Mr. Lai, the media tycoon, has been charged in a separate national security case for allegedly lobbying for American sanctions against Hong Kong and Chinese officials.

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How China Plans to Control Hong Kong’s Elections

HONG KONG — China’s sweeping overhaul of Hong Kong’s election system will give national security bodies vast power over who can run for office, a move that could sideline the pro-democracy opposition for years to come.

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy figures had long enjoyed a greater share of the vote in direct elections, but the system was stacked against them, ensuring the pro-Beijing camp controlled the legislature. On Tuesday, the standing committee of the Communist Party-controlled National People’s Congress in Beijing approved changes that would ensure an even stronger legislative majority for the establishment.

The changes give Beijing and its handpicked local leaders vast powers to block any opposition candidate China deems disloyal, aiming to stamp out the intense antigovernment sentiment that fueled protests in 2019.

charged 47 pro-democracy politicians, including most of the camp’s most prominent figures, with subversion under a national security law. Others are in court on charges of unauthorized assembly. The prosecutions have effectively silenced much of the opposition.

The security law has also loomed over the city, curbing its environment for free expression. Some politicians have warned that Hong Kong’s new art museum, M+, risks violating the security law if it displays works from artists like the Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei.

A local broadcaster, TVB, said this week that it would not show the Oscars after 52 years of televising the event. It said the decision was commercial, but this year’s awards include two nominees that are politically sensitive in China. “Do Not Split,” a nominee for best documentary short, focuses on the 2019 Hong Kong protests, and Chloé Zhao, the first Chinese woman and the first woman of color to be nominated for best director, has stirred a backlash over a 2013 interview in which she criticized her native country.

Trump and Biden administrations imposed financial sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials deemed as having undermined the city’s autonomy.

Several nations have also announced they would make it easier for people from Hong Kong to immigrate. Britain has opened up residency and a potential pathway to citizenship for millions of people from Hong Kong, a former British colony.

As the political changes pushed by Beijing continue to shake Hong Kong, more people are likely to consider options for leaving, said Sonny Lo, a political analyst based in Hong Kong.

“This will have a kind of chilling effect on society,” he said. “I expect a wave of migration. Because in the minds of ordinary citizens who don’t know about politics, who don’t know the complexities, they are really scared off.”

Keith Bradsher contributed reporting from Shanghai.

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‘Insult to the Country’: Hong Kong Targets Art Deemed Critical of China

HONG KONG — With its multibillion-dollar price tag and big-name artists, M+, the museum rising on Victoria Harbor, was meant to embody Hong Kong’s ambitions of becoming a global cultural hub. It was to be the city’s first world-class art museum, proof that Hong Kong could do high culture just as well as finance.

It may instead become the symbol of how the Chinese Communist Party is muzzling Hong Kong’s art world.

In recent days, the museum, which is scheduled to open later this year, has come under fierce attack from the city’s pro-Beijing politicians. State-owned newspapers have denounced the museum’s collection, which houses important works of contemporary Chinese art, including some by the dissident artist Ai Weiwei. Hong Kong’s chief executive has promised to be on “full alert” after a lawmaker called some works an “insult to the country.”

The arts sector broadly has endured a blizzard of attacks. A government funding body said last week that it has the power to end grants to artists who promoted “overthrowing” the authorities. A front-page editorial in a pro-Beijing newspaper accused six art groups of “anti-government” activities.

arrested opposition politicians and moved to overhaul elections. They have also pulled books from library shelves and reshaped school curriculums.

projected a Chinese flag onto the ground for viewers to walk on. Another used Tibetan script to express fears that Hong Kong would become similarly controlled.

Concerns about independence have dogged M+ from its conception more than a decade ago . The museum acquired a number of high-profile works, including an image of Mr. Ai raising his middle finger in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, and photographs by Liu Heung Shing of the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations there. Immediately, officials warned the museum to steer clear of politics.

But optimism also coursed through Hong Kong’s art world over the past decade. The government had increased financial support. Art Basel, the international arts fair, hosts an annual show in Hong Kong.

turned tents used to occupy the central business district into canvases. In 2019, they hauled a 13-foot statue of a woman in a gas mask to marches.

