Former Cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken has expressed his fears for religious freedom in Hong Kong as Beijing tightens its grip.

Rev Aitken, now a Church of England priest, said that “the skies are darkening for religious freedom in Hong Kong” and that the signs are “increasingly ominous”, UCANews reports

He said that many freedoms in the former British colony have been “almost completely dismantled” since the imposition of the National Security Law two years ago. 

These include freedom of the press and academia, as well as freedom of expression, with journalists and pro-democracy actors among those arrested and imprisoned.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is “ruthless in his silencing of all who exercise their freedom of expression to voice, let alone demonstrate in support of views different from that of the regime”, he contined.

Within China, his regime has acted like “tough totalitarian thugs” towards religious communities.

Aitken also commented on the recent arrest of 90-year-old Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen, which he called an act of “total disrespect” and “a symbol of the regime’s anti-faith attitudes”.

Aitken warned that religious freedom appeared to be “next on the hit list by the destructive forces” in Beijing. 

His comments coincided with the 25th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong. He said the Communist regime had “systematically broken” its promises to protect Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy.

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