tv HAR Dtalk BBC News July 15, 2020 4:30am-5:00am BST
this is bbc news. the headlines: president trump has signed an executive order stripping hong kong of its right to preferential economic treatment from the us. he says the territory will now be treated the same as mainland china. his administration seems to be adopting a tougher stance on china in response to its severe crackdown on democratic freedoms in hong kong. in a policy u—turn, the british government decided to stop using equipment from the chinese tech giant, huawei, for the uk's sg telecom networks. ministers say the decision was prompted by a new cybersecurity assessment. the us has welcomed the move, but there are fears china will retaliate. ajudge in new york has refused to grant bail to ghislaine maxwell, former girlfriend of the financier and convicted sex offenderjeffrey epstein. she wept as she appeared via videolink.
you are pretty much up—to—date on the headlines, it is liz30am. now on bbc news: hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk. i'm stephen sackur. the international outcry prompted by china's imposition of a draconian new national security law in hong kong has been long and loud, but will it make any difference? inside the territory itself, protests have been muted and the main pro—democracy activist movement, well, it's disbanded itself. my guest today was one of the founders of that movement, nathan law. he is now in exile here in london. so, is china's hardline hong kong strategy working? nathan law, welcome to hardtalk.
thank you for the invitation. let's begin with your current situation. why did you decide to flee hong kong? well, as we all know, the hong kong government, well, at least accepted, or the central government directly enacted, the national security law in hong kong. which — it is written in such a broad and fake term that could well possibly be used as a legal weapon to prosecute political activists that they wanted to do so, so, for now, i think most of the democratic activists in hong kong are in such a grave danger, so... but you have been prosecuted before, you've tasted imprisonment before, so it's not as though there was not a threat to your freedom under the old laws. why did the national security law, as imposed by beijing, why did it make such
a fundamental difference to you? well, the national security law targets the freedom of expression of people, so if we say something that, for example, create hatred towards the central government, or we have been doing the international advocacy work, that could lead us to years or even lifelong imprisonment, which at this time are not well—defined, so it is a legal weapon for them to really prosecute people with such a long time of imprisonment, and also you could be possibly extradited back to china, so i think these are the worries that the political activists, that they share. you announced on social media that you were no longer in hong kong right after the imposition of the new law. i'm not entirely clear whether you decided to flee because you feared imminent arrest or simply because you felt that it was no longer tenable to be a political activist inside hong kong.
well, first, we all felt a possible danger about the national security law, but for me, it is more than a personal choice. it's just like a strategic move, because under the law, you just can't do the international advocacy work that you've been doing. with respect, you don't know yet because it's the first few days of the imposition of the law. we don't quite know how it's going to be implemented. you said yourself that the terms of it, in terms of the definitions of terrorism or supporting secession or colluding with foreign interests, they're all very vague. perhaps you could have found a way to operate inside hong kong. well, there are terms saying that if you are asking, like, sanctions, colluding with foreign forces, which, while for the commentators, it is exactly tailor—made for our advocacy work for, for example, pushing forward the magnitsky act or the hong kong human rights and democracy legislation in the us, so, for us, we need to have a voice
on the international level, as a public figure, to continue this advocacy work. otherwise, our movement, the international front, will be largely limited. you're now open about the fact you're in london — that's the reason that we're able to interview you face—to—face. yes. are you now going to stay in the united kingdom? are you clear what you're going to do next? well, it is not decided yet because fleeing is a tough choice and there are no planning ahead for a person who fled out from their home town. so, for now, the future is quite uncertain for me. how do you feel, on a personal level, about the fact that some of your closest colleagues — i'm thinking, for example, ofjoshua wong, who has been so much a figurehead leader of the pro—democracy movement with yourself — he's still there and you're now here. how do you feel about that? well, we've talked about it, we've discussed about each of our decision.
these political activists, likejoshua wong and some other of my friends, martin lee, they're very brave to continue their work there, but, well, all of us agree that we need to have a public figure with an international profile to speak on the international level so that the international fronts of our movement could be sustained, and this advocacy work needs to be done by someone outside. so you now see yourself as the leader of an international front, do you? well, i dare not to say as a leader, but at least as a voice, and people will listen. yes, that's going to leave you open to a great deal of criticism, targeting from pro—china people in hong kong and, of course, from beijing itself. i spoke to ronny tong, a senior pro—china voice in hong kong, a former leader of the bar association. yes. he said this to me, he said of you, he said, "ah, his exile isjust a political ploy.
he's free to go and he's free to come back. there is no warrant against him. there's nobody persecuting or prosecuting him. he's just using this for politics." well, i would say "not yet," because the implementation, we still don't know how it will operate. the secret police agencyjust started to operate in hong kong and we still don't know how far they will go, how many political activists they will arrest. maybe one day they could use the national security law to arrest all the leading figures in hong kong. so i think this is not something that we fantasise. the threat does exist. well, you say the threat exists. i just would put to you that some of the language you and joshua wong use is extremely melodramatic. i mean, joshua wong said the other day, "this new security law marks the end of hong kong.
