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China’s first military parade in Hong Kong
Crackdown on Christians resembles abuses vs. Falun Gong
China Reform Monitor

China Reform Monitor No. 555, August 4, 2004
American Foreign Policy Council, Washington, D.C.

Editor: Al Santoli
Associate Editors: Miki Scheidel, Lisa Marie Shanks

July 28:

Muslim journalist Abdulghani Memetemin was sentenced to a nine year jail sentence after a court in northwest China found him guilty of “threatening the integrity of the state by separatist means, violating state secrets, and sending them outside the country,” reports Radio Free Asia.

July 31:

China has intensified its campaign to suppress religious believers, and is now employing the same tactics that were used against the Falun Gong spiritual movement on Christian churches, reports The Wall Street Journal. China’s leadership ordered a crackdown on religious “cults” late last year, with a focus on the rural zones, where religious belief is steadily increasing. The Center for Religious Freedom, a division of Freedom House, has collected reports of the crackdown over the past two months, including numerous accounts of arrests of religious leaders, police beatings, torture, and sexual assault.

August 2:

Chinese leaders are fearing mass demonstrations in Hong Kong, which could possibly spark a movement across the mainland, writes Georgie Anne Geyer in The Chicago Sun Times. Hong Kong residents resent how the Beijing-appointed local government has handled relations with Beijing and, as one resident said of the mainland government, "They don't come to our meetings or work with us."

For the first time since British rule – which ended in 1997 - Hong Kong residents are feeling as if the territory is really “[their] town.” The growing sense of local identity has caused the Hong Kong electorate to become increasingly demanding, which is exactly what Beijing does not want. Beijing has begun to employ sophisticated coercion tactics, such as inviting pro-democracy leaders to attend the People’s Liberation Army’s parade, sending the supposed finger of the Buddha to Hong Kong as a friendly gesture, and allowing large numbers of mainland Chinese to visit the territory.

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) held its first parade in Hong Kong this week, with 3,000 soldiers goose-stepping in formation, accompanied by helicopters and armored vehicles in a display of China's military strength in the territory, reports The Associated Press. Although Chinese officials claim the purpose of the parade was to boost patriotism in Hong Kong, some saw it as an attempt by Beijing to remind the territory “who’s in charge” amid tensions over the expected pro-democracy candidate’s victory in the September elections. The army invited pro-democracy lawmakers to the event, presenting the invitation not as a show of force – but as an attempt to "build bridges."

August 3:

Human Rights has called for China to immediately lift all restrictions on Tibetan Nun Phuntsog Nyidon, who spent 15 years in the tortuous Drapchi Prison in Lhasa for her part in a “Free Tibet” march. Phuntsog has been under constant supervision by security officials since she was released from prison in March 2004. “China tries to score points with other governments by opportunistically releasing activists, then keeping them isolated and under constant surveillance, said Brad Adams, executive director of Human Rights Watch.

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