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INTERNATIONAL > East Asia & Pacific

Editorial: Evisceration of Hong Kong democracy cannot be allowed

  • October 16, 2020
  • , The Japan News , 11:41 a.m.
  • English Press

Following the enforcement of a national security law that regulates anti-government activities, the Hong Kong government is tightening its grip on the pro-democracy camp.


Hong Kong’s freedom and democracy could be eviscerated. The international community needs to remain alert to China’s moves.


The election for the Legislative Council, or the parliament of Hong Kong, which was scheduled for September, has been postponed. This leaves the pro-China majority in the body unchanged for another year. With the start of a new parliamentary session, it cannot be expected that the Legislative Council will be able to check the abuse of power by the authorities.


In addition, China has been urging the Hong Kong government to enact its own national security ordinance to complement the national security law. Regarding parliamentary elections, there are also moves to introduce a system in which Hong Kongers living in mainland China, many of whom are pro-China, can vote from mainland China.


If pro-China candidates dominate the seats, the Hong Kong parliament would be no different from China’s National People’s Congress, which merely rubber-stamps decisions by the Chinese Communist Party.


Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that there is “no separation of the three powers in Hong Kong,” expressing her awareness that the administration holds a prominent position over both the Legislative Council and the judiciary. It is feared that arbitrary application of the law would further strengthen the authorities’ iron grip over the pro-democracy camp and the mass media.


Before the enforcement of the law, Hong Kong residents expressed their dissatisfaction with the government through large-scale demonstrations. However, they are now refraining from doing so for fear of a crackdown by the authorities. There is no denying that anti-government movements are tightly hemmed in.


The pro-democracy camp itself has revealed internal conflicts between anti-China hardliners and moderates. Hardline Legislative Council members resigned from their posts in protest of the national security law, while moderates have chosen to stay in office to fight within the parliament.


Disappointment at and despair over the pro-democracy camp are said to be spreading among local residents. It can be said that the pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong face a fateful crisis.


The international community is called on to play a significant role.


At an online summit meeting between the European Union and China, EU leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, expressed their “grave concerns” about the situation surrounding Hong Kong to Chinese President Xi Jinping. However, Xi reportedly rebuked the EU side, saying that the Chinese people will not accept “an instructor” on human rights.


Germany and other European countries have put emphasis on their relations with China. But, in response to the widening gap in values such as freedom and democracy, there have been moves to review their policies toward China. The United States also intends to tighten sanctions on Hong Kong.


China must take seriously the mounting criticism from other countries over the destruction of its international pledge of “one country, two systems” regarding Hong Kong.


Japan, together with countries that share the same values, should continue to show a stance that does not overlook the current situation in Hong Kong.


— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Oct. 16, 2020.

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