“Nothing new under the sun” is a saying from Ecclesiastes, but substituting “five-star flag” for “sun” would perhaps be more in step with the times.
International media watched as Apple Daily founder and owner Jimmy Lai (黎智英), two of his sons and four of his employees were arrested, followed by the arrest of 23-year-old democracy advocate Agnes Chow (周庭).
Arresting well-known people for things they said is not unusual in China, but to let go of all restraint and do it in Hong Kong for the world to see as shows the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) outright contempt for basic human rights.
The masters in Beijing were not joking when they passed the National Security Law for Hong Kong. It was precisely what they needed to arrest anyone they wanted.
In just 23 years, Hong Kong, the former jewel in the British queen’s crown, has been thrown into the dust and crushed under Beijing’s boot.
However, it is not as if Hong Kongers did not know what was coming.
Xu Jiatun (許家屯) was officially the first head of Xinhua news agency’s Hong Kong branch.
According to his memoirs, he was also the first person sent by Beijing to carry out the “great task” of unification.
Xu once received an important business leader and his three deputies. When the conversation turned to the “one country, two systems” model, he said that “everything will remain unchanged” except that the Chinese flag would replace the British flag and the British governor would be replaced by a person elected by Hong Kongers themselves, making it no longer a British colony.
One of the business leader’s deputies disagreed and asked if that would not make Hong Kong a Chinese colony.
It did, but what can be done about it?
It is true that Hong Kongers did not have democracy under British rule, but they were free. Now that Hong Kong has become a Chinese colony, they have neither democracy nor freedom. They are not even allowed to think for themselves anymore.
The past attitude in Hong Kong was: “We are Hong Kongers, you are Chinese and those are Brits.”
However, the only things that count today are the decisions of the Chinese National People’s Congress in Beijing.
After the Cultural Revolution, an academic, referring to Hong Kong as an example, said that before China becomes a free and modern country, it must go through a colonial period.
It might have been a joke, but given the cruel realities, it turned out to be a chilling warning.
As a British colony, Hong Kong was far better off than it is now as a special administrative region of the “mother country.”
History is not weird, reality is. The day that Hong Kong was returned to China was also the day its fate was sealed and its death sentence finalized.
From the “Umbrella movement” to protests last year against a extradition bill, Hong Kong has been roiled by turmoil as the whole world watched. Still, anyone who knows the CCP’s true character knew that struggle was futile.
Many people in Taiwan, the US and even Hong Kong had high hopes for the protests.
In the foreword to his book Hong Kong Awakens (香港覺醒), Lee Yee (李怡), founder of Hong Kong’s The Seventies magazine, said that last year “will be a year for the history books. It was the year Hong Kong awakened, an awakening that represented a milestone of the past 200 years.”
“It was a bit sudden, but it was not incidental. It was an awakening of Hong Kong residents, an awakening that will be passed from this generation to the next, and to the next generation after that. There is no turning back for Hong Kong. Hong Kong will not look back,” he said.
These were the naive thoughts of 83-year-old Lee.
While Hong Kong has awakened, its people have had their right to protest taken away. The day after Lai was arrested, the Apple Daily sold 550,000 copies, and Next Digital’s stock surged 1,000 percent to its highest in six years.
The Hong Kongers’ awakening might be forceful, but it will be difficult to maintain the momentum.
It is cruel. The people of Hong Kong have written history in their own blood, exposing the character of the CCP dictatorship and tyranny for the world to see. By sacrificing everything, they have exposed the ferociousness of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and those of his ilk.
It is indeed like Machiavelli said: “It was thus necessary that Moses should find the people of Israel slaves in Egypt and oppressed by the Egyptians... It was necessary that Cyrus should find the Persians discontented with the empire of the Medes... Theseus could not have showed his abilities if he had not found the Athenians dispersed.”
To make the world see China’s savagery and evil, it was necessary for Hong Kong to suffer this tragedy. The people of Hong Kong have put their greatness on full display and developed countries around the world must stop being bystanders to the spread of fascism.