Toronto human rights lawyer Yoyo Wu was born in Hong Kong and has inextricable ties to the city. But in an interview with Voice of America, she said bitterly, “I am not going back to Hong Kong because I often speak out for human rights issues in Hong Kong in Canada, and it would be personally dangerous to go back. I also advise my friends and relatives around me in this way not to go back to Hong Kong if it is not particularly necessary.”
She also testified before the Canadian Parliament’s Human Rights Relations Committee that not only would she not return to Hong Kong, she would not travel to other countries that have extradition agreements with Hong Kong.
Her explanation was that at the moment, Canada-China relations are tense, and with the current situation in Hong Kong, if you are born in Hong Kong, it is likely that your Canadian citizenship will not be recognized and you will not even be able to get consular services if you encounter any problems.
Parliament advises Canadian government to process Hong Kong people’s asylum and visa applications quickly
The Canadian Parliament’s Canada-China Relations Committee recently released a report on Hong Kong titled “Hong Kong’s High Degree of Autonomy Undermined: International Concerns”. The committee held a series of hearings, heard extensive witness testimony, and ultimately made 12 recommendations to the Canadian government.
These 12 recommendations are divided into three areas.
The first category of recommendations is very practical and can be decided and implemented by the Canadian government itself.
For example, expedite asylum claims by Hong Kong democrats, such as expediting wholesale visas; expedite Hong Kong immigrants’ applications for Family reunification, study and work in Canada; revise and process the government’s travel proposals in a timely manner; do not support and enforce Hong Kong’s National Security Act-related arrest warrants; and ensure that Hong Kong people are not denied eligibility for asylum claims or immigration to Canada for offences related to participation in pro-democracy activities.
In particular, Professor Hou Bingdong noted that Canada has announced the termination of its extradition agreement with Hong Kong following the introduction of the NSA in Hong Kong.
The second category of the proposal is within the purview of the Canadian government and is highly desirable, but requires international cooperation. For example, an alliance with like-minded countries and Canadian leadership to have a coherent and sustained response to China’s democratic human rights erosion process in Hong Kong; and continued support for universal suffrage and democratic goals in Hong Kong.
After all, according to Professor Hou Bingdong, there are 300,000 Canadian passport holders living in Hong Kong, and the Canadian government will certainly continue to be concerned about Hong Kong, but it will also have to join with the democratic allied countries to do so. For example, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.
The Commission’s third category of recommendations is consistent with the ideal, but difficult to achieve at present.
For example, support the creation of a special envoy position for Hong Kong at the United Nations and the use of the Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to discipline officials who violate human rights in Hong Kong.
Professor Hou Bingdong’s analysis is that the proposal to create a special envoy for Hong Kong would certainly be vetoed by China, given its power in the UN body. And the use of sanctions against individual Chinese and Hong Kong officials would be a very serious step. Canada may already have a list of officials who need to be sanctioned, but whether it actually acts depends on the government’s determination.
And according to Wang Zhuoyan, all twelve recommendations are very important and show that Canada’s policy toward China is slowly becoming tougher. She believes that the most important thing the Canadian government needs to do now is to have a quicker way to give a safe haven to Hong Kong activists who wish to come to Canada for refuge or who have already fled Hong Kong and are looking for a country of refuge.
In addition, she believes that the Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act will send a strong signal to individual officials who are sanctioned, and a warning to the top echelons of the Chinese and Hong Kong governments.
Is Hong Kong’s One Country, Two Systems Dead?
Last week, Hong Kong police used the National Security Law to bring charges against 47 pro-democracy activists, including charges of conspiracy to subvert state power. And the vast majority were denied bail – a rare occurrence under Hong Kong’s legal framework.
Cherie Wong, director of Alliance Canada Hongkong, a Canadian pro-democracy movement, said, “Most democrats see this incident as the end of an era, the end of allowing opposition figures in Hong Kong to have a voice. She said.”
She said Hong Kong’s one country, two systems is dead. What people are seeing now is the complete collapse of the false image of Hong Kong’s autonomy. The international community is finally seeing clearly how the Chinese Communist Party is using the National Security Law to destroy Hong Kong’s autonomy.
