08/21/2019, 13.36
HONG KONG – CHINA
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Calls for reconciliation come from Hong Kong whilst China holds British consulate worker

by Paul Wang

Former Financial Secretary John Tsang calls for dialogue, forgiveness and reconciliation between protesters and government. Chief Executive Carrie Lam says she is open for dialogue, but refuses to meet the demands of the anti-extradition movement. Simon Cheng Man-kit, 28, is in "administrative detention" in Shenzhen. Yesterday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said it knew nothing of his fate; today it confirmed that he was in “administrative detention”. For China, he is Chinese, hence subject to Chinese law.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Former Financial Secretary John Tsang (picture 1) has called on protesters and government to talk after months of tensions caused by the extradition law.

In an article in today’s Mingpao newspaper and in a video posted on his Facebook page, Tsang urges both sides to be patient and not further tie a "dead knot" that risks bringing Hong Kong to an end.

Tsang points out that Hong Kong society risks splitting between pro-government and anti-extradition groups. “This is not a war, there is no enemy, but only family members,” he said. And in families, people seek “forgiveness and reconciliation”.

A well-respected politician, Tsang was a candidate for the post of chief executive in 2017, won by Carrie Lam.

His appeal comes a day after Carrie Lam (picture 2) called for dialogue, whilst refusing once again to say that the extradition bill would be permanently scrapped and ruling out an independent inquiry into the excessive use of force by the police and its collusion with the Chinese mafia, as demanded by millions of protesters.

For this reason, the Civil Human Rights Front rejected Lam’s proposal (picture 3), accusing her of resorting to "old tricks" and “setting a trap" for the movement.

The Front, which organised the peaceful mass rally that saw the participation of 1.7 million people three days ago, and other organisations involved in the protest are demanding that the people of Hong Kong be guaranteed universal suffrage in the election of the local Legislative Council and to the post of chief executive, which are currently fixed by Beijing.

Such demands would be the guarantee that Hong Kong’s liberal form of government, under the principle of "One Country, two systems", could last into the future.

They were also the basis of the Occupy Central movement in 2014. Even then the government promised to continue the dialogue, but nothing was done.

Meanwhile, reports that Chinese police seized a British consulate worker from Hong Kong, travelling to Shenzhen on a business trip, is causing concern.

Simon Cheng Man-kit, 28 (picture 4) is a trade and investment officer for Scottish Development International at the British consulate in Hong Kong.

He travelled to Shenzhen on 8 August. The next day he was returning by train from Shenzhen to Hong Kong when he went missing.

His girlfriend, Li, said that Cheng texted her a message saying that he was going through customs manned by mainland officials, before adding “pray for me”.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang denied knowledge of the case.

Li said Cheng’s family was later informed by Hong Kong’s Immigration Department that he had been placed under “administrative detention”.

In recent weeks, border crossings between Hong Kong and China have seen tighter controls. Police stop each passenger to check addresses and photos on mobile phones, and to find out if they have any connection to the anti-extradition movement, which the Chinese government has labelled "terrorist”.

This morning, the Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed that Cheng was in "administrative detention", which means he can be held for up to 15 days. It noted that as a citizen of Hong Kong, not Great Britain, he is a Chinese national and thus subject to Chinese laws.

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