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  • In the 1990s, Hong Kong was a gateway for Asia to the world.

  • Then, Britain gave it back to China with the agreement that China's leaders would respect Hong Kong's free and open society for at least the next 50 years.

  • But just 25 years on...

  • ... Hong kong is now a police state with thousands arrested, jailed, or forced to flee.

  • So, what happened?

  • I'm Sue-Lin Wong, China correspondent for "The Economist".

  • I've spoken to a number of those exiled to find out how China managed to crush Hong kong.

  • In 1989, Chinese troops opened fire on a crowd of demonstrators near Tiananmen Square, killing hundreds, if not thousands.

  • Every year since then, Hong Kongers have gathered on June 4th in Victoria Park to remember the massacre.

  • But for the past two years, the park has stood empty.

  • Instead, the protests have spread to other cities such as here in London.

  • Hong kong used to be the only place on Chinese soil where you could commemorate the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

  • But over the past few years, as the political situation has become worse and more and more people have been arrested, the authorities have also banned any commemoration.

  • The ruling Communist Party of China used the military to indefinitely murder innocent people in the capital city of Beijing with live ammunition.

  • One of the attendees in London is Dr. Chung, Kim-wah, an academic and a pollster.

  • Among Hong Kongers, He's a bit of a celebrity.

  • But just a couple of months ago, he made the difficult decision to flee Hong kong for his own safety.

  • Today, Dr. Chung is on the move once more.

  • I come to UK in a rush.

  • So, I stayed with my friend for six weeks, and now, I find my own place.

  • Of course I'm not that willing to move away from my hometown, the place where I grew up.

  • I always think that that is my motherland and I have to stay there and try to improve the situation.

  • He hopes one day he'll return.

  • But as china's grip on Hong kong gets ever tighter, that hope grows dimmer by the day.

  • After all, China's ambition to take full control of Hong Kong goes back many years.

  • From the moment the trading port was ceded to the British in 1842, the expectation was that Hong Kong would one day be a part of China once more.

  • Renowned journalist Ching Cheong grew up in Hong Kong in the 1950s and 60s.

  • We all consider ourselves as Chinese because at that time, Hong Kong, to many of us, seems to be a place not belonging to useventually we'll return to China.

  • But in the 1950s, China was weak.

  • Its leader, Mao Zedong, had unleashed violent and destructive policies that killed millions and left the country in tatters.

  • We came to the understanding that the Mainland China has a completely different system and quite repressive as well because we have seen all the atrocities of the cultural revolution.

  • At that time, the mass killing in China sent many dead bodies flowing from the rivers in Guangdong to Hong kong.

  • From that time onward, nobody is thinking of returning to China one day.

  • But Ching Cheong was still curious to see China up close.

  • So, in the 1970s, he became a journalist for a pro-Beijing newspaper.

  • When I went to China, poverty is still very rampant.

  • Everybody has to possess coupons in order to be able to buy food.

  • Meanwhile, in Hong kong, rapid industrialization and free trade meant that business was booming.

  • In 1997, the tiny territory's GDP was one-fifth of China's.

  • China needed the business connections and financial expertise that Hong Kong brought.

  • Or, at least, it did then.

  • I remember as early as 1983, I told my wife, who was with me in Beijing, quietly that unless China scrapped its current political system, when China get rich one day, it will pose a threat to the world.

  • And in the 1990s and 2000s. China did indeed get richer.

  • The ruling Communist Party cultivated China's global image, opening up trade routes and foreign investment.

  • Its GDP grew rapidly.

  • By the mid-2000s, the economic power balance had been well and truly reversed

  • And then, in 2012, Xi Jinping effectively became the leader of China and increased the party's grip on power.

  • He introduced a law in the Mainland, which clamped down on any form of dissent, and then set his sights on Hong kong.

  • To Xi, it was no longer a city of growth but a threat to his dominance.

  • Over the next few years, the screws tightened on Hong kong.

  • In 2019, Hong Kong's Beijing-back chief executive Carrie Lam introduced a bill which would've allowed criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be tried on the Mainland.

  • This is a very important piece of legislation that will help to uphold justice.

  • Hong Kongers like Anna Kwok were horrified.

  • I was definitely very angry.

  • Like, how dare you do something like that before 2047 when we were supposed to still have our autonomy?

  • I was quite worried that people were not going to respond.

  • To my surprise, actually, eventually, people came out to the streets and on June 9th, there was a million people marching on the street.

  • But always in the back of my mind, I was always so concerned that how long is this gonna last.

  • And if the government decides to use violence or if the government decides to push hard on us to silence us, are people going to fight back?

  • The people did fight back, but the huge demonstrations didn't derail the Communist Party's crackdown.

  • In 2020, it imposed a national security law, which effectively ended Hong Kong's autonomy.

  • This time, resistance was minimal.

  • Huge sections of Hong Kong's society from business leaders to civil servants were silent.

  • Why?

