How democracy was dismantled in Hong Kong in 2021

Hong Kong — For the Hong Kong democratization movement, 2021 was a year in which city officials and Beijing’s central government counteracted almost everything it supported.

Activists fled abroad or were trapped under the strict new national security law imposed on the city. Opposition voices were expelled from the legislature. A monument commemorating China’s crackdown on opposition to democratization in Beijing in 1989 was demolished. And near the end of Wednesday, police attacks closed the media of voices in favor of democracy, and one of the last openly critical voices in the city was silenced.

The crackdown, which took root 18 months ago when the National Security Act was enacted, took place this year when the world’s two largest powers, the United States and China, fought for democracy and good governance.

Mark the anniversary of military repression
People walk with candles on June 4, 2021 to commemorate the anniversary of the military crackdown on the democratization student movement in Beijing, outside Victoria Park in Hong Kong. (Kin Cheung / AP Photo)

The Biden administration was keenly critical of China’s move in Hong Kong as it sought to support global democracy and deepen ties with other democracies in the face of China’s rise. Communist-dominated China pointed out the flaws in American democracy and argued that its own system provided both stability and a better response to COVID-19 compared to the turmoil in the United States.

After returning to China in 1997, Hong Kong, a former British colony that was considered a fort of liberty, revisited its political system and filed political opposition as Beijing and Hong Kong authorities tried to suppress the rebels. I experienced a crackdown. The emotions that led to the political struggle for months in 2019.

On Wednesday, Hong Kong police attacked the office of Stand News, an online democratic news agency, for instigating crimes under the Colonial Crime Ordinance, with six people (current editor and two former editors, popular singer). Four former officers, including Denise Ho) were arrested.

The outlet announced Wednesday afternoon that it would shut down after the attack.

Stand News is in Hong Kong after being targeted by the authorities, following the now obsolete Apple Daily newspaper, which was closed earlier this year after authorities raided the office again and frozen millions of assets. Is the second media outlet in.

This year’s series of activist arrests and election law amendments have largely quelled the city’s democratic movement.

Joe Won Nai Yuen
Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions President Joe Wong Nai Yuen (third from right) posed to take pictures with other members before a press conference on the possibility of dissolution in Hong Kong on September 19, 2021. ing. AP photo)

More than 100 supporters of democratization have been arrested under national security law. National Security Law punishes separatists or actions deemed to have destroyed the Hong Kong or Chinese government.

It was charged with capsizing under the new law in February over its role in the informal primary elections held in 2020 to determine the best candidates to run in the planned legislative elections. Includes 47 people.

Authorities have accused activists of winning a majority and planning to use it to paralyze the government and eventually resign Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam.

The government has postponed the 2020 elections because of the public health risks of COVID-19. Later this year, Beijing’s central government announced a new election law that would reduce the proportion of directly elected seats to less than a quarter and require all candidates to pledge allegiance to Beijing.

The results were predictable. Earlier this month, Pro-Beijing politicians won a landslide victory in a postponed poll. The Democratic Party, the city’s largest opposition, has not held a candidate for the first time since Hong Kong was handed over to China in 1997.

This year, several democratized trade unions and organizations have also disbanded. The city’s largest teachers’ union broke up in August due to political conditions, after which the city’s largest independent trade union broke up, reducing the space for civil society groups.

The Civil Human Rights Front, a democratization promotion group that organized some of the biggest protests in 2019, was also disbanded after a police investigation under the National Security Act.

Cho Hung Tung
Cho Hung Tang, vice chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance to support China’s democratic patriotism movement, will leave after being released on bail at the Hong Kong Police Force on June 5, 2021. (Kin Cheung / AP photo)

Other democratic activists were also arrested for being involved in unauthorized protests and were held to commemorate China’s bloody crackdown on the anti-democratic movement at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on June 4, 1989. The annual Tiananmen Candlelight Vigil has been banned for the second consecutive year. .. Currently, most of the city’s democratic activists are behind the bar or have fled abroad.

At the beginning of the year, several works commemorating the Tiananmen Square Incident were deleted.

Two days before Christmas, the University of Hong Kong removed a monument to a pillar of shame 8 meters (26 feet) high depicting a pile of torn and twisted bodies of Tiananmen victims because of legal risk. I ordered. Several other universities followed suit, removing the memorials of democracy and Tiananmen.

The Chinese Communist Party has long erased Tiananmen Square from the consciousness of the mainland people and banned commemorative events. It seems that he is now determined to do the same in Hong Kong in the name of restoring city stability.

By Zen Soo and Huizhong Wu

Associated Press