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On this episode of Hong Kong Uncensored:
You go to jail.
You go to jail.
Everyone goes to jail!
Welcome back to China Uncensored,
I'm Chris Chappell.
The Hong Kong government has just made
a huge mistake.
Um, yes, but sending political activists to prison
is not exactly the mistake I'm talking about.
The mistake is:
If you're going to secretly undermine
the freedoms of your people,
you have to do it in secret!
Like, if you're coming home at 3 am
after sneaking out to a party:
get your friend to drop you off down the street,
and climb back into your room
through the window.
I'm just saying.
That's just common sense
and is not based on personal experience, Mom.
Anyway, Hong Kong authorities
are still kinda new at this,
which makes them inexperienced and foolish.
Because when the Hong Kong court
sentenced these three political activists
to prison on August 17,
it really let the cat out of the box:
The Hong Kong government
is undermining the freedoms of its people.
Of course, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam
defended the move.
"Rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people
are protected under the Basic Law.”
Ah yes, Basic Law.
That was the agreement the CCP and the UK
made ahead of the 1997 handover.
Under the One Country, Two Systems principle,
the Basic Law guarantees Hong Kong
a variety of rights and freedoms—
even rights and freedoms denied
to people in the rest of China.
Anyway, go on Ms. Lam.
“But the exercise of these rights and freedoms...
is not without limit.”
So what limits did three dangerous criminals violate?
Well, Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, and Alex Chow
were influential leaders of the 2014 Umbrella Movement.
“The 2014 protests—
known as the Umbrella Movement—
were triggered after Wong and his colleagues
stormed the city's government headquarters.
They were later found guilty of unlawful assembly
and were sentenced to community service.”
Just to clarify,
“storming government headquarters” in this case
meant jumping police barriers
in front of a popular protest location
outside the central government offices
known as Civic Square.
Anyway, go on.
“But that wasn't enough for the department of justice
which applied for a review....
Joshua Wong will spend the next six months
behind bars.”
So Joshua Wong and the other two less famous guys
were sentenced to community service.
Which they served.
And then the court decided to sentence them again—
this time to 6 months,
8 months,
and 7 months respectively in prison.
Why?
Well, the Hong Kong Department of Justice
decided that the punishments weren't harsh enough,
and that they wanted a review of the sentences.
Of course Hong Kong Chief Executive
Carrie Lam will assure you,
Beijing had nothing to do with the decision.
"Our courts are exercising judicial powers independently,
free from any interference.
So any allegation that in these particular cases
that judges in the Court of Appeal
have made decisions under political interference,
again, are totally unfounded.”
That's like when you sneak out at night
and then try to convince your parents the next day
that the lump in your bed that night
was you all along,
and totally not the pillows from the guest bedroom.
What's interesting here
is that Lam defends the judges
as being politically unbiased,
but there are signs that the Justice Department itself
wasn't politically unbiased when deciding
to “review” the sentences.
For one, it's highly unusual for them
to review the sentences in the first place.
There are reports that Secretary of Justice Rimsky Yuen
overrode his own prosecutors
in order to get those harsher sentences—
even though his prosecutors didn't want to do it.
Interestingly, Rimsky Yuen is also a member
of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference,
the terribly-named rubber-stamp advisory body
to China's rubber stamp legislature.
Being in the CPPCC
is a marker of status and influence.
And you can get kicked out
for not toeing the Party line.
But I'm sure he made his decisions
about the Hong Kong activists
completely without any political agenda.
So when the courts handed down the prison sentences,
their ruling talked about the importance
of deterrent sentences.
That is, by severely punishing these three people,
they would make Hong Kongers not want to protest...
sorry, I mean, “unlawfully assemble”
in the future.
Which worked incredibly well.
In fact, the sentencing reinvigorated the movement
for rights and freedoms in Hong Kong—
with over twenty thousand people taking to the streets.
There's more uproar over this than for other recent events
that eroded Hong Kong's freedoms.
Like allowing Chinese police to patrol in Hong Kong.
