By Timothy Geigner
Literally everyone saw this coming. On the heels of a rushed through resolution out of mainland China that ousted four pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmakers, leading to the resignation of every other pro-democracy lawmaker as well, the question was when, not if, Beijing would continue to tighten its communist grip. The answer to that question appears to be “almost immediately”, with China announcing the arrest of three pro-democracy former lawmakers, likely a signal to any other opposition forces who might want to make any noise.
Posts on the Facebook accounts of Ted Hui, Eddie Chu and Raymond Chan said they were arrested in relation to the incidents in the legislature’s main chamber. The trio separately disrupted legislative meetings by splashing pungent liquids and other items on two occasions.
Hong Kong police said in a statement that they arrested three former lawmakers on charges of contempt in the legislature and intent to cause harm to others. Police did not identify them by name.
The information offered up by Beijing is made to make all of this sound like it is arresting lawmakers for putting other legislators in danger. Given the source, that accusation should be taken with a grain of salt. For example, Chi-Fung (Ted) Hui’s antics in disrupting the legislature were very much about the disruption and nothing to do with putting anyone in danger. For Christ’s sake, the “weapon” for his intent to cause harm to others appears to be some rotted plant material.
On 28 May 2020, Hui disrupted the second reading of the National Anthem Bill in the Legislative Council by dropping a container containing rotten plant matter inside the chamber. A fellow lawmaker was taken to hospital after being exposed to the smell. On 4 June 2020, Hui and two other lawmakers, Eddie Chu and Raymond Chan, were alleged with hindering the business of the Legislative Council and violating the Powers and Privileges Ordinance, with Hui having dropped foul smelling liquid during the LegCo session on that day.
For this, apparently, Hui is under arrest. But what should really be striking you about all of this is the complete absence of international pushback generally and the dereliction of American leadership in promoting democracy specifically. Our government is all but absent on the international stage at the moment, with the gears of government mostly churning out a plan for COVID-19 vaccination while senior leadership is focused on promoting nonsense conspiracy theories over an election it lost and otherwise sulking.
It appears that China views the remaining few weeks of the current administration as its window for the takeover of Hong Kong. And, given the absence of leadership at the present, it’s not hard to see why. The only remaining question is just what the state of affairs in Hong Kong will be when Joe Biden is sworn in as President.