US regulation agency Davis Polk & Wardwell has been condemned for agreeing to participate in a Hong Kong authorities party to commemorate the city’s controversial countrywide protection law.
Martin Rogers, the firm’s Asia chair, will look at an celebration to mark the next anniversary of the sweeping law, which was introduced in response to pro-democracy protests in 2019 and been applied to crack down on opposition in the metropolis.
The regulation has been invoked to prosecute superior-profile activists and lawmakers including Joshua Wong and media mogul Jimmy Lai. Cardinal Joseph Zen, the territory’s former most senior Roman Catholic cleric, Cantopop singer Denise Ho, barrister Margaret Ng and scholar Hui Po-keung had been arrested under the regulation past 7 days.
The Nationwide Protection Regulation Lawful Forum on May 28 will include participation from major mainland and Hong Kong officers, which includes associates from a state security company set up in the city adhering to the protests.
Rogers wrote in a LinkedIn post that he was “honoured to be invited to speak” as component of a panel dialogue on instances underneath the countrywide security law and explained other periods as “interesting and important”.
One keynote speech by a senior Chinese formal will protect how the protection regulation has “won the hearts of the people” and established Hong Kong on a route from “chaos to order”.
The celebration has been organised by Hong Kong’s justice section, led by Teresa Cheng, who has been subjected to US sanctions for “undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and limiting the freedom of expression or assembly of the citizens of Hong Kong”.
Rogers is the only non-public sector attorney on the community agenda and critics mentioned his participation could give the perception that his company endorsed the regulation.
“It is no honour . . . Not a fantastic glance,” explained Donald Clarke, a Chinese legislation professor at George Washington College Legislation College. “If you experience honoured to be speaking at these types of an celebration, you want to critically rethink your strategies about what is honourable.”
Samuel Bickett, a US attorney who was forced out of the territory right after currently being jailed and accused of assaulting a plainclothes police officer through the protests, reported the event was “blatantly propagandistic”.
“Even a cursory appear at the agenda for this collecting would have discovered to Martin Rogers and any person who authorised his involvement that this is a propaganda event,” stated Bickett, who has denied the accusations and become an advocate for authorized legal rights and civil liberties in Hong Kong.
“There is a single motive and just one explanation by itself that Davis Polk and Martin Rogers have been invited: since the presence of a prestigious US legislation company offers the party a false cover of legitimacy . . . Davis Polk should pull out of the event.”
Davis Polk and Rogers did not instantly reply to a request for comment.
Grenville Cross, a British barrister and former director of general public prosecutions in Hong Kong who will appear alongside Rogers at the function, explained industry experts should not be “muzzled” from sharing their views on the security legislation.
“Was it not Voltaire who explained, I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the loss of life your appropriate to say it? Probably those criticising Mr Rogers ought to be reminded of that,” he explained. “The right of Mr Rogers to liberty of speech really should be revered.”
The disclosure of Davis Polk’s involvement adopted a different controversy for US legislation business Mayer Brown, which was employed very last yr by the University of Hong Kong as it tried using to take away a memorial to the Tiananmen Square massacre from its campus.
The Chicago-dependent agency was greatly criticised by US lawmakers for symbolizing HKU and subsequently withdrew from the position.