from now on, hong kong enters a reign of terror." you said that this new law marks the start of a "bloody cultural revolution" with obvious echoes to what happened in china decades ago. is this language reallyjustified? well, if you look at the implementation of the national security law, on the very first day, there were more than ten people arrested. some of them were just carrying flags that have the slogans on them. this is all an obvious case that it will target your freedom of expression. in none of the other democratic countries, you see such a law exist. and, well, for me, it is not only about implementation, but if you look into the clause, very detailedly, they've got kind of like a reporting system, so if you turn someone out or you report your fellow to the government, then you will get a cut in your sentencing, so isn't it a really cultural revolution style of turning someone out and, well, creating a politics of terror? but let me turn the argument around and look at it from the point
of view of people like chief executive of hong kong, carrie lam. she says that what we've seen over the last year is the reality that hong kong's security laws, as they currently are constituted, were not working. she points to the violence that surrounded all of the anti—extradition law protests from last summer. we saw clashes with police that left both policemen and civilians very seriously injured. a few people were killed as well. she described it as a "gaping hole in hong kong's national security" and she went on to say, "many, many countries point the finger at china, but they have their own national security legislation. why should china alone be inhibited from enacting serious national security legislation to protect every corner of its territory?" well, it's obvious that the national
security law from the other country does not restrain people's freedom of expression, and you can see that the sole targets of the law is not those violent protesters because they've got a lot of weapons in their criminal ordinance that they could target those. for example, the riots or subversion acts, these are actually in list, in the armoury, legal armoury list. but, for now, if you look into how it is written for the national security law, it targets people who express the message, who are really carrying those messages that the government, they consider inappropriate, but it should not be the case that you could be criminalised because you said something and this is definitely not how a democratic or western democracy works. you say that there have been protests since june 30th, since the implementation of the national security law,
and you just told me that, you know, i think around ten people have currently been charged under the new law, but isn't the reality that the demonstrations have been really quite muted? they've been quite small afterjuly ist, and most hong kongers appear to be getting on with their daily lives and really not worrying about this new law too much. well, the poll data doesn't show that fact. in fact, a majority of hong kong people are really concerned or worrying that the law will kill hong kong's one country, two systems. and also, for the past few months, the police has not been granted any permit to our rallies. they've literally banned all the application for rallies, even though... but maybe a lot of hong kongers were fed up with the constant disruption, the clashes on the streets, the fact that the public transport system and the airport, too, had been closed down last year. maybe they were fed up with all of that. maybe they'd like a bit of stability. well, if we look at the poll data, the support towards the movement is still majority and,
most importantly, all the peaceful rallies are being rejected and none of the police officers have been under any form of investigation because of their misbehaviour for the past few years, and we all could see that. that is the case — if we are living in a city that there is no accountability for the government and people cannot express their opinion peacefully, then there will be problems. you are sitting with me in london. ijust wonder, again, coming back to this notion of how easy it is to run advocacy organisations from exile, do you worry about the idea that you encourage your fellow pro—democracy activists to take to the streets, to challenge the authority of the new security law while you're thousands of miles away in safety? well, we all know that a part of ourselves have committed into the movement and, for me, i do not encourage any forms
of violence and people, they really do need to voice out when there are injustice. and, for me, i'm doing my part. and, as you know, if you take reference from the exercise of the national security law in mainland china, it does not only target you. it targets your family, your friends. a lot of human rights lawyers in mainland china, after they fled out or after they were locked in jail, theirfamilies are being harassed and they suffer from it. so everyone takes risk. for me, my risk is i can never go back to hong kong and also people around me, they may suffer. there is also an extraterritorial element to the new security law as it's described, which means, in essence, that the new law allows the authorities to go after anybody who is deemed to have broken that law, wherever they are in the world. yeah. and, of course, that would mean on social media posts and all sorts
of other ways, too. do you still feel that you're in the crosshairs, that you are a target for the chinese authorities? well, of course. it's crystal clear. when i departed to yale last year in august, they've launched a huge smearing campaign... just to remind people who won't remember, you went to study at yale university. yes, yes. and i... well, there were so many personal threats imposed on me, and i had to go for the help from the authority at yale. so i've been targeted, and my name and the organisation that i had been with occasionally show up as targets of the state media. so these signal that, actually, the international front and the advocacy work that we've been doing are causing troubles to the authoritarian china, and that's what we'll continue to do. nathan law, you're actually 27 today, aren't you? yeah. you're a young man. you, for the last decade, have lived with the reality
