Hong Kong’s democracy continues to be eroded
Mass emigration anticipated
A few months ago, yours truly wrote an article on the CCP’s increased crackdown of democratic and independent elements within the (formerly) autonomous region of Hong Kong. I ended with a hopeful note and a slight sense of optimism that the wider world would finally step in and do something, anything, to halt Beijing’s authoritarian grab for domination over the former British colony. It turns out, as it often is nowadays, my optimism was completely misplaced, and I was dead wrong. While online activism is still considerable in regards to spreading information, a slew of arrests and government “reforms” have made political activism and public demonstration virtually impossible, forcing most to seek a means of escape rather than immediate change.
Following the 2019 protests and 2020 pandemic lockdown, Hong Kong’s culture of democracy and independent spirit was already in critical danger. After city legislators passed a rigid CCP-sponsored security bill last December under the guise of domestic security and “patriotism,” Beijing effectively blocked off any practical route for political opposition within Hong Kong’s governmental bodies. Following this, the HKPD made a series of arrests against pro-democracy student leaders, effectively decapitating local political and youth leadership, charging most with trumped up charges of rioting and violence against public officials. In addition, authorities have started going after the families and loved ones of public demonstrators, charging them with similar crimes without any actual evidence, effectively sentencing innocent bystanders to years of incarceration. Professors and teachers have also been targeted for “insufficient patriotism” while extreme limits on free speech and a new, state-friendly school curriculum have been introduced by the Beijing backed HK administration.
These sorts of tactics are standard for authoritarian, militaristic, or otherwise dictatorial regimes, and the cycle playing out in Hong Kong is yet another example of “might makes right” policy. The Hong Kong government, headed by Carrie Lam, has completely caved into Beijing’s demands, and is now 100 per cent complicit in its own destruction. Political opposition is now entirely illegal if deemed insufficiently patriotic, and a new system of multi-tiered surveillance, including surveillance of emails and online activity, is currently being built by the Hong Kong Police Department, making individual opposition even more dangerous. While online communities, such as the Hong Kong subreddit, remain active and continue to spread awareness of these injustices, a deep sense of defeatism has begun to take hold and few see much of future for the city they love.
The general narrative for pro-democracy and pro-Hong Kong groups has shifted completely from local demonstration to communal opposition abroad, as many within the city-state are preparing to flee while they still can. Recently, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet introduced a bipartisan bill to assist future settlement of political refugees from Hong Kong, which has received unilateral support within Parliament, as many within the British Commonwealth are preparing for a major exodus once the COVID-19 pandemic has been neutralized. Outside of this, however, the outlook is still fairly bleak, as global attention has shifted away from Hong Kong towards the state-sponsored genocide against Chinese Uyghurs. For now, there are few practical options left for Hong Kong’s struggle for self-determination.