China Celebrates Hong Kong Conquest: ‘There Won’t Be Any Large-Scale Opposition’

China arrested a U.S. citizen in 2016 on charges of espionage, a Hong Kong newspaper reported Wednesday. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
Stephen Shaver/UPI

China’s Global Times propaganda newspaper applauded the escalating absence of “any large-scale opposition” to communism in Hong Kong on Thursday, the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party.

Beijing-controlled Hong Kong officials significantly increased repression of pro-democracy voices in the city in the aftermath of the 2019 anti-communist protests, most notably passing a “national security” law that outlaws expressions of “secession” or “subversion of state power” last year. China passed the law through Beijing’s National People’s Congress (NPC), meaning it does not legally apply in Hong Kong due to the “One Country, Two Systems” policy, but Hong Kong police have implemented it anyway, arresting dozens of prominent protesters for public expressions against communism.

In an attempt to replace suppressed pro-democracy sentiment with loyalty to the Communist Party, Hong Kong officials planned over 100 events in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the Party on Thursday. July 1 also marks the anniversary of the United Kingdom surrendering Hong Kong to the Chinese Communist Party and typically attracts pro-democracy rallies, so Hong Kong deployed thousands of police to swarm the vast Victoria Park and prevent any anti-communist gatherings. Hong Kong police denied a permit to pro-democracy groups for a rally citing Chinese coronavirus concerns despite allowing gatherings to celebrate communism on the same day.

The Global Times celebrated the changes in Hong Kong, referring to the peaceful, pro-democracy protests of 2019 as Hong Kong’s “darkest moments.” In an interview with the propaganda outlet, “expert” Lau Siu-kai of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies celebrated Hong Kong’s “new phase” and urged authorities to increase communist propaganda in schools to fully subdue any pro-freedom sentiments.

“Until now, major anti-China figures have been restrained by the National Security Law, and there won’t be any large-scale opposition like before,” Lau said approvingly of the past week’s mass arrests of journalists and other dissidents under the law. “Extreme opposition forces have been crushed, and the little sympathy and support from society has disappointed them.”

Lau suggested the Communist Party “must make adjustments different from the tolerant policies adopted before” and work towards “building patriotic forces in the region.”

The Chinese “expert” explained away the mass rejection of communism in the city – the largest 2019 protest attracted 2 million people in a city of 7 million – by noting that Hong Kong has a history of harboring communist refugees as “some of the older generation came to Hong Kong to escape the Party in their early years.”

“They hold an anti-communist ideology, and some even monopolized public opinion through education, media, religion and other platforms to inculcate a one-sided wrong idea among younger generations,” Lau asserted. He went on to assert that these refugees were arrogant and “look down on” Chinese people, and have become increasingly hostile as Beijing has grown more powerful.

“What’s more, after Hong Kong’s return to the motherland, it did not implement proper education on the history, development, and constitution of its country, let alone a correct perception of the [Communist Party],” Lau added. “The historical reason behind it was that the central government saw some resistance in the Hong Kong people after its return, and therefore decided not to openly arrange public activities in the region.”

The Global Times‘ coverage of repression in Hong Kong echoed the message from dictator Xi Jinping during his speech commemorating the Communist Party’s birthday on Thursday. In an address that lasted over an hour to a crowd of tens of thousands in Tiananmen Square, site of one of the Party’s largest massacres, Xi vowed that anyone challenging the Communist Party “will have their heads bashed bloody against the Great Wall of steel forged by over 1.4 billion Chinese people.” Of Hong Kong specifically, Xi told listeners that he would “ensure that the central government exercises overall jurisdiction” over the city and protect “China’s sovereignty, security, and development interests.”

The planned communist events in Hong Kong do not appear to have aroused significant interest, as the Global Times and similar Chinese state publications focused on highlighting interviews with “experts” like Lau instead of photo-essay articles on festivities in Hong Kong, as they did within communist China. The Chinese-controlled Hong Kong government nonetheless invested heavily in decorating the city in red, both with advertisements on public transportation and a dominant presence in Hong Kong newspapers. According to the Asian outlet Coconuts, the Hong Kong government spent nearly 3 million Hong Kong dollars ($347,630) on front-page advertisements to celebrate July 1.

“Twelve Chinese and English language papers — including Sing Tao DailyOriental Daily and Ming Pao — sported nearly identical looks Thursday, 24 years since Britain returned Hong Kong to China,” Coconuts noted. “Their front pages were printed in a gradient of pastel colors a la national security law, with the words ‘Warmly celebrate the Chinese Communist Party’s centenary and the 24th anniversary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR)’s establishment.’”

The advertisements also served as a celebration of Hong Kong police shutting down the city’s most prominent, and popular, pro-democracy newspaper, Apple Daily, in June. Officials ordered a raid on the unarmed Apple Daily offices featuring hundreds of police officers to arrest its senior editors and opinion writers, many of them facing prosecution under the illegitimate “national security” law. The city also froze Apple Daily‘s financial assets, leaving it with no money to pay employees or print its daily edition. Apple Daily officially shut down at the end of June.

The head of the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), Ronson Chan, lamented in an interview with Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) last week that he did not believe that mass arrests of journalists would end with Apple Daily.

“We are afraid that they have a list and still many journalists or commentary writers will be targeted by the police. So I’m afraid that the arrests will continue,” Chan said. “We are still very confused as to what is the standard of committing a crime under the national security law. We are still worried that writing reports, comments or editorials would be evidence of committing crime.”

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