By Timothy Geigner
While we’ve been discussing the troubling actions the Chinese government has undertaken against Hong Kong for some time now, the movements are starting to reach a rapid pace. It was only in July that Beijing unveiled a sparkling new and impossibly vague “national security” law that was perfectly tuned to make any pro-democracy talk or demonstrations in Hong Kong offenses that would result in lengthy prison time. This was the result of months of protests that served to embarrass a Communist government that prides itself on full control. Again, that was only June. In August, the arrests of media members who were pro-democracy began, followed by the ouster and then arrest of pro-democracy lawmakers in November.
And while one can imagine the Chinese government doing a bit of breath-holding in December as the American political system buried itself in bullshit thanks to one man’s inability to admit defeat, it appears January was the start date to re-kick off the attacks on Hong Kong. In the early morning hours of Wednesday, 53 Hong Kong citizens were arrested under the national security law, all accused of, well…
By late morning on Wednesday, at least 53 Hong Kong residents — former lawmakers, activists and an American lawyer among them — had been detained under Beijing’s new national security law, and their offices and homes raided. Accused of subversion, they face up to life in prison for holding a primary vote last year ahead of legislative elections that were ultimately postponed and which many of them were barred from contesting.
The raids, which involved more than 1,000 officers, marked the most dramatic onslaught in Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s transformation of once-freewheeling Hong Kong into a city gripped by fear under authoritarian rule.
This was predicted by many, me included. With Trump never all that concerned with human rights in China and now all the more distracted with a combination of rounds of golf to be played and living in some aggrieved fantasy land, the Chinese government is quite clearly going to take every authoritarian action it can now, before the new administration is in place. This should also serve as a lovely indication of just how dumb the claims are that Biden and Harris are somehow compromised by China. Were that true, China would be holding off until January 20th, and yet they are not.
The Hong Kong authorities are, as ever, playing along with their puppet-masters.
John Lee, Hong Kong’s secretary for security, lauded the police operation as “necessary” and accused those involved in the primary of attempting to paralyze the government by seeking to win a majority in the legislature.
I’ll give you a moment to reread that last bit again. Those arrested are accused of trying to “paralyze” Hong Kong’s government by winning elections. The argument, in other words, is that pro-democracy advocates are too dangerous to be allowed to be elected, so they are being forcibly removed from society via aggressive actions instead.
It’s almost poetic, then, that these arrests came on the same day that Donald Trump and his enablers fostered and promoted an insurrection by his supporters at the Capitol, all to achieve precisely the same goal. That it failed is good, but of no material importance when it comes to America’s current and future standing to apply pressure on China to cease its actions in Hong Kong. You can be damned sure that Chinese state television will be playing the videos and images of the chaos that occurred in DC on Wednesday on loop for its citizens as a way to rebut any words Joe Biden might have on the topic of Hong Kong.
And so, as authoritarian regimes light fires around the world, it’s worth pausing and reflecting on just how much was lost on Wednesday in America. Our dignity. Our peace. Our moral authority. Our standing.