Despite commitments from top Hong Kong officials that China’s draconian national security law, which includes 66 clauses and criminalizes inheritance and subversion, to terrorism and structuralism , would affect only a small fraction of its 7 million inhabitants, almost every aspect of the once independent sector – from education to civil society to technology – has been transformed entirely for over a month.
Annie Boyajian, Freedom House’s advocacy director, told Fox News that things in Hong Kong are developing so rapidly that it is “difficult to track all apparent rights violations.
“And things got worse day by day,”; she said. “The authorities are conducting a fierce and widespread persecution of pro-democracy voices and expressions of dissent, and there is also widespread self-censorship. As time progressed and Beijing further tightened its grip in Hong Kong, we should see Hong Kong look much more like a continent, with a greater number of arrests for anything that offends the government or – in the minds of Chinese officials – endanger their rule. “
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Arrests for “collusion with foreign forces” took place quickly.
Famous rights advocate Agnes Chow was arrested earlier this week, along with pro-democracy media baron Jimmy Lai – as well as his two sons and four employees. Chow and Lai were then released on bail and joined dozens of others who had been arrested since the law came into effect.
In an attitude against Beijing’s seemingly stifling free press, hundreds of people in Hong Kong rushed out to buy copies of his Apple Daily while protesting his arrest. votes for parent company Next Digital have temporarily skyrocketed, according to the Wall Street Journal. The crackdown on Lai and his publication – which was also the subject of an office raid – has led critics to criticize it as the beginning of a media crackdown. ie.
As part of the new law and national security cover, Hong Kong police are now allowed to conduct searches and seizures without a warrant.
Furthermore, 12 opposition politicians – including the former journalist who became an advocate of freedom Gwyneth Ho – have also been barred from participating in legislative elections, which are now postponed for at least a year. The city’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, sees the coronavirus pandemic as a reason to call for urgent powers. Stealthy reasons for their ban were “obstructing government proceedings.”
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The new law also covers out-of-country reach – meaning their laws apply to anyone in the world, even those who have never come close to Hong Kong – and the authorities have There’s no wasted time putting this clause into practice. Samuel Chu, a Washington-based Hong Kong-born American citizen and political lobby on Hong Kong-related immigration issues to the US and the limits of Beijing’s rule, now being wanted – 6,500 miles – by your home government.
“The arrest of Jimmy Lai is a big deal, apparently meant to cool down media freedom and to show that no one is on this new law. But accuse Samuel Chu, an American citizen living in America,” though of course, he would never be Walter Lohman, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center. censorship.”
He added that people like Chu are also an important link between Hong Kong and Washington.
“The idea is that by targeting him, you get Hong Kongers living in the US to think twice before getting involved in what’s going on in Hong Kong,” Lohman speculates.
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Hong Kong police are also applying their new powers to reality, and have searched the homes of at least ten individuals – including lawyers – for “suspicion of inciting subversion”.
Schools have also seen astonishing revisions in just a few weeks as Beijing intends to reform its reputation and reinforce its sense of national pride. The scores of the reports have emerged regarding the sudden censorship of textbooks so that teachers were administered by authorities for using “incorrect statements” when discussing the situation.
The Hong Kong Professional Teachers Coalition laments that nearly 200 teachers in the past year were investigated for anonymous complaints regarding posts created with their private social media accounts. Last month, the authorities took a step further and fired Benny Tai, a respected professor at the University of Hong Kong, who was behind bars for participating in pro-democracy protests.
“The strong enforcement of the law means changing the political environment,” explains Lohman. “And it had that effect even before it passed, with people removing their social media accounts, books being removed from library shelves, etc. So far, I have to say The picture is going as Beijing intended. And Beijing’s doing nothing is not scrutinized. “
Students have even been arrested and charged with secession because of their social media posts allegedly criticizing Beijing’s persecution.
Marion Smith, an internationalist, noted: “Protesters are being arrested for only wearing T-shirts or holding signs with pro-democracy slogans, ‘sensitive’ books are being removed from the library and students have risk discussing some political topics in class “. human rights activist and executive director of the Commemoration of Victims of Communism (VOC) Fund.
Educational institutions – along with the rest of the territory – have since been banned since this week’s flag upside down and Beijing has made the decision to add that the flag must play an important role in the theme. patriotism of the class.
Observers also emphasize that Hong Kong’s tech sector is – and will be – one of society’s most drastically changing components.
Abishur Prakash, a geopolitical futurist at the Center for Future Innovation (CIF), speculates: “Hong Kong’s social design has now changed. The ‘freedoms’ everyone used to enjoy, as is shown myself, disappeared “consulting firm in Toronto. “(And) many tech companies are reconsidering their presence in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is the gateway to Asia for many companies. Then it becomes the hub of innovation. Now there is. an ongoing ‘technology migration’. Uber is no longer moving its Asia headquarters to Hong Kong. “
Indeed, a number of tech companies have formed and left since the law – which opens up deeper thresholds of surveillance and even VPN servers incur potential fees – was enacted at the beginning. July. Others have used encryption techniques to protect personal and professional data, although physical hardware can still be seized.
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On Thursday, a lawyer for five former lawmakers connected with opposition political parties filed a court order asking authorities to track down their arrested phones after a previous judge gave them a call. Unlimited police access. The High Court Justices are holding their sentences for the rest of the month.
Washington’s once insistent relationship with Hong Kong also deteriorated significantly.
This week, the United States ordered that all imports from Hong Kong are now labeled as “Made in China”, as of September 25th. This hit came after the US government. Ky imposed sanctions on some of Hong Kong’s top brass, Lam said. one of them – for the reduction of political freedoms. This prompted retaliation from Beijing on Monday, then imposed sanctions on 11 US citizens, including Republican lawmakers Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
The influx of people quickly fleeing former British colonies is also said to be underway in frenetic strides. The Wall Street Journal noted earlier this month that the expat community was shrinking and that employers were unable to lure workers to stay for work or move to cities in turmoil and uncertainty. According to the report, the number of visas issued by the Hong Kong immigration authority for professional employment fell more than 60% from January to June compared with the same period last year, partly due to unrest and pandemic. bridge.
From Beijing’s lens, however, people in Hong Kong are “seeing better changes” since the security law went into effect. State media have uncovered many instances in which locals “liken national security law to the Hong Kong Special Zone as a silver bullet or a guardian who can protect a peaceful everyday life. and their freedom to speak “, and to end months-long protests, anarchy and” the violent actions of the (inherently) rebels that disrupted people’s lives. civilians too much. “
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But what will become once a fortress of freedom, and intended to remain that way for decades to come, has not been determined as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) does not conceal its will to restrain. Political activity and freedom of expression within the full scope of the new law, which also means dissidents can be summoned to the mainland to appear in court.
“The takeover of Hong Kong provided a niche test case and its global ambitions are being confirmed,” Smith added. “Taiwan may be the next target of Beijing’s repression.”