The Chinese national security law of June 2020 changed Hong Kong: banishing dissent, imperils the city’s autonomy as well as its financial and democratic future. Most of all, it threatens people’s rights of expression, gradually eroding the “one-country-two-systems” rule. Panelists described the progressive freedom repression under economical, religious, and civil perspectives.

The Chinese national security law changed Hong Kong’s present and will affect its future: banishing dissent and repressing people’s freedom, the city’s international relations will be seriously affected by it. As remembered by Theresa Fallon, Director of the Centre for Russia Europe Asia Studies, Hong Kong is the symbol of a new geological battlefield. It is difficult to cope with the new bitter security law, to which Covid-19 restrictions add physical impediment for people to manifest against Beijing’s imposed limitations.

Analyzing Hong Kong’s current situation from a geopolitical point of view, the Financial Times’ Asia editor Jamil Anderlini explained that beyond being one of the most important financial centers in the world, «Hong Kong is the meeting-place of two ideologies: state-led authoritarianism and liberal democracy». The journalist sees the city as the frontline of a new second Cold War, since «what happens in Hong Kong is significant for the entire world». Furthermore, «it is surprising how draconian the law is» Anderlini says. Many observers compare the once independent city to Singapore: today, «major financial institutions are moving their infrastructures out of Hong Kong», but at the same time «they do not want to offend Beijing», which is a lucrative partner for them. The national security law is crucial in pushing investors to invest in other countries: Covid-19 further complicated the political and economic situation and will add more insidious challenges and uncertainties in the region.

Former Hong Kong’s Cardinal Joseph Zen analyzed the current situation from a religious perspective: very concerned about the two-years-ago agreement between the Vatican and Beijing about the bishops’ nomination, he says that the Church’s independence has been gravely undermined. The Chinese government is putting the institution under pressure: with the national security law «we are now citizens of China» in all effects, says the eminence. «The new bishops need the blessing of Beijing» and «the Vatican seems to have surrounded to it». Zen endorses Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests; «young people are not worried about their economic future: they are scarifying their life for freedom and democracy». The emeritus cardinal explains that long-term values «such as truth, honesty, and solidarity» are far more important than the present economic performances and outputs and it is admirable that young people put their life at risk for not being «slaves of any regime». His eminency adds that «with the national security law we have lost the freedom of speech»

Finally, Joshua Wong, a student, pro-democracy activist, explained that he was particularly touched by the implementation of the law. Arrested ten times, jailed three times, and prosecuted for six charges, Wong stressed the pain Hong Kong is currently experiencing. The Chinese national security law crushes the “one-country- two-systems” rule; the times’ Hong Kong is experiencing are challenging and «remember those in Eastern Europe under Communist rule of the last century». The activist is not positive about the future: «more crackdowns will follow», he says; «we do not protest because of the chance of success, but because it is the right thing to do». «Confronting China propaganda and lies», he added, is crucial as fighting «Emperor Xi» and Beijing’s suppression of democracy and liberty. Wong emphasized that he will «continue carrying resistance», because «standing with Hong Kong is more than a slogan». «Yesterday was Xinyang, today is Hong Kong, tomorrow will be Taiwan» to be China’s repression target. As for the future, Joshua Wong pledges he will continue devoting his efforts to bring back democracy and freedom in the city, because «supporting Hong Kong should not be a matter of left or right. It is a matter of right or wrong».

(Published on amedeogasparini.com)

Pubblicato da Amedeo Gasparini

Amedeo Gasparini, class 1997, freelance journalist, managing “Blackstar”, amedeogasparini.com. MA in “International Relations” (Univerzita Karlova, Prague – Czech Republic); BSc in “Science of Communication” (Università della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano – Switzerland)