Hong Kong, Cardinal Zen, Beijing discussed on Monocle 24: The Globalist
We turn now to Hong Kong where police have arrested cardinal Joseph zen, one of the most senior Catholic clerics in Asia, for breaking Beijing's national security law. The 90 year old cardinal is one of four people detained for colluding with foreign forces. While joining me now from Hong Kong is Theodore yu, a reporter for The Washington Post, who's been following the story closely. Theodora welcome to the globalist. Why was cardinal zen arrested? So cardinals and was arrested under the security law for allegedly colluding with foreign forces by serving as trustees for the now the spended humanitarian relief fund 6 one two really fund. And the fund provided financial assistance to thousands of protesters arrested into 2019 pro democracy protests and paid for their legal and medical fees. The fund has now disbanded earlier in September after the national security police issued a statement saying that they would investigate whether the entity had violated the security law. And what happens if zen is found guilty? It so far, it's unclear if they were if he and the others would be charged. But if he is found guilty, he could face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for the collusion with foreign forces charge. What can you tell us about cardinal zen and the role he plays within Hong Kong society? Cardinals and as the most outspoken senior Roman Catholic clergy in Hong Kong, he has been an advocate of pro democracy causes and a critic of the Vatican for its silence on the city's Politico situation and the increased repression of churches on the mainland. His figure was seen in Hong Kong peaceful marshes, political matches, and he spoke out for protesters, called for no violence, and protests against a prosecution of mainland charges too. And in 2018, he vocally opposed the very controversial Beijing Vatican deal. And he also tried to meet with Pope Francis two years later trying to hoping to persuade him to appoint a new bishop for Hong Kong, who would be trusted by the Hong Kong people. And despite the slightly tricky relationship with the Vatican, the Vatican has in fact expressed concern over the arrest and there's much talk that this might seriously affect relations between China and the Vatican. Is that your sense? So from the experts I've spoke with, it seems, for example, Eric lai, a law fellow from the Georgetown university, told me that the arrest had been glad to be already tense Beijing, Vatican relations, and will cause widespread concern in the intentional world, especially at the time when the controversial deal is set to be renewed this year. But another expert low long from the Chinese university of Hong Kong had told local medium main power that chance arrest may not be intended to target their religious sectors, but more because Beijing is determined to fully control and stifle opposition and that it won't really affect the Vatican deal because the wants to avoid further separation of official and underground churches in China. But when both parties renewed a deal, they would have to talk about sense of rest, which could be a bargaining chip for the Vatican when it comes to the negotiation. Do we know how this has been reported in Mainland China? Sure. China's Xinhua news reports had mainly about the response from the Chinese foreign ministry's office in Hong Kong. And it mainly condemned foreign forces for slandering legitimate law enforcement actions of the Hong Kong police and urged them to stop this political performance full of ideological prejudice. And pro Beijing media one way Paul described the arrestees zen and the others as black clad riotous supporters. And for the involvement of black riot fund and also they suspect they are conspirators of Jimmy lai, who founded the now shuttered pro democracy newspaper Apple tale as Jim I had donated to the relief fund. And what can you tell us about those other people that were detained alongside the cardinal? Sure. So alongside with the cardano detained arrested was Margaret, who was a barrister and former lawmaker who served the public for 17 years. She is also a high profile democracy figure who was previously a director of the news outlet stand news, which is now chassis and under going through servo or national security charges. And also Dennis Ho is a well-known singer and also a pro democracy figure outspoken in her support of LGBTQ rights and most notable during the 2019 protest who has made speeches at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and talked about the Hong Kong protests and called on for UN to remove China from the Human Rights Council. The third is scholar Hoboken. He is a prominent cultural studies academic. And he was apprehended before his departure in Hong Kong, according to local media reports. And so he was basically intercepted before he was he flew to the Europe to work as a visiting scholar. And he was apprehended before his departure. He was his contract was ended with Hong Kong's non university a month before the relief fund ceased to operate it. So yeah, and he and the others are currently on police bail. Right. The timing of this is interesting because the arrests follow the selection on Sunday of Hong Kong's new leader John Lee. Now of course we know he's a hard line former security chief. He ran unopposed in a process completely controlled by Beijing. What does this say about the future of Hong Kong under mister Lee's leadership? Right. So as mister Lee has repeatedly emphasized in his public speeches and also his manifesto, maintaining stability and safeguarding national security will be his main goals and the arrested the arrest in the past days basically shows that Lee is going to continue what the current government is doing, which is to which would signal a new way of detention under the national security law. And Lee replied he responds to the Financial Times question about sins arrest and he basically repeated the current Hong Kong government stand saying that actions will be taken accordingly regardless of the person's background. So like you said, I think we are for seeing continuation of a hotline approach and possibly more arrest in the future. Theodora, thank you very much. That was The Washington Post Theodore yu, speaking to us from Hong Kong. Now, here's what else we're keeping an eye on today. Russia has said it will be forced to take retaliatory steps over Finland's plan to join the NATO military alliance. Finland will formally announce the country's decision on Sunday after the bid has been considered by parliament and the country's most senior politicians. North Korea has announced its first death from COVID-19 with state media adding that thousands more are experiencing fever symptoms, analysts believe the virus has been present in the country for some time, but Pyongyang is only choosing to reveal it now. The UK prime minister Boris Johnson has said that he wants to act 90,000 civil service jobs in a bid to free up money to tackle the cost of living. The Labor Party has accused Johnson of pointless rhetoric and says he must do more to support people struggling with bills. And today's monocle minute reports on the opening of the European International Film Festival in Singapore. It was launched to strengthen ties and facilitate cultural exchange between the EU and the city state. You can find out more at Monaco dot com forward.