Mr. Ai said he supported the museum’s 2012 acquisition of his works from Uli Sigg, a renowned collector, noting Hong Kong’s ambition to become a world-class art city and the M+ team’s reputation.

“I was very positive at the time,” said Mr. Ai, who left China in 2015. “I felt that if my work could be displayed where there were many Chinese people, I’d be very happy.”

fearful anticipation.

Then the pro-Beijing camp pounced this month with a full-out barrage. On Mar. 15, the Hong Kong Film Critics Society canceled sold-out screenings of a documentary about the 2019 protests, after a pro-Beijing newspaper urged banning it. Two days later, another paper accused six arts organizations of violating the security law and called on the government to revoke their funding.

said during a question-and-answer session with Carrie Lam, the chief executive.

The criticisms have extended beyond politics to a sort of moral policing. Some have denounced M+ holdings that depict nudity or homosexuality.

Evans Chan knew some considered his work too provocative. A Hong Kong venue in 2016 canceled a screening of a documentary he made about the 2014 protests, citing a desire to remain “nonpartisan.” Last year, he finished a sequel, only to cut a scene for Hong Kong audiences that featured China’s national anthem; a new law forbade disrespecting the song.

Still, Mr. Chan said, the security law was a “watershed moment.” He had planned to make a third film about Hong Kong’s fight for democracy. But he is unsure if he could find people to participate or places to show it — not just in Hong Kong but overseas, in venues with ties to China.

“We are coming to a point to ask, what kind of space is left by global capitalism?” he said. “Where does China fit in? Where does artistic expression from and about Hong Kong fit in?”

Others have urged artists to experiment with the space that remains. Clara Cheung, who runs an arts education space, said she had promoted projects like community murals or a map of Hong Kong’s heritage buildings. Though not explicitly political, they could encourage open-mindedness and civic engagement.

Sampson Wong has focused on small-scale, privately funded projects for the past few years, after officials suspended his temporary lights display at Hong Kong’s tallest building in 2016. It featured a countdown to 2047, the year that China’s promise of semi-autonomy to Hong Kong expires.

“I’m confident that we have already explored the ways” to keep operating independently, Mr. Wong said.

Still, he said he hoped that world would not become entirely siloed from the more institutional, popular art sphere.

In that space, the authorities may be harder to sidestep.

Mr. Ai said staff at M+ had recently called him to affirm their commitment to their principles, and he had been moved by their integrity.

But “with these kinds of things, bottom-up resistance is useless,” he added. “If it is decided from the top that such works can’t be exhibited, then there is nothing they can do.”

Joy Dong contributed research.

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Hong Kong, Its Elections Upended, Reconsiders Its Dream of Democracy

HONG KONG — From her first protest at age 12, Jackie Chen believed she could help bring democracy to Hong Kong. Each summer, she marched in demonstrations calling for universal suffrage. She eagerly cast her ballot in elections.

Now Ms. Chen, 44, is not sure if she will ever vote again.

“If we continue to participate in this game, it’s like we’re accepting what they’re doing,” she said. “That would make me feel like an accomplice.”

The Chinese government has upended the political landscape in Hong Kong, redefining the city’s relationship with democracy. Its plan to drastically overhaul the local electoral system, by demanding absolute loyalty from candidates running for office, is leaving factions across the political spectrum wondering what participation, if any, is still possible.

enshrined in the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, which pledges that universal suffrage is the “ultimate aim.”

Beijing has now made clear that it has no plans to meet that aim — at least, not on the terms that many Hong Kongers expected. The changes are also likely to slash the number of directly elected seats in the local legislature to their lowest levels since the British colonial era, meaning the majority of lawmakers would be picked by government allies.

Though officials still nod to universal suffrage, theirs is a circumscribed version. A Chinese official in Hong Kong suggested last week that establishment lawmakers chosen through small-circle elections, of the type favored by Beijing, were equivalent to those elected by the general public.

