The new Beijing-backed security law went into effect in Hong Kong yesterday with immediate consequences. The Hong Kong police announced the first arrest relating directly to the new national security act.
A huge protest in Hong Kong resulted in 70 people being arrested.
The number arrested may have been much higher.
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Still, protesters took to the streets on Wednesday, which marked the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from the U.K. to China. Hong Kong is a British colony that returned to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997.
Demonstrators were chanting slogans such as “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.” Officers were seen stopping pedestrians and conducting searches, and some were taken away by police. Water cannons were also used.
Police later said on Twitter that more than 70 people had been arrested for participating in “unauthorized assemblies,” including two suspected of violating the national security law.
The new law is certainly having a chilling effect as one of the major pro-democracy groups has disbanded.
The new legislation gives Beijing greater control on the city and has already had an impact on the protest movement. Hours after the law was passed, Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong said that he was resigning as secretary general of pro-democracy group, Demosisto, and leaving the party. Other members, including Nathan Law and Agnes Chow, issued similar statements on social media and the party announced it would disband.
Authorities claim the protesters are unnecessarily paranoid.
“The purpose is not to take the pro-democratic camp in Hong Kong as an imaginary enemy. The purpose is combating a narrow category of crimes against national security,” said Zhang Xiaoming, executive deputy director of Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council Wednesday.
Those “crimes” include thinking that Hong Kong is an autonomous, free territory not under the thumb of the tyrannical Communist regime in Beijing.
Right on cue, the United Nations Human Rights Rights Council (UNHRC) voted overwhelmingly to approve the Chinese crackdown. The pro-Beijing Global Times exulted in the vote.
A total of 53 countries supported China’s national security law for Hong Kong at the 44th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Tuesday, triumphing over 27 members that attacked and called for harsh measures against China over issues involving Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet.
The landslide victory was seen by experts as showing that China’s achievements in human rights have won more supporters and become known by wider audiences. The double standards of some Western countries that tried to politicize the UNHRC and to use human rights-related issues as weapons to attack China, brought themselves more criticism within the international community.
The Chinese government believes that the much-publicized unrest in many Western countries over the death of George Floyd “proves” their “system of human rights” is superior to that of the West.
“Now, China needs to tear off the cover and show the world how US-style human rights are,” Zhang said.
Zhu said that as China’s influence projected worldwide has grown stronger, more countries are recognizing China’s system of human rights, believing it provides an alternative model of how to improve people’s lives and secure sovereignty.
China’s system of human rights doesn’t include allowing everyone to know if there are violations in China of human rights. There’s no mention of the systematic oppression of the Uighurs, the virulent, nauseating racism against black Africans in some Chinese provinces, the jailing for advocating political beliefs opposed to the Chinese government, the oppression of Tibet — is this the “alternative model” China is promoting?
The Western system of human rights is based on Western values. Sometimes, we fall short of living by those values. But the difference between us and China is the ability to self-correct. We’re seeing that process in action now — exaggerated, radical, sometimes hysterical opposition to the way we treat some of our fellow citizens of color.
There will be changes. Hopefully, politics will prevail and the changes will happen by elected representatives meeting in legislative chambers and not by a mob rampaging through the streets.
But there will be no changes in China as long as Communists rule. Only its collapse will bring the universal values of freedom to the Chinese people and the people of Hong Kong.