Hong Kong

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Kong has been rocked by a series of crises after the eruption of protests last year over a proposed bill (long since withdrawn) that would have allowed the extradition of some suspects in criminal cases to mainland China.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

Police officers clashing with protesters at a shopping mall in Hong Kong on July 1. Credit Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

Last year, in July, a month after the protests over an extradition bill began in Hong Kong, I renewed the lease on my flat. For the first time since I turned 18, I would be living in the same apartment for more than two years. It felt like an accomplishment, like I was a real adult.

My place is almost 300 square feet, and it has a view of trees and steps, which is such an improvement from my last flat that sometimes just looking out the window makes me emotional. I ordered a cheap Ikea carpet and put up old posters.…  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 »

Hongkongers raise blank papers after slogans were banned. Photograph: Tyrone Siu/Reuters

Writing about the protest movement in Hong Kong, I began to notice the absences everywhere I went. A moving patchwork of white, black and grey squares decorated walls and pavements, as more and more protest slogans were erased from the public gaze. Now, with Beijing’s enactment of national security legislation in Hong Kong, that void has suddenly gaped wider, swallowing words, ideas, open discussion, and even people from public view.

The legislation bans secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The first sight of it for Hongkongers was the moment that it came into effect on Tuesday at 11pm, ahead of the annual 1 July protest march, which itself had been declared illegal.…  Seguir leyendo »

Police detain a protester after spraying pepper spray during a protest in Causeway Bay before the annual handover march in Hong Kong on Wednesday, as Hong Kong marked the 23rd anniversary of its handover to China in 1997 — and just one day after China enacted a national security law that cracks down on protests in the territory. (Vincent Yu/AP)

Now that it has arrived, Beijing’s much-feared national security law for Hong Kong heralds nothing less than imperialism with Chinese characteristics.

Imperialism need not always follow the classic British model of colonizing distant lands and peoples. No less typical in recent times is rule over groups with distinctive claims closer to home. But as China’s officials used to point out to the British, imperialism goes hand in fist with repression. With the new national security law, Beijing ironically doubles down on a disastrous model pioneered by Britain itself.

The key to this approach is the law’s adoption of a separate and draconian judicial system.…  Seguir leyendo »

Riot police walk past a fire set by people protesting the new national security law on Wednesday in Hong Kong. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

The French revolutionaries’ instrument for administering the 1793-1794 Reign of Terror was the Committee of Public Safety. Today, China’s totalitarians, displaying either ignorance of this unsavory history, or arrogance in flaunting their emulation of it, call their new instrument for suffocating Hong Kong the Commission for Safeguarding National Security. Yet again, actual tyranny is imposed in the supposed service of safety.

Acting as communists do, the leaders of China’s Communist Party, which is the bone and sinew of that nation’s Leninist party-state, have, less than halfway through their commitment, shredded the agreement to respect Hong Kong’s autonomy until 2047. The new law mocks the rule of law, which requires sufficient specificity to give those subject to the law due notice of what is proscribed or prohibited.…  Seguir leyendo »

A police officer in Hong Kong on Tuesday standing guard near protesters opposing Beijing’s new national security legislation for the city. The law criminalizes, among other things, threats to China’s national unity, including calls for Hong Kong to become independent from the mainland. Credit Vincent Yu/Associated Press

After many years of rejecting the people of Hong Kong’s persistent demands for genuine universal suffrage and other rights, China made its position clear again on Tuesday with the legislative equivalent of a cracking head bash.

It chose the eve of July 1, a triple anniversary — of the birth of the Chinese Communist Party (1921), the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China (1997) and a break-in of the city’s legislature by pro-democracy activists (2019) — to pass a draconian national security law that will forever harm Hong Kong’s political freedoms and hobble its economic relations with the rest of the world.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hong Kong está sobre el filo de la navaja. Alguna vez fue una de las ciudades más libres y más abiertas de Asia, pero hoy enfrenta el espectro de una nueva ley de seguridad impuesta por China que cercenaría las libertades de su pueblo y crearía un clima de miedo. La ley está en flagrante incumplimiento de la Declaración Conjunta Sino-Británica, que se registró en las Naciones Unidas, y abriría el camino a violaciones generalizadas de los derechos humanos. Las Naciones Unidas no pueden permitir que esto suceda.

