Hong Kong

While the world is busy trying to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus, Chinese authorities last week pulled credentials from journalists at three major media outlets: the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and The Post. What is particularly shocking about this retaliatory move, after the Trump administration took action against several Chinese Communist Party-controlled outlets, is that for the first time, those foreign correspondents are also barred from reporting from Hong Kong and Macau.

This is an unprecedented decision. For decades, Hong Kong has long been known as a bastion of press freedom in the region. With protections by independent courts and civil liberties enshrined in Hong Kong’s Basic Law (equivalent to its Constitution), foreign media have been able to operate free from intervention from autocratic China.…  Seguir leyendo »

Checking the temperature of a passenger arriving at the international airport in Hong Kong. The city, like Singapore and Taiwan, has made headway in containing Covid-19.

While the spread of Covid-19 is picking up speed in Europe and the United States, among other regions, the outbreaks in some countries in Asia seem to be under control.

The epidemic in China appears to be slowing down after an explosion in cases followed by weeks of draconian control measures. And other locations have managed to avert any major outbreak by adopting far less drastic measures: for instance, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.

All have made some degree of progress, and yet each has adopted different sets of measures. So what, precisely, works to contain the spread of this coronavirus, and can that be implemented elsewhere now?…  Seguir leyendo »

“It’s gone,” I overheard my neighbor Mrs. Wong shout in Cantonese from her balcony to a man on a bicycle downstairs. “Maai saai la!” Sold out.

This was unbelievable. I jumped from the sofa, pulled on my shoes and headed across the island, to our single village supermarket, Wellcome. Just outside, a woman was struggling to bungee-tie a tower of paper towels and facial-tissue boxes onto her rickety three-wheeled shopping basket.

I raced to the back of the store. It was true: the normally abundant shelves were empty; there was not a single roll of toilet paper left in the supermarket.…  Seguir leyendo »

Al principio de su novela satírica El sueño chino, cuya tapa fue diseñada por el artista chino disidente Ai Weiwei, Ma Jian expresa su gratitud a George Orwell, autor de 1984 y Rebelión en la granja. Según Ma, Orwell “lo predijo todo”.

La reflexión de Ma (cuya obra está prohibida en China y que vive exiliado en Londres) se refiere, por supuesto, a las advertencias de Orwell sobre el peligro de un futuro totalitario de dictaduras que lavan el cerebro a la gente. Hoy, en la región de Xinjiang en China, el régimen tiene a cerca de un millón de uigures musulmanes encarcelados en centros de “reeducación”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Anti-government protesters chant slogans and wave flags at police Monday after gathering in front of an entrance to Hong Kong Polytechnic University, where a small number of protesters are held up inside. (Chris Mcgrath/AFP/Getty Images)

Sunday’s District Council elections produced landslide victories for pro-democracy candidates, just days after a Hong Kong campus turned into a siege battleground. Six months after Hong Kong’s mass protests began, where do things stand — and what’s next? Here’s what you need to know:

1. Clashes between police and protesters have become increasingly violent.

Since mid-June, protesters have demanded that Hong Kong authorities formally withdraw an extradition bill that sparked the initial mass demonstrations, open an independent investigation into police abuses, drop the “riot” characterization of the protests, release those arrested on rioting charges, and reopen a dialogue on genuine universal suffrage as promised in Hong Kong’s Basic Law.…  Seguir leyendo »

Chris McGrath/Getty Images Police watching as people formed a line at a polling station to vote in district council elections, Hong Kong, November 24, 2019

For nearly six months, people around the world have watched the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong with one question in the back of their minds: When will Beijing lose patience and the repression begin? Journalists expecting to cover Tiananmen II flew in for the most promising global story of the year, its allure bolstered by the protesters’ ability to speak English and the easily digestible narrative of David vs. Goliath, democracy vs. authoritarianism, right vs. might.

This perspective was reflected in coverage of this past weekend’s district council elections. Although these usually hinge on intensely local issues, they were pegged as a chance for voters to give a verdict on the protests.…  Seguir leyendo »

Police detaining protesters who attempted to leave the Polytechnic University campus. Photograph: Tyrone Siu/Reuters

Over the weekend, defiant young activists in Hong Kong demonstrated their capacity to look after themselves in the campus of Polytechnic University. I was there, and witnessed how the students worked together to build brick barricades, took over the canteen to feed hundreds and set up first-aid stations. This all amid a heavy police presence, and occasional volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets.