Or saying the joint declaration Hong Kong Basic Law
is founded on no longer has meaning.
Or kicking out democratically elected
pro-democracy lawmakers.
Again.
As you can see,
the Chinese Communist Party's influence over Hong Kong
has been getting really blatant lately.
So the question is why?
This carries serious risks for the CCP.
It clearly shows that the One Country Two Systems policy
that the CCP promised the UK
is being thrown out the window.
And that makes it hard for anyone
to trust the CCP about any agreement.
As Financial Times puts it,
“If a bilateral treaty,
signed by two heads of state
and registered with the UN,
can be unilaterally ignored,
what is stopping China from trashing
any other treaty it does not like?”
So why would the CCP take this risk?
Well, one factor is that the CCP
doesn't care as much as it used to
if the lack of independence
hurts Hong Kong's economy.
In 1997,
when the UK handover happened,
Hong Kong made up 20% of China's GDP.
It was also the only real way for China
to access Western investment.
But now, 20 years later,
other parts of China have grown so much
that Hong Kong's contribution to China's GDP
has fallen from 20%
to just 3%.
So why bother appeasing Hong Kongers with pesky freedoms
unless those freedoms have limits?
Another factor is that the government of the UK,
and every other country,
still wants to do business in with China—
even if they're not super happy
about this latest move.
I mean yeah the CCP is terrible
and breaks its promises,
but...cha-ching!
So put on that awkward smile
and move on.
And here's another factor:
After the 2014 Umbrella movement was over,
many of the young people
who participated in the protests
tried to continue to change the system from within.
For example, Joshua Wong and Nathan Law
founded a political party so they could
officially join Hong Kong's democratic process.
Nathan Law even won a seat
in the legislature last year,
along with many other new
pro-democracy lawmakers.
Unfortunately, Law was kicked out of office
last month for adding a Gandhi quote
while taking his oath of office.
That's another topic.
But now, their long prison sentences
trigger a rule that disqualifies them
from running for office for the next five years.
So the Hong Kong government
is effectively shutting them out of the political process.
It seems like a side effect,
but I think it's actually one of the main reasons
the Hong Kong government did it.
By disqualifying and shutting out pro-democracy legislators,
the pro-Beijing government is more likely
to be able to pass laws that the CCP wants,
but Hong Kongers have resisted for years,
like the patriotic education law,
or Article 23,
that anti-subversion law that would let police
search people's homes without a warrant.
But here's the thing:
This move is extremely stupid!
What happens when you force people
to operate outside the system?
When you show them that protesting
is the only way to prevent the government
from stomping all over your rights
in order to appease the Communist Party?
You get this!
Twenty thousand angry people protesting.
And we're probably going to see
more protests in the future—
because the Hong Kong government's decision
tells the people one thing clearly:
Civil disobedience is now the only way to make
effective political change in Hong Kong.
Now, as for Joshua Wong,
Alex Chow, and Nathan Law,
they've already started their prison sentences,
although their lawyers say they will appeal.
Hopefully prison won't harden them too much.
Joshua has already shaved his head
and talked about taking graphic design classes.
Good luck, kid.
Now, I personally admire these guys,
and for viewers who feel the same,
why don't you head over to Twitter,
and send them some words of support
from the China Uncensored 50-cent army.
Their twitter handles are in the description below,
and their accounts are being managed
by friends while they're in prison.
Don't forget to tag @chinauncensored
so I can see your tweets as well.
And as always,
let me know what you think
in the comments below.
Coming up after the break,
if only getting political prisoners out of China
were as easy as getting money out.
When I was in Hong Kong last December,
I was lucky enough to sit down
with Joshua Wong for an interview.
We talked about his plans
for the future of Hong Kong,
and we even sang a song of angry men
from my favorite musical, Les Mis.
Of course, this is before I realized
Joshua Wong was a dangerous criminal.
So click here on the left
to watch that interview now.
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What Hong Kong Really Thinks of Protesters | China Uncensored

286 Folder Collection
Rain published on April 2, 2018
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