China is engaged in the task of removing Hong Kong’s political and economic autonomy. A distinct city-state facing east-west is about to be lost.
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China accuses Hong Kong citizens of using political participation and freedom of expression. In 2020, Beijing proposed a new security law that would be used against those who dared to speak out against the Communist Party. 47 have now been charged and will be brought to justice in May.
China’s threats test democracies
At the same time, China is considering introducing a condition that candidates running in Hong Kong must be nominated by a nominating committee controlled by Beijing. Democracy is limited until now. Only half of the delegates are elected by the people. Now China wants to remove any opposition. The assembly will be transformed into an instrument of obedience to the Chinese Communist Party. China justifies this by saying that “patriots should rule Hong Kong.” In this context, patriots are like puppets.
We know who the true patriots are. Everyone in Hong Kong is fighting for the rule of law and democracy. The democratic movement fought for free and fair elections of political leadership and city government.
China’s Nobel fear
We know what the people of Hong Kong think. In the November 2019 local elections, pro-democracy candidates won 390 of the 452 seats and a majority in all district councils. The election campaign is not so much about public services, it is about what political course Hong Kong should follow. Democratic candidates wanted to strengthen the city’s autonomy and independence. The turnout was high. When democracy is threatened, people wake up. They take part in mass demonstrations in the streets and they exercise their right to vote. We have seen many and definite examples in recent years.
The real face of China
Until 1997 Hong Kong was a British colony. London and Beijing later negotiated an agreement that would allow the city to become part of China. As a separate administrative region in China, Hong Kong must maintain its own economic and political system. China called the plan a “one-country-two system.” Now China is gradually changing this to “one country-one system”.
Both Taiwan and Hong Kong are examples of what the Chinese can achieve when they have political and economic freedom and the protection afforded by the rule of law. It has earned Hong Kong a reputation as a global city for trade and finance. Citizens have the freedom that 1.3 billion other Chinese do not have. Beijing will lose it to them. Norway and other democracies need to take a stand. We must protect pro-democracy activists and at the same time send a clear message to Beijing.