We have plenty of news to occupy our attention at home in the United States, but it’s worth keeping a mournful eye on the continuing downward spiral of the Hong Kong democracy movement. Only recently, we saw the Chinese government moving to flex their muscle under the new “national security” law that was put in place last week. Hundreds were arrested and police forces fired tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray into crowds of protesters, hitting some international journalists in the process. But over the weekend, an even more disturbing symptom of the totalitarian takeover emerged. Books shelves are being emptied of any works created by pro-democracy advocates, including historical textbooks. (BBC)
Books by pro-democracy figures have been removed from public libraries in Hong Kong in the wake of a controversial new security law.
The works will be reviewed to see if they violate the new law, the authority which runs the libraries said.
The legislation targets secession, subversion and terrorism with punishments of up to life in prison.
Opponents say it erodes the territory’s freedoms as a semi-autonomous region of China. Beijing rejects this.
This isn’t technically “book burning,” at least at this stage, but the effect is the same. China, and their puppet in the province, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, are saying that the books are currently “under review” to see if they violate the national security law. But we all know by now that those books won’t be coming back.
One of the authors who are now on the banned book list is Joshua Wong, a popular pro-democracy activist, He took to Twitter (which is somehow still possible in Hong Kong, at least for now) to raise the alarm.
1/ More than just punitive measures, the national security law also imposes a mainland-style censorship regime upon this international financial city. Although my books are published years before Hong Kong's anti-extradition movement, they are now prone to book censorship. https://t.co/2fbyvtcH95
— Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 😷 (@joshuawongcf) July 4, 2020
This sort of thing is straight out of the playbook of Mao Zedong, Stalin and any number of other infamous figures. Eliminating the written works or public speeches of “disruptive elements” who oppose the ruling structure is key to ensuring compliance. In the modern era, they also need to cut off access to “unapproved” social media activity as has largely been done in China already. You can expect to see an end to any Twitter updates from pro-democracy activists in the near future.
All the while, Carrie Lam continues to defend the suppression of dissent and sings the praises of China’s decisions in these matters. She supports the national security law and the new order by saying that such measures are “necessary and timely to maintain Hong Kong’s stability.” Well, things will probably at least look a lot more “stable” after anyone who disagrees with Beijing is either dead or in a concentration camp. But the sad fact remains that the citizens of Hong Kong who are interested in maintaining at least some level of autonomy and freedom really have nobody with any power left going to bat for them. That’s led some democracy advocates like former local legislator Nathan Law to flee the city. And sadly, I expect that Mr. Law won’t be the last.