Hong Kong bars entry of PH ex-DFA chief Albert del Rosario

Robie de Guzman   •   June 21, 2019   •   1518

Former Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario

Former Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has been barred from entering Hong Kong after being held and questioned by immigration officers at the Hong Kong International Airport for several hours.

Del Rosario said in a text message to reporters that he has been denied entry without explanation after a five-hour hold. This is also despite the Philippine diplomatic passport he was carrying.

The former DFA chief was held up by Hong Kong immigration officers when he arrived at the airport around 7:40 a.m. on Friday.

Del Rosario said he was travelling to the Chinese special administrative region to attend First Pacific’s board and shareholders meeting.

Philippine Consul in Hong Kong Paul Saret, head of the Consulate’s assistance to nationals section, said that around 1 p.m., the former diplomat was escorted by an immigration personnel to board a plane.

Saret and Philippine Consul General in Hong Kong Antonio Morales accompanied him prior to his departure.

Del Rosario is expected to travel back to the Philippines this afternoon.

Del Rosario, along with former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, filed a communication against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court in relation with Beijing’s activities in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

It will be recalled that Carpio-Morales was also held up by immigration officers when she and her family visited Hong Kong in May.

But unlike del Rosario, Morales was eventually allowed entry to Hong Kong, but she decided to just go back to the Philippines.

Xi assures Duterte: PH will be ‘priority’ if China’s COVID-19 vaccine becomes available

Robie de Guzman   •   June 12, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Chinese President Xi Jinping has assured President Rodrigo Duterte of assistance amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic during a telephone conversation, Malacañang said on Friday.

In a statement, Malacañang said the phone call took place on Thursday night, June 11 and lasted for 38 minutes. The call came two days after the Philippines and China marked 45 years of diplomatic ties.

The Palace said that during the phone conversation, Xi promised Duterte that the Philippines would be a “priority” if China successfully develops a vaccine against COVID-19.

This was after Duterte stressed the need for cooperation in the research and development of the vaccine and “underscored the importance of making the vaccine accessible and affordable to all countries.”

“President Xi, on the other hand, assured PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) his country’s commitment to make the vaccine available for all, adding that the Philippines, as a friendly neighbor, would certainly be a priority,” the Palace said.

Malacañang also said that the two leaders discussed both countries’ progress in combating COVID-19 and their strategies to restart their respective economies.

“Both tendered their commitment to work together in fighting COVID-19 as part of international efforts to contain the spread of the virus,” it added.

The Palace also said that the two leaders likewise emphasized the friendship of two countries and the “significant increase in mutual cooperation in wide range of areas.”

China’s state run Xinhua News Agency reported that Xi and Duterte praised each other for their handling of the pandemic.

The agency also reported that Duterte supposedly promised Xi that the Philippines will always be a friend of Chinese people and will not allow the Philippines to be used or engaged in anti-China activities. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Macau under tight security for Xi Jinping visit

UNTV News   •   December 18, 2019

Tight security restrictions were placed on Macau Wednesday during an official visit from China’s President Xi Jinping to mark the handover of the former Portuguese colony to Chinese sovereignty 20 years ago.

Xi began a three-day visit to the island amid strict security measures as authorities blocked access to media such as Hong Kong public television (RTHK), the South China Morning Post and Commercial Radio Hong Kong.

Reporters from these media were detained and questioned by local police, who refused to grant them entry to Macau.

A group of Hong Kong activists was also denied travel to the casino hub.

Police said: “Their activities could endanger public order.”

The Hong Kong Press Association issued a statement urging the Chinese and Macau governments to guarantee freedom of the press.

Xi traveled to the former Portuguese colony with an entourage of politicians to urge a diversification of the island territory’s economy away from casinos and turn it into a financial hub.

“I am very happy to return to Macau (…) we will join hands to develop a plan for a future for Macau,” he said during a ceremony marking the handover of powers.

He said Macau was an example of the one country two systems framework, which also applies to Hong Kong.

Beijing holds sovereignty over the two island territories but plans to allow them a certain amount of autonomy and freedoms for another 50 years.

Many of these civil rights, such as a free press and the right to hold public protests, are not currently in place for citizens of mainland China.

Analysts said that heaping focus on Macau as a financial hub could be interpreted as a reward for loyalty, in contrast to nearby Hong Kong, which has been engulfed by anti-government protests for six months.

“The success that Macau has achieved after its return has made people proud,” Xi said.

Xi is set to meet with Macau’s chief executive Ho lat Seng later during his trip.

China has tried to integrate the two ex-colonies with projects such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. EFE-EPA

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Beijing backs Hong Kong leader as pro-democracy protests continue

Robie de Guzman   •   December 16, 2019

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (L) greeted by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) in Beijing, China, Dec.16, 2019. EFE-EPA/INFORMATION SERVICES DEPARTMENT

Beijing on Monday said it supports Hong Kong’s leader and is committed to the “one country, two systems” policy that gives autonomy to the Asian financial hub rocked by months of pro-democracy protests.

Chinese President Xi Jinping praised embattled Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s leadership during her official visit to Beijing and said she had done well in “difficult situations”.

“Facing difficulties and pressure, Chief Executive Lam has stood firm on the ‘one country, two systems’ principle, governed in accordance with the law, and remained dedicated. You did plenty of work in difficult situations,” Xi said, according to Hong Kong media outlets.

Xi also reiterated support to Hong Kong police, which has faced accusations of abuse of power and brutality in handling the months-long protests in the former British colony.

The Chinese president said the city was facing its “most critical and complicated” situation since it was returned to China in 1997.

Lam, who arrived in Beijing on Saturday, also met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and received his backing during her visit.

“The central government will continuously uphold one country, two Systems steadfastly, as always. As in the past, we support you and the SAR (semi-autonomous region) government administering Hong Kong in accordance with the law,” Li told Lam in a meeting at the Great Hall of the People.

Radio Television Hong Kong broadcast the opening remarks of the meeting.

Lam acknowledged that Hong Kong had been suffering an economic crisis since the first half of this year.

“There has been an obvious economic downturn. It was caused by some external factors, including the US-China trade dispute,” she said.

This was the second meeting between Xi and Lam within two months and marks her first Beijing visit since opposition groups swept the Hong Kong district council elections last month.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong on Sunday, thousands of demonstrators returned to the streets to reiterate their demands and express their discontent with Lam’s government.

In the middle of the pre-Christmas shopping season, groups of masked protesters, dressed in black, the color chosen by the pro-democracy side, visited several shopping malls in the former British colony, chanting slogans for freedom and justice.

There were acts of vandalism and minor clashes with the police recorded at least at one mall.

Also on Sunday, several hundred people, many of them social workers, gathered to reiterate their demands of the pro-democracy movement.

The demands include direct universal suffrage to elect a chief executive and other representatives, freeing of almost 6,000 detainees, protests not to be considered unrest and an independent investigation into alleged police brutality.

Among those attending the gathering, some called for more mass strikes, while others sat down to write Christmas cards to the demonstrators who have been imprisoned, along with other small acts of protest.

The Hong Kong protests, which have been drawing massive crowds since June have mutated into a movement that seeks to improve the democratic mechanisms that govern Hong Kong and safeguard the region’s partial autonomy from Beijing.

However, some demonstrators have opted for more radical tactics than peaceful civil disobedience, and violent clashes with the police have been frequent.

The months of protests have put Hong Kong’s economy in recession for the first time in a decade, having contracted by 2.9 percent in the third quarter, due to falling imports and exports, retail sales and declining tourism. EFE-EPA

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