Taiwan condemns China over police raid of HK pro-democracy news outlet

12/29/2021 09:37 PM
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Stand News Acting Editor in Chief Patrick Lam (center, in glasses) is pictured when he was taken to the news outlet
Stand News Acting Editor in Chief Patrick Lam (center, in glasses) is pictured when he was taken to the news outlet's office after being arrested at his home on Wednesday morning. Photo courtesy of Radio Television Hong Kong

Taipei, Dec. 29 (CNA) Taiwan's government and its largest opposition party have condemned China after police raided the Hong Kong offices of pro-democracy media outlet Stand News and arrested six for "conspiracy to publish seditious publications."

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the government agency in charge of cross-strait affairs, said the raid and arrests were just the latest measures the Chinese Communist regime had taken to suppress Hong Kong's press freedom, despite stipulations in the city's Basic Law that guarantee residents of the special administrative region freedom of speech, press, and publication.

It was also further proof of the hypocrisy of the "one country, two systems" administrative formula China promised to Hong Kong, the MAC said in a press release.

Taiwan's government condemned all forms of misconduct in suppressing human rights and freedom and called on all parties involved to stop serving as accomplices of Beijing.

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said the arrests of six current and former senior staff at Stand News -- including Cantopop star and pro-democracy activist Denise Ho (何韻詩) -- once again showed the world that the Chinese Communist regime had broken its promise to preserve the many freedoms Hong Kong enjoys that are not found in China's other cities.

Denise Ho speaks at the 2019 Oslo Freedom Forum in Taiwan held by the New York-based Human Rights Foundation. CNA file photo
Denise Ho speaks at the 2019 Oslo Freedom Forum in Taiwan held by the New York-based Human Rights Foundation. CNA file photo

The DPP comments were a reference to the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a treaty signed by China's government together with the British government prior to the handover of Hong Kong in 1997, in which China agreed to allow the region considerable political autonomy for fifty years under a framework known as "one country, two systems."

In recent years, however, Beijing -- which stated in 2014 that it considers the agreement to no longer be in force -- has cracked down on Hong Kong's freedoms, violently suppressing mass protests in the city before imposing a national security law in 2020 that gave it broad powers to punish critics and silence dissenters in Hong Kong.

According to the DPP, Hong Kong authorities have repeatedly suppressed press freedom in the special administrative region since the implementation of the national security law.

Hong Kong's government also revamped its electoral system to ensure only pro-Beijing "patriots" will be allowed to stand for election in a move to further silence the city's democratic voice, the DPP said in a press release.

The DPP said it would continue to stand with Hong Kong in supporting its people's fight for democracy and freedom while urging the international community to continue to closely monitor the latest developments in the city.

Echoing this sentiment, the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) also voiced its concerns over the arrests and the raid, urging the authorities in China to respect the younger generation's view on democratic values and freedom of expression in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, the global press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called for the release of all the arrested journalists.

"Exactly six months after the dismantling of the Next Digital group and its flagship newspaper Apple Daily, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam once again shows her determination to terminate press freedom in the territory by eliminating Stand News in a similar fashion," said Cédric Alviani, RSF East Asia bureau head.

He called for the release of all journalists and urged democracies "to act in line with their own values and obligations and defend what's left of the free press in Hong Kong before China's model of information control claims another victim".

Early Wednesday, more than 200 police officers raided the office of pro-democracy news outlet Stand News, which has been the most-prominent remaining pro-democracy publication in Hong Kong after a national security probe earlier this year led to the closure of jailed tycoon Jimmy Lai's (黎智英) Apple Daily tabloid.

(By Scarlett Chai, Liu Kuang-ting and Joseph Yeh)

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