Hong Kong – A leading campaigner for Tibetan independence delivered a speech in Hong Kong Monday after an earlier engagement was postponed following objections from Beijing officials.
Kate Saunders, communications director of the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet, had been scheduled to speak at Hong Kong’s Foreign Correspondents Club three weeks ago.
However, the speech was controversially postponed after officials from China’s Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong contacted the club to say they were unhappy about the speech.
The club was reportedly urged to delay the speech until the Foreign Ministry had been given the chance to find someone to present Beijing’s view, which it agreed to do.
The speech was rescheduled for Monday and Saunders spoke with no one present from the Foreign Ministry or any other pro-Beijing organisation to respond.
Saunders told her audience: “Beijing has sought to dominate the debate on Tibet and to silence all discussion that does not conform with the state’s point of view.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ objections to this talk are another example of the government’s relentless efforts to cover up its repression in Tibet.”
Tibet, she said, was currently undergoing “a violent crackdown following a year of overwhelmingly peaceful dissent against Chinese rule.”
Freedom of speech is guaranteed in the mini-constitution that has ruled Hong Kong since it reverted to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” arrangement.
However, anti-China protesters expected to take part in Tibet demonstrations during the Olympic torch relay through Hong Kong in 2008 were refused entry to the former British colony.
Tibet has reportedly been reopened to foreigners in April after being closed off by Beijing as it marked the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s 1959 flight as well as the first anniversary of the 2008 anti-China riots. (