The Arrest of Cardinal Zen Marks a New Low in Hong Kong

This week’s arrest of 90-year-old Cardinal Joseph Zen marks a new low in China’s destruction of Hong Kong’s democracy. Cardinal Zen, the Roman Catholic bishop of Hong Kong from 2002 to 2009, was arrested along with other prominent activists, including lawmaker Margaret Ng, pop star and activist. gay rights Denise Ho. Accused of their crime? Join an organization that provides bail and legal advice to people arrested during the 2019 pro-democracy protests.

China’s strategy for outlawing dissidents has evolved since its brutal crackdown on protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square 33 years ago. It no longer relies on tanks; in Hong Kong, it is quietly stifling the outcry.

Hong Kong is no longer a democracy, because people are scared. They were so scared that many people left, going to Britain, Australia, Taiwan and elsewhere. More than 200,000 people, about 3% of the population, have left since the beginning of 2020. If they stay, they are muting themselves.

Individuals and organizations are falling apart because those who do not surrender are in prison. The Pro-Democracy Trade Union Union closed last year after it was reported that it would be impeached under a vague and expansive national security law. Those who hold the annual June 4 vigil commemorating the Tiananmen murders have disbanded. Amnesty International withdraws from Hong Kong. Even the Foreign Correspondents’ Club has canceled its annual human rights awards.

Organizations that do not receive the notification will be punished. The Hong Kong General Confederation of Speech Therapists had their licenses revoked last year after five members of the organization were charged with sedation — for an illustrated children’s book. Pro-democracy lawyer Paul Harris, head of the Hong Kong Bar Association, fled the territory in March after being questioned by National Security Law police.

Opposition newspapers have been shut down or shut down by the government over concerns for the safety of their employees. The pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily — I’m a director of the parent company — has seen its bank accounts frozen and seven of its employees jailed. Most of them have not been tried, much less convicted. For almost a year, my colleagues have been detained without bail, in violation of Hong Kong law and international safeguards.

Imprisoning people without trial — especially during a pandemic — and getting them to legal harassment is time-consuming and costly, less dramatic and ultimately more tanky, but perhaps effective. more because the world gradually ceased to notice. Important institutions collapsed until only the government remained.

But not paying attention would be a serious mistake. China wants the world to believe that protest is futile and that its vision of an authoritarian future is unstoppable. It has vowed to retake Taiwan, an independent country with its own government, even if that means war. Ignoring Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s crackdown in Hong Kong is an invitation for him to move towards democratic Taiwan, with dire consequences for the Taiwanese people and the global economy.

Mr. Xi is testing the United States and other democratic societies. He violated international treaties and Hong Kong’s own constitution by depriving the territory of its freedoms. Mr. Xi lied when he promised President Obama, during a meeting at the White House in 2015, that he would not militarize the South China Sea. China is laying the groundwork for a naval presence in Cambodia, Sri Lanka and the Solomon Islands as it expands its reach in the Pacific and beyond.

Hong Kong was the first prosperous, free city to be destroyed by an authoritarian state since the end of World War Two. That’s where the values ​​of an open society clash with a closed and lost society.

Hong Kong no longer has the right to be considered a single member of the international community. The territory should be stripped of its privileged status in economic, commercial, medical and sports groups, where it enjoys its own membership, separate from China. These bodies include the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, and the International Olympic Committee.

Beijing treats Hong Kong as a troublesome periphery that needs to be demolished. The world must recognize that harsh reality.

Mr. Clifford is chairman of the Hong Kong Freedom Committee and the author of “Hong Kong Today, Tomorrow’s World: What China’s Fall Reveals About Plans To End Freedom Everywhere”.

Vladimir Putin blames his war in Ukraine on a planned attack on Russia by US-backed neo-Nazis, although there is evidence that Putin is ‘currently mirroring communism’. Fascism and tyranny of 77 years ago.’ Image: Shutterstock / Reuters / Zuma Press Composite: Mark Kelly

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