“The establishment camp is also pro-democracy,” the official, Song Ru’an, told reporters. “They’re all chosen through elections, and they all work on behalf of the people.”

repeatedly delayed.)

Screening candidates would ensure that future politicians were more moderate, Mr. Choi said. “Right now we have people who want to mess things up,” he said, standing under a giant Chinese flag that his group had erected on a sidewalk in North Point, a working-class neighborhood where support for the government runs high.

“There will be a new pro-democracy wing that comes out, and they probably will actually want to act in the interests of the people,” Mr. Choi said.

Hong Kong’s electoral system has always been skewed in favor of the establishment, but many residents had still hoped their votes could send a message.

arrested 53 people in January for participating in an informal primary ahead of those elections. The elections themselves were postponed for a year, and officials say they may be delayed again.

Ms. Chen, the democracy supporter who is unsure about voting again, said the electoral changes were more disheartening than the national security law.

“Voting isn’t organizing anything or trying to subvert the government,” she said. “It’s just each person voting to express their individual views. If we don’t even have this basic right, then I just don’t know what to say.”

Beijing has said the changes are meant to block candidates it deems anti-China, or who have openly called for independence for Hong Kong. But moderates also worry that they will be shut out of the new system.

Hong Kong’s politicians have long described their role as juggling the demands of two masters who are often at odds: Communist Party leaders in Beijing, and the people of Hong Kong. But Beijing has increasingly insisted that its will come first, a mandate crystallized in the new election rules, which allow only “patriots” to hold office.

mass movement for universal suffrage in 2014, many supporters worried that dreams of democracy were dead. But when those demands resurfaced in 2019, the crowds ballooned.

Faith in that resilience has shaped the life of Owen Au, who was in high school in 2014. Invigorated by those protests, he enrolled at the Chinese University of Hong Kong to study politics. He was elected president of the student union. He dreamed of running for higher office.

He knows that is impossible now. He is facing charges of unauthorized assembly related to the 2019 protests, and he said he would never qualify under the candidate-vetting system anyway.

But far from pushing him out of the political arena, Mr. Au said, the crackdown will guarantee that he stays in it. He expects that no major company will hire him. Besides activism, he doesn’t know what else he could do.

“I have no choice but to keep working on it,” he said. “But it’s not a bad thing. Most of the other paths, I’m not so interested in. But this one could ignite my hope.”

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U.S. Punishes 24 Chinese Officials on Eve of First Talks Under Biden

Such remarks have heartened traditional American allies and stirred anger in China, which has repeatedly called on the United States to abandon a confrontational approach. Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, and Mr. Blinken are scheduled to meet the top Chinese diplomats, Yang Jiechi and Wang Yi, in Alaska beginning on Thursday.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zhao Lijian, accused the United States of a “zero-sum mind-set” that was “doomed to end in the dustbin of history.”

“Those wearing colored lenses can easily lose sight of the right direction, and those entrenched in the Cold War mentality will bring harm to others and themselves,” Mr. Zhao said on Monday.

The United States has imposed sanctions against Chinese officials before under the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which was approved by Congress and signed into law by Mr. Trump last year. Among other things, it authorizes the State Department to restrict designated officials from using American financial institutions.

Wang Chen, a veteran party leader who led the legislative changes adopted last week, is the most senior Chinese official targeted so far. The Trump administration previously imposed the sanctions on Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, the police chief and the justice secretary.

The ultimate impact on Chinese behavior has, so far, been minimal, but the latest designations significantly expand the number of officials targeted.

In all, the latest American sanctions would affect 14 vice chairmen of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, which recently concluded its annual gathering in Beijing, and officials from the Hong Kong Police Force’s National Security Division, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, and the Office for Safeguarding National Security.

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How China Plans to Control Hong Kong’s Elections and Elevate ‘Patriots’

BEIJING — China approved on Thursday a drastic overhaul of election rules for Hong Kong that would most likely bar many pro-democracy politicians from competing in elections, cementing Beijing’s grip over the territory.