Then, on Sunday night, the police laid siege to the campus, saying everyone inside would be arrested for rioting – a serious offence punishable by 10 years in prison. The pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong has been in force since the summer, but the renewed anger is in response to the tragic death on 8 November of Chow Tsz-lok, a 22-year-old computer science student who fell from a car park during chaotic confrontations with the police.…  Seguir leyendo »

A protester defaces the Hong Kong emblem after protesters broke into the government headquarters in Hong Kong on 1 July, the 22nd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. Photo: Getty Images.

Hong Kong’s summer has taken another turn for the worse. While the vast majority of protestors have been peaceful, violence and vandalism have now become the norm — and for some the goal. Clashes with the police have continually escalated. Amid such chaos, is there a way forward for Hong Kong?

The movement has ventured far beyond the original catalyst, the government’s extradition bill, with increasingly radical dynamics abetted by inept government responses. Social media has shaped narratives which allow groups (more than individuals) to create their own reality. De-escalation is sorely needed, but elusive.

Politically speaking, the protestors have achieved a lot.…  Seguir leyendo »

FILE - In this Nov. 14, 1989 file photo two East German border guards patrolled atop of Berlin Wall with the illuminated Brandenburg Gate in background, in Berlin. (AP Photo/Jockel Finck, file)

Early into what would become a three-decade career in government service, I was completing an escape-and-evasion training exercise in the woods on Nov. 9, 1989, when, after weeks of unrest, the East German government announced that its citizens could visit West Berlin.

Upon entering the community room at our base, one of my fellow trainees, his fatigues covered in mud, saw the rest of us glued to the television. Watching the news coverage, he exclaimed, “What were we doing, training in the woods, when we should have been overseas helping to win the Cold War?”

Construction of the Berlin Wall began at the height of the Cold War in 1961.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hong Kong es desde hace mucho tiempo un actor esencial del desarrollo económico de Asia y del mundo. Pero su futuro como centro neurálgico del comercio y las finanzas internacionales está seriamente amenazado, lo mismo que su papel de puente entre China continental y el mundo exterior. Hong Kong es desde hace mucho un lugar donde las empresas internacionales son bienvenidas, y donde las disputas se resuelven en forma imparcial, transparente y de conformidad con el Estado de Derecho. Si ya no fuera así, sería una enorme pérdida para China, para Asia, para la actividad económica y financiera internacional y sobre todo para la ciudadanía de Hong Kong.…  Seguir leyendo »

La critique d’un régime autoritaire tel que celui de la Chine est plus que jamais une exigence morale au moment où des millions de Ouïgours sont persécutés au simple motif de leur ethnicité, et alors même que le reliquat d’une société ouverte à Hongkong se trouve menacé par Pékin. Cependant, comment ne pas reconnaître, et regretter, que cette critique perde en crédibilité lorsqu’elle s’énonce depuis des démocraties occidentales qui, elles-mêmes, souffrent d’un déficit de légitimité, d’une crise de la représentation et de dérives illibérales. Si la protestation est circonscrite au sein de la zone administrative spéciale de Hongkong, elle déstabilise un pouvoir central à Pékin dont le discours de légitimation était déjà fragilisé : la «révolution» n’est plus qu’un élément du roman national, le «gouvernement par la loi», une expression qui traduit les mutations du droit «socialiste» depuis Mao sans toutefois remettre en cause la tutelle du Parti sur le système juridique, et la «démocratie», une notion vide de sens qui ne dupe pas même ceux qui l’instrumentalisent.…  Seguir leyendo »

Que nadie se engañe, mostrarse indiferente con las noticias que escuchamos sobre Hong Kong no desvanece la amenaza que supone para nuestra libertad. El ataque a los derechos civiles de los hongkoneses afectará a largo plazo a los países occidentales. La propuesta de una ley de extradición que permitiría que se les juzgara en el continente chino constituye una grave agresión, porque los criterios de la Justicia resultan muy distintos a cada lado de la frontera. Esta violencia de Estado pasará factura a las naciones libres, ya que ese despotismo acabará expandiéndose por técnicas más sutiles que las armas, aparte que éstas cuenten siempre como un elemento disuasorio tácito (China posee el segundo ejército más fuerte del mundo).…  Seguir leyendo »

A protester uses a slingshot in Hong Kong on Saturday.CreditCreditLillian Suwanrumpha/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“If we burn, you burn with us.” A famous line in the movie “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay” has been given a new life in Hong Kong’s summerlong protests: It has come to represent the spirit unleashed by hundreds of thousands of protesters. As many commentators have pointed out, the massive, leaderless resistance movement here is a critical front-line battle against the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party in Beijing. A dictatorial party facing domestic and global pressures — especially from the ongoing trade negotiations with the United States — the C.C.P. is getting impatient, apparently. On Friday, it targeted leading activists and politicians in Hong Kong with a round of arrests, possibly signaling that a broader crackdown may be around the corner.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests over the summer have seen massive turnouts of 1 million people or more as well as violent encounters with police. So after 11 straight weeks, where do things stand? Here are five things to know.

