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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  August 1, 2019 4:30am-5:01am BST

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media outlets in the united states are quoting intelligence sources saying hamza bin laden, son of the late al-qaeda leader osama bin laden, is dead. it's not clear if the us played a role. he had released audio and video calling for attacks on the us and other countries. ten democratic hopefuls have gone head to head in a second televised debate in detroit. the candidates discussed healthcare and immigration. another series of debates in september will whittle the candidates down to ten. whoever comes out on top eventually will take on donald trump for the us presidency next year. the russian president vladimir putin has ordered the army to help tackle massive wildfires raging in siberia and other regions in the east. so far, about three million hectares have been affected. many local people complain not enough is being done to tackle the fires.
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you're up to date with all the headlines. now on bbc news, it's hardtalk with shaun ley. hello and welcome to hardtalk, i'm shaun ley. hong kong is in uproar. each weekend for the last two months, thousands of people have taken to the streets. alvin yeung, who leads the civic party, shares their fears, first of a plan to give beijing a greater say in extradition, then for wider cause, to defend hong kong's freedoms. but as local authorities struggle to contain the crisis, and beijing's grumbles grow ever louder, could the people's liberation army be on its way?
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alvin yeung, welcome to hardtalk. late into sunday night, protesters clashed with the hong kong police. it is the eighth weekend in succession that we have seen street protests and skirmishes, some of them violent. what has gone wrong? well, hello, shaun. things are not doing so well in hong kong, and of course, we have seen and witnessed protesters taking to the streets, and of course, we have seen clashes between the police and the protesters. we have been accusing the police for abusing their powers, and of course — and using excessive force. they are totally disproportional to what is needed, and there should be an independent commission of inquiry to look into the matter. but most unfortunately, this government, as if they have — they are not living in hong kong. they have turned a blind eye to all our demands.
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just on the question of an inquiry, that has gathered momentum, support for such a suggestion, particularly after allegations made just over a week ago of collusion, potentially, between some police officers and triads, criminal gangs in hong kong. we'll return to that a little later in this interview, but whether you have an inquiry or not, there is an immediate problem on the streets of hong kong right now. every weekend is disrupted, and badly disrupted. you must fear that at some point, if this carries on, someone is going to die. well, i do share the fear. and in fact, a lot of people in hong kong do fear that somebody — most likely, and i hope that will never happen, would be from the protesters' side. they are not as well—equipped and not as well protected compared to the police force. and so what i say is the ball is now
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in the administration's court. it's entirely up to this government to decide that they should do something about it. notjust this government, of course, because hong kong is in that strange position where it has autonomy, but it is still ultimately a matterfor beijing. and we heard on monday an unprecedented event — the beijing office in hong kong, the hong kong and macau affairs office, opening its doors to the media, and the spokesman there addressing the television cameras and saying if the turbulence continues, the whole of hong kong society will pay the cost. how troubled were you by that intervention? well, that statement, at least, is a fair statement — that everybody will have to pay. and it's up to beijing and hong kong government to decide how are they going to address protesters' demands. i mean, we, hong kong people, we are not asking for the moon here. we're simply asking this government to make it very clear that they are going to withdraw the controversial extradition bill, that they are going to initiate an independent commission of inquiry
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to look into the matter over the past two months. and we are not simply doing something that is completely out of nowhere. they all have reasons, and i wonder why is this government turning a blind eye to these demands, five demands in total, for the past two months? it's unreasonable. the extradition bill which was the immediate cause of the protests beginning would have effectively allowed people to be extradited directly to face charges on mainland china. the chief executive, carrie lam, though, said two weeks ago that the extradition bill will die when the current legco expires, the legislative council, which you will remember its term is completed next year, ahead of the scheduled general election. isn't that sufficient? the problem here is the level of mutual trust and confidence between the people and this
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government is very low. and what the hong kong people are demanding for is something very simple and straightforward. that is, we expect this chief executive would have the courage to look into the camera and say we are withdrawing this bill. are we asking for something that is so outrageous? no. we are asking for something that is entirely reasonable. the problem is this chief executive refuses to say something like that, and by adopting the words, "the bill is dead" — it's not a technical term. we're asking for a technical term that can be used at legco. should she follow her three predecessors and leave office early? well, we very much hope, and this is one of our demands, that she should step down. and imagine — in any democratic society, with historical turnout, we're talking about millions of... 2 million people took to the streets on 16june and demanding her to step
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down, and she can stay in office for month? and nobody, nobody from this administration, including the chief executive and her cabinet, is taking responsibility of this chaos. this is totally impossible. you said a little earlier in this interview that you're not that bothered whether it is the hong kong authorities or the authorities in beijing, but somebody needs to get a grip of this situation before it turns violent and fatalfor someone, or many people. article 14 of the garrison law permits the chinese to send in the army if there is a request from the hong kong authorities to help them to keep order. clearly, plainly, the hong kong government has failed to keep order. have we not reached the point where it would actually be prudent, sensible, for grown—up people to be taking control of the streets? and the military might be in a better place to do that than the hong kong police, who you clearly think are compromised.
