Tag Archives: Hong Kong

China News | LGBTQ Immigrants

Hong Kong court green-lights spousal visas for same-sex couples
  • Hong Kong’s highest court ruled in favor of a two British-national partners, which is expected to open residential visas to spouses regardless of gender in the partnership.
  • Without spousal visas, the same-sex partners of Hong Kong residents could only reside in the city on short-term tourist visas that prohibited work or access to public services.
  • While a recent poll showed more than 50% of Hongkongers support same-sex marriage, native Hong Kong residents still do not have access to same-sex marriage rights, though advocates and some legal experts have suggested the ruling could serve to expand their access to housing and family rights.

China News | Women

First female chief executive chosen in Hong Kong
  • Carrie Lam was elected chief executive of Hong Kong by an electoral committee in the semi-autonomous Chinese city, inheriting growing divisions between a youth-led pro-democracy movement and increasing Beijing influence.
  • The election was mired in controversy as the committee is stacked with pro-China business and political figures, seen by critics as promoting more Communist Party control over Hong Kong affairs.
  • Lam led the failed effort to reform Hong Kong’s electoral process, in which Beijing sought to pre-screen candidates before presenting options for direct popular vote.

Carrie Lam Wins Vote to Become Hong Kong’s Next Leader” (The New York Times | March 2017)

Hong Kong’s first female leader a ’tilted bridge’ over troubled water” (Reuters | March 2017)

Newly elected Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam vows to unite sharply divided city” (South China Morning Post | March 2017)

(Image Credit: Bobby Yip/Reuters)

China News | Pro-Democracy Politicians

Clashes erupt as newly elected pro-democracy officials in Hong Kong ousted by Beijing
  • As many as 10 newly elected members to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council may lose their seats as the Chinese government has declared that improperly declared oaths of office disqualify them from office.
  • The Chinese parliament passed a resolution removing two newly elected Hong Kong  officials for inserting a slur against China and a pledge to the “Hong Kong nation” in their oaths.
  • Thousands of protesters (including a large contingent of lawyers) took to the street, in demonstration against the government’s stance, clashing with police and denouncing increased intervention from Beijing into semi-autonomous Hong Kong’s affairs.

Read more:
8 More Pro-Democracy Lawmakers in Hong Kong May Lose Seats” (The New York Times)
Clashes, Pepper Spray in Hong Kong Amid Angry Protests Over China’s Intervention” (Radio Free Asia)
China moves to bar Hong Kong activists as fears grow over intervention” (Reuters)

(Image Credit: Vincent Yu/Associated Press, via The New York Times)

May Day || Global

Global May Day 2016

One of the few truly global holidays, International Workers’ Day (May Day) is both a worldwide celebration of the working classes as well as a day to draw attention to ongoing insecurities workers around the world face. May Day has historically had a twofold purpose: a day for workers to voice their concerns over contentious labor policies and for governments to reaffirm their commitments to workers’ rights and just labor practices. At times little more than public relations campaigns and at others violent clashes between governments and workers, global May Day events have highlighted the diverse relationships between labor, employers, and government around the world. Here are the highlights of May Day 2016 in more than 30 countries:

Asia Pacific

Bike rallies were held in Pune as Indian PM Narendra Modi saluted workers on Antarrashtriya Shramik Diwas, a public holiday. Pakistan‘s major labor unions convened in Lahore to speak out against poor working conditions, violations of international labor conventions, and ongoing privatization in the country. As Bangladeshi officials addressed labor relations and welfare reforms amidst a day of union-organized programming, in Kathmandu, Nepali workers marched while awaiting the ratification of the Labour Act, which guarantees greater social security for workers. Across the Indian Ocean, Australian union leader singled out penalty rate protection and tax reform as major Labour Day issues, with the date of the holiday having been a point of contention as well.

