How China wiped out Hong Kong democracy

“Democracy has been under constant attack for well over a year in Hong Kong,” said Luke de Pulford, coordinator of the London-based Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, a group of lawmakers from democracies focusing on relations with China. “No democracy can function without a free press.”

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“If no critical information is able to be published about the administration in Hong Kong or in China, then the last traces of democracy that were, I think, we must say, have been removed.”

In a series of tweets, Hong Kong activist Nathan Law called on the world to “publish about Hong Kong … [and] about the brave journalists who risk so much. ” Law, who fled to London after the security law was implemented, said he feared “a domino effect” that would cause other businesses to close.

Small remnants of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement. More than 100 pro-democrats and others have been arrested under security law, which punishes actions seen as separatist or subversive Hong Kong or Chinese governments.

It includes 47 people accused of subversion in February over their roles in an unofficial primary election held in 2020 to determine the best candidates to run in scheduled legislative elections.

Hong Kong's Apple Daily newspaper and website will stop publishing in June 2021.

Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper and website will stop publishing in June 2021.Credit:Bloomberg

Authorities accused the activists of subversion, saying they planned to win a majority and use it to paralyze the government and eventually force Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to resign.

The government postponed the election in 2020 with reference to public health risks from COVID-19. Then, earlier this year, Beijing’s central government announced new election laws that reduced the proportion of directly elected seats to less than a quarter and required all candidates to be loyal to Beijing.

The results were predictable. Earlier this month, when the election was finally held, pro-Beijing politicians won a landslide victory. The city’s largest opposition party, the Democratic Party, did not field any candidates for the first time since the 1997 transfer.

Several pro-democracy unions and organizations have also been disbanded this year. The city’s largest teachers’ union disbanded in August due to the political climate, later followed by the city’s largest independent trade union.

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The Civil Human Rights Front, a pro-democracy group that organized some of the biggest protests in 2019, was also disbanded following a police investigation under the National Security Act.

Other pro-democracy activists have also been arrested for involvement in unauthorized protests and the annual Tiananmen Candle Guard, which has been banned for two consecutive years. Most of the city’s pro-democracy activists are behind bars or have fled abroad.

As the year drew to a close, several works of art were removed celebrating the Tiananmen massacre.

Two days before Christmas, the University of Hong Kong cited legal risks by ordering the removal of Shame column monument depicting a pile of torn and twisted bodies of Tiananmen victims. Several other universities followed suit and did away with pro-democracy and Tiananmen statues.

China’s Communist Party has long sought to erase the Tiananmen Square massacre from mainland public consciousness and ban any memorial service. Now it looks like it is determined to do the same in Hong Kong in the name of restoring stability in the city.

AP

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