1. Beijing is trying to control the narrative about Hong Kong

By invoking the term “terrorism” to describe protesters’ behavior, Beijing is trying to legitimize the use of escalated force — not by Chinese troops, but by the Hong Kong police. Internationally, Beijing hopes that countries that have curtailed civil liberty in the name of their own war against terrorism will find it hard to criticize China’s turn to repression in dealing with the situation in Hong Kong.…  Seguir leyendo »

En abril de 1989 me encontraba en Pekín con profesores y estudiantes de filosofía de la Academia de Ciencias Sociales. Aunque ya conocía China y había enseñado allí alguna vez, entonces no observé nada excepcional. Desde la detención de la camarilla maoísta en 1976 y la vuelta al poder de Deng Xiaoping, al que, en Occidente se consideraba moderado, el clima político mejoraba y la economía por fin despegaba. China parecía destinada a unirse al bando de las sociedades abiertas, y a abandonar las utopías revolucionarias y los horrores totalitarios. Aquel día mis interlocutores me abrieron los ojos: el Partido Comunista seguía siendo represivo, la libertad se mantenía a raya y la prosperidad estaba reservada a los dirigentes del partido, reconvertidos en empresarios.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protestors at a rally at Hong Kong International Airport on Wednesday.CreditCreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

As Hong Kong’s sleepless summer of political strife wears on, not a day, nay, an hour, seems to go by without someone evoking the 1989 crackdown against another group of pro-democracy protesters in Beijing. On breathless postings on Twitter, people share pictures of military exercises by Chinese troops just across the border from Hong Kong, saying or suggesting that the end is near for the protest movement here. But who knows where or when exactly those pictures were taken, or for what purpose they have been made public.

On other social networks, friends and contacts bemoan what they see as the inevitable next stage in the current escalation of violence: Chinese army boots on the ground and a blood bath in Hong Kong.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters resting on the floor of Hong Kong’s international airport on Tuesday.CreditCreditPhilip Fong/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

With the Hong Kong government paralyzed by mass protests, the chances of armed intervention from Beijing, once unthinkable, are rising by the day.

Far from hiding its intent, Beijing has been parading it in full view over the past week. The protesters, initially reviled as mobs, have been rebranded by Chinese officials as criminals and terrorists. The state media has broadcast ominous footage of its anti-riot police, who fall under the command of the People’s Liberation Army, marshaled on the Hong Kong border in Shenzhen.

To be sure, the threats against the protesters are designed to ensure that Beijing never has to carry them through.…  Seguir leyendo »

Al escuchar su respuesta entendí el problema de Hong Kong. Conocí a mi amiga hongkonesa en una discoteca pija de Barcelona y nos pusimos a charlar de política. Le conté que había visitado Hong Kong un par de años atrás. Lo que más me fascinó entonces fue que, justo al llegar a la ciudad, me encontré con una manifestación ante mis narices. Había pasado meses trabajando en China continental como periodista y ver una protesta cruzando la calle era para mí una absoluta novedad. Parecía que hubiera entrado en otra realidad.

Mi amiga me explicó que iba a estudiar en una escuela de negocios de élite de Barcelona.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters occupy the arrival hall of the Hong Kong International Airport during a demonstration on August 12, 2019 in Hong Kong, China (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

La crisis en Hong Kong parece acercarse velozmente a un clímax devastador. El gobierno de China ha comenzado a usar una retórica similar a la que precedió a la masacre de la plaza Tiananmen en junio de 1989, y es muy posible que los manifestantes prodemocracia (y de hecho, la democracia misma) de Hong Kong estén en grave peligro.

Hong Kong lleva más de dos meses alterada por protestas. Nacidas en respuesta a un proyecto de ley que permitiría la extradición de presuntos delincuentes al territorio continental de China, las manifestaciones se convirtieron luego en llamados más amplios a salvaguardar (o, para ser más precisos, restaurar) la democracia semiautónoma del territorio, incluido fortalecer la rendición de cuentas del aparato estatal (especialmente la policía).…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters march near the skyline of Hong Kong on July 7. (Kin Cheung/AP)

The Hong Kong government had described some of the early protests in Hong Kong as a “riots.” On Aug. 7, Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, said the protests have taken on “color revolution characteristics,” warning that “the central government will not sit back and do nothing.”

Wang Zhimin, head of Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong, added that the crisis has evolved into a “battle of life and death.” An anti-riot drill across the border in Shenzhen and earlier troop drills by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) garrison in Hong Kong suggest that Beijing has a close eye on Hong Kong.…  Seguir leyendo »