Throughout East Asia, workers rallied to draw attention to labor conditions and call for reforms, from ending contractualization in the Philippines to protecting job security in South KoreaHong Kong saw thousands take to the streets to demand fair and standardized working hours along with a universal pension program. In Malaysia, PM Najib Razak took the day to announce an increase in the national minimum wage and an insurance scheme proposal.

Europe & Eurasia

In cities across France, tens of thousands marched in protest against proposed labor reforms that would loosen the country’s controversial employment and job security policies. Jeremy Corbyn became the first U.K. Labour party  leader to attend a May Day rally in a half-century when he spoke to a crowd of thousands in London, reaffirming solidarity against anti-immigrant sentiment and addressing anti-Semitism accusations that have plagued his party recently. Spain saw thousands across its cities gather, many protesting ongoing austerity measures. An estimated 800,000 gathered in Rome‘s San Giovanni Square, with this year’s event dedicated to slain Italian student Giulio Regeni.

Some 2,000 convened in rain-soaked Zagreb to hear labor leaders protest the increased retirement age and ongoing poverty in Croatia. Moscow hosted a mass demonstration in the city’s Red Square estimated in size from the tens of thousands to 100,000, while thousands gathered in Istanbul’s Bakirköy district under a heavy police presence in the wake of urban suicide attacks and ongoing violence across Turkey.

The Americas

From New York to Los Angeles, demonstrations in the U.S. highlighted widening economic inequality in the country and an election season marred by racist, xenophobic, and Islamophobic sentiment. While most protests took place without incident, a peaceful march turned violent in Seattle, leading to five injured officers and nine arrests. A similar outbreak in Montreal led to one injury and 10 arrests.

In Latin America, Brazil‘s embattled president and Workers’ Party leader Dilma Roussef rallied alongside hundreds of thousands across the country as her impeachment proceedings continue and workers fear the inauguration of her center-right vice president. Cuba‘s May Day parade continued the national tradition of expressing support for the Castro regime rather than directly celebrating labor or expressing concerns over labor conditions. In Argentina, President Mauricio Macro backed employers and touted labor proposals that had spurred mass demonstrations only days before. Elsewhere in the region, minimum wage increases were announced in Venezuela and Bolivia and a march took place in Santiago as Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced a review of her labor reforms after the Supreme Court rejected a key provision granting exclusive negotiating rights to unions.

Middle East & Africa

Police in Egypt blocked hundreds of workers from assembling in a Cairo office as labor leaders and international organizations called for the government to decriminalize independent union organization. In Israel, more than 5,000 youth marched in Tel Aviv, while a Palestinian trade union renewed its call for the establishment of a minimum wage and the dismantlement of the Gaza blockade. A government-sponsored event in Dubai reportedly drew nearly 200 workers, though labor practices in the UAE continue to draw international scrutiny.

South of the Sahara, events popped up across South Africa as politicians sought to address the country’s high unemployment rate and appeal to workers ahead of August elections. In Nigeria, President Mohammadu Buhari spoke to thousands of workers in Abuja, touting his anti-corruption campaign. A Mozambique labor leader addressed a crowd in Maputo about the debts of state-owned companies and the need for wage and workplace reform. As the decline of oil prices has created economic hardship throughout Angola, the country’s two labor unions marched to draw attention to deteriorating worker conditions and the need for infrastructure maintenance. Workers in Ghana protested the privatization of the management of the state-owned Electric Company of Ghana, while the government insisted the company was still run by the state. Meanwhile, Ethiopia sidestepped Sunday commemorations altogether by moving May Day to May 3, when labor leaders plan to highlight ongoing struggles to organize Ethiopian workers.

China News | Dissidents

Four Hong Kong booksellers featuring work critical of Communist Party go missing
  • The four men are believed to have been detained in China after having traveled from Hong Kong to Thailand and Mainland China, though they have been unable to report their location.
  • The men work for Sage Communications, a company that has published titles critical of the Chinese president and Communist elite.
  • The detention comes as Beijing continues encroaching upon free press in Hong Kong, having bought up a major publishing house in the city earlier in the year.

