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Hong Kong’s Universities Have Fallen. There May Be No Turning Back

For nearly a quarter of a century, the Pillar of Shame has stood on the campus of Hong Kong University — a 26-foot-tall commemoration of the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Last month, the university ordered the pillar’s removal.

The order is a striking blow in the government’s ongoing campaign to erase the memory of the 1989 atrocity: First, it banned the candlelight vigil held annually on June 4, arrested the vigil’s key organizers and raided a museum that documents the history of the massacre. But this is about far more than a statue.

Along with the removal of the Pillar of Shame, political pressure from the government and university administrations has incapacitated two major university student unions.…  Seguir leyendo »

I covered Hong Kong for decades. Now I am forced to flee China’s ‘white terror’

When I arrived in Hong Kong in 1987 as the Observer’s south-east Asia correspondent, the foreign editor said he saw it as being a base, not the kind of territory that would generate much news but it was a safe place to be, communications were good and I was unlikely to have any visa problems. I thought I might stay a couple of years and move on. Thirty-five years later, I have, with great sadness, moved on and no one in their right mind can possibly assert that Hong Kong is a safe place for journalists.

The white terror – the term used to describe the ruthless elimination of the opposition in Taiwan following the imposition of Kuomintang rule and more recently taken up by the opposition in Hong Kong to describe similar events in the city – is relentless, swooping down not just on journalists, but on prominent opposition leaders, teachers, lawyers and, recently, speech therapists who had the temerity to write a children’s book about sheep that dared to answer back; they have been charged with subversion.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman raises her hands in a symbol of “Five demands, not one less” at Causeway Bay after police denied permission for a protest rally during the 24th anniversary of the former British colony's return to Chinese rule, on the 100th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of China, in Hong Kong on Thursday. (Lam Yik/Reuters)

On Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping personally led nationwide celebrations to mark the 100-year anniversary of the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party. In his speech commemorating the day, Xi celebrated the party’s accomplishments, predicted the “rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” and warned that any foreign force that tries to bully China would “find themselves on a collision course with a great wall of steel forged by over 1.4 billion Chinese people.”

But most people in Hong Kong did not celebrate. For them, this day marked the loss of their freedoms and democratic institutions. Since 1997, July 1 has been the high point of a series of annual protests and rallies celebrating Hong Kong’s once-flourishing civil society.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pedestrians in Hong Kong take selfies with the flags of China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on Wednesday ahead of the anniversary of the territory’s return to China. (Lam Yik/Bloomberg News)

In the past month, under mounting government pressure, Hong Kong’s Apple Daily closed — eliminating the city’s most influential pro-democracy newspaper. China banned two annual democratic traditions — the June 4 vigil to commemorate the Tiananmen Massacre and the July 1 march commemorating Hong Kong’s 1997 handover to China — on public health grounds, although most coronavirus restrictions have been lifted. Chief Executive Carrie Lam refused to say whether such protests would be categorically banned by the national security law (NSL) passed a year ago. But since the law has been used as a pretext to silence critics of the government’s authority, activists worry that any mass protests would trigger arrests and punishment under the NSL, since the protests, by their nature, are criticisms.…  Seguir leyendo »

La muerte de la libertad de prensa en Hong Kong

El periódico hongkonés Apple Daily ha sido obligado a cerrar. El día del cierre, la gente hizo fila para comprar un último ejemplar; se imprimió un millón. El destino de la publicación estaba sellado desde el año pasado, cuando el gobierno comunista de China impuso a Hong Kong una dura Ley de Seguridad Nacional. La policía allanó sus oficinas; amenazaron con violencia a sus periodistas; inmovilizaron sus activos, de modo que ya no pudo pagar salarios. Arrestaron a varios directivos y al editorialista.

Al periódico se lo acusó del delito de «confabulación con potencias extranjeras», o como expresó rudamente el ex jefe del ejecutivo hongkonés, C. …  Seguir leyendo »

Pro-democracy candidates and their supporters during primaries in Hong Kong in July ahead of planned legislative elections. On Sunday, scores of organizers and participants in the primaries were charged with conspiring to subvert the Hong Kong and mainland authorities. Credit Lam Yik/Reuters

On Sunday, the Hong Kong authorities charged 47 pro-democracy activists with “conspiracy to commit subversion” against the Chinese government under the national security law it imposed on the city last summer. Beijing must be happy with the catch, which elegantly nets under a single accusation both advocates of outright independence for Hong Kong and the city’s old-school loyal opposition. The People’s Republic of China is safe now. Glory to its leader.

