Please, dear readers, understand what China is doing to Hong Kong, right now. As The Economist explains, Li Keqiang, the Chinese prime minister, told the rubber-stamp National People’s Congress that he is “establishing a “sound” legal system to ensure national security in Hong Kong, which has flourished in part because of its independent judiciary and political freedoms. Just before the NPC opened, China had signalled how it hopes to achieve that “soundness”: by adopting legislation that would require Hong Kong to prohibit acts of subversion against the Chinese government … [and] … The move is unprecedented but not completely unexpected. Article 23 of China’s mini-constitution for Hong Kong, the Basic Law, requires the local government to enact such a law. But a previous attempt, in 2003, was shelved after huge protests. Recently the central government has become increasingly insistent on the need for the law, arguing that protests in Hong Kong, especially violent ones last year which it claims were aided by foreign governments, are a risk to the security of the whole country.” Prime Minister Li is correct. The protests in Hong Kong cannot be kept secret from the mainland … news leaks across the border and is passed, on flash drives and SD cards, from computer to computer. If, tens, even hundreds of millions of mainland Chinese learn that people just like them can protest against government actions and actually force changes then the “security” of the Chinese Communist Party’s vice-like grip on power is, indeed, at risk.
Please understand that what China intends to do is to get rid of the inconvenient “one country, two systems” regime that Deng Xiaoping designed to both integrate Hong Kong and tempt Taiwan into a peaceful union and replace it with “one country, one system,” a full 25 years earlier than planned. China plans to, literally, snuff out the modicum of independence that Hong Kong was promised while, the world hoped, China learned how to adapt to the notions that individual liberty and the rule of law can thrive in a Confucian society.
Because Hong Kong is dangerous. The notions of freedom and individual liberty and democracy and the rule of law are all dangerous to the Xi Jinping regime.
There is nothing inconsistent with democracy, liberty and the rule of law and a deeply conservative, Confucian society: all of Japan, Korea (ROK), Singapore and Taiwan are functioning democracies where your life, liberty, property and privacy are as safe as they are in Canada. Leaders there are elected after hard-fought, free and fair election campaigns. That’s why Hong Kong and Singapore always ranked so high for both business opportunity and good government. Hong Kong is about to lose out to Singapore. The trust that everyone had in Hong Kong’s courts will wither and die, quickly. Beijing doesn’t care. Singapore can fill the (essential) niche of the safe, secure, honest broker for trade between China and the world and the Singaporeans have no need to protest against Chinese incursions into their laws and constitution.
Please understand that Hong Kong is a vibrant, bustling, busy place where good people ~ I assure you that the people in Hong Kong are “good” and “bad” in exactly the same proportions as are the people in America, Britain, Canada, Denmark and so on down to Zambia and Zimbabwe ~ work hard to make better lives for themselves. By and large, again in precisely the same proportions as in Australia and Canada, some people in Hong Kong object to what their government does, and just like people in Tofino, Toronto and Torbay they take to the streets to demonstrate, peacefully.
Now there’s a difference between Hong Kong and the rest fo the world. Although Hong Kong is “different” from mainland China and although there is this “one country, two systems” business, Hong Kong is still, pretty much a Chinese colony. And now the colonial masters are clamping down.
Please understand that this new law will make disagreeing with Beijing a crime.
Can you imagine how we would react if it became a crime for you or me to disagree with Justin Trudeau or Doug Ford? Or, for Americans to disagree with Donald Trump or Australians with Scott Morrison? Would any of us tolerate making about half the country into criminals, by the stroke of a pen? That’s what’s going to happen in Hong Kong and some people, mostly young, smart, freedom-loving activists are going to be arrested … tragically, I suspect, many of them are going to, mysteriously, commit suicide while in custody or, equally without reason, fall, accidentally, out of a window on a high floor of a government building. It seems to happen to a lot of people who get arrested in Hong Kong these days.
Please write to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. His address is:
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
There is no stamp required when your letter is addressed to Parliament. His website says that he “greatly values the thoughts and suggestions of Canadians.” If you don’t want to bother printing out a letter you can send him a message using this website. Please tell the prime minister that you want him to stand up for freedom and democracy by publicly denouncing China’s abrogation of Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms. Please tell him you want him to do this in a statement in the House of Commons.
For my own part, I have also asked him to announce, formally, with Public Safety Minister Bill Blair (the MP for Scarborough Southwest), Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino (the MP for Eglinton-Lawrence) and John Ossowski, President of the Canada Border Services Agency and Richard Wex, Chair of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, standing beside him, that every legal resident of Hong Kong, if they come to Canada, if they enter legally, can apply for asylum and they will be granted refugee status on arrival and will be given an expedited hearing because they are fleeing oppression and the Government of Canada acknowledges that they are in real, imminent danger if they must return to Hong Kong.
Please write to your own Member of Parliament, too. You can find your MP here. All you need to do is enter your postal code and then click on his or her picture and you’ll be taken to a page with contact information.
Please stand up for freedom for everyone … please stand with the people of Hong Kong. Yes, there are risks, if enough of us stand up for freedom, if enough of us demand liberty for Hong Kong, if the Government of Canada listens to us and acts, then China will punish us. But, some things are worth the fight … there are too many Canadians buried at the Sai Wan War Cemetery in Hong Kong for us to ignore this. “There’s some corner of a foreign field that is for ever” a part of Canada. Please stand up, again, for freedom.