Former Hong Kong Christian leader urges unity among churches as Beijing revives 'autocracy'

A former leader of an influential Christian body in Hong Kong has criticized officials for reviving "autocracy" and said churches ought to remain united amid the challenges they are facing.

(REUTERS / Bobby Yip)Newly elected lawmaker Yau Wai-ching displays a banner before taking oath at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China October 12, 2016.

On Dec. 31, Rev. Po Kam-cheong's nine-year tenure as the Hong Kong Christian Council secretary general came to an end. In an article, he talked about his observations on their political affairs, saying the one country principle had been slowly taking over the "one country, two systems" principle which had been guaranteed under the constitution after Hong Kong was handed by Britain to China in 1997, the South China Morning Post relayed.

In recent years, Beijing officials have been stressing the importance of Hong Kong citizens' respect for China's constitution. Po said he had not been truly happy during the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover because there were some prominent student leaders who were still jailed after barging into government offices.

"I've never thought that everything in Hong Kong would get better under the Communist Party's rule, but I couldn't imagine either that 40 years after the death of Mao Zedong ... the spectre of the Cultural Revolution would re-emerge and autocracy would revive," said Rev. Po.

He added: "[I thought] countries around the world ... would gradually become democratic, but things have gone the opposite way."

In light of the situation, Rev. Po called on churches to be united and courageous in expressing their faith despite the challenges from the government. He also expressed confidence that the Christian faith would grant people courage, clear minds, and vision regarding the future of Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's justice secretary, Rimsky Yuen, stepped down from his position on Jan. 5 amid the ongoing tensions with Beijing over judicial independence. His resignation came four years before the supposed end of his term, Radio Free Asia reported.

Yuen has not commented on the reason for the timing of his resignation. However, he admitted that although the decision was not easy for him, he believes that he should "do different things."