Last week's events in Hong Kong shocked the world. In three days, multiple attacks were made on the liberties and democracy in the city.
The first attack was by ousting pro-democracy professor Benny Tai’s tenure from the Hong Kong University.
Second, came the arrest of four teenage protesters for inciting secession, as they made pro-independence comments online. Third, disqualifying 12 pro-democracy candidates from running in the September election.
A day later, the government decided to postpone the election for one year based on coronavirus fears. On the same day, the police ordered the arrest of six prominent pro-democracy activists in exile for collusion with foreign forces and for inciting secession.
It was only one month ago that the draconian national security law took effect in Hong Kong, and now the enormous crackdown on Hongkongers has begun.
In the name of safeguarding national security, the new law sought to suppress opposition voices to China’s totalitarian rule. Removing all rights such as the right to bail, jury trial and be tried in an open court, the law is one of the most draconian ever known.
Furthermore, the new law allows China to set up an office for safeguarding national security – Beijing’s officers are not required to follow Hong Kong’s local laws.
The office has been much interpreted as a Chinese version of the KGB in Hong Kong.
The new law also provides the Hong Kong police with unlimited powers, including warrantless searches. The law even stipulated when existing laws are contravened, this law will take precedence and override the Bill of Rights and may even triumph the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.
The law even allows the government to designate judges to sit on such cases and in certain circumstances will allow Mainland China to exercise jurisdiction in cases.
The national security law overrides all liberties and freedoms. Still, the fact that people can be sent to Mainland China for trial means anyone could end up in a fate similar to the two Michaels who China captured as a retaliation against Canada.
Further, Article 38 of the law clearly stated that Hongkongers must abide by this law anywhere in the world, meaning Canadians travelling to Hong Kong may be detained for saying and doing things the Chinese leadership didn’t like when these people were living abroad.
Thus, in response, Canada immediately suspended extradition arrangements in Hong Kong.
National security is a long-employed tool used by Communist China on its people to ensure loyalty and oust dissent in the Mainland.
The sacking of Benny Tai’s tenure as a law professor was politically motivated. As his involvement in the 2014 Occupy Central Movement and this year’s Legislative Council’s primary election, this was unacceptable in Beijing’s eyes.
The youngsters arrested last week were the first victims of this law – they will not be the last. We now see even the slightest doubt or thought about undermining China is unacceptable and subversive to the communist-run state.
If free exchange of thoughts and ideas can’t be made, how can one claim that freedom of speech or any freedoms still exist in Hong Kong?
The disqualification of the 12 candidates in the upcoming election was not just an assault on the candidates themselves, but an assault to all freedom-loving people on the planet. This step by Beijing effectively stripped Hongkongers of their little remaining power to voice their opposition to authoritarian rule.
Seeing the landslide victory in the district council elections by the pan-democrats, Beijing’s officials said this is an act of seizing power from the Central People’s government.
Once again, Beijing shows no understanding or approval of the democratic process as the power should be given to the people to choose the candidates they want as representatives.
In Communist China’s view, people are no more than slaves to serve the diktat of the day.
Terrified that pro-democracy camp will obtain a majority in the legislature, the government decided to postpone the election altogether.
The decision to postpone the election was made without consulting the advice of health experts. Therefore, it is clear the motive is political rather than Beijing’s claims for this to have been done in the interest of public health.
Furthermore, the Hong Kong government didn’t go through the legislature to decide whether to postpone the election, but went straight to Beijing for a resolution to override opposition or judicial review attempts.
In doing so, Beijing infringed on the right to vote, the right for representation and the right to run for office in the semi-democratic city of Hong Kong.
On the same day, the police ordered the arrest of six prominent pro-democracy activists.
The gesture was not only a sign the crackdown will continue, but even people outside of Hong Kong aren’t safe.
Much to the amazement of many, American citizens living in the United States could even be listed as wanted by the Chinese government for lobbying against the state; this is the nonsense.
As the world shifts its eyes to the coronavirus pandemic, Beijing is cracking down on the people of Hong Kong. The fate of the people in Hong Kong and the 300,000 Canadians living in the city are now on the line.
Hongkongers are not just fighting for their own survival, but a fight between authoritarian ideology and the values of the free world. Hong Kong is at the forefront of the power struggle between the West and China.
Appeasement only emboldens dictators.
Concrete actions must be put into place to not repeat the failure of the past. As Sir Winston Churchill said in his Iron Curtain speech, “There never was a war in all history easier to prevent by timely action than the one which has just desolated such great areas of the globe. It could have been prevented in my belief without the firing of a single shot [...] but no one would listen and one by one we were all sucked into the awful whirlpool. We surely must not let that happen again.”