As 2021 comes to a close, so does any remaining freedom that existed in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is now an extension of Mainland China’s communist rule. The freedom and independence that existed there only two years ago has dissipated.
In the last few days, China arrested seven employees of Stand News, one of the last remaining pro-democracy news outlets in Hong Kong. Police raided their office and arrested six current and former editors and board members in an ongoing crackdown on dissent in the “semi-autonomous” Chinese city. The Chinese authorities described the arrests as “conspiracy to publish seditious publications.”
Committee to Protect Journalists
Natasha Kahn addressed the arrests in a December 29, 2021 article in the Wall Street Journal:
“‘The arrests…amount to an open assault on Hong Kong’s already tattered press freedom,’ said Steven Butler, Asia program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists. ‘Authorities must release [them] and drop all charges against them immediately if Hong Kong is to retain any semblance of the freedoms that its residents enjoyed only a few years ago.’ The CPJ said that this year marked the first since records began in 1992 that journalists in Hong Kong were imprisoned for their work. Its 2021 prison census showed that China remains the world’s worst jailer of journalists for the third year in a row.”
One Country, Two Systems
In 1997, there was an agreement between Britain and China stating that China would have very limited involvement in Hong Kong internal affairs. This came about after Britain ended its 99 year lease of Hong Kong . The agreement was called “one country, two systems.” What might be considered a foolish aspiration from the start worked until 2019. In a year and a half, China has quickly destroyed all that remained of freedom in Hong Kong.
The Basic Law
In a July 2020 article about Hong Kong by Counter Threat Group titled, Hong Kong: China’s Calculated Move, the 1997 Hong Kong Basic Law is addressed:
“In 1997, at the end of the 99 year lease, Hong Kong was handed back over to China. It then adopted the agreement of Hong Kong Basic Law. This came under the”one country, two systems” model from the 1984 agreement. It essentially states that Hong Kong would continue its capitalist system and way of life until 2047. China would have only minimal involvement in Hong Kong internal affairs. An important aspect of the Basic Law pertains to the legal and political systems. These systems under Basic Law were set up to remain distinct from mainland China until 2047.”
Hong Kong’s original constitutional document, the Basic Law, stated, equality before the law, private ownership of property, freedom of assembly, free and unfettered flow of information, freedom of religious belief and freedom of academic research and freedom.
National Security Law
In recent years, China has exerted its heavy-hand to interfere with Hong Kong’s political candidates and elections. This led to Hong Kongers’ open protests in the streets against China’s Communist party influence. In June of 2020, China violated their 1997 agreement with Hong Kong and implemented the National Security Law to crack down on Hong Kong citizens’ protests and their open criticisms of China including China’s supresing of Hong Kong’s freedoms and independence.
Warning to Americans
The National Security Law gives China authority for anyone in Hong Kong who speaks out against the Chinese Communist Party to face abrupt arrest and detention. if you are an American traveling to Hong Kong, this applies to you as well. Foreigners speaking out against China in Hong Kong risk being arrested and detained. Freedom of speech is no longer tolerated.
As a warning to Americans considering travel to Hong Kong, the U.S. State Department categorizes Hong Kong as level 3 out of 4 on its travel advisory. Level 3 is “Reconsider Travel.” The reasons it states are:
“The PRC [People’s Republic of China] government arbitrarily enforces local laws, including by carrying out arbitrary and wrongful detentions and through the use of exit bans on U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries without due process of law…U.S. citizens traveling or residing in the PRC, including Hong Kong, may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime. U.S. citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention without due process of law.”
Beijing recently published a white paper asserting that its repression actually represents the delivery of democracy to Hong Kong. In Marxist regimes, which is the foundation of communism, the term “democracy” is always misused to mask what is really suppression and crackdown. Their harsh repercussions on those who speak out are always for “the common good” and for “democracy.”
The arrest of the Stand News employees and journalists at the end of 2021 snuffed out whatever remained of democracy and freedom of speech in Hong Kong. Democracy is no longer under threat in Hong Kong; it is essentially dead. What’s Next? Keep your eyes on Taiwan.
Photo Credit: Patricia Lazaro, Pexels