China condemns approval of US bill on Hong Kong human rights

Robie de Guzman   •   November 20, 2019   •   441

China on Wednesday condemned the approval by the United States Senate of a Hong Kong human rights and democracy bill, which could serve to punish officials that undermine the rights of the inhabitants of the special administrative region.

The Senate unanimously approved the Hong Kong human rights and democracy bill on Tuesday, which could empower the US government to sanction officials responsible for rights violations and provide for annual review as to whether Hong Kong retains enough autonomy to qualify for special trade considerations.

The House of Representatives approved its own version last month and the two will have to work out differences before the legislation can be sent to President Donald Trump for consideration.

China’s government reacted angrily to the news.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang in a statement said: “This act neglects facts and truth, applies double standards and blatantly interferes in Hong Kong affairs and China’s other internal affairs.

“It is in serious violation of international law and basic norms governing international relations. China condemns and firmly opposes it.”

In a separate statement, the foreign ministry said it had summoned US Embassy official William Klein to lodge a formal complaint.

Beijing warned of reprisals if Trump pushes the policy through.

“The issue Hong Kong faces is not about human rights or democracy, but about stopping violence and chaos, upholding rule of law and restoring order as soon as possible,” Geng said.

The spokesperson reiterated China’s support to the Hong Kong government and police “in enforcing law, and support the judicial organs in punishing violent criminals, protecting the life and property of citizens and safeguarding prosperity and stability in Hong Kong.”

China believes the approval of the bill exposes the US’ “hidden political agenda” and “paints criminal moves as pursuit of human rights and democracy when the truth is violent criminals rampantly smashed facilities, set fire, bullied and attacked innocent civilians, forcibly occupied university campuses, mobbed young students, and assaulted police officers in a premeditated way.”

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, young anti-government activists were staying put inside the Polytechnic University campus, as their bitter standoff with the city’s police force entered its fourth day.

Between Monday night and Wednesday morning, about 800 people stranded in the Polytechnic University had left the campus in the harbor-side district of Hung Hom in East Kowloon. Among them, 300 were under the age of 18. Exactly how many more are still inside is unclear, but Hong Kong’s Commercial Radio put the number at around 100.

It is believed that hundreds of people who have left the campus — many of them students — have been arrested, although the police have yet to announce the exact number.

Shortly before noon Wednesday, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Security John Lee spoke to journalists, saying that all those inside PolyU would be arrested for rioting regardless of the purpose of their assembly on the campus.

In Hong Kong, rioting carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. A law scholar who visited the activists Monday night told them they could not be charged for rioting so long as there was not enough evidence against them.

The siege, which has been keeping many Hongkongers on edge, began in the evening Sunday, a violent day in which anti-government protesters, armed with countless Molotov cocktails and bricks, were locked in violent street battles with riot police who fired tear gas, rubber bullets and bean bag rounds at crowds.

On Wednesday morning, some netizens called for people to paralyze the city’s traffic. Some activists blocked the doors of underground trains to prevent them from moving, while services at some metro stations were suspended but later resumed.

Demonstrations in Hong Kong began in June following a controversial extradition bill, since withdrawn by the government, but have mutated into a movement seeking to improve Hong Kong’s democratic mechanisms and opposition to Beijing’s perceived interference.

The demonstrations have turned into a movement seeking to improve democracy in the city-state and safeguard the region’s partial autonomy from Beijing. EFE -EPA

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11 Pinoy seafarers na ilang buwang stranded sa barko sa China, nakabalik na sa bansa

Robie de Guzman   •   September 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Matapos ang halos pitong buwan ay nakauwi na sa bansa ang 11 Pilipinong marinong stranded sa sinasakyang barko sa China dahil sa pagsasara ng mga border sa iba’t ibang bansa sa gitna ng pandemiya.

Martes ng madaling araw nang dumating sa bansa ang grupo at pansamantalang mamamalagi sa isang quarantine facility sa Pasay City upang hintayin ang resulta ng swab test na isinagawa sa paliparan.

Ayon kay Anthony Medina, labis ang kagalakan niya at ng kanyang mga kasamahan dahil sa wakas ay nakauwi na sila at muli nang makakapiling ang kani-kanilang pamilya.

“Sobrang saya po namin talagang halos gusto namin na mauna pa kami sa eroplano makalapag eh. Makikita na po namin ang mga mahal namin sa buhay,” ang wika ni Medina.

Nagpasalamat din ang kapatid ni Anthony na si Analiza Medina sa lahat ng mga tumulong upang makauwi ang mga tripulante.

“Para po kaming nanghihina na parang wala ng mag rerescue sa kanila. Kaya po talagang sobrang saya namin na nakauwi na sila. Nagpapasalamat po kami sa lahat ng tumulong at sa mga hindi po nagsawa na tulungan sila,” ang pahayag ni Analiza.

Bago umuwi sa kani-kanilang pamilya, kailangan munang asikasuhan ng mga marino ang ilang mga bagay sa kanilang agency.

Samantala, tiniyak naman ng Overseas Workers Welfare Administration na bibigyan ng ayuda ang mga umuwing seafarer. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Lucille Lloren)

DFA finalizes repatriation for 11 stranded Filipino seafarers onboard Ocean Star 86

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 25, 2020

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is finalizing the repatriation of the remaining 11 Filipino seafarers stranded in Chinese waters onboard Ocean Star 86 since March 24.

The DFA and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) are already coordinating with the Philippine Embassy in China. OWWA said the seafarers will be able to return home by next week.

“Mayroon na po napipintong repatriation either this coming week or first week of October ng ating mga mahal na stranded seafarers sa China (Our stranded seafarers in China will be repatriated either this coming week or first week of October). We are now providing assistance to the seafarers,” according to OWWA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac.

Based on the information received by OWWA, the Ocean Star 86 is docked in the mainland and the Philippine Embassy in China has been providing assistance to the seafarers. AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

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US donates hygiene kits, handwashing stations to Manila City gov’t

Robie de Guzman   •   September 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The government of the United States on Thursday donated hygiene kits and handwashing stations to the city government of Manila in support of the Philippine capital’s fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a statement, US Ambassador Sung Kim said he visited the Delpan Quarantine Facility in Tondo to handover 5,000 hygiene kits and 16 handwashing stations to Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso.

Kim said the hygiene kits could provide additional protection against COVID-19 through the provision of items essential to practicing good personal hygiene.

The kits contain face masks, soap, laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, and toothbrushes.

“The U.S. government is a friend, partner, and ally of the Manileños in facing this pandemic. The American people are pleased to support the City of Manila’s efforts to fight COVID-19,” Kim said.

To complement the donation, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said it will continue to collaborate with the Manila City Health Office to help ensure that citizens can access quality tuberculosis services during the pandemic as well as to support the rollout of the Department of Health’s “Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE)” strategy to contain the pandemic.

USAID recently donated two ventilators to the Tondo Medical Center as part of the 100 ventilators that the U.S. government handed over last August 28 to the Philippine government.

To date, the U.S. government has donated over P1 billion ($22.6 million) to support the Philippines’ COVID-19 response.

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