HONG KONG A court in Hong Kong handed down prison sentences of up to 16 months Wednesday to eight leaders of massive 2014 pro-democracy protests after they were convicted last month of public nuisance offenses.
One other defendant, Tanya Chan, had her sentencing Wednesday postponed because of the need to undergo surgery.
The sentences are seen as an effort by the government of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory to draw a line under the protests. The charges carry potential sentences of up to seven years.
Three were given 16 months, one of them suspended for two years, two were given eight month sentences and two given suspended eight month sentences while another was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service.
It was not immediately clear if they planned to appeal.
"I am still peaceful and hopeful to face whatever may happen today," law professor Benny Tai, who helped originate the protests, told reporters on arriving at the court.
Chan said she hadn't lost faith in what the movement stood for. "Although it's an uphill battle, it's not easy, it's time for us to make sure that we are strong enough to face different kind of challenges," Chan said.
The nine were leaders of the "Occupy Central" campaign, which was organized as a nonviolent sit-in that became known as the "Umbrella Movement" after a symbol of defiance against police adopted by the street protests.
Protesters demanded the right to freely nominate candidates for Hong Kong's leader who would then be elected by all of the territory's roughly 5 million voters.
However, they failed to win any concessions from the government and Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam was chosen in 2017 from among a slate of candidates approved by Beijing and elected by a 1,200-member, pro-China electoral body.
Ranging in age from their 30s to 70s, the nine defendants span generations of Hong Kong citizens who have been agitating for full democracy. The defendants had all pleaded not guilty, calling the prosecutions politically motivated.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, was handed over to Chinese rule in 1997 under an agreement in which China promised the city could retain its own laws, economic system and civil rights for 50 years.
However, Chinese President and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping has been seen as extending his crackdown on civil liberties to Hong Kong, drawing criticism from commercial and legal associations as well as political, human rights and media groups.
"In the verdict, the judge commented we are naive, believing that by having a occupy movement we can attain democracy. But what is more naive than believing in one country two systems?" protest leader Chan Kin-man said.
In Taiwan, youthful supporters rallied to denounce the convictions and growing pressure from Beijing on both their self-ruled island and Hong Kong.
China has demanded Taiwan agree to its claim to the island as Chinese territory, to be annexed by force if necessary, and accept a "one country, two systems," framework for governing along the lines of that in place in Hong Kong.
"Occupy Central is not a crime," they chanted, as well as the "The Hong Kong government is unjustified."
Comments Off on Taipei-Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau is promoting mountain tourism at the 4-day Taipei International Travel Fair that began Friday.
The bureau is focusing on five north-south mountain ranges — the Central Mountain, Xueshan, Yushan, Alishan and the Coastal Mountain ranges — in its pavilion at the fair, said bureau Deputy Director-General Chang Shi-chung (???).
Chang said there will be various exhibitions and forums on the mountains of Taiwan, as well as its unique cultural features such as historic trails and aboriginal lifestyles.
Taiwan is preparing to market 2020 as the Year of Mountain Tourism, after its efforts to position the country as an important international mountaineering destination in July, when the government allowed public access to the island’s national parks.
Previously, people who wanted to visit restricted “ecological protected areas” in Taiwan’s national parks had to apply for permits from both the National Police Agency and the Construction and Planning Agency.
Now, however, the Construction and Planning Agency has launched a new mountain permit application portal that requires mountain visitors to apply for only one permit and provides fast-track processing to expedite applications, the bureau said.
Much of Taiwan is covered by mountains, and it has 268 mountains of over 3,000 meters, according to the Tourism Bureau website.
That environment has made hiking and mountain climbing one of the favorite pastimes of Taiwan residents.
The number of permits issued to Taiwanese citizens and foreign nationals for access to trails in Yushan, Taroko and Shei Pa national parks has risen from 153,736 in 2016 to 187,053 in 2017 and 201,526 in 2018, according to Construction and Planning Agency figures.
In 2018, foreign nationals accounted for 7.24 percent of the permits issued.
There will be around 1,700 booths from 60 countries at the fair, to be held Nov. 8-11 at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center.
The fair, the largest of its kind in Taiwan, will feature South Korean and Japanese tourism operators amid growing local interest in travel to those countries.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel