It wasn’t long after Chinese President Xi Jinping signed the new Hong Kong “national security” law that Hong Kong police began cracking down on the supposed violators. The police claimed that more than 300 protesters were arrested on a variety of charges related to the new law. Most of them boiled down to little more than saying things that Beijing doesn’t care for or carrying “propaganda” promoting Hong Kong’s independence. Keep in mind that this wasn’t a case of Chinese troops or security forces intervening directly in the affairs of the city. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam sent out the local police to do this while praising China’s decision to enact the law. (Associated Press)
Hong Kong police made their first arrests Wednesday under a new national security law imposed a day earlier by China’s central government, as thousands of people defied tear gas and pepper pellets to protest against it.
Police said nine people were arrested under the law, including a man with a Hong Kong independence flag and a woman holding a sign displaying the British flag and calling for Hong Kong’s independence. Others were detained for possessing items advocating independence. Further details were not immediately available.
Hong Kong police said on Facebook that they arrested more than 300 people on various charges, including unlawful assembly, possession of weapons and violating the national security law.
Prior to the protests, Lam put out a statement saying that the signing of the new law was “necessary and timely to maintain Hong Kong’s stability.” Looking at the photos and video of the protests and the arrests, I’d have to say that the woman has a rather odd idea of what “stability” is supposed to look like.
It wasn’t just the demonstrators who were taking the brunt of the batons, beatings and tear gas from the police. Reporters were caught up in the fray as well, including some from CNN.
#breaking Hong Kong police have just fired pepper spray into a crowd that is assembled in Causeway Bay. Journalist @chermainelee22 who is on our @cnn team, was hit. I know from experience, it feels absolutely dreadful. But she’ll be ok. pic.twitter.com/PmiDXdmpk3
— Will Ripley (@willripleyCNN) July 1, 2020
Efforts to make things even slightly more open and transparent through Hong Kong’s internal legislature have utterly failed. Beijing steps in every time and thwarts any and all efforts at reform. And the elections they do manage to hold are a sham, since any time China doesn’t care for one of the winners, they “disqualify” them and replace them with someone more likely to rest comfortably in Xi Jinping’s pocket and do the bidding of the Chinese Communist Party.
The display by Chief Executive Carrie Lam this week has been nothing less than shameful. She’s rarely shown any sort of backbone against Beijing since taking office to begin with, and now that China is throwing its full muscle into bringing the “runaway province” in line, her true colors are on full display. She’s standing there and praising the decisions of the CCP and sending out the brute squad to fire tear gas canisters and water cannons, along with locking up anyone holding a pro-democracy sign or flag.
China knows full well that the United States isn’t going to step in with any sort of military presence to salvage what’s left of Hong Kong’s democracy, nor will any of our western allies. The most they’ll get is another round of sanctions which they usually find a way to either ignore or violate anyway. (And the fact that they hold so much of our debt and control massive amounts of our supply chain only boosts their confidence, I’m sure.)
I don’t believe that I’m being overly dramatic when I say that we are truly witnessing the fall of Hong Kong this week. The signing of the national security law was almost certainly the straw that broke the democratic camel’s back. The residents of Hong Kong can’t even look to their own elected representatives to shield them. And if the protests keep up for too much longer, don’t be at all surprised to see actual Chinese tanks and troops rolling through the streets. They still have them stationed on the border just in case they are needed.