Yoyo Wu is the director of the Chinese Vietnamese and Cambodian Legal Aid Centre (CSALC) in the Greater Toronto Area, and has dedicated many years to providing legal help to the Asian community. She believes that (China’s) original promise of 50 years of no change for Hong Kong has now become 20 years of no change. In the past year, we have seen a lot of issues that are cause for concern, and the legal system that Hong Kong had before has basically been wiped out, and the problems are very serious.
Professor Gordon Houlden, a former Canadian diplomat and director of the China Institute at the University of Calgary, believes that China’s current approach is to separate pro-democracy activists from the rest of the population in Hong Kong, and that they (China) will focus their repression on these people, possibly including journalists and those involved in political campaigns. And at the same Time, they want to make people feel that it’s business as usual and Life as usual.
Professor Hou Bingdong, for his part, said that Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy may not be completely dead, but it has been hit hard.
He said that the current situation shows that Hong Kong still has more freedom than the mainland, such as there is still an independent media, and freedom of religion.
He further analyzed that Deng Xiaoping’s promise of “one country, two systems” and “50 years of no change” should be sincere, because at that time, China’s economy was very weak and needed Hong Kong very much.
He believes that the “Tiananmen Incident” is a turning point, Hong Kong people’s view of mainland China has greatly changed, especially the younger generation, their own identity to identify themselves as Hong Kong people, rather than Chinese. This became the basis for the subsequent protests, which led to the emergence of Hong Kong’s independence and confrontation with the police. Chinese hardliners argued that tougher tactics were needed to suppress this.
The report of the Canada-China Commission mentions that in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, the Chinese side explicitly promised that Hong Kong would enjoy a high degree of autonomy, unchanged for 50 years. In the Basic Law, it is written that Hong Kong “shall have executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication,” and it is promised that Hong Kong will have personal freedom, freedom of speech, media, assembly, association and so on. However, Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy has been seriously undermined since June 30 of last year, when China implemented the National Security Law in Hong Kong.
The committee report found that Hong Kong’s National Security Law is “overly broad and pervasive.
At the hearing, witnesses generally agreed that the law covers vaguely defined acts such as secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign countries; that it restricts freedom of peaceful assembly and expression; that it carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment if established; and that illegal actions are not limited to Hong Kong, but can be punished using the law even outside of Hong Kong.
Activists: Keep Hope, Keep Fighting
Yoyo Wu expressed deep concern and disappointment when talking about the future of Hong Kong. She said, “If all democratic countries unite, there may be a little hope, just the United States and Canada are not enough. The democratic countries come together and put pressure on China in different ways, economically, politically, from different angles, and then, hopefully, there might be opposition within the Chinese government.”
And now, she believes, because of China’s strong economy and market, Western countries, including Canada, are reluctant to offend China and fall out with the Chinese government.
Professor Hou Bingdong believes that the current focus of each country is on the new crown Epidemic, but a consensus will slowly emerge on how to deal with the Hong Kong issue and China as a whole.
He said, “My understanding is that the Biden administration’s diplomatic focus is on the democratic countries building an alliance to deal with China, and while it’s not easy, it’s a very important piece and a major diplomatic challenge to the United States as well as its allies.”
Wang Zhuoyan described the recent period as one of great loss, great uncertainty, anger and sadness for the democrats and protesters in Hong Kong. It has been a very difficult few months, especially witnessing the crackdown on large numbers of Hong Kong pro-democracy activists. Unfortunately, not every protester in Hong Kong was allowed to leave.
The question I hear most often, she said, is, “Can we leave? Where can we go? The next question is, if we stay, are we safe? What does it mean? Do we have to give up the pursuit of democracy?
She said, “For Hong Kong people, the loss of the rule of law and freedom will come first, and Culture and language may come next, but Hong Kong people cannot afford to lose hope. Although it is very difficult to stay optimistic, I will try to move forward and will continue to lobby the government to implement these proposals and continue to protest against China’s interference in the Canadian community.”
In the meantime, she urged everyone to please continue to donate and encourage Hong Kong people that the fight is far from over.