of being targeted by the authorities in hong kong for what they regard as criminal behaviours, what you regard as pro—democracy advocacy. ijust wonder, if you reflect on the last few years, do you think the movement that you've been a leader of has made mistakes? well, i would definitely say that nothing's perfect, especially such a mobile and fluid movement. there were mistakes. people recognised it. but most important is how we see the role of government, how the government should govern its own city when there are people voicing out really loudly about something that justifiable, and they should deserve to enjoy it. if we can see for the past years the demands of people, including democracy and autonomy, actually promised in
the sino—british joint declaration 1984, and it is tabled in united nations, and this is an obligation that the chinese government should fulfil these demands. we're not asking something out of thin air, it's something that china and hong kong promised, but failed to commit. so this is... like, this for me shows the government has no accountability, and we need more of it. but let's unpick the idea of mistakes a little deeper. would you say that it has been a mistake for some of the protesters in hong kong to embrace violent tactics? because we have seen violence from the demonstrators as well as, it has to be said, from the police in hong kong. we have seen petrol bombs being thrown, attacks, physical attacks on police in hong kong from your side... yeah. ..from the protesters. would you now acknowledge that has been a mistake? well, of course, the authorities talked to all the people who were injured, and this is not... but, with respect, the injuries don't come by accident. we've seen video footage
of protestors attacking police. this is not the direction i would love to see it going. but, i think, if you look at the very first few months of the protests, which were peaceful, and you could see how the government or the police officer responded in such a brutal way, and none of them are in any forms of investigation. that's the key point, because for now, the system does not hold them accountable. they could just escape all the misbehaviours they've done, and people are angry about it. you cannotjust say, "oh, you should not be violent because violence is wrong." yeah, we all know that. but how we can hold them accountable, how we can protect our fellow protestors when the system failed us? and that is the point. some people are so lenient towards the people who are in power, but so restrained to the people who are powerless, and that disappoints me. i understand what you were just saying, but it is important that we recognise the reasons, the root cause, why people react in that way.
let me ask you about a different way of perhaps assessing mistakes made. do you think it has been a mistake for the pro—democracy movement, including demosisto, the movement you founded withjoshua wong and others, to embrace self—determination for hong kong, which naturally leads to a pro—independence mentality? that is a total red flag to china, and you embraced it. was that a mistake? well...a while ago, we've already renounced that. we do not uphold self—determination any more. so it was a mistake? that was an adjustment. hang on, this is important. so that was a mistake? and when we still see today protesters on the streets of hong kong waving banners calling for independence, you are now renouncing that, are you?
well, for demosisto, yes. we did it a while ago. but for us, we're not so influential that we could influence all the hong kong people to embrace that idea. first of all, that is not the mainstream demands of hong kong for now. but... hang on, let's go further. is it, in your view, counter—productive to talk of self—determination or independence? no. i think if we talk about it, that is our right. we are entitled to talk about any position, any political faults, and that is healthy, for us to see or think how hong kong would go. we cannotjust censor ourselves because china draw the red lines. we have to really loudly say that that red line is wrong. and secondly, the main cause or the rise of localism or independence... ..well, that would definitely be the problem of beijing not listening to hong kong people's demands. but nonetheless, you know, if one,
if you, as you have with me, if you advocate adherence to the one country, two systems agreement, you have to remember the one country element of that deal. well... one country, not secession, not independence. one country. well, people's state of mind is really clear. if the country, or the ccp, does not respect two systems, so why should we respect one country? and that is the rationale behind the whole sort of idea of independence. i'm not saying that that is right. i'm saying that... well, you seem to be suggesting it is right. it is clear that the one country, two systems has not been living up to people's expectation. and the things that, while, as i said, that we are asking for the movement and for the mainstream idea, is autonomy and democracy, and these are promised. we all agree that these are elements in one country, two system. and for the movement itself,
its demands should focus on that perspective. and i agree that, of course. but the problem is, if the government continue to reject a very mild demand, or peaceful protest, then the situation will definitely go into the opposite way, and that's how it operates. let's just talk about another sensitivity for you. just days ago, by video link, you testified before a congressional committee. you appeared to lend your support to the idea of the us expanding some sort of sanctions regime against hong kong in terms of the specific trade agreements with hong kong, but more widely against china as a result of what china has done in hong kong. in china, you are now portrayed as an agent of hostile foreign powers, and that is going to be a powerful argument against you, isn't it? well, i'm not in any connection to any political power outside hong kong. i'm not in alliance with any agency or receiving any fundings.
