It’s downright big and – for us Quebeckers – literally on the other side of the planet. We could, without remorse, ignore it. Except that what is happening in Hong Kong is not limited to this peninsula and the few islands attached to it. China is tightening the screw and democracy is once again lacking in air.
Communist power in Beijing has just imposed a law on the Hong Kong people, which he claims aims to maintain order in the former British colony. One should always be wary of secretly concocted legislation which, when exposed, gives broad powers of repression to a brand new “National Security Bureau”.
Broadly and vaguely, this new law identifies four major crimes – subversion, terrorism, separatism and “collusion with foreign forces” – and those found guilty face no more or less than life imprisonment. The decree, in reality, wants to break the guts of the democratic movement.
1997 … ALREADY FORGOTTEN
Contrary to what Beijing suggests, it is not a matter between Chinese. The United Kingdom’s Hong Kong retrocession agreement to China in 1997 granted the small territory a special status – the famous “One country, two systems” – which the Chinese Communists undertook to respect until 2047. We are far from it.
The new law, for example, creates special courts, independent of the Hong Kong legal system. The Chinese authorities also keep the power to move the trials of the defendants to China itself. To hell with it, autonomy!
The most worrying is fundamentally the vagueness of the potential crimes committed so that any protestor feels threatened. Hundreds of arrests have already been made in the past few days, but mostly fear and mistrust have spread.
To repeat the analysis of historian Steve Tsang in the review The Atlantic, what Hong Kong knows is a bloodless version of the Tien An Men massacre in 1989: “The goal is to intimidate and terrify people so that they don’t even think about protesting anymore. “
The protests, at least, came from abroad, especially from Ottawa, which had the courage to suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and its exports of military equipment. Hats off to Prime Minister Trudeau! Because it takes courage to stand up to China and its powerful economic machine.
LOSE YOURSELF ON THE NEW SILK ROUTE
The Chinese boast of having won the support of 52 countries in the United Nations Human Rights Council for the “new national security law” in Hong Kong. The list reads like a meeting of autocrats (Cuba, Myanmar, Egypt, North Korea, Saudi Arabia) or developing countries who have attached their fate to Chinese investments.
In fact, more than 40 of these countries have embarked on the huge Belt and Road development project, in which Beijing plans to invest between $ 1 trillion and $ 8 trillion. It forces allegiance, let’s say.
The 27 opponents of this declaration – from Sweden to New Zealand, including France – are all democracies. Fortunately, Canada has surrounded itself to signal to the Hong Kong people that they will not be left to their own devices.
HONG KONG: Small territory, great influence
- Population: 7.5 million
- Area: 1,106 km2 (two and a half times the size of Montreal)
- Economy: Often qualified as 3e world financial center after New York and London.
- GDP per capita: $ 65,000 (10e in the world)
- History: British possession from 1842; returned to China in 1997.