Hong Kong

Crackdown: 53 Dissidents Arrested in Hong Kong

China accused the activists and former legislators of "subverting state power."


Hong Kong police arrested 53 opposition activists and former legislators Wednesday morning, accusing them of "subverting state power." The arrested leaders had been involved in organizing or attending a democratic primary last July, ahead of the fall Legislative Council elections. (Though the full elections were eventually postponed, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 600,000 people voted in the primary.)

The arrests are part of Beijing's attempt to crush dissent in Hong Kong, which had long been semi-autonomous under China's "one country, two systems" policy. When a vague national security law was imposed in June, many Hongkongers feared it would give China cover to undermine the political freedoms they had long enjoyed. Since then, there have been steady, gradual encroachments: Public universities have culled dissident faculty members, police have arrested the pro-democracy media entrepreneur Jimmy Lai, and protesters who attempted to flee by boat to Taiwan have been sentenced to prison. This latest crackdown sends an even bigger message.

Early this morning, "the police also visited the offices of at least one law firm and three news media organizations to demand documents, broadening the burst of arrests that started before sunrise and sent a chill through Hong Kong's already-demoralized opposition camp," reports The New York Times. The authorities also arrested at least one American, John Clancey, a lawyer who assisted in the primary polls. CNN says that "Clancey could potentially be the first foreign citizen who does not also hold a Hong Kong passport to be arrested under the national security law."

The national security law has been roundly criticized, in the Times' words, "for introducing ambiguously defined crimes such as separatism and collusion that can be used to stifle protest."

Hongkongers have long enjoyed several basic rights—free speech, due process, the right to elect some of their legislators. When Britain handed the city over to China in 1997, a condition of the transfer was that Beijing would allow Hongkongers to maintain these political freedoms and a separately functioning system until 2047, at which point the agreement expires.

Beijing recently opted to seize control prematurely and suppress dissent, moves that have sparked months of protests and led to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people marching in the streets demanding that their freedoms be preserved.

In the January 2020 issue of Reason, I wrote:

Privately operated newspapers in Hong Kong run scathing critiques of politicians without political reprisal. This does not happen in Shenzhen. While mainland China claims to have freedom of association and expression, it also has vague anti-subversion laws that let the authorities target dissidents….

Hongkongers realize winning full autonomy is unrealistic. But Chinese rule would ruin the freedoms they cherish, and it's unlikely those freedoms would be restored in their lifetimes.

Hong Kong's revolutionaries just want to keep what they have. They're fighting for nothing more, and they will settle for nothing less.

A year later, the city's newspapers no longer run scathing critiques of politicians without fearing political reprisal. But it remains true that full Chinese rule would ruin the freedoms Hongkongers cherish. We're seeing that happen right before our eyes.

NEXT: Brickbat: Bringing Out the Big Guns

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  2. Just wait until they hear the stern words from either the current or incoming U.S. president.

    1. Stern words? More likely we’ll be helping the CCP find dissidents.

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    2. Why is it that you clowns always think this stuff is about US politics?

  3. “Subverting state power” – is that anything like spreading disputed information?

    1. It’s ok when private companies, that all support the same party, do it.

  4. China accused the activists and former legislators of “subverting state power.”

    Coming soon: The Biden/Harris administration accused the activists and former legislators of “subverting state power.”

    1. many have already accused anyone on the right of that and have often suggested they be arrested. If they go after Trump you will know we are in a banana republic since teh only crime he has committed is of being different

  5. Early this morning, “the police also visited the offices of at least one law firm and three news media organizations to demand documents, broadening the burst of arrests that started before sunrise and sent a chill through the GOP’s already-demoralized opposition camp,” reports The New York Times.

    The Times then went on to say, “Its about time we punished people who defy the state and spread dangerous ideas, like free speech, that make others sad.”

    1. Honestly not sure if that’s real.

      1. considering they did do that to several people who advised Trump

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  6. What do you MEAN!?!?!? All of Trump’s trade wars did NOT yet FIX all of this?!?!?

    Maybe Biden will double down, then quadruple down, maybe even declare a “war on Chinese products”, AND outlaw American use of Chinese inventions like gunpowder, rockets, and wheelbarrows… And THEN the ChiComms will FINALLY come to heel, and be NICE to ALL of their people! Keep the faith! Trade wars will start working REALLY SOON NOW!

    1. sarcasmic is right! The way you really get tough with communism is by selling and giving away state secrets to the communist Chinese government and spending 1/3 of your GDP purchasing the products of communist Chinese slave labor camps! Keep the faith! Free trade will start working REALLY SOON NOW!

      1. What free trade? Maybe you have an unusual definition.

        1. MFN trading status is about as close to free trade as you can reasonably expect to get, but then again you’re so fucking stupid you think the TPP that gave supranational global governance organizations supremacy over US courts on intellectual property law was “free trade”. “Unusual definition” indeed.

          1. Trump’s trade wars enriched His Special Cronies in business, who got import-tariff exemptions, AND it gained Trump the enthusiastic endorsements of many-many Trumpanzees… Other than those things, what good have these trade wars done for anyone?

            Clear-cut case below, showing the UTTER FAILURE of protectionism in general, and Trumpist protectionism specifically:

            Meanwhile in the real world…
            Trump’s Washing Machine Tariffs Cleaned Out Consumers
            A new report finds the tariffs raised $82 million for the U.S. Treasury but ended up increasing costs for consumers by about $1.2 billion.
            Protect American washing-machine makers from Chinese competition? The FIRST thing that American washing-machine makers do, is jack UP their prices… AND the prices of dryers to boot, too! To SOAK the hell out of all of us consumers!!!
            From the above-linked Reason article about washing machines…
            “All told, those tariffs raised about $82 million for the U.S. Treasury but ended up increasing costs for consumers by about $1.2 billion during 2018 … (deleted). Although the trade policy did cause some manufacturers to shift production from overseas to the United States in an effort to avoid the new tariffs, the 1,800 jobs created by Trump’s washing machine tariffs cost consumers an estimated $820,000 per job.”
            Summary: Nickels and dimes to the USA treasury; boatloads of pain for consumers. USA jobs created? Yes, at GREAT expense! Putting these 1.8 K workers on a super-generous welfare program would have been WAY better for all the rest of us! Plus, you know the WORKERS don’t make super-huge bucks (no $820,000 per job for THEM); the goodies flow to the EXECUTIVES at the top of the washing-machine companies! The same ones who play golf with The Donald, and join him for gang-banging Stormy Daniels! Essentially at our expense!

            1. TLDR

              1. Short summary:

                PROTECTIONISM DOESN’T WORK!!! DUH!!