News

“I am Chinese” in Hong Kong kindergartens / Aland on course for enlarged autonomy / Gaza electricity cuts

16 to 22 June

Hong Kong and Chinese flags.
Hong Kong and Chinese flags. Author: Whampoa Sports @ Flickr
WEEKLY ROUNDUP. Making sure that Hong Kong children have a clear idea of their Chinese identity from kindergarten is one of the stated goals of the government the semi-autonomous territory for the next term, soon-to-be chief executive Carrie Lam has said. Another self-governing entity, the Aland islands, are on course for enlarged autonomy within the next years, even if the archipelago’s pro-independence party says a parliamentary proposal falls well short of expectations. Meanwhile, Gazans are trapped in the midst of a multisided power struggle that, this week, has seen the Strip suffering further electricity cuts.

 NEWS HIGHLIGHT

Campaign against Hong Kong independence ... from the kindergarten. Promoting Chinese national identity among preschoolers is one of the measures announced by Hong Kong's soon-to-be chief executive Carrie Lam, who seeks to fight the rise of independence in the former UK colony. Lam, who will assume office on July 1, says the ​​"I am Chinese " idea must be established in Hong Kong's kindergartens in order to promote "national identity" (Chinese, of course) among younger generations of Hong Kongers. According to the Hong Kong Economic Journal, Lam will be doing so under pressure from the authorities in Beijing.

Meanwhile, the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party has announced a protest coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the transfer of Hong Kong to China. With that act, the party wants to highlight the fact that "Hong Kong is still a colony. A Chinese colony."

In 2016, two pro-sovereignty leaders were elected as Members of the Hong Kong Assembly. In their oath they used non-standard formulas and they were denied the right to occupy their seats.

MOREOVER

Aland islands heading for expanded self-government in Finland. The archipelago, which has been semi-autonomous since 1921, could be devolved further powers in the years to come if an Aland Committee proposal —a Finnish Parliament intergroup that has been analysing ways of increasing the archipelago’s self-government since 2013— to approve a new Law of Autonomy is accepted. Negotiations over the new act could be launched as soon as 2018. The committee’s document envisages granting further economic autonomy and giving Aland authorities more say over future changes in self-government status. It remains to be seen whether the self-governing entity will have full fiscal autonomy, a goal that Aland parties had set for 2022. Pro-independence party Future of Aland (7% of the votes) has rejected the document, saying that it was a “dictation” from Helsinki that does not respect the Aland people’s right to self-determination. Aland is a demilitarized territory enjoying broad autonomy within Finland. Swedish is its only official language, and the archipelago has its own citizenship system and legislates over a good part of its internal affairs.

Electricity cuts in Gaza in midst of power struggle. The Israeli government, at the request of the Palestinian Authority, has reduced the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip. The Fatah-controlled Palestinian government thus seeks to exert pressure on Hamas to relinquish control over Gaza, which the Islamist movement has been holding since 2007. Egypt has sent diesel fuel supplies to Gaza in order to keep running a power plant. An alliance of 16 Israeli NGOs are calling on the Israeli government to backtrack from the decision, warning it that the measure will further aggravate poverty and a looming humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Power cuts have serious impact on hospitals and the sewage system, among other services.

New peace agreement in the Central African Republic. Facilitated by the Sant’Egidio Christian community, the deal between the government and 13 armed groups provides for a ceasefire “under international community control” and for “representativeness and recognition of all politico-military groups in the country’s rebuilding.” Central African press is skeptical over how the deal will be able to maintain peace in the war-ravaged country. One day after the deal, clashes in the centre of the country left 50 people dead. Human Rights Group believes the pact brings “real hope” for peace, but also warns that “criminal accountability for the many grave international crimes that civilians endured is crucial.” The conflict —fueled by internal political rivalries and interference from some meighbouring states— has been lasting since 2012, aggravated by ethnic and religious undertones.

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