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NEWSLETTER: CFHK report on Confucius Institutes prompts policy change by UK Prime Minister

Updated: Jan 9

Welcome to the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation weekly newsletter.

Every week, this newsletter will bring you the latest updates and developments concerning freedom in Hong Kong.


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Committee News


On Wednesday 12th of October, the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation and the Henry Jackson Society launched a report which investigated Confucius Institutes around the UK, including those at the London School of Economics (LSE) and the University of Edinburgh. The report found that while over £33 million in funding from China to British universities, many of the universities did not offer full or even partial disclosure of funding, meaning the actual amount is more likely to be around £43-46 million. Following the report, UK Prime Minister Liz Truss ordered a policy change towards China to recognise the pervasive influence of Confucius Institutes in British Universities, as was reported in The Telegraph. The report calls on the UK government to reverse the damage caused by Confucius Institutes and includes key recommendations including the UK Government must set aside a £5 million fund for critical China studies (Sinology) and for legislation should be introduced to remove Confucius Institutes from British universities.


Mark Clifford, President of the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation, Olivia Enos, Washington Director, and Frances Hui, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator, spent this week in Washington DC meeting with people in congress, think tanks, and NGOs discussing sanctions and legislation in regard to freedom in Hong Kong. The Washington team had great conversations with allies and received much helpful feedback as they shared the Committee's strategies and future plans.


Hong Kong


Hong Kong Watch has published a policy paper which examines the basis for and status of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices (HKETOs) around the world. The research outlined in the paper highlights that multiple HKETOs around the world, including in London, Brussels and New York have similar privileges and immunities to diplomatic embassies and consulates, when then the host country has a People’s Republic of China (PRC) embassy and consulate. In the report, Hong Kong Watch recommends that all countries review the status, privileges, and immunities of HKETOs in each country, and international lawmakers should propose that maintaining the status of HKETOs depends on Beijing not exercising more control over Hong Kong SAR.


A superyacht connected to sanctioned Russian tycoon Alexey Mordashov has anchored in Hong Kong this week, reported AP News. The US Department of State warned that Hong Kong could damage its reputation as a financial hub if it welcomed sanctioned Russian oligarchs. The city’s Chief Executive John Lee retaliated by stating that there is no “legal basis” for the city to act on Western sanctions, reported Reuters.


Hong Kong has convicted the first teenagers under the National Security Law, with five teenagers sentenced to three years’ detention for advocating the overthrow of the Beijing government. The BBC reported that it is the first time the law has been used in court against under-18s in Hong Kong. The teenagers have been accused of using social media and street booths to advocate a “bloody revolution” to overthrow the Chinese state.


Following the news of the teenagers’ arrests, the United Nations stated that it was “alarmed” by the sentencing of the four minors and an adult, reported the Hong Kong Free Press. All 5 were sentenced by the judge to detention in a training camp after being charged with “conspiracy to incite subversion.”


China


A report published this week by the Human Rights Watch, ahead of the Chinese Communist Party’s 20th Party Congress, calls for national governments to pressure China into respecting human rights. The organisation notes the “arbitrary detention” of the Uyghurs, the mass surveillance of society, and the suppression of free speech with the imposition of the National Security Law in Hong Kong.


Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) Chief Sir Jeremy Fleming gave a speech this week outlining how China is shaping the global tech ecosystem to gain control both at home and abroad. Sir Jeremy warned that China was seeking to create “client economies and governments” by exporting technology to countries around the world, and said these countries risked “mortgaging the future” because of the “hidden costs” in buying Chinese reported the BBC.


The University of Southern California received calls from the Chinese embassy this week attempting to shut down their event, "In Defense of Democracy: an Insider View on Hong Kong Protests from Student Leader Sunny Cheung,” reported The Epoch Times . During Cheung's speech, Chinese individuals in the audience called him and Hong Kong protesters out as terrorists.


The Biden administration issued a 48-page national security strategy on Wednesday declaring that the overwhelming challenge for the United States in the coming years will be “outcompeting China and restraining Russia” while focusing on restoring a damaged democracy at home, The New York Times reported. The strategy also stated that the United States will hold Beijing accountable for abuses in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, even as the CCP seeks to silence countries and communities.


Finance


PayPal HK has suspended its services for the League of Social Democrats, one of the remaining active pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong, due to unspecified “excessive risks.” The LSD announced on Wednesday afternoon that it had received an email from PayPal Hong Kong Limited on September 19 about the service termination, saying “upon review of your account we have determined there to be excessive risks involved.”


House financial services committee Representative Chris Smith and Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer have condemned senior executives of America’s largest institutions for agreeing to attend a Hong Kong financial conference with the Treasury-sanctioned leader John Lee Ka-Chiu. CFHK Foundation's Director of Development Tara Joseph argued Hong Kong propaganda authorities will weaponize Lee’s presence among senior U.S. banking executives in an effort to whitewash Lee's reputation. The event is expected to be attended by senior executives from JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Blackstone and Morgan Stanley.


Prisoners of Conscience


Joshua Wong turned 26 years old yesterday in a Hong Kong prison. CFHK Foundation continues to call for the release of Joshua Wong and a thousand of other political prisoners in Hong Kong.

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