The National People’s Congress, China’s Communist Party-controlled legislature, voted almost unanimously to give pro-Beijing loyalists more power to choose Hong Kong’s local leader, as well as members of its legislature. The decision builds on a sweeping national security law for Hong Kong, imposed last year after months of protests, that the authorities have used to quash opposition in the former British colony.

Premier Li Keqiang said at his annual news conference that the new legislation was needed to ensure that “patriots” run the territory. But critics contend that the new election system will wipe out the already limited democracy that Hong Kong enjoyed after its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

Here is what we know about the changes.

Until now, Hong Kong’s chief executive has been selected by a 1,200-member Election Committee dominated by Beijing’s allies. This has allowed China to pick leaders it trusts.

But a groundswell of support for the territory’s democracy movement during massive protests in 2019 raised the possibility that the opposition could amass a majority of votes to stymie Beijing’s choice.

Beijing plans to add 300 more spots on the committee, which could allow more seats to go to its allies. The congress also imposed a new rule that would most likely prevent democrats from getting on the Election Committee’s ballot. To be nominated, a candidate will now require at least some support from each of the five main groups on the committee. Beijing will now have the chance to form one group entirely from its loyalists, which would block pro-democracy nominees.

Such moves are likely to deprive democracy supporters of much say when the committee votes early next year to select Hong Kong’s leader. The current chief executive, Carrie Lam, is eligible to run for re-election but has not yet said whether she will do so.

Beijing will also empower the Election Committee to directly appoint some members of Hong Kong’s legislature. To many, this is a regression, as the committee lost the authority to appoint lawmakers several years after Hong Kong returned to Chinese sovereignty from British rule.

“I think overall this is an effective, fast, hard-line kind of reverse democratization package,” said Sonny Lo, a political analyst based in Hong Kong. “The pro-democracy forces, even if they can win all the directly elected seats, they will be destined to be a permanent minority.”

Half the seats in the legislature are currently chosen by direct elections and half by so-called functional constituencies: various professions, business groups and other special interests. Until recently, the democrats had held around two dozen seats, and often used their presence to protest China’s encroachment on the territory’s autonomy and filibuster some local government measures.

Mrs. Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, said the changes would prevent dissenting politicians from disrupting the legislature, known as LegCo.

“We will be able to resolve the problem of the LegCo making everything political in recent years and effectively deal with the reckless moves or internal rift that have torn Hong Kong apart,” she said.

Beijing ordered an expansion of the legislature, to 90 seats from 70. It did not say how many of those seats would be directly appointed by the election committee.

The congress also said the Hong Kong government would establish a separate committee to vet candidates seeking to run for the legislature or chief executive. This process is designed to weed out anyone who might be considered disloyal to Beijing.

Even before the legislation takes force, the Beijing-backed government in Hong Kong has moved quickly to extinguish the opposition.

Many activists have been detained or arrested on charges tied to the national security law, including Joshua Wong; Martin Lee, known as the “father of democracy” in Hong Kong; and Benny Tai, a law scholar. Their voice has been significantly dimmed.

Pro-democracy activists warned that the election law changes would amount to a death knell for the territory’s limited voting rights.

Lo Kin-hei, the chairman of the Democratic Party and one of the few prominent opposition figures not in custody, called the electoral changes “a sad move for Hong Kong.”

“They should actually make the Legislative Council more responsive to the people’s voice, instead of suppressing the people’s voice, like what their proposal is now,” Mr. Lo said.

“I believe that in the future those legislative councilors will be less and less representative of the Hong Kong people and they will just be some loyalists who can do nothing and who cannot represent the Hong Kong people at all,” he said.

Last month, the authorities charged 47 people — many of them well-known democracy activists — with conspiracy to commit subversion.

Their crime in the eyes of the police was their role in holding a primary election intended to help identify pro-democracy candidates for legislative elections that were originally scheduled for last September. The government postponed those elections for a year, citing the pandemic, and has hinted that a further postponement might be needed while the new election law is drafted and implemented.