El Reino Unido le devolvió Hong Kong a China hace 23 años con la promesa de que el territorio gozaría de un “alto grado de autonomía” bajo el principio de “un país, dos sistemas” durante por lo menos 50 años.…  Seguir leyendo »

La hora de la verdad de Hong Kong

Siempre hubo algo ilusorio en la Declaración Conjunta Sino-Británica de 1984 que garantizaba la continuación del sistema capitalista y las libertades básicas de Hong Kong durante 50 años después del retorno de la ciudad a la soberanía china en 1997. La Declaración Conjunta había sido posible gracias a la fórmula inteligente de “un país, dos sistemas” del líder chino Deng Xiaoping, que le permitió al Reino Unido retirarse, salvando las apariencias, de una posición colonial que ya no podía defender.

La ilusión radicaba en la noción de que un segundo sistema basado en la libertad económica y el estado de derecho se podía mantener durante 50 años dentro de una dictadura comunista.…  Seguir leyendo »

Desde que la dinastía Qin incorporó la región de Hong Kong a China en el año 214 antes de Cristo, la ciudad ha sido una posesión imperial. Durante la mayor parte de su historia, fue una mancha remota e insignificante en el mapa de sucesivos imperios chinos. Hasta que, en 1842, el imperio británico se la arrebató al emperador manchú Qing. Luego, en 1997, el territorio se convirtió en Región Autónoma Especial del imperio informal chino gobernado por el Partido Comunista.

Taiwán también tiene una larga historia imperial; perteneció en distintas épocas a varios emperadores chinos, a Holanda y España en el siglo XVII, a Japón entre 1895 y 1945 y, desde ese año, a los nacionalistas chinos exiliados que afirmaban ser los gobernantes legítimos de China.…  Seguir leyendo »

Alda Tsang/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images A participant displaying images on a tablet device at a vigil in Victoria Park linking pro-democracy protests with the 1989 Tiananmen Square in China, Hong Kong, June 4, 2020

Hong Kong has long been haunted by the thought of its future. Many of its citizens worry that it will become just another mainland Chinese city. This fear is often voiced as though to ward it off. But it is also spoken of as if it is already a reality.

That future, for many, was brought closer on Thursday May 21. The sky was clear, VPNs were jammed. China’s political elite entered the Great Hall of the People for the Two Sessions, the country’s most important annual political event. The fifth item on the agenda was a document, known in China as a “decision,” that stated the official intent to draw up a National Security Law for Hong Kong.…  Seguir leyendo »

People hold candles as they gather to commemorate the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, in Hong Kong on Thursday, defying a unprecedented ban on congregating. (Roy Liu/Bloomberg News)

Thirty-one years ago, the Chinese government massacred thousands of pro-democracy protesters in Beijing, but the international community moved on in relatively short order. Today, this same regime is killing the freedom of 8 million people in Hong Kong. The survivors of the Tiananmen Square massacre are warning the world not to repeat the mistakes it made in 1989.

On June 4, 1989, Chinese troops imported from outside the Beijing region slaughtered protesters petitioning for reforms as the world watched in horror. The following day, then-British Ambassador Sir Alan Donald penned a secret cable back to London estimating 10,000 innocent civilians had been murdered and detailing gross atrocities, including crowds of people run over by tanks and their “remains incinerated and then hosed down drains.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Tourists take photos of the Potala Palace beneath a security camera in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, on Sept. 19, 2015. (Aritz Parra/AP)

Last week, China’s National People’s Congress set in motion new, restrictive legislation for Hong Kong. Activists in Hong Kong have already dubbed this move as the final nail in the coffin of the Basic Law, which guaranteed the people of Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy to govern their own affairs.

Beijing has previously made promises of autonomy in other restive regions — like Tibet. Grasping how Chinese leaders have repeatedly offered Tibetan autonomy, only to rescind it, reveals what the future might hold for Hong Kong.

China annexed Tibet in 1951

Following a brief military campaign in Tibet, in 1951 Mao Zedong promised the rooftop of the world the right to self-governance — if Tibet in return accepted it would become a part of the newly founded People’s Republic of China.…  Seguir leyendo »

En mi discurso final como gobernador de Hong Kong el 30 de junio de 1997, pocas horas antes de abandonar la ciudad en el yate real de Gran Bretaña, dije que “Ahora, el pueblo de Hong Kong tiene que gobernar Hong Kong. Ésta es la promesa. Y éste es el destino irreversible”.

Esa promesa figuraba en la Declaración Conjunta de 1984, un tratado firmado por China y el Reino Unido ante las Naciones Unidas. El acuerdo era claro, y la garantía para los ciudadanos de Hong Kong era absoluta: el retorno de la ciudad de una soberanía británica a una soberanía china estaría gobernado por el principio de “un país, dos sistemas”.…  Seguir leyendo »