June 2019 marked the start of protests in Hong Kong over the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019. The bill allowed suspected criminals to be extradited to China, which angered HongKongers, who argued that it would lead to them undergoing unjust trials.
Although the bill was revoked in September of that year, violent protests continued. According to the BBC, protestors labelled the act: “too little, too late.”
July 1st 2020 marked a further development. Beijing have enforced a new ‘anti-protest’ law.
The News states that the law aims to protect “national security.” It targets secession, subversion and terrorism. Those against the law believe that it will lead to more detentions and extraditions to China, as well as a battering to democracy.
The US and UK are the biggest critics of the act. They deem it to infringe on human rights. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: "[China] promised 50 years of freedom to the Hong Kong people, and gave them only 23."
The UK has reacted to the news in a more practical way, offering up to three million Hong Kong residents the chance to settle in the UK and eventually become a British citizen. The offer is available to people who were Hong Kong citizens before 1997.
So far, around 400 people have been arrested, but numbers look set to rise. Nine out of the 400 have been detained under the new anti-protest law. Protests have been marred by violence, with the police attacking protestors with tear gas, pepper spray and water cannons.
It is heart-breaking to see the lengths the Chinese regime have turned to, in order to sour protests which started off as a peaceful demonstration for democratic rights. Having travelled to Hong Kong with my family in the summer of 2014, it is hard to believe the Hong Kong on the news is the same Hong Kong I admired for its strong sense of community.
July 6th 2020 indicates a new addition to this developing story, with propaganda being imposed in Hong Kong schools. According to the Daily Mail, schools in Hong Kong are not allowed to give students reading material which speaks negatively about the new law.
Public libraries have also felt the brunt of this new measure. Pro-democracy politician Tanya Chan has seen her books removed from bookshelves.
Gone are the days of simply discussing propaganda in my History lessons on eighteenth century Asia. Propaganda is clearly still alive and thriving, almost as much as COVID-19.
Chinese officials show no signs of reversing the law. They have ignored global concern. Mr Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the UK, has even accused the UK of “trampling” over China’s decisions when they no longer have sovereignty over Hong Kong.
Hong Kong citizens are the real victims in all of this. They are the ones whose dreams are being trampled on by the Chinese regime. One Hong Kong resident — Leanne — who is only 13 feels “helpless and hopeless… we don’t know what will happen if we are sent to China” This is not the way a 13 year old should think. Leanne should be enjoying her time at school. She should not be imagining being forcefully taken from her home.
Cecilia, 53, a mother of two in Hong Kong said that even though she is scared, she will continue “to tweet, sign petitions and donate money.”
Let us all ensure that we do not forget about those in Hong Kong. Keep HongKongers in your thoughts and fill your social media accounts with information on their cause.
AUTHOR: Danielle Desouza
I am a 22 year old Politics and Communication Masters student at LSE, makeshift musician and aspiring political broadcaster. I am a staunch supporter of both gender and racial equality, being female and Indian. I want to edge closer to this goal daily by bringing to light injustices, through all forms of journalism.