China on Tuesday appointed the former top Xinjiang police officer Peng Jingtang, as the new commander of the People Liberation Army’s (PLA) garrison in Hong Kong.
Citing Global Times, CNN reported that Peng was previously also chief of staff of the Armed Police Force in Xinjiang, where Beijing has been committing genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslim groups.
According to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, Peng holds the rank of major general, and was previously the deputy chief of staff of China’s paramilitary police force, the People’s Armed Police.
His appointment was signed into order by Chinese President Xi Jinping, CCTV said.
CCTV also quoted Peng as saying that he would in his new appointment work with all members of the garrison to follow the command of the ruling Communist Party and Xi, and resolutely defend national sovereignty and security interests, reported CNN.
The PLA maintains a garrison in Hong Kong, but its activities are largely low-profile. Under the global financial hub’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, defense and foreign affairs are managed by Communist Party leaders in Beijing.
Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with the promise that wide-ranging individual rights would be protected.
But pro-democracy activists and rights groups said that freedoms have been eroded, in particular since China imposed a new national security law after months of at times violent pro-democracy protests in 2019.
Meanwhile, “Pro-Beijing” lawmakers sworn-in to Hong Kong’s Legislature in early January in the seventeenth legislative council of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Area (HKSAR) elections, which follows the electoral overhaul by Beijing in HKSAR.
Last month, Hong Kong’s first race to Pro-Beijing or “patriots-only” legislative began. The changes slashed the number of directly contested seats and required candidates to be screened by government officials.
Moreover, Hong Kong “patriots only” elections witnessed a record low voter turnout as pro-government candidates swept into the expanded legislature.
Around 1.3 million voters cast ballots for a 30.2 percent voter turnout – 5.6 percentage points less than the last historic low in the 1995 legislative election under British colonial rule, Hong Kong Free Press reported.
Many people boycotted the elections and had shown their apathy for the adulterated and undemocratic way of conducting the elections.
Democracy in Hong Kong has gone for a toss post the electoral overhaul and has included pro-Beijing or “patriots only” people in HKSAR legislator.
Forty seats were selected by a committee stacked with Beijing loyalists, while the remaining 30 were filled by professional and business sectors such as finance and engineering, known as functional constituencies, reported Al Jazeera.
The latest results show that almost all of the seats have been taken by pro-Beijing and pro-establishment candidates.
The US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand expressed grave concerns over the erosion of democratic elements of the Special Administrative Region’s electoral system. (ANI)