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Repression and end of freedom: 25 years of Hong Kong under Chinese rule

The celebrations of 25 years under Chinese rule give clues to how much Hong Kong suffers from repression and restrictions on freedom. Opposition members were monitored by the police and nine people were arrested in the last week, to ensure that the anniversary is celebrated in the Chinese way.

The territory was surrounded and most journalists were prevented from accompanying the events, showing that freedom has passed away from the island since it was returned to the Chinese. Since July 1, 1997, the territory ceased to be a British colony and became part of China through the “one country, two systems” model.

The country’s dictator, Xi Jinping, traveled to Hong Kong with a task force to ensure the safety of him, his wife, Peng Liyuan, and the minister of international relations, Wang Yi.

In addition to them, other Chinese authorities who made the trip went through days of quarantine and undergo daily Covid detection exams-19 . All to ensure that neither the coronavirus nor thoughts against the Chinese dictatorship would be present.

Censorship of the opposition and the press

The French news agency AFP reported that the League of Social Democrats, one of the last opposition parties, was censored in the last weeks before the birthday parties.

The group’s president, Chan Po-ying, told the agency that he was monitored in recent days and that opposition members had their homes searched by the police.

The main institute of Hong Kong pollsters were also prevented from publishing a poll on disapproval of the Chinese dictatorship, due to “suggestions from government services.”

Journalists who were refused credentials by Chinese authorities received the following response : “the decision is a balance, as far as possible, between the needs of the press work and the security requirements”.

Worker Local es, who were authorized to carry out the activity in person, were informed that they would need to work from home on Thursday (30), without any statement of reason, because Xi Jinping’s arrival on the island was secret until then.

Small demonstrations amid repression

Faced with such repression of thoughts against the Chinese dictatorship, the opposition finds few ways to manifest itself in Hong Kong. Anti-Beijing activists meet in cafes, restaurants and other establishments affiliated with the pro-democracy group, in a space known as the “yellow circle”.

“How impossible it is to make our voices heard in the streets or at the polls, the only option left for us is to keep our trade belonging to the yellow circle,” activist Ventus Lau told Le Figaro newspaper in 1997, shortly before his arrest.

A small portion of the population dares to consume content that refers to the pre-devolution period to China – while they are not yet censored -, through the culture of the “golden age”, which happened between the years 50 and 50.

The band Mirror makes song lyrics with criticism of Beijing, in Cantonese (a language more used in everyday life than Mandarin and which was official until the return to China). The songs have been successful in the port city in recent months. Young filmmakers are also looking for regional themes and dialogues in Cantonese, leaving aside the Chinese style that was most present in previous years’ productions.

In literature, writers such as Bei Dao and Margaret Ng, who were arrested and sentenced for having participated in the demonstrations of 2019, against the bill that provided for the extradition of people from Hong Kong to Mainland China, taking away the region’s autonomy. and subjecting prisoners to a more violent regime.

Repression and violence

Without many ways to express themselves, Hong Kong people who oppose Chinese rule see no other way out than violence.

In July last year, a man from

years stabbed a police officer shortly before committing suicide with the same knife. In the same year, the police arrested 14 young people, including six students from 15 to 14 years ago, who intended to blow bombs in the city courts.

“The ditch dug between the government and the people of Hong Kong will lead to a feeling of alienation and anguish that could translate into an explosion of violence”, explains John Burns, from the Department of Politics at the University of Hong Kong, in statement to the BBC.

John Lee will be new governor

In addition to the festivities, Xi Jinping is on the island to accompany the inauguration of the new governor of Hong Kong, John Lee, who was the only candidate in May and is expected to strengthen ties with the Chinese dictatorship.

“The government of John Lee tends to be pro-Beijing and, therefore, it is necessary to observe the movements of mainland China, in Hong Kong, in the coming years”, points out in a statement the Brazilian movement Democracy Without Borders (DSF). “We cannot rule out that the Chinese authorities blatantly violate human rights and this year made Chinese territory the target of investigations by the United Nations”, he adds.

The model known as “ one country, two systems” lasts until 2047 and provides for Hong Kong to have its own system of laws and judicial independence, despite the island being increasingly closer to the Beijing system. Who has to celebrate this anniversary, therefore, is only the Chinese dictatorship.

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