Chaos has broken out in the Hong Kong Parliament following fierce protests by parliamentarians against the annual policy speech by the Chief Executive of the region, Carrie Lam. It had to interrupt her speech twice because politicians started calling pro-democracy slogans and walked forward in the hemisphere. In the end, Lamb was taken away and has now given her speech by videoconference.
Lamb became the target of opposition members who protested against the approach of the demonstrations of the last few weeks in the area. The opposition regards her as a hand-puppet from China and wants her to resign. But Lam continued to do so for the time being and wanted to announce new policy initiatives today.
That didn’t work out, though. Several opposition members wearing a mask by Chinese President Xi Jinping kept shouting the slogan “Five demands, not one less”, referring to the five demands of the demonstrators in recent months. For example, the request for an independent investigation into the excessive use of police force in the protests. Just before Lamb was due to deliver her speech, the members of parliament entered the room and scanned slogans that were used during the protests. After thirty minutes Lam’s speech was postponed until further notice.
Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous region of China, where demonstrations have been taking place for months to demand democratic reforms. Pro-democratic members of parliament, who are in the minority, are more likely to make themselves heard and have regularly protested in the past.
In her video speech, Lam finally stated that the government remains committed to finding a solution to the ongoing protests. She emphasised that the inhabitants “must put aside their differences”.
In her speech, she also talked about affordable housing, a theme that has been around for some time. She promised more social housing and subsidized apartments. The government is accused of artificially driving up the housing market. Lam also talked about poverty reduction, subsidies for public transport and additional health centers.
Manifestants target NBA star LeBron James
The demonstrators in Hong Kong have now also turned to American basketball star LeBron James for criticizing an NBA team manager who had expressed his support for the protests in Hong Kong on Twitter. According to James, that manager, Daryl Morey of the Houston Rockets team, was not well informed.
During a manifestation last night, demonstrators set fire to James’ shirt. Others had made Internet memes in English and Cantonese, showing how James obeys Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Daryl Morey placed an image on 4 October with the words “Fight for Freedom, Support Hong Kong”. He quickly removed the tweet, but the ruling almost immediately set China off. This led to the cancellation of some events and sponsor contracts in the country. The state channel also no longer broadcast the exhibition matches in the country.
The Houston Rockets are also the most popular NBA team in China since the 2002 draft by the Chinese center Yao Ming. He played until the end of his career in 2011 in Houston. Yao Ming is now chairman of the Chinese basketball federation, which has already broken ties with the basketball team in response to the “inappropriate comments”.
“We have the right to freedom of expression, but there can also be a lot of negative things,” LeBron James said at a press conference. However, the star player of the Los Angeles Lakers is known to speak out on social injustice, and political issues in the US, such as the Black Lives Matter movement. For the NBA, China is the next market outside the United States. So many financial interests are involved.
China not to speak about the American bill around Hong Kong
China this morning expressed its “strong outrage and fierce opposition” to a bill from the US House of Representatives that supports Hong Kong demonstrators.
The law provides for sanctions against Chinese officials “responsible for undermining fundamental freedoms” in the city. In addition, there will be an annual evaluation to see whether Hong Kong is sufficiently autonomous from Beijing to maintain its unique status for trade with the United States.
The Hong Kong government says it “regrets” the bill. “Foreign legislative powers should in no way intervene in internal affairs” of Hong Kong, a statement says. On Monday, tens of thousands came to the streets of the city to support the bill. That still needs to be approved by the US Senate.
The bill puts even more pressure on relations between the US and China. The two countries are currently negotiating a protracted trade war.