Read more:
Independent Hong Kong Book-Sellers Missing, Believed Detained” (Radio Free Asia)
Four Hong Kong publishers known for books critical of Chinese regime missing” (The Guardian)
Hong Kong Bookstores Display Beijing’s Clout” (The New York Times)

(Image Credit: Sage Communications, via Radio Free Asia)

China News | Academics

2,000 march in silent protest against rejection of Hong Kong professor for top leadership position
  • In a controversial decision, University of Hong Kong law professor Johannes Chan was rejected for the university’s pro-vice-chancellor post.
  • Supporters viewed the denial as an encroachment of the Chinese government and Hong Kong’s chief executive on academic freedom in Hong Kong, with some calling for a judicial review of university governance structures.
  • Students, professors, and staff gathered in a massive silent march through the HKU campus before student leaders and academics spoke out against the decision.

Read more:
Thousands protest at HKU to defend academic freedom” (Hong Kong Free Press)
Hong Kong Academics in Silent Protest Over ‘Political’ Row Over Top Job” (Radio Free Asia)
Hong Kong university protests over academic freedoms” (ChannelFree Asia)

(Image Credit: Hong Kong Free Press)

China News | Dissidents

Protesters gather in demonstration on anniversary of Hong Kong Occupy protests

  • Around 100 rallied near Hong Kong government headquarters on the one-year anniversary of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Occupy Central mass demonstrations.
  • No plans for the restart of mass protests have been made despite unfulfilled demands for the shoring up of the Hong Kong democratic process.

View the Radio Free Asia video on YouTube.

China News | Activists

Hong Kong Occupy leaders charged a year after pro-democracy protests
  • Alex Chow, who led the Hong Kong Federation of Students, reported he and Joshua Wong, leader of student group Scholarism, have been charged with illegal assembly following 2014’s demonstrations.
  • Wong faces the additional charge of inciting others to illegal assembly during the student-led protests that shut down major areas of Hong Kong.
  • More than 100,000 participated for more than two months in demonstrations against China’s decision to vet candidates for Hong Kong’s 2017 elections.

Read the full story at Reuters.

(Image Credit: Bobby Yip/Reuters)

China News | Hong Kong Women

Government and communities push to equalize gender representation in Hong Kong’s tech industry
  • Despite equal early interest in tech education, the proportion of girls in computer science courses drops to a third by the start of college.
  • In Hong Kong, where social pressure and negative images of tech culture push many into business, software development faces an uphill battle in capturing the career interests of young women.
  • Programs and organizations such as W Hub, Women Who Code, and First Code Academy are working to open opportunities to girls and young women in the tech field.

“Encouragement and support to study STEM needs to begin early both in school and at home. … Girls who show an early interest in the field often lose interest because of pervasive but underrecognised biases in the learning environment.”

Read the full story at the South China Morning Post.

(Image Credit: Jonathan Wong/South China Morning Post)

China News | Advocates & Dissidents

China enacts sweeping new national security law, fortifying Communist Party powers and worrying rights advocates and political dissenters
  • The law expands China’s “core interests” to include economic development; polar, maritime, and extraterrestrial project protection; and a broad sense of national security encompassing culture, education, and politics.
  • With two complementary bills on foreign organization regulation and counterterrorism in the pipeline, security experts and human rights advocates expect the new law to lead to more activities categorized as national security violations and strengthened legal justification for crackdowns on dissent.
  • Under the agreements that led to their reintegration into China, Hong Kong and Macau will not be subject to application of the law.

“All these things are brought together in a way that links the idea of the nation or the state with the security of a political regime. … Everybody knows this is the understanding that the Communist Party has, but it’s rarely put this explicitly in national law. That’s just striking.”

Read the full story at the New York Times.

(Image Credit: Bobby Yip/Reuters, via The New York Times)