Zheng Yanxiong: China appoints hard-line Hong Kong safety chief

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Zheng Yanxiong (L) in Wukan in 2011Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In 2011 Mr Zheng (far left) accused protesters in mainland China of being too near international media

China has appointed a hard-line determine as head of its new safety company in Hong Kong.

Zheng Yanxiong is finest identified for his function in coping with a protest over a land dispute within the southern Chinese village of Wukan.

The new company, answering on to Beijing, is being set as much as implement a draconian safety regulation handed this week in Hong Kong.

Opponents of the regulation say it erodes the territory’s freedoms.

The regulation targets secession, subversion and terrorism with punishments of as much as life in jail.

Several main pro-democracy activists have stepped down from their roles and one in every of them, one-time scholar chief and native legislator Nathan Law, has fled the territory.

Separately, one in every of 10 folks arrested utilizing the brand new regulation throughout protests on Wednesday has turn into the primary to be charged underneath it. Hundreds had been detained in the course of the clashes.

The motorcyclist, accused of using into a gaggle of police whereas carrying a flag calling for the liberation of Hong Kong, was charged with inciting secession and terrorism.

Beijing has dismissed criticism of the regulation, saying it’s essential to cease the kind of pro-democracy protests seen in Hong Kong throughout a lot of 2019.

Hong Kong’s sovereignty was handed again to China by Britain in 1997 and sure rights had been purported to be assured for not less than 50 years underneath the “one country, two systems” settlement.

But China has rejected complaints by the UK and different Western nations that it’s in breach of those ensures as interference in its inside affairs.

What can we learn about China’s new appointees?

Mr Zheng’s most up-to-date senior place was as secretary normal of the Communist Party committee within the southern province of Guangdong.

But he’s finest referred to as occasion boss within the Guangdong metropolis of Shanwei when a protest by villagers in Wukan looking for compensation for land requisitioned by the federal government broke out in 2011.

He famously criticised the villagers for speaking to “a few rotten foreign media organisations” as a substitute of the federal government about their grievances.

“These media organisations will only be happy when our socialist county falls apart,” he mentioned in remarks broadcast on native TV.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Luo (pictured proper of centre toasting with Chief Executive Carrie Lam) is already a key Beijing official in Hong Kong

The unrest led to a uncommon concession by the authorities, with the direct election of a preferred native chief. However, 5 years later he was jailed for corruption and the protests had been quashed.

Though by then Mr Zheng was not in his Shanxei function, he was nonetheless a senior occasion official in Guangdong.

Other appointments by Beijing embrace Luo Huining, who has been made adviser to Hong Kong’s chief government on the brand new safety regulation.

Mr Luo presently heads Beijing’s liaison workplace within the territory. Veteran Hong Kong official Eric Chan will head the territory’s nationwide safety fee.

To perceive Zheng Yanxiong you’ll want to learn about a Guangdong village referred to as Wukan.

In 2011, disaffected locals forcibly expelled authorities officers from the realm, accusing the officers of grabbing their land in a collection of corrupt offers with builders.

A blockade ensued and, as a part of a negotiated settlement to defuse tensions, the locals got the correct to elect their very own council. It grew to become a grass roots democratic exemption in China.

Five years later, the residents – indignant that no cash had been paid for the stolen land – began marching within the streets once more. The state of affairs escalated after their elected chief was taken away by the authorities on what are thought to have been trumped up fees.

The empowered locals had been accountable for their very own affairs they usually believed they may obtain justice. But when the Communist Party grew to become fed up with this riot it was over to senior cadre Zheng Yanxiong and others to cope with it. Hundreds of riot police had been ordered in to grab management, making mass arrests and crushing the “Wukan experiment”.

Since then this Cantonese-speaking enforcer has moved up via the ranks with a popularity for doing no matter is important. Now he is accountable for a brand new safety company in Hong Kong which operates with none authorized restraints by any means, and which no different businesses can contact.

What is the safety regulation?

The regulation is wide-ranging, making inciting hatred of China’s central authorities and Hong Kong’s regional authorities offences.

It additionally permits for closed-door trials, wire-tapping of suspects and the potential for suspects to be tried on the Chinese mainland.

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Media captionMany residents fear the brand new regulation means the top of the “one country, two systems” precept

Acts together with damaging public transport amenities – which regularly occurred in the course of the 2019 protests – will be thought of terrorism.

There are additionally considerations over on-line freedom as web suppliers might need handy over knowledge if requested by police.

Hong Kong’s new safety regulation

What has the response been from abroad?

US lawmakers have unanimously permitted new Hong Kong-related sanctions, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying the regulation amounted to a “brutal, sweeping crackdown against the people of Hong Kong, intended to destroy the freedoms they were promised”.

Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson mentioned the passing of the regulation was a “clear and serious breach” of the 1985 Sino-British joint declaration.

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Media captionHundreds have been arrested as Hong Kong’s nationwide safety regulation kicks in

The UK has supplied residency, and attainable citizenship, to as much as three million Hong Kongers within the wake of the regulation’s implementation.

Numerous others have additionally expressed robust considerations. Australia revealed that, just like the UK, it was contemplating providing secure haven to Hong Kongers.

China has responded by saying Hong Kong’s affairs are “none of your business”.

However, Cuba – on behalf of 53 nations – welcomed the regulation on the United Nations Human Rights Council.