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Benedict Rogers

It is time to look Beijing in the eye

Every time China crosses a red line, we wring our hands and express our condemnation, but do little to stop it
Published: July 06, 2023 11:53 AM GMT

Updated: August 01, 2023 05:40 AM GMT

Police question a man near a carnival at Victoria Park to celebrate the 26th anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China, in Hong Kong on July 1

Police question a man near a carnival at Victoria Park to celebrate the 26th anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China, in Hong Kong on July 1. (Photo: AFP)

Many of my friends in life have been dissidents, prisoners of conscience, rebels and refugees. At least two of my friends have been assassinated, and several others have survived attempts on their lives. And now several friends have arrest warrants and bounties on their heads.

Indeed, if I reported those I know personally from the eight exiled Hong Kong pro-democracy activists to the Hong Kong Police Force which has declared them “fugitives,” I could earn at least HK$7 million (US$894,358), thanks to the bounty put on each one. I have not met only one of the eight activists in person.

Those threatened include Hong Kong pro-democracy activists Nathan Law, a former legislator, as well as campaigner Finn Lau and trade unionist Christopher Mung, all based in the UK; former legislator Dennis Kwok, and campaigner Anna Kwok and businessman Elmer Yuen, based in the United States; and Australia-based former legislator Ted Hui and lawyer Kevin Yam.

Such a warrant is scary. Such a bounty is a very dangerous escalation. Every one of the eight Hong Kongers now threatened will, despite being in exile, have to take their safety and security more seriously.

The bounty may give some crazy pro-Beijing thugs the incentive to attack them. The governments of the United Kingdom (UK), the United States (US) and Australia, where these eight individuals now reside, must offer each of them, and other exiled critics of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), security advice and protection.

And yet what I know from every one of the eight Hong Kongers is that the decision by the Hong Kong Police Force is completely counter-productive. This warrant and bounty only make each one of them even more determined to re-double their efforts to fight for freedom for Hong Kong. Several have said as much. And in that fight, I stand firmly with them.

"She just laughed and told me that she had given up many years ago any idea of telling me to 'shut up'”

On a personal level, besides knowing them individually, I feel this acutely because I too have been threatened by the Chinese regime.

The threats I face are nowhere near the same level as those these eight have received. The risks I face are nothing compared with those faced by Hong Kongers who have family back home and can never return to their home city.

But nevertheless, I have received threatening letters at my home. My neighbors in the suburb of London where I live have received such letters, and my mother — who lives in a different part of the country — has received letters telling her to ask her son to shut up.

Thankfully, I have a mother with a strong spirit and a good sense of humor who is wonderfully supportive of my work, so she just laughed and told me that she had given up many years ago any idea of telling me to “shut up.”

But if those are the kind of threats I am facing, imagine how much worse it is for Hong Kongers who can now never go home until their city is free, whose loved ones and friends may now be in danger, and who themselves may be at risk outside Hong Kong.

What this week’s development shows is that China is ruled by a gangster regime, whose Mafioso tactics are now being adopted by Hong Kong’s government.

Indeed, Hong Kong no longer has a ‘government’ as such — it is entirely a subsidiary of Beijing. And the model of “one country, two systems,” the principle on which Hong Kong was handed over to China 26 years ago, has been completely dismantled.

The promised “high degree of autonomy,” basic freedoms, human rights and the rule of law have not only been ripped up, they have been thrown into the fire. Hong Kong no longer has a “rule of law” but rather “rule by law” — a very different concept: rule by edict, mob rule, and rule by the bounty hunter. The law of the jungle.

"We cannot allow such a blatant threat to our democratic values to go unchallenged"

That means it is time for the international community to act. Governments have issued very welcome statements, but those must be accompanied by action.

Clear, practical steps must be taken by the governments of the UK, the US and Australia, as well as Canada and European Union states, to protect Hong Kongers. Security advice must be offered, direct police contact lines must be provided and swift, robust police action must be initiated in response to any threats.

Western democracies must engage Asian allies, especially Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, to ensure that we are coordinated on security measures and can strengthen our response.

On a broader level, we cannot allow such a blatant threat to our democratic values to go unchallenged. That means the time has come for targeted sanctions to be imposed against Hong Kong and Beijing officials responsible for threatening these Hong Kongers.

Long overdue sanctions should also be imposed on those responsible for destroying Hong Kong’s freedoms, autonomy, human rights and the rule of law.

The announcements this week from the CCP’s proxy, quisling, puppet regime in Hong Kong and its once professional police force which is now a parody of China’s Public Security Bureau (“Gong’anju”), and the presence of secret Chinese regime police stations around the world, suggest that the rest of the world has not done enough to articulate and enforce what our “red lines” are.

Every time Beijing crosses a red line, we wring our hands and express our condemnation, but we do very little to practically stop these transgressions. We are not doing enough to make Beijing take us seriously.

It is time now for robust, rapid and clear action. It is time now to look Beijing in the eye and down the telescope and tell Zhongnanhai what is not acceptable. And it is not acceptable to hang bounties around the heads of exiled democrats. Such action must have meaningful consequences.

*The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.

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