BY MEI LIN CHAN
The first of October 2019 will mark the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and Beijing is pulling out all stops for a day replete with fireworks, fanfares and a huge military parade. To ensure all goes smoothly, authorities have been ramping up security in the capital (and online) for weeks.
During rehearsals for a military parade to mark the day, those living near Tienanmen Square have been instructed “not to approach the windows” and to keep their curtains closed. In neighbouring Shanxi (山西) province, police and other public security staff have been forbidden from drinking spirits since the fifteenth of September.
The popular mainland social media platform Weibo launched a “special clean-up operation” against “harmful political information” and any accounts or posts that “distort the history of the Chinese communist party and the country” have been deleted. Some, who have expressed support for the Hong Kong protests, have had to promise they won’t travel to the city until well after the anniversary on 1 October. Despite Beijing’s tightening control in the run up to the celebrations and its determination to let its achievements shine on 1st October, there’s a good chance Hong Kong will pull focus.
What about Hong Kong?
The protests in Hong Kong started against proposals to allow extradition to mainland China, these protests have entered their 16th week with no sign of ending. The protests have become a “global embarrassment” for China as this “internal matter” has not been contained and there are planned marches in major cities around the world this weekend and on 1st October to show global solidarity with Hong Kong and support for the protestors.
Global Rallies Against Tyranny Preview:
What was the Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam thinking when she pressed ahead with the controversial Extradition Bill and denied the public a proper public consultation period back in June?
A law that would have allowed Hong Kong to extradite its citizens to face prosecution in mainland China’s court system, a law which stoked fears that China could manipulate Hong Kong law to seize political dissidents and anyone deemed insufficiently compliant to Beijing, a law which undermines the legal firewall set up between Britain and China under the Joint Declaration which guaranteed Hong Kong autonomy. Lam underestimated the intense backlash to the bill and nearly two million citizens took to the streets in June to show their displeasure, but she failed to engage or offer any concessions other than declare the bill “would die a natural death.” A summer of discontent ensued whereby weekly protests invariably descended into chaos and violence towards the end of the night. The police force’s heavy handedness to quell the protests with thousands of rounds of tear gas, multiple rubber bullets fired at protestors and the maltreatment of protestors in custody has driven a deep rift between the public and police which will take years to heal. Trust in the police was further eroded when they failed to respond promptly to thousands of emergency calls to 999 on the evening of 21st July when over 100-armed triad thugs dressed in white indiscriminately attacked civilians on the streets and passengers in the Yuen Long MTR station. These included the elderly, children, protesters, journalists and lawmakers and at least 45 people were injured in the incident, including a pregnant woman. Lam denied the public an independent inquiry into police misconduct and this was the tipping point for Hongkongers, previously neutral citizens joined the anti-extradition protests which morphed into “Five Demands Nothing Less.”
What are the Five Demands?
- Withdrawal of the Extradition Bill
- An Independent Commission of Inquiry into excessive use of force by police
- An amnesty for arrested protesters
- Retract categorising the protests as riots
- Implementation of universal suffrage
Although Lam belatedly announced the withdrawal of the controversial bill early September, it was too little too late, protestors dismissed her announcement as applying “a plaster to rotting flesh!” The anti-extradition protests have evolved into a battle for Hong Kong’s autonomy, justice for victims of police brutality and genuine democracy. Protestors are directing resistance towards the root of the chaos – the tightening grip of Chinese authorities on the puppet HK government.
They call on supporters in London to join them on Saturday 28th September for a march in solidarity with the people of Hong Kong, and against China’s suppression of our promised rights and freedoms near the 70th anniversary of the founding of People’s Republic of China.
Fight Against Tyranny, Stand with Hong Kong – for Autonomy, Justice and Democracy!
Mei Lin Chan is a Hong Kong Student based in London.