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Hong Kong – the land of the rising people

Few weeks ago I blogged about China’s pressure on Hong Kong to pass an anti-subversion law. According to the law, people found guilty of acts of treason, sedition, secession from, or subversion of, the mainland government could be imprisoned for life under the new law. Also, concepts like “state secrets” and “national security” in the law are too vague, leaving them open to abuse.This may be – and I’d certainly argue that it will be – exploited by authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong against anyone they dislike in the former British colony, promised a high degree of autonomy when it was handed back to China in 1997.

Tens of thousands of Hong Kong people (march organisers say 50,000) have taken part in one of the territory’s biggest marches in years, denouncing the plans they fear will erode freedom and civil liberties. As many as 100 civil and religious groups joined in the march, including the Falun Gong spiritual movement, which is banned in China.

Mr Wong, a marcher says:

“This law will threaten the rights of many, many people in Hong Kong, how can I not protest?”

Quite. I wonder what John Smith or Joe Bloggs would say…

4 comments to Hong Kong – the land of the rising people

  • David Carr

    Sadly, John Smith or Joe Bloggs would say: ‘If you’ve got nothing to hide, then you’ve got nothing to fear’

  • John J. Coupal

    The citizens of the world are heading toward democracy.

    The Chinese government realizes its folly of standing in the breach and commmanding: stop that progress!

    The people of Hong Kong had a good introduction to democracy. They will not permit its destruction now.

  • One of the striking things about Hong Kong is that the terrirory’s elites when interviewed always make comments about how “Hong Kong is an economic city and the people are not interested in politics”, and “Democracy requires a level of sophistication to avoid being the rule of the mob, and the people of Hong Kong lack that sophistication”. (Plus various western sycophants have echoed the same words. For one thing if you can make yourself believe this, it is easier to pretend that you weren’t screwing the people of Hong Kong over when you handed them over to the Chinese five years ago). However, whenever the people of Hong Kong are given the opportunity to show some democratic spirit, they always do so in huge numbers. We had enormous demonstrations after the massacre in Beijing in 1989 (and on its anniversary every year). We had huge numbers of votes cast in favour of democrats when the people were given limited voting rights by Chris Patten. And we had another demostration today. (If you read the chapter on Hong Kong in Ian Buruma’s recent Bad Elements he goes and talks to ordinary Chinese people in the New Territories and he finds a very strong desire for democracy). A comparable country that is also ethnically Chinese is Taiwan, and that country has turned into a vibrant democracy.

    I don’t know what you do about it, but seeing the rights of the people of a rich, sophisticated and fairly liberal city slowly being taken away by the thugs in Beijing is pretty depressing.

    I don’t believe that China’s fate is to be forever ruled by thugs, and I believe that in the long run China itself may evolve to democracy in the way Taiwan or South Korea did. (If this happens, it will be slow and painful, but it is not impossible). However, in the short term, having Beijing assert its power over Hong Kong is not at all good, although it was sadly predictable.

  • The “If you’ve got nothing to hide, then you’ve got nothing to fear” philosophy assumes that no one who works for your government ever abuses power.