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well, i don't think the pla can be regarded as somebody we could trust, and they could be regarded as the grown—ups. again, this is a domestic issue. this should be dealt with politically. sending the pla to the street and sending them to hong kong will not help hong kong, and especially hong kong under one country, two systems. it's very fragile, and what kind of message are we going to send to the rest of the world if the pla is doing what they wanted to do, to kill students? are we going to have another tiananmen square in hong kong? we do not want to see that. and again, may ijust repeat one thing and emphasise this point. to deal with this issue, to resolve this problem, it's up to the chief executive. and she could do it in a political way, not by any other means. let me ask you about one country, two systems, which is of course the phrase that's been in use ever
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since the sino—uk pact was agreed in the mid—1980s. it was to ensure that from 1997, when hong kong returned to china, and for 50 years thereafter, at least 50 years thereafter, this part of china would operate under a large degree of autonomy, preserving many of the freedoms and traditional british values that it had had whilst it was under british control. but your party's principal objectives, the civic party's principal objectives, include this reference. "in our system, the rule of law protects individual rights and freedom by keeping public powers under check. the chinese mainland practices the rule by law, where laws are means by which the state keeps individuals under control." the implication of that is it may be one country, two systems, but they are two wholly incompatible systems. well, this is the beauty of a regional one country, two systems spirit. that is, mainland china
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could keep their way of doing things, but in hong kong, which is a place where we operate under capitalism, where hong kong people embrace liberalism, where we share a lot — a high degree of liberty, and of course, we are pursuing democracy here in this city, we have a completely different system. and more importantly, we have the rule of law, and we run by the common law system. that is the british system, and so hong kong's systems should be preserved for another 20—odd years, until 2047, and we are doing everything we can to make sure that that could continue. i wonder, though, if a lot of people in hong kong will feel it's much of a system worth preserving, if it can't keep order on the streets. well, never forget what these people on the streets, mainly made up by young men and women — they are not asking for something that is completely from nowhere.
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we — these young people, of course, they are the future of this city. they are simply asking this government to be responsible. and again, more importantly, this extradition bill saga highlights the fact that this system, the current political system, cannot represent people's interest, and so we're demanding that we could have universal suffrage in this city. and just let me remind everybody here, that is also something stated so clearly in the basic law. that is the mini—constitution of hong kong. but you never had it under the british. you're asking of china what you were never given by the british. they never gave you universal suffrage. they put it as an aspiration in the basic law, but they never gave it to you. but it was beijing's promise, stated so clearly in the basic law. and we were supposed to have them in 2007, 2008. we have already had a long delay. but do you think that britain, when it signed up to the deal with china, engaged in a certain degree of self—delusion about what would actually
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happen in reality? well, let's put it this way. the british government, of course, they could have granted hong kong democracy before they left in 1997. but, you know, history is history. but what beijing has promised is a promise, and so we are simply asking the beijing government to do something that is clearly stated in this contract. see, i'm not sure it has promised that. let me quote to you from five years ago, this is quoted in the south china morning post. sir richard 0ttaway mp, who was then chair of the british pa rliament‘s foreign affairs committee, who had been banned from visiting hong kong by the chinese when he wanted to investigate the trouble that was there a few months before. he said, "the sino—british joint declaration is considered by chinese officials now void, and only covers the period from the signing in 1984 until the handover in 1987."
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lu kang, who was then at the chinese foreign ministry — "as a historic document has no practical significance. it is not at all binding for the central government's management over hong kong." the uk has no sovereignty, no power to rule, and no power to supervise hong kong once the handover had happened. well, we do not agree with that, of course. it is up to beijing to defend their position. but again, this is — of course, we democrats in hong kong, we think that is a wrong statement. the british, as a cosigner of this joint declaration, has all power and obligation to make china accountable to what they signed up for. then, as hong kong people, we are demanding china, and beijing, of course, to uphold the contractual duty as stated clearly in the basic law. it's a constitutional right. i visited beijing and shanghai with borisjohnson when he was mayor of london a few years ago, as a journalist covering a visit by him and then—chancellor of the exchequer, george osborne, both very keen to improve relations with china,
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particularly trade relations. borisjohnson is now prime minister. he took office just a few days ago. what would you like him to do? do you think he has what the last governor of hong kong, lord chris patten, described as a debt of honour towards hong kong's people? look, it is up to the british government, and of course up to borisjohnson, to decide. what do you think he should do? well, he should stand up to beijing, and he should make it very clear to beijing that, if this is promised, then you have to honour it. nothing more than that. one of the most curious incidents of these weekends of protest occurred on the sunday before last, when dozens of men wearing white t—shirts and carrying bamboo sticks and metal clubs appeared at yuen long train station and began attacking some of the people who had left the protests. do you believe there was collusion between those mysterious people and the authorities?