  • Because the party had been preparing for this day for a very long time.

  • In the 1980s and 90s, the Communist Party started laying the foundations for taking full control of Hong Kong.

  • According to one estimate, more than 80,000 officials from the Mainland entered Hong Kong using fake identities.

  • The aim was for them to infiltrate every sector of society by placing them in key civil service roles and creating underground party cells.

  • The Communist Party even tried to recruit Ching Cheong.

  • Twice I was offered party membership, and twice I declined.

  • The party used a shadowy department known as the United Front to try to cultivate individuals and organizations.

  • Hong Kongers were offered money, power, and women in return for cooperation.

  • One of the United Front's main targets was business, a politically powerful constituency in Hong Kong.

  • Businessmen might be granted special favors across the border in return for their loyalty.

  • Well, businessthey want a bigger slice of the market, and China pose a very big market to them; naturally, they would be happy to cooperate with them.

  • It wasn't just businesses.

  • Decades of infiltration meant the police, customs, and immigration were also in the pocket of the party.

  • So, when the security law came in, the loyalty of Hong Kong's security forces was never in doubt.

  • It also tried to cultivate relationships with those who made up Hong Kong's vibrant civil societyjournalists, teachers, lawyers, and academics like Dr. Chung.

  • For many decades, he's been contacted by so-called middlemen.

  • So, what is this, what⏤?

  • This is a guy [who] keep in touch with me for at least six years.

  • And whenever he come to Hong Kong, he would come to Hong Kong PolyU to see me, and have dinner or lunch on different issues.

  • He looks very friendly.

  • - He wishes you Happy Chinese New Year, Happy Mid-Autumn Festival. - Quite friendly, quite friendly. Yeah, always like that, always like that.

  • Dr. Chung's experience isn't unusual.

  • Many of the Hong Kongers I spoke to said they'd been contacted by middlemen.

  • For decades, the middlemen were courteous and friendly even, but once China imposed the national security law in Hong Kong, the middlemen became a lot more intimidating.

  • Someone who was close to the pro-establishment, he told me that, "You are regarded as someone who is not obedient enough, so, you will be in trouble."

  • Of course, I... I... I took that as a signal.

  • And later, he sent me another message, asked me, "Would you consider leaving Hong Kong for a while to take a rest?"

  • Over the past two years, Dr. Chung was approached by the police several times, but he was reluctant to leave his homeland.

  • One of my best friend and my colleague, he was sentenced to prison for three weeks.

  • He was always gentle, moderate, of course, firm, and he was sent into prison.

  • It is a very important warning fiwarning signal, and I realized that going to prison is not as simple as we imagine.

  • My parents are quite aged.

  • I imagine a... a situation: Is it tolerable for myself to see my age-old parents come to Stanley prison to see me?

  • And...

  • I would say that....

  • That imagination is quite saddening.

  • He fled.

  • Now in Britain, Dr. Chung continues to be outspoken.

  • With his friend, a radio producer, they host a weekly podcast discussing what's going on in Hong kong.

  • When I make a decision to move to [the] UK, I always say that I refuse to switch off my mind, and keep writing and keep talking.

  • Even though he's no longer in Hong kong, the middlemen continued to contact him.

  • Anna Kwok is exiled in Washington D.C.

  • She doesn't know if she'll ever be able to return to Hong Kong.

  • Part of me thinks that even if I go back to Hong Kong, even if I get jailed for, let's say, 5 years or 10 years, I thought it could be worth it just because that is where I grew up and that is my home, right?

  • But then, you know, it was a very hard struggle 'cause you have to decide if you do want to go back, that means that you kind of have to silence yourself.

  • She now works for an advocacy group called the "Hong Kong Democracy Council".

  • We tried to guide the policy discussion so that we can drive future developments that can discourage the Chinese Communist Party from further eroding our freedoms.

  • The world should realize first that even though things may seem to be happening just locally in Hong Kong,

  • actually, they're also trying to use their economic influence as a leverage to control what people in the free world can say or cannot say.

  • Three years on from the Hong Kong protests, thousands of Hong Kongers have gathered in Parliament Square in London.

  • Our true identity is always a Hong Konger.

  • Many Hong Kongers I've spoken to say that Hong Kong isn't just an isolated incident,

  • and, in fact, there are many lessons for the rest of the world from what has happened to Hong Kong, from the way the Chinese Communist Party has crushed liberalism in the city over the past three years.

  • Please don't take freedom and democracy for granted.

  • All the strategies China used to convert Hong Kong, to convert Hong Kong from a... from a free society into autho⏤[an] authoritarian one [is] in operation in your society.

  • So, caring for Hong Kong is no longer for Hong Kong's sake, but for your own sake.

  • To read more about how China crushed Hong Kong, click on the link.

  • Don't forget to subscribe, and thank you for watching.

In the 1990s, Hong Kong was a gateway for Asia to the world.

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How China crushed Hong Kong

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    林宜悉 posted on 2022/07/11
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