Hong Kong church rejects charges of pro-Beijing bias

Leaders of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui have called criticisms of their archbishop by student leaders and pro-democracy activists misguided

Leaders of the Anglican Church in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, have called criticisms of their archbishop by student leaders and pro-democracy activists misguided, saying the Most Rev. Paul Kwong is pro-peace. On 4 June 2016 over 125,000 people commemorated the 27th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in Beijing at a candlelight vigil in Victoria Park. Eleven student unions boycotted the ceremony, holding forums that drew an estimated 3000 people. Althea Suen Hiu-nam, president of the University of Hong Kong’s student union said the candlelight vigil “should come to an end as it did not help any progress for Hong Kong democratic development.” Ng Kwai-lung, head of Shue Yan University’s student union attacked the organizers of the vigil for being tools of Communist regime, calling them “pimps and bawds of a brothel.” The student protests have drawn criticism from the Hong Kong press, with some newspapers noting the closing prayer at the candlelight vigil in memory of those killed on 4 June 1989, was Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, a strong critics of the regime.  Last month a Hong Kong magazine accused Archbsihop Kwong of severing ties with Chung Chi College, the divinity college of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, on orders from Beijing. argued the HKSHK decision to cut its ties with Chung Chi College was part of a campaing by “by Beijing to penetrate Hong Kong churches to persuade them to focus on spiritual matters and support the administration in the fields of education and social welfare.” The magazine said the college had angered the government when it supported students who had joined the pro-democracy Occupy campaign of 2014. It further said that Archbishop Kwong’s appointment to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference made the “church a subject of the Communist Party’s rule. In fact, the appointment implies that the Anglican Church is no longer an independent Christian church but a part of the Communist Party,” and part of the “pro-Beijing camp”. The HKSKH’s general secretary, the Rev. Peter Douglas Koon,  disputed the claim the decision to end ties with Chung Chi College was politically motivated. In an interview with the diocesan newspaper he said the Anglican Church had not sent candidates to the divinity school or supported the college financially since the 1980s. The diocese had formed its own theological seminary, Ming Hua Theological College and it had a “responsibility to focus their effort and resources” on that institution. In August 2015 also accused Fr. Koon harboring pro-Beijing sentiments. At that time he told the Church of England Newspaper “this  accusation is without merit. It is simply the extremely politicized state of affairs in Hong Kong society right now that lends false credibility to [the magazine’s] statement.” Fr. Koon explained “I think the students should express their opinion in a non-violent way. Otherwise they would (against their wishes) be drawing people’s attention away from their agenda and to their violent acts instead. And expressing oneself through violence is I believe what every civic society despises.”

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