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we have no direct evidence, but we have all evidence to suggest that there must be some sort of cooperations between the police and the triads. of course, nobody would come out and look into the camera and say, "yes, there was collusion." but again, we — according to all the video clips, according to the fact that the police, they were not doing anything — the mere fact of their inaction suggests that they allowed what happened to take place in the yuen long train station the sunday before last, and that's totally unacceptable. the police have said that's an insulting allegation, and there is no truth in it. well, why can't this police force tell the rest of the world how come the police force allow such things to happen in hong kong? hong kong is not a very huge place. yuen long is not in the city centre, but there is a police station minutes away from the train station.
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and how on earth could this police force, which claim to be the finest in asia, could allow that from happening? the inaction suggests they were behind it, or at least they allowed it. you mention video evidence. there's been a number of videos that have appeared on social media. it's impossible to independently verify them, but one of them shows riot police chatting to some of these men. one of them pats one of the men on the back, and in another example, a pro—beijing lawmaker is shown telling a different group of men in white t—shirts you guys are my heroes. but he has denied he has any connection with these people. he says these people greeted him when he was outside a restaurant and i guess recognised him from television. but the south china morning post said, according to police sources it had spoken to, these were members of the triad gangs 14k
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and wo shing wo among others. why would there be links between the police and the triads? well, we do not know how come the police force, or this government or those in power, they would seek help from the mobs. but if we look at history, and we know whenever there's protests from the opposition, and whenever those in government have no way to deal with the opposition, they would employ mobs to deal with us. look at ukraine a few years ago. that's what happened. and you know, there are a number of — countless incidents in history, but all i can say is they're doomed to fail. federico varese, a professor at oxford who is an expert in organised crime conducted an investigation following the violent confrontation at moan kok, which we all remember in 2014, where apparently members of triads were involved in attacks on pro—democracy campaigners there, and he concluded, and he and dr wang
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concluded, they might have found a new role as enforcer of unpopular policies and repression of democratic protests in the context of a drift towards authoritarianism in hong kong. is that what you're facing in hong kong now? it could be possible, especially when years ago when the chinese authority made a statement claiming that triads could be patriotic, as if giving an endorsement to those people in the dark. but, again, hong kong is an open and free society. luckily, we have freedom of press, so everything conducted in hong kong would go public, and so everybody in hong kong would see what's going on. hong kong people would not allow that from happening. and we have a good press here. hong kong people will put pressure on the government from collaborating with the triads.
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the worrying thing, i suppose, from your point of view is we have been here before. we've seen very moving protests in recent years against failures of the government system, as you and your colleagues would see it, for example the march against the national security bill back in 2003, that attracted 500,000 people onto the streets, the umbrella protests in 2014, and now this. and on each of those previous occasions, those protests in the end were not successful, and they ended badly. you must be fearful that that is going to happen again. well, of course, we do have fear that after weeks of protests, we might fail. but this time, i can see that hong kong people are united, especially the young people. they are very, extremely courageous and determined. i'm going to interrupt you at that point, because you say hong kong people are united. isn't part of the problem here, though, that there isn't unity? there is a division opening up between people like you, who believe the legislative system can still be made to work,
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can be made to be improved, can open up more and more freedoms, can give more security in the long term, can, as you said, lead to things like universal suffrage eventually, and those who have had it with this system, who believe that hong kong's place is not as a part, autonomous or otherwise, of china, but as an independent country itself. those indigenous politicians and campaigners, those organisations like youngspiration founded post—0ccu py. those protests like the group that did rather well in the by—election you won, hong kong indigenous, that took 15% of the vote three years ago, those groups seem to be gathering momentum. isn't the real problem here that there's a generational difference? they're not listening to carrie lam, and they're not listening to people like you either. well, we understand some of the youngsters, they might have
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other political aspirations. but most of us here are behind and united, in a sense that we are simply demanding for a complete withdrawal of the bill, as mentioned a bit earlier, to establish an independent commission of inquiry, and of course, universal suffrage, which is the most commonly supported ideal at this moment. we cannot deny that some other youngsters, they might have something on their own. but we understand where they came from. this is why we are urging the government to have a compromise, to understand what is going on, and to answer to our demands. otherwise, it will be harmful to hong kong. perhaps there's been too much compromise over the years, perhaps too much willingness to accept a status quo that doesn't meet your objectives, and certainly doesn't meet their objectives. if you think of an 18—year—old, many of the friends and the children