But what exactly was these criminals’ crime? Organizing or taking part in primaries in July ahead of legislative elections initially scheduled for September, and for daring to strategize. Were the pro-democracy camp to win a majority, some participants said at the time, it could vote down the government’s budget, possibly forcing it to resign.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, left, in Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre after being jailed for unauthorized assembly near the police headquarters during the 2019 anti-government protests in Hong Kong. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

On Tuesday, Hong Kong authorities arrested and detained overnight more than 50 pro-democracy activists and politicians. After more than 40 hours of detention, many were released with their travel documents confiscated but face the potential of years in prison. This mass crackdown shows Beijing is not afraid of showing its teeth and acting like a thug. It will not stop until it has eliminated all opposing voices in Hong Kong. There is no chance for coexistence — and it’s time the international community recognized that.

Those arrested this week were the participants and organizers of the primary elections for the legislative council originally scheduled in September 2020 but postponed by the Hong Kong government.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘In 2019, Carrie Lam called protesters “enemies of the people”. In 2020, she extended that designation to all who opposed the security law.’ Photograph: Lam Yik/Reuters

The arrest of 53 activists in Hong Kong on national security charges represents the purge of an entire generation of politicians. Police also demanded documents from three news organisations and for the first time arrested a foreign citizen – the US human rights lawyer John Clancey – on national security charges. These moves represent an assault on civil society the aim of which appears to be the destruction of the system that nurtured the type of political engagement that brought nearly 2 million people – almost a quarter of the population – out on to the streets in 2019.

Those arrested are suspected of subversion, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘In Hong Kong, there’s no denying that political life is severely under threat.’ A protester attempting to march in opposition to the national security law, in May. Photograph: Aidan Marzo/SOPA Images/Rex/Shutterstock

“Check out that security guard”, Alex said, nodding to my left.

Alex (not his real name) is a protester in his early 20s, and I was meeting him for coffee at the only “yellow” pro-democracy cafe in New Town Plaza, Hong Kong, a once quiet shopping mall in my home district that last year became a battleground in massive anti-government protests. I turned to look: sure enough, there was a guard standing to the side of the main square, staring out into the crowd. I hadn’t noticed him before. Now I can’t help but catch him in the corner of my eye every time I pass through.…  Seguir leyendo »

When I fled Hong Kong in late June, I did not reveal my whereabouts due to security concerns. People suspected that I would be in the US, as I was involved in political advocacy work in Capitol Hill when I was studying at Yale University in 2019. But I indeed chose another path – I arrived in London and became an international advocate for Hong Kong’s democratic movement. I’ve struggled with the question of whether I should stay in the UK for the long term, but I’ve now come to a decision – an application for asylum in the UK has been submitted.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mi hombre del año

El 12 de diciembre, Jimmy Lai, un exitoso empresario y audaz promotor de la libertad y la democracia fue llevado a los tribunales de Hong Kong, esposado y encadenado, acusado de violar la ley de seguridad nacional recientemente impuesta por el Partido Comunista de China (PCCh). La meta de las autoridades chinas al acusar a Lai era reforzar los nuevos límites de la ley, el disenso y la autonomía en la ciudad.

El juez fue seleccionado por la acomodaticia jefa del poder ejecutivo de Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, cuya principal responsabilidad es ejecutar las malévolas instrucciones del PCCh para la ciudad.…  Seguir leyendo »

Claudia Mo, one of the pro-democracy members of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council who resigned in protest earlier this month. With China now firmly in control of LegCo, the body will soon become another rubber-stamping organ of the Chinese Communist Party. Credit Jerome Favre/EPA, via Shutterstock

As of a couple of weeks ago, Hong Kong no longer has a formal political opposition. The entire pro-democracy camp resigned from Hong Kong’s Legislative Council in protest over a resolution by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in Beijing that legalized the removal of four opposition legislators — a decision Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, had essentially requested.

Is that what Mrs. Lam had in mind on Wednesday when in her latest annual policy address, she claimed that she “seeks to restore Hong Kong’s constitutional order”? Or when she reaffirmed a “steadfast determination to implement ‘one country, two systems’” — the governance system that is supposed to protect the city’s semi-autonomy from Beijing — only then to chide that “some people’s awareness of the ‘one country’ principle has yet to be enhanced”?…  Seguir leyendo »

Hong Kong is China, like it or not

No amount of outcry, condemnation or sanctions over the Chinese government’s purported encroachment in Hong Kong’s affairs will alter the fact that Hong Kong is part of China and that its destiny is intertwined with the mainland’s.

Hong Kong has been rocked by a series of crises after the eruption of protests last year over a proposed bill (long since withdrawn) that would have allowed the extradition of some suspects in criminal cases to mainland China.

Hong Kongers who wanted the city promptly to return to peace thought the authorities’ handling of the situation, which dragged on for months and grew more and more violent, was incompetent.…  Seguir leyendo »

Police cordoned off the headquarters of the tabloid Apple Daily after Mr. Lai’s arrest. Credit Getty Images

Ever since a new round of pro-democracy protests broke out in Hong Kong last year, journalists from both local and global media have exposed how freedoms are shrinking, human rights are deteriorating and police brutality is worsening in the city.

