CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Don’t define well-being as economic progress

  HONG KONG (UCAN) : The Justice and Peace Commission issued a warning to the mainland Chinese government on August 18 not to define the progress of the nation solely in terms of economic prosperity, saying it is necessary to take the values of human well-being into account to get a more balanced perspective on the overall social development.

A petition letter addressed to the vice premier of China, Li Keqiang, which the commission hoped to deliver in person during his three-day visit to Hong Kong from August 16 to 18, says that democracy, upholding the rule of law and safeguarding human rights are the greatest means for providing stability not only on the mainland, but also in Hong Kong.

The commission says that the recent fatal high speed train accident in Wenzhou highlighted just how much the world’s second largest economy is blindly pursuing economic development without looking at the risks or counting the costs to human development.

The commission intended to present the letter to Li on the last day of his first visit to the former British colony, but was prevented from doing so by the heavy security.

The 56-year-old vice premier is tipped to move up the ladder a notch and become the premier at next year’s 18th Party Congress scheduled to be held in Beijing.

Hong Kong police were out in force as Li attended the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong government new headquarters in Tamar on August 18. A demonstration staged on the footbridge leading to the entrance of the building could only watch as the motorcade bringing Li to the glass and steel building passed beneath them.

“Li pretends to be amicable and cordial, but he dares not listen to any opposition voice,” one person at the 100 or so strong rally said.

Members of the commission joined people from pro-democracy and rights advocacy groups in Hong Kong in reading out the letter, which denounced the official restrictions placed on several Church personnel in China, as well as foreign missionaries based in Hong Kong who have been denied entry without explanation to the mainland in recent months.

It also demanded that Beijing respect religious freedom, cease ordaining bishops illegitimately and release detained priests, human rights lawyers and rights advocates, and political dissidents.

The letter says that people who offer criticism of or comments on social issues are punished heavily in China, while Christians have been put under house arrest, tortured or have suffered forced disappearances because of their faith.

Father Franco Mella, one of five priests denied entry to mainland China recently, said he thinks that Li should have shown more concern for ordinary, grassroots people during his visit to the special administrative region.


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