Keith Bradsher reported from Beijing, and Chris Buckley from Sydney, Australia. Austin Ramzy contributed reporting from Hong Kong. Liu Yi, Albee Zhang and Claire Fu contributed research.

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Demanding Loyalty, China Moves to Overhaul Hong Kong Elections

BEIJING — When Beijing set out last summer to quash resistance to its rule in Hong Kong, it imposed a national security law that empowered the authorities to arrest scores of democracy advocates and sent a chill over the city.

Now, less than a year later, China wants nothing less than a fundamental overhaul of the city’s normally contentious politics.

Zhang Yesui, a senior Communist Party official, announced on Thursday that China’s national legislature planned to rewrite election rules in Hong Kong to ensure that the territory was run by patriots, which Beijing defines as people loyal to the national government and the Communist Party.

Mr. Zhang did not release details of the proposal. But Lau Siu-kai, a senior adviser to the Chinese leadership on Hong Kong policy, has said the new approach is likely to call for the creation of a government agency to vet every candidate running not only for chief executive but for the legislature and other levels of office, including neighborhood representatives.

National People’s Congress, indicated that political turmoil in recent years had created the need to change the territory’s electoral system to ensure a system of “patriots governing Hong Kong.”

He defended Beijing’s right to bypass local officials in Hong Kong in enacting such legislation, just as the central government did in imposing the national security law in June. The congress will discuss a draft plan for changes to the electoral system when it gathers for a weeklong session starting on Friday.

with conspiracy to commit subversion after they organized an election primary in July.

The democracy campaigners had hoped to win a majority in the local legislature in elections last September, then block government budgets, a move that could force Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s leader, to resign. The government later postponed those elections. But the city’s prosecutors said the activists’ strategy of trying to oust the chief executive amounted to interfering with government functions, an offense under the security law.

Opposition politicians have defended their tactics as legitimate and commonplace in democratic systems and argue that they are merely fighting to preserve the city’s relative autonomy, promised under a policy known as “one country, two systems.”

But some of Beijing’s staunchest allies in the city have accused the pro-democracy camp more broadly of putting Hong Kong’s future at risk by testing the Chinese government’s limits and forgetting that the city was not an independent country.

“We are not another Singapore,” said Leung Chun-ying, a former chief executive of Hong Kong, in a statement. “In Hong Kong, by pushing on the democracy envelope too far, and by attempting to chip away the authority of Beijing, in for example appointing the chief executive, many of the so-called democrats have become, in practice, separatists.”

Ronny Tong, a former pro-democracy lawmaker who now serves in the cabinet of Hong Kong’s chief executive, said he hoped Beijing would not make it impossible for opposition figures to run for office.

“If you were to overdo it, which is something I don’t want to see, we would become a one-party legislature,” he said. “That wouldn’t be in line with the spirit of one country, two systems, and therefore I have cautioned restraint to whoever wishes to listen.”

Still, he acknowledged that Hong Kong officials had little role to play. “We just have to wait and see.”

Keith Bradsher reported from Beijing and Austin Ramzy from Hong Kong. Vivian Wang contributed reporting from Hong Kong.

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Your Friday Briefing

The hundreds of thousands of women at the forefront of Myanmar’s protest movement are sending a powerful rebuke to the country’s military junta.

The protesters represent striking unions of teachers, garment workers and medical workers — all sectors dominated by women. The youngest are often on the front lines, where the security forces appear to have singled them out. Three young women were among the at least 38 people killed on Wednesday, the biggest one-day toll since the Feb. 1 coup.

There are no women in the military’s senior ranks, and soldiers have systematically raped women from ethnic minorities, according to Human Rights Watch. More broadly, though, women’s roles in politics, business and manufacturing in Myanmar are growing. In elections in November, about 20 percent of candidates for the National League for Democracy, the party of the ousted civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, were women.

Lives lost: Ma Kyal Sin, 18, was one of the protesters killed on Wednesday. “She is a hero for our country,” said a close friend.

Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to every adult in the Austrian district of Schwaz, which has been battered by a surge in infections, to determine how effective the inoculation is against the variant first found in South Africa.

