The Chinese Communist Party’s goal of destroying the liberties and freedoms that the citizens of Hong Kong have enjoyed for decades continues to move relentlessly. This week, the Hong Kong government headed by Beijing loyalist Carrie Lam said that it was going to approve a bill mandating that elected officers need to swear an oath of loyalty to the city’s constitution or risk being disbarred from office.
In order to understand what’s happening in Hong Kong we first need a bit of historical context. In 1998, the United Kingdom agreed to surrender its sovereignty of Hong Kong to China with the condition that the island would be ruled under the “one country-two systems”. According to this agreement, which has the force of an international treaty, Hong Kong (at least until 2047) would be part of China but it would retain a high level of autonomy and retain the civil liberties that were common rule during the years of British rule.
However, over the last few years the CCP has dedicated many efforts to snuff off any vestiges of liberty that remained in the once-British island city. Hongkongers have responded in kind, with mass protests erupting in the city in 2014 and 2019 as a response from the Hong Kong population to the attempted overreaches of Beijing.
In 2014, the “umbrella revolution” erupted to prevent the attempt of Beijing to unilaterally reform the electoral law that had ruled Hong Kong, in order to ensure the appointment of CCP loyal politicians to the highest offices in the island. Although that movement did not prevent China’s controlled Chief Executive to pass the proposed legislation, it was a reminder to Xi Jinping’s government that Hong Kong would not submit quietly.
In 2019, another massive wave of protests consumed the city for months, protesting a proposal that would allow the deportation of citizens from the island (which has a different legal system) to the mainland, possibly opening the door for political activists to being rounded up and sent to face trial in CCP-controlled courts. The protesters even managed to breach the Legislative Council building, on the anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from British to Chinese hands, and forcing the government to withdraw that specific bill.
Hongkongers have shown their discontent with Beijing not only in the streets, but also in the ballot box. In 2019, only months after the height of the protests, pro-democracy parties won a historic landslide victory in he city’s district council elections, winning approximately 90% of the seats. However, despite the tenacity and resolve of the citizens of Hong Kong to maintain their freedoms, Beijing was equally determined to squash them.
One country, one system
Last year, while the world was consumed in a pandemic that was greatly created by the incompetence and opacity of the CCP, Beijing saw an opportunity to make a reactionary offensive in the city-island and gain the ultimate upper hand in their years long fight against the citizenry. Beijing passed a sweeping National Security Law, which bypassed the local Legislative Council, which expanded in an enormous ways the powers and authority of the police in the city and substantially increased the penalties for crimes of “secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces”
As large crowds were banned due to social distancing rules, the response from the people in Hong Kong was very limited. Beijing used the valid concerns over public health to impose draconian laws which would effectively start to turn the island away from the “one country-two systems” arrangement to the one-party rule that Beijing loves.
Since the imposition of the National Security Law last year, there has been a substantial increase in the number of political arrests done by the Hong Kong police, with several of the most important pro-democracy leaders being arrested under charges of violating such law. With these arrests, China has decided to throw away any pretenses of respecting the traditional rights of the people of Hong Kong and decided to force the island to be a copy of the mainland: deprived of any political rights and living under the whims of the CCP.
This latest bill is another step in that direction, with the Secretary of Mainland and Constitutional Issues openly saying that “you cannot say that you are patriotic but you do not love the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party”. For Beijing the message is clear, being Chinese is being a loyal member of the CCP, and as Hong Kong is a part of China (as Beijing always likes to remember us), being a good citizen of Hong Kong would necessarily mean being a committed supporter of the CCP.
This latest push of the Chinese government (a regime committing genocide against the Uyghur) to impose tyranny in Hong Kong is just the latest show that, despite whatever stark and strongly held differences we might have with the Democratic Party or the left in general, the biggest threat for the survival of liberty in the world has a clear name: the Chinese Communist Party.