22 October 2016
China is rated "not free", Hong Kong is "partly free"and Taiwan is "free" in the latest report of Freedom House. Photo: Reuters
China is rated "not free", Hong Kong is "partly free"and Taiwan is "free" in the latest report of Freedom House. Photo: Reuters

Hong Kong rated ‘partly free’ in US human rights report

Hong Kong is rated “partly free” in terms of democracy, political freedom and human rights in the latest report compiled by Freedom House, a US-based non-governmental organization.

China is “not free” while Taiwan is “free”, the report said. 

Hong Kong gets an aggregate score of 63, compared with China’s 16 and Taiwan’s 89, according to the report. Singapore’s score is 51 while the United States is 90.

A larger aggregate score indicates greater level of freedom. The maximum score is 100. 

The organization also rated the political rights and civil liberties in different countries, with a rating of 1 being the most free and 7 the least free.

In terms of political rights, the scores of the US (1), Taiwan (1), Singapore (4), Hong Kong (5) and China (7) are not surprising.

In terms of civil liberties, the US (1) is again on top, followed by Hong Kong (2) and Taiwan (2). Singapore (4) performs better than China (6).

In China, modest reform measures in 2015—such as incremental judicial changes, relaxation of household registration rules, and a shift to a two-child policy— were more than offset by harsh campaigns against dissent and a renewed emphasis on the Communist Party’s leadership in political, social and economic life, according to the report.

It said the government of President Xi Jinping responded to the stock-market drop with aggressive interventions in the market, enhanced censorship and propaganda efforts, along with a new crackdown on civil society.

Within a 48-hour period in July, over 200 individuals involved in public-interest legal activism were taken into custody in a nationwide sweep, the report said.

Other targets, whose work the authorities had previously tolerated, included financial journalists, public health advocates, labor rights activists, and women’s rights defenders, it said.

“This escalation illustrated the growing brutality and anxiety of China’s leaders,” the Freedom House said.

The report also expressed concern about the acquisition of the South China Morning Post by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. 

“Prominent businessmen and securities traders were also rounded up, adding new risks to doing business in China,” the report said.

“But in a sign that favored firms would join the regime in promoting a rosier view of the country, the Chinese internet giant Alibaba purchased the South China Morning Post, pledging to use Hong Kong’s most prominent English-language newspaper to improve China’s global image.”

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