The study in Austria is part of a much broader global effort to answer a crucial question as new variants emerge: Do vaccinations designed last year work against more recent mutations? If not, scientists will have to keep developing new versions of the inoculations.

Laboratory studies have shown that some vaccines that work well against earlier variants are less effective — though they still offer significant protection — against the variant known as B.1.351. It was found in South Africa in December and has become the dominant one there.

a three-day visit to Iraq today despite worries that the trip could become a superspreader event in a country where the coronavirus still rages.

The Vatican insists the trip will be safe, and the pope is planning a large Mass in a soccer stadium in the Kurdish town of Erbil. He will also very likely draw crowds to watch him pray in Qaraqosh, a town of Syriac Catholics, in the northern Nineveh Plains. Francis, 84, was vaccinated against Covid-19 in mid-January.

Such a visit has been the goal of many popes before him, who had to cancel plans because of security concerns in a nation ravaged by war. Francis accepted an invitation extended in July 2019.

Explainer: The Vatican believes the risks are outweighed by the chance to support one of the world’s oldest Christian communities. The ranks of Iraq’s Christians have dwindled to roughly a third of the 1.5 million who lived there during the final years of Saddam Hussein’s rule.

a sensational royal rupture to Oprah Winfrey, the British royal family and the self-exiled couple are maneuvering furiously before the interview is broadcast on television to try to shape the narrative.

Was Meghan the victim of a cold, unwelcoming family that cruelly isolated her after she married Harry? Or was she a Hollywood diva who mistreated her staff and triggered a breach between the family and one of its most beloved young princes?

Algeria-France relations: President Emmanuel Macron of France has taken a further step toward reconciliation by declaring that Ali Boumendjel, a leading Algerian lawyer and nationalist, did not die by suicide in 1957, as France had long claimed, but was tortured and killed by French soldiers.

Iceland: More than 18,000 earthquakes have shaken Iceland in just over a week, leading scientists to believe that a volcanic eruption could be imminent.

Tsunami warning: Thousands of people were evacuated in New Zealand on Friday after an 8.1-magnitude earthquake struck in the South Pacific, prompting officials to issue tsunami warnings for coastal areas.

Hong Kong: A senior Communist Party official announced that China’s national legislature planned to rewrite election rules in Hong Kong to ensure that the territory was run by patriots — people loyal to Beijing and the Communist Party. The congress will discuss a draft plan when it gathers for a weeklong session starting today.

A new report suggests that the bigger the meteor that hits the moon, the brighter the trail.

Gender gap: Under a proposed E.U. law, companies in Europe could be sanctioned if they fail to pay men and women the same salaries for doing the same work. Separately, a new report suggests mothers in the U.S. are going back to work — and still doing most of the parenting.

Drag kings: Once an underappreciated part of the drag world, drag kings have found more exposure during the pandemic, with pageants moving online, and amid the popularization of drag for wider audiences.

What we’re reading: This deep-dive New Yorker article on the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. It’s a chilling report on the near-future of the war-torn country.

gets the eggplant Parmesan treatment — baked with marinara sauce, mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheese until bubbling and browned.

Watch: The thoughtful documentary “Stray” uses the stray dogs of Istanbul to comment on the human condition.

Here are five tutorials for varying styles — each is a good workout.

Start your weekend with aplomb. At Home has our full collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.

Melissa Kirsch spends her days thinking up activities for us to do at home in The Times’s At Home newsletter. She shared some of her own strategies for living well during an uncertain time.

Think about how I want to look back on this time. I find myself consciously trying to do things that will make me feel better about this experience in the future. That may mean reading more or cooking more or trying to be creative about the ways that I connect with other people — like writing letters or meeting people for walks in the cold. I don’t want this year to turn into a blur of Zoom chats and Netflix.

briefing@nytimes.com.

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about how close the end of the pandemic might be.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Fitting name for a hirsute guy (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Our travel writer Tariro Mzezewa joined the “Travel With Hawkeye” podcast to discuss plans for a vaccine passport.

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