9 activists arrested in preparation for Xi Jinping visit to Hong Kong
by Paul Wang

Those arrested are all members of groups struggling for democracy. Attempt to “frighten" public opinion. China excludes political reforms within the next 10 years. The EU: universal suffrage would give more solidity to the territory government.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - This morning, a group of nine activists - who had participated in the demonstrations of Occupy Central, demanding democracy in the territory - were arrested. They are being charged with having participated at an unauthorized protest last November against Beijing's influence on the constitution of the Territory (Basic Law).

The Standing Committee of the National Assembly of the Chinese People has determined that every Hong Kong parliamentarian should swear allegiance to China, excluding any claims for independence. The statement has in fact led to the disqualification of two deputies, the young Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, for taking an improper oath. The group of arrestees had expressed their opposition.

Yesterday the two parliamentarians were arrested; Today Derek Lam Shun-hin and Ivan Lam Long-yin of the Demosisto Group were arrested; Avery Ng Man-yuen, Dickson Chau Ka-faat and Chan Man-wai of the League of Social Democrats; Tak-cheung and Sammy Ip Chi-hin of the group Students struggling for democracy; Devon Cheng Pui-lun former president of the student union of Lingnan University. Many of the activists had already been arrested this year and then released on bail. Apparently their arrest today is due to their refusal to pay a new bail.

Leung Kwok-hung (nicknamed "long hair”), a parliamentary member of the League of Social Democrats, said the arrest was a "preventive political persecution" to prepare the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Motherland, next July. For the occasion, Chinese President Xi Jinping will be present in Hong Kong. Speaking to the South China Morning Post, Leung said, " “The purpose is to make those who want to come out and express their views on July 1 feel frightened. It’s an obvious abuse of prosecution powers to achieve a political objective."

The return of Hong Kong to the motherland occurred in 1997 under the slogan "One nation, Two systems", allowing the territory to maintain the liberal style of society. But Beijing's influence over Hong Kong is strong from an economic, and above all political point of view. China has excluded universal suffrage for the Legco (the Hong Kong Parliament), as well as the direct election of the head of the executive. Precisely because of this, in September 2014 there was a great sit-in in the central areas of the island, called Occupy Central, involving at least 800,000 people who demanded the governor's direct election.

Although the Basic Law (the Hong Kong Constitution) states that political and democratic reforms may be considered after 2006, China has always excluded this possibility. On 22 April, Wang Zhenmin of the Office of China-Hong Kong Relations ruled out political reforms within the next 10 years.

Right now, the European Union, in a report on Hong Kong, is urging authorities to start the process of electoral reform, which would give much more solidity to the government of the city.

"The EU - the report says - encourages the Hong Kong SAR and China’s central government to resume electoral reform in line with the Basic Law and to reach agreement on an election system that is democratic, fair, open and transparent.”."

It adds that universal suffrage would give the government greater support and legitimacy from the population, pursuing economic development and addressing social challenges such as socio-economic and generational divisions.