Hong Kong’s outspoken Cardinal Joseph Zen has said that while he will remain prudent he is prepared to suffer arrest and trials under the Chinese territory’s sweeping new national security law. “If right and proper words were considered against their law, I will endure all the suing, trials and arrests. Numerous predecessors have endured similarly,” the 88-year-old cardinal said in a video posted on his Facebook page
. “Perhaps they are truly insane. Who knows? Let them be then. Isn’t there a saying, ‘Those whom God wishes to destroy, he first makes mad.’” The controversial law was rushed through the Standing Committee of China's National People’s Congress on June 30 on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to Beijing. Cardinal Zen’s fears that the new laws could affect religious freedom in the city contradict the view of Hong Kong’s apostolic administrator, Cardinal John Tong Hon, who last week claimed the laws would have no effect on religious freedom.
“Under such laws, vocal Hong Kong clergy who have been supportive of Hong Kong’s democracy movement, such as Cardinal Joseph Zen and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing, could be extradited to mainland China to be tried, since Beijing considers them to be threats to the regime,” International Christian Concern said last week. Hong Kong Diocese’s Justice and Peace Commission also signed an open letter with 85 other social justice organizations decrying the law ahead of its implementation International Christian Concern warned that Beijing considers the mass protests that began last June as terrorist acts and any calls for Hong Kong’s independence from China as acts of sedition. The group noted that China’s notorious legal system and its lack of transparency “can easily criminalize anybody and place them in jail,” adding that many Chinese pastors and Christians including Wang Yi, Qin Derfu and John Cao are now imprisoned on trumped-up charges such as subversion of state power, illegal border crossing and illegal business operation. “Many fear with the passing of this legislation, Hong Kong will forever lose its ‘one country, two systems’ status and merely turn itself into an ordinary coastal city in China,” it added. Joshua Rosenzweig, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said the passing of the national security law “is a painful moment for the people of Hong Kong and represents the greatest threat to human rights in the city’s recent history.” He added: “From now on, China will have the power to impose its own laws on any criminal suspect it chooses. The speed and secrecy with which China has pushed through this legislation intensifies the fear that Beijing has calculatingly created a weapon of repression to be used against government critics, including people who are merely expressing their views or protesting peacefully.” The new laws potentially target Catholic schools, charities and organizations through their focus on non-governmental organizations. The Church
has scores of schools ranging from pre-schools through to high schools in the territory educating mainly non-Catholics. The Church also has a significant network of charities led by its umbrella charity organization Caritas. Article 9 of the legislation says the Hong Kong government will “take necessary measures to strengthen public communication, guidance, supervision and regulation” of schools, social organizations, the media and the internet. The legislation, which took effect on the evening of June 30, will apply to both Hong Kong citizens, including schoolchildren, and foreigners deemed to have broken laws both inside and outside the territory. Even people transiting through Hong Kong are at risk of arrest, even if they are not Hong Kong residents. Foreigners can be deported if authorities decide not to prosecute them to the full extent of the legislation, which has penalties as severe as life imprisonment. Video: Fears grow for Hong Kong's future
Support UCA News...
As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.
That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.
Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.
UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.
We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.
Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...