i have to make it clear here. but my... but how do you think hong kongers, and indeed people in the chinese mainland, are going to feel about you supporting punitive actions being taken which could damage their standard of living, their economic status? because a lot of hong kong people agree on that — that is how we hold china accountable. the problem is china has been violating the sino—british joint declaration, and how we could overturn it and make it into the right track. people feel like we need the help of the international community, so that's why we've got a team, or we've got a huge workload on the international advocacy work. and, for me, what i was trying to say, that china has to understand that there is a condition for the world to grant the preferential treatment of hong kong, which is hong kong remains high degree of autonomy, and respect to one country, two systems. so if hong kong loses its autonomy, then the world does not grant hong kong special treatment, and that is not asking sanctions, that's logic.
i'm just asking you about reality. germany, for example, a huge trade partner of china. i think china is germany's biggest export market right now. and angela merkel has made it plain, to quote her, "we must continue to seek dialogue and conversation with china." so my point is, in the world of realpolitik and pragmatism, do you think the international community, the western powers, are really, really going to put a squeeze on china? we're working towards it. if you look at the past decades, the piecemeal strategy has been really dominant in not only us, but western politics. but for now, you can see more and more countries being more assertive towards china. for example, the us, the uk, australia, and we could see a structural and all—round change in terms of how we see china. maybe that... well, that kind of spread does not arrive in germany, or in european union as a whole, yet. but we are pushing for that change,
because we all witnessed how china grew but failed to meet the expectation of the international community, which it does not liberalise, and it does not democratise. and that, while these two things are the expectation of the world for past decades, i think, yes, indeed, we are in a track of change. we can see the trajectory. but whether we will get it in a second, we don't know yet. a final thought. you say, "the fight will go on," but you're now in exile. do you think you will ever be able to go back to hong kong to continue the fight there? or are you now, as far as you're concerned, in your own mind, a fighter in permanent exile? well, we have a motto of "be water," which means that we're to be fluid, and we will go for the same aim and same target no matter where we are.
for me, as long as i can contribute to the movement, by talking to you, talking to other journalists and voicing my international advocacy work in the international level, then i'm glad to do so. but if one day i could go back to hong kong, i would love to do so, as long as we are on the same track, we are fighting for the freedom and democracy for hong kong. nathan law, thank you very much forjoining me on hardtalk. thank you so much. thank you very much. hello there. if anything, tuesday is looking a little grayer than wednesday. we did manage some sunshine on tuesday, across the midlands, across parts of scotland. but this was a general picture for most of the country —
that of a lot of cloud. now, we've got thicker cloud courtesy of this weather front toppling in. it's been bringing rain and drizzle through the night across northern and western areas. it continues to progress further southwards and eastwards. so, under the clear skies further south and east, it's not going to be particularly chilly. we could start with a little bit of sunshine here. but we'll have thicker cloud and rain for many areas, and as a result, it'll be a mild night, but a misty one. a lot of this low cloud will sit on the hills and around the coasts as well, hence the fact it'll be grey and damp to start for many. that drizzly rain makes its way towards east anglia and the south—east for the afternoon, whilst tending to ease further west. we may see some brightness for northern ireland and for wales and the south—west later. and for shetland, we may hold onto some sunshine until quite late in the day. but for most, there's more cloud, still some patchy drizzle, and it'll feel a little bit cooler. there's a gentle north—westerly breeze, the exception perhaps being northern ireland — seeing temperatures just
a little higher here. now, as we go through the evening and overnight, that cloud continues to thin out a little bit. so it's going to be another mild night, misty and murky again, but without those weather fronts. as they move away on thursday, it promises a better chance of seeing some brighter weather, even a little sunshine, and so that'll help to lift the temperatures. it's just the far north—west where we'll see some rain coming in on this weather front late in the day. so a better chance of some brightness on thursday. high pressure‘s still with us then, building through those weather fronts, weakening them all the time. but i think for scotland, and potentially northern ireland, friday will bring some more rain, and it's cooler air that follows behind. whereas there's a good chance that we'll see some decent spells of sunshine for many other areas on friday, and that will really elevate the temperatures — 23—26 degrees celsius. now, as we go into the weekend, that weather front will progress further southwards. so it will introduce potentially more cloud, some patchy rain for northern ireland, southern scotland, northern england. brighter but cooler weather follows on behind. but we've still got that warming air further south, so the potentialfor something much warmer still to form across southern and eastern areas. but, during the day on wednesday, it does look potentially very cloudy for many of us. as ever, there's
this is bbc news with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. i'm sally bundock. president trump takes on china, ruling out further trade negotiations and ending hong kong's preferential trade status. hong kong will now be treated the same as mainland china. no special privileges, no a special economic treatment, and no export of sensitive technologies. china of sensitive technologies. says the uk has created an china says the uk has created an unfair environment for business out the ban on huawei working on the sg business out the ban on huawei working on the 56 phone network. —— after the band. jeffrey epstein‘s ex—girlfriend ghislaine maxwell cries
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