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of your friends you think of — 18 now, they'll only be in their mid—40s when that 50 years expires in 2047, at which point beijing may very well decide that it wants to bring hong kong under the centralised system. they see, potentially, this as their best opportunity of preventing that. can you blame them if that leads them to take real risks, not only with their own lives, but with the lives of others? well, shaun, you know, i can never blame the youngsters. they are the future of this place, and i understand theirfrustrations. we have gone through something similar, and we understand why they would rather sacrifice themselves to achieve something politically. but, again, most of us here in hong kong, we are simply demanding universal suffrage. we are simply demanding a better system. so i — all i can say is, if beijing has the wisdom to understand this, they could have
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chosen a much better option. beijing might very well look at what is happening in hong kong now and say to itself, as president xi has said in other parts of china — one thinks obviously of the crackdown against the uighurs in parts of outer china, one thinks of other areas where a disciplined, authoritarian approach has been adopted to protest and opposition. he may think of hong kong and say, we've been very patient with the people of hong kong. we've played the game according to this deal that was done with the british, but that's 20—plus years ago. china is a world power and matters on the world stage. there won't be anyone daring to intervene if they decide they've had enough of what's going on in hong kong. britain is desperate to get a trade deal. it is leaving the eu, and it needs all the friends it can get, and china is one of them. donald trump barely utters
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a criticism of president xi's domestic policies, even if he doesn't like the trade ones. the reality is hong kong is standing on its own. i don't agree with that, shaun. hong kong is unique for china. we are the only financial centre of the whole of china. shanghai cannot replace hong kong as a financial centre, at least not in the near future. in order to serve this very unique status, it requires freedom of information, freedom of assembly, freedom of movement, and of course, most importantly, we need the rule of law. so if china is not prepared to lose hong kong and make hong kong any other ordinary city of china, then these four essential elements have to be protected and preserved. and so i believe that it will not serve beijing's interests losing hong kong, and especially losing this very, very unique status. alvin yeung, leader of the civic party, member
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of the legislative council of hong kong, thank you very much for being with us on hardtalk. thank you. hello. in the last couple of days, some of the showers that we've seen breaking out across the uk have been nothing short of vicious, leading to disruption to transport and localised flooding. in the next few days, not an entirely dry story, but far fewer showers, and they should also be less aggressive. the reason being the culprit for all of the showers in the last few days, this area of low pressure, pulling out into the north sea. still close enough by, though, on thursday to exert some influence. quite gusty winds along the north sea coasts,
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thicker cloud piling in here at times too. and there will be some showers on the outer periphery of the low, if you like, stretching probably in a line, most likely from the north—west of scotland down into east anglia. plenty of sunny spells, however. the sunshine itself, though, could produce a few homegrown showers, for example across the north—east of scotland. one or two of the showers, again, could be heavier. i can't rule out thunder and lightning entirely, but it should be nowhere near as extensive as it has been in the last couple of days. just a chance of a few showers developing across dorset, devon and cornwall come the afternoon. up to 25 in what should be a sunny london. there's a slim chance of one or two showers breaking out across the midlands through the afternoon. we may see some evidence of those for day one of the ashes at edgbaston, but i think hopefully we're going to get away with it here, with some sunny spells and highs about 20—21 degrees. through the evening and overnight,
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many of the showers clear as the low pressure centre whirls across towards the netherlands. we're left with quite a bit of cloud, though, and in some spots, with just light winds, it could turn misty and murky. 0vernight lows in the mid—teens. as for friday, well, the lows away to the east. not a bad day, i think, in the making, again with a little bit of help from the sun, though we could see one or two showers just brewing up, probably somewhere across northern england through into the midlands. but for the majority of the uk, light winds, sunny spells, and temperatures in the low to mid—20s. for the weekend, that little bit of ridging that calms things down for friday hangs on in there on saturday. but by sunday, it looks like we'll see a weather front starting to approach, so that will bring an increasing chance of rain into western areas through the course of the day on sunday. just how far east that rain makes it is somewhat uncertain at the moment, but it does look like once those fronts start to push in on sunday, they will really work their way through across the uk
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as we go into the following week. plenty more showers, unfortunately, in our longer—term forecast.
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this is the briefing. i'm ben bland. our top stories: he had a bounty of $1 million on his head, now reports suggest osama bin laden's son, hamza, is dead. the britsih government announces more than £2 billion of extra funding for a no—deal brexit. one year on from the start of the ebola outbreak in the democratic republic of the congo, we have a special report from the epicenter. —— epicentre. in business, underfed. the us central bank cuts rates for the first time in a decade, heralding lower borrowing costs around the world but markets and president donald trump wanted more.


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