Pro-Beijing Hong Kong newspaper attacks Cardinal Zen

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A pro-Beijing newspaper in Hong Kong has accused Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, the former bishop of Hong Kong, of abusing his clerical status to engage in anti-China activities.

Ta Kungpaoa Chinese-language newspaper sponsored by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), published four articles explicitly targeting the 90-year-old Cardinal Zen and the Church in Hong Kong, China Aid reported on February 25.

The first article published on January 27 alleged that Cardinal Zen had “a long history of abusing his clerical status to engage in anti-China activities and wreak havoc in Hong Kong.” He also instigated students to break government rules in 2019, he claimed.

In the 2019 pro-democracy violence, nearly 40% of those arrested were students from some 300 schools. Many came from Christian schools and “were incited by teachers and clergy” to participate in the violence, he claimed.

Cardinal Zen, who resigned as bishop of Hong Kong in 2009, “has long abused his clerical status to gang up with Hong Kong pro-independence elements” such as Jimmy Lai and Martin Lee” to engaging in anti-China activities”. , said the article.

Media mogul Lai, 73, and Lee, 84, a former Hong Kong lawmaker, are both Catholics. They were arrested and jailed last year for allegedly participating in pro-democracy rallies in violation of the national security law introduced on July 1, 2020.

He condemned the Chinese government for forcibly demolishing churches and crosses in various parts of China from 2014 to 2016.

“It is reported that from 2006 to December 2013, Jimmy Lai provided Cardinal Zen with more than 20 million yuan [US$3.1 million] in political donations,” the article said.

In addition, sections of the articles also alleged that the Church had “incited riots” among Hong Kong students and provided shelter for pro-democracy protesters. They suggested that Hong Kong’s religious institutions should be placed under government control.

Salesian Cardinal Zen served as Bishop of Hong Kong from 2002 to 2009 and was appointed Cardinal in 2006. Widely known for his social activism and advocacy in social movements, he publicly championed democratic values ​​until the introduction of the security law.

He has long been a target of the CCP for his opposition to party policies and the suppression of human rights and religious freedom in China.

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He condemned the Chinese government for the forced demolition of churches and crosses in various parts of China from 2014 to 2016. He led masses for the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre by the People’s Liberation Army of China.

Cardinal Zen did not respond to attacks by the pro-Beijing newspaper.

Prominent lawyer and religious liberty scholar Nina Shea warned that the articles should be seen as part of a CCP campaign against the cardinal.

The articles suggest the CCP feels “the need for greater control over Hong Kong,” Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, wrote in an op-ed published by the period time.

Cardinal Zen is one of the few prominent Chinese clergy in recent years to dare to criticize Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s repressive policy of sinicization

The four articles “look like a denunciation campaign of the kind presaging a new crackdown” by the CCP.

Shea says the CCP has many reasons to target Cardinal Zen.

He has drawn the ire of the CCP because he is “one of the few prominent Chinese clergy in recent years who dares to criticize Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s repressive Sinicization policy for mainland churches,” he said. she declared.

China Aid suggests that Ta Kung paoThe attacks should not be ignored and should attract international attention as it has a history of offensive propaganda at the behest of the CCP against pro-democracy activists and supporters.

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