Now, with new sweeping powers under the national security law that China promulgated for Hong Kong on June 30, the news media themselves are in the Chinese government’s cross hairs.

The publisher Jimmy Lai, whose media company puts out the popular tabloid Apple Daily, has long been one of Beijing’s most vocal critics in Hong Kong. Mr. Lai was arrested on Monday morning under the recent law, for allegedly colluding with foreign forces.…  Seguir leyendo »

Jimmy Lai, a Hong Kong pro-democracy media mogul, was led away from his home Monday after his arrest under the new national security law. Credit Vernon Yuen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Early on Monday, the police in Hong Kong arrested Jimmy Lai, founder of the popular tabloid Apple Daily, on charges of collusion with a foreign country, one of the vaguely defined crimes under the anti-sedition law adopted this spring by Beijing. It was the latest and clearest signal that China intends to make full use of that sweeping new legislation to stifle free expression and undermine Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

Mr. Lai, an ardent critic of the Chinese Communist Party who had used his wealth to finance pro-democracy activities, knew it was coming. In an Op-Ed in The Times in May, shortly before the government in Beijing announced its intention to pass the law, he wrote: “I have feared that one day the Chinese Communist Party would grow tired not only of Hong Kong’s free press but also of its free people.…  Seguir leyendo »

Some provisions in the new National Security Law concocted in Beijing and being enforced on the streets of Hong Kong also apply to people outside of Hong Kong. Credit Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

On Thursday, July 30, I fell asleep watching reruns of “Law and Order.” The next morning, I woke up a fugitive.

Chinese state television said that the Hong Kong authorities had issued arrest warrants for six activists who promote democracy for that supposedly semi-autonomous region.

I was one of the six. The charges? “Inciting secession” and “colluding with foreign powers” — part of the National Security Law imposed on July 1 by the Chinese Communist Party. Both crimes are punishable by up to life in prison.

It doesn’t matter that I’ve been an American citizen for 25 years — having left Hong Kong in 1990 to live in the United States.…  Seguir leyendo »

Members of the Civic Party at a news conference in Hong Kong on Thursday after 12 candidates were barred from running in the legislative election in September. The next day, the election was postponed. Credit Kin Cheung/Associated Press

And now, it’s election fraud.

The Chinese Communist Party’s onslaught against the rights and the freedoms of the Hong Kong people continues. On June 30, it imposed on the city a new national security law. Within hours the police arrested people simply for possessing banners that said “Hong Kong Independence”.

On Thursday, the Hong Kong authorities disqualified 12 candidates from the pro-democracy camp, including four sitting legislators, from running in the election for the Legislative Council, known as LegCo, scheduled for early September: They questioned the candidates’ sincerity in pledging allegiance to the government.

An official government statement listed “expressing an objection in principle” to the new national security law as one of the grounds for disqualification — adding, “There is no question of any political censorship, restriction of the freedom of speech or deprivation of the right to stand for elections as alleged by some members of the community”.…  Seguir leyendo »

China finalized Hong Kong’s national security law (NSL) in late June, imposing a number of restrictions after a secretive process without public consultation and legislative deliberation. A mid-June survey conducted by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (PORI) shows a majority of Hong Kongers firmly oppose the law, even before the full impact of the measure was clear.

Critics call the NSL “the end of Hong Kong” because it operates above the Basic Law (Hong Kong’s mini-constitution), making it easier for Chinese and Hong Kong authorities to target political activities challenging Beijing’s authority.

What will this mean for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement?…  Seguir leyendo »

The national security law that China passed last week is scary for many reasons: It severely limits free speech in Hong Kong, which had been a fixture of life for decades; it allows the authorities to take suspects from Hong Kong and try them in mainland China, where people such as the recently detained writer and law professor Xu Zhangrun are prosecuted for simply expressing their opinions; it establishes a secret police structure in Hong Kong that will operate outside of the law. And in threatening to arrest anyone who advocates Hong Kong’s independence, the law seems to assert jurisdiction over every person on the planet.…  Seguir leyendo »

On the 23rd anniversary of their handover to China on Wednesday, supporters of democracy and independence in Hong Kong could be forgiven for feeling they've just awoken to their worst nightmare.

Overnight, and with no consultation, Hong Kong essentially became a legal and security jurisdiction of China, denying its citizens the 27 more years of semi-autonomy Beijing had promised under the "one country, two systems" model that was to have been in effect until 2047.

A new national security law -- dubbed the "anti-protest law" -- was rubber stamped by the National People's Congress in May and signed by Chinese President Xi Jinping this week.…  Seguir leyendo »