa restrictions on CCP officials responsible for undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and human rights.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) June 26, 2020
“The United States calls on China to honor its commitments and obligations in the Sino-British Joint Declaration – namely that Hong Kong will ‘enjoy a high degree of autonomy’ and that human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly, will be protected by law and respected by governing authorities in Hong Kong,” Pompeo said.
“Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and the full implementation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, as well as respect for human rights, are of fundamental importance. The United States will continue to review its authorities to respond to these concerns.”
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REPORT: China has vast network of covert police stations around the world
China has a vast network of covert police stations abroad, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. These police stations serve consular functions, but are also used by China to crack down on what the CCP deems “illegal” activity of Chinese nationals abroad. The police stations include at least 38 run by the Fuzhou City police, and 22 run by the Qingtian City police. Cities housing these police stations include New York, Toronto (which has three stations), London (two), Paris (three), Buenos Aires, Rio De Janeiro, and Tokyo.
Key findings of the report are below.
“Persuaded to return”
According to China, China has “persuaded to return [to China]” 230,000 Chinese nationals living aboard from April 2021 to July 2022 alone to face charges of fraud and telecommunications fraud. A Yangxia police station set up in Mozambique, for example, persuaded a Chinese national to return to China after being accused of stealing money from his employer. Chinese authorities also put pressure on the accused family to convince the accused to surrender.
Roughly 54,000 Chinese nationals were persuaded to return from northern Myanmar alone, in the first nine months of 2021. In July 2022, the government of Wenchang City warned that its citizens living in northern Myanmar must check in with their local police stations or face multiple penalties including blocking their children from attending urban schools back in China. Similarly, in February 2022, the government of Liayang City stated that Chinese “illegally staying” in northern Myanmar must return or the bank accounts of their immediate family members could be frozen.
The Nine Forbidden Countries
China has claimed that nine countries contain serious levels of fraud and telecom fraud perpetrated by Chinese nationals. Since November 2021, China has declared that Chinese citizens living in these nine countries must return to China immediately unless they have an “emergency reason” or a “strict necessity” to travel or stay in those countries. Those countries are: Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, the UAE, and Turkey. However, the report questions whether these countries are truly awash in such fraud, as most of China’s oversees police stations are in the West, and only one of the nine countries (Cambodia) has such a police station. Chinese staying in the nine forbidden countries, as well as threats to family members as stated above, creates a “guilt-by-association” atmosphere intended to repatriate the Chinese nationals.
According to the report, Chinese police stations abroad serve to bypass “bilateral extradition treaties or other mechanisms of judicial cooperation” to cooperate with CCP-linked NGOs which effectively “[sets] up an alternative policing and judicial system within third countries.” Instead of using international judicial cooperation, which establishes due process, the presumption of innocence, and the right to a fair trial, China uses the above “persuade-to-return” methods and transnational police stations to circumvent international law and coerce Chinese nationals to return to China for trials. These policies show the power of China’s long-arm oppression over its own subjects.
You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic
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