Chinese lawmakers set to tighten control on Hong Kong

China’s ceremonial legislature plans to endorse the Communist Party’s latest move to tighten control over Hong Kong by reducing the role of its public in picking the territory’s leaders.

The measure adds to a crackdown against a protest movement calling for greater democracy in Hong Kong. The crackdown has prompted complaints Beijing is eroding the autonomy promised when Hong Kong return to China in 1997 and has hurt its status as a global financial center.

The National People’s Congress, which was due to end its annual meeting Thursday, will endorse “improvements to the electoral system” of Hong Kong, the body’s Standing Committee said. The plan would give a pro-Beijing committee power to appoint more of Hong Kong’s lawmakers, reducing the number elected by the public.

The NPC also was due to endorse the ruling party’s latest five-year development blueprint. It calls for stepping up efforts to transform China into a more self-reliant technology creator — a move that threatens to worsen strains with Washington and Europe over trade and market access.

The legislature has no real power but the ruling party uses its annual meeting, the year’s highest-profile political event, to showcase economic and political plans.

Its approximately 3,000 delegates are picked by the party, not the Chinese public, and routinely endorse decisions already made by party leaders. A symbolic vote of support by the NPC shows an issue is a party priority.

Last year, the party used the NPC session to impose a national security law on Hong Kong. Under that law, 47 former legislators and other pro-democracy figures have been arrested on subversion charges that carry a possible maximum penalty of life in prison.

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi defended the latest proposed changes in Hong Kong as needed to protect its autonomy and defend its “transition from chaos to governance.”

Chinese ship captain charged with killing ‘Somali pirates’ after video appears on YouTube

A Chinese national has been charged in Taiwan for ordering the killings of four suspected Somali pirates while he was the captain of a Taiwanese fishing boat.

The captain has been charged with multiple counts of homicide and gun control, in a country where murder is punishable by the death penalty and carries a minimum sentence of 10 years.

But prosecutors are understood to have sought a lenient sentence, on the basis that the alleged pirates were the first to open fire.

The incident took place in the Indian Ocean off the Somali coast in September 2012 when Wang Fengyu was the captain of Ping Shin No 101. According to a BBC News report, the captain has claimed that alleged Somali pirates shot at his and three other fishing boats before one of the boats managed to knock the pirates into the sea.

The Chinese national was arrested in August this year when the latest ship under his command docked at Kaohsiung port in Taiwan. A warrant for his arrest had been issued back in December 2018.

Prosecutors say the captain ordered his Pakistani security guards to open fire on the pirates as they tried to stay afloat in the sea, knowing they would not be able to defend themselves. Activists have said the case is an example of the lawlessness that persists at sea, particularly among Indian Ocean fishing industries.

The captain has reportedly claimed that he acted to stop the pirates from escaping and bringing back others to hijack his vessel.

The 2012 killings only came to light in 2014, after a video of the incident was found on a mobile phone left in the back of a taxi in Fiji. Someone later posted the 10-minute clip to YouTube.

In the video, a man is heard giving orders in Mandarin while four alleged pirates are in the water, after which dozens of rounds of ammunition are fired at them. Later in the video, the bodies of the victims are seen floating in the water.

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