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Wednesday, September 08, 2004

BBC > China 'stoking fear' in Hong Kong China 'stoking fear' in Hong Kong

The Chinese government has created a "climate of fear" in Hong Kong designed to skew the result of this Sunday's election, a human rights group says.
Human Rights Watch alleges a campaign of intimidation meant to undermine the pro-democracy opposition.
Sunday's vote will elect politicians to the territory's Legislative Council.
Beijing has rolled out the triumphant Chinese Olympic team in Hong Kong this week, against a background of Chinese flags and national songs.
Critics say the tour is designed to boost support for pro-China candidates in the election.
The past 12 months have seen some of the most worrying violations of human rights since the 1997 handover
Human Rights Watch report
Meanwhile, Chinese police held a rare news conference giving details of the arrest of pro-democracy candidate Ho Wai-to, on charges of hiring a prostitute.
Democrats said that was also part of the government's campaign.
"I hope you won't be affected by the gold medallists or the press conference," said politician Emily Lau.
'Toxic political climate'
In its report, Human Rights Watch alleges that the Chinese government, or people acting on its behalf, have sent threatening letters and phone calls, and carried out vandalism and arson against pro-democracy targets.
In one case, a businessman was told to take a picture of his completed election ballot or his business would suffer, the group claims.
The result was a "toxic political climate" unparalleled since sovereignty of Hong Kong was handed from Britain to China in 1997, it said.
Activists say China is breaking a promise it made at the time to respect Hong Kong's autonomy and Western-style civil liberties.
"The past 12 months have seen some of the most worrying violations of human rights since the 1997 handover," the report said.
Sunday's vote is unique in China - nowhere else in the country are lawmakers chosen by the people.
The Legislative Council does not set policy but can vote on legislation.
Half of the 60 seats will be decided by Hong Kong's 3.2 million registered voters. The other 30 are picked by largely pro-Beijing professional groups.
Story from BBC NEWS: /pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia -pacific/3638190.stm

Published: 2004/09/09 01:42:43 GMT


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