There was something grotesque about President Xi Jinping’s whirlwind visit to Hong Kong this week.
Amid unprecedented security, he tried to justify the brutal crackdown on the city’s pro-democracy movement, wiping away the last vestiges of a high degree of autonomy.
To say it was a piece of fabricated theater would be an understatement.
“Political power must be in the hands of patriots,” Xi said as the city celebrated, or mourned, the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover by the United Kingdom to China.
“No country or region in the world will allow unpatriotic or even traitorous or treasonous forces and figures to take power,” he added, underlining the obscene truth that only “patriots” loyal to the Communist Party of China are tolerated in the world’s largest authoritarian state.
City of the dread:
- A catch-all National Security Law has seen thousands of pro-democracy activists arrested.
- Many are now languishing in prison cells.
- The clampdown came after mass protests in 2019.
- Known as the summer of discontent, millions of Hong Kong people took part in pro-democracy rallies.
- China’s response was to rip up the “One Country, Two Systems” model agreed on before the 1997 handover, ending British rule.
Delve deeper: Xi’s speech was peppered with Party propaganda such as “everything the central government has done is for the benefit of Hong Kong.” Or, “Hong Kong has enjoyed true democracy since its return to the motherland.”
Fact, not fiction: “It’s only been 25 years, and the promise was 50 years of no change in Hong Kong, [since] freedom and democracy have vanished [in the city],” Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang said in Taipei on Friday as reported by the Reuters news agency.
Warning from history: “We also know that we must hold fast to Taiwan’s sovereignty, freedom and democracy. China’s so-called ‘One Country, Two Systems’ [policy] has simply not stood up to the test,” Su added, refusing to bow to reunification pressure from Beijing.
Big picture: Chris Patten was the last British governor of Hong Kong and he has been horrified by China’s destruction of the city’s human rights and history.
Persona non grata: “I have just discovered that I never really existed, at least as far as the goons in the Communist Party of China are concerned,” Patten wrote in a commentary for Project Syndicate, referring to the airbrushing of history and the UK’s role in the former colony.
Tear-gas fragrance: “In their latest effort to turn Hong Kong into a police state – it can only be a matter of time before a tear-gas shell or a Taser replaces the bauhinia flower as the city’s emblem – the Chinese authorities have taken further steps to throttle the education system,” Patten said.
Parting shot: “For Communists, education is above all about engineering the soul. So, the CPC has now gotten rid of any school textbooks that might tell the truth about Hong Kong’s past and its aspirations,” Patten pointed out.
China Factor comment: Global democracies can not abandon Hong Kong or the more than 1,000 political activists still languishing in prison cells.