Hong Kong pop singer, actress, and political activist Denise Ho Wan-see gave a speech to the United Nations on Monday in which she accused China of violating its commitments to Hong Kong’s autonomy and asked the U.N. to remove China from its Human Rights Council. Chinese diplomats interrupted her two-minute speech twice.
Several non-governmental organizations invited Ho to address the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva as a member of Hong Kong’s democracy movement. The UNHRC has been monitoring the ongoing mass protests in Hong Kong, which show little sign of abating with the ostensible “death” of the extradition bill that sparked them.
Ho is one of Hong Kong’s most popular entertainers and has been a longtime champion of democracy for the island, a stance that got her blacklisted from mainland China’s huge media market in 2014 just as she was establishing a foothold there. She has been on the streets with protesters throughout the extradition bill controversy and reports having been tear-gassed by police several times. She has been outspokenly critical of other Hong Kong celebrities for either supporting Beijing or allowing themselves to be intimidated into silence.
“The Vienna Declaration guarantees democracy and human rights. Yet in Hong Kong, these are under serious attack,” Ho told the UNHRC on Monday, referring to China’s agreement to respect Hong Kong’s autonomy.
Ho accused China of eroding Hong Kong’s autonomy and “preventing our democracy at all costs” by persecuting activists, disqualifying pro-democracy lawmakers, installing pro-Beijing officials such as chief executive Carrie Lam in Hong Kong government, and engaging in “cross-border kidnappings” such as the disappearance of several booksellers who dealt in materials banned by the Chinese Communist Party.
“The Sino-British Joint Declaration is a binding treaty registered with the UN. Yet, after only 22 years, China is denying its obligations. One country, two systems is nearing its death,” she said.
Ho concluded her speech by asking, “Will the United Nations convene an urgent session to protect the people of Hong Kong? Given its abuses, will the UN remove China from this Human Rights Council?”
Ho’s brief presentation was interrupted twice by China’s delegation to the UNHRC. On the first occasion, Chinese diplomats accused Ho of violating the U.N. charter by referring to Hong Kong as a separate entity rather than part of China and insisted she use “wordings that conform with U.N. rules.”
During the second interruption, the Chinese delegation accused Ho of “baselessly” attacking China’s “one country, two systems” approach to Hong Kong and “insulting” the Chinese government with “unfounded allegations” of kidnapping and oppression.
“The Hong Kong people have had enough with the Hong Kong government not listening to their voices,” Ho said in an interview after her speech to the UNHRC.
“This extradition bill is just a trigger to all the frustration that have been happening these past 10 to 15 years, where we saw all the freedoms and human rights being abused by the Hong Kong government. And of course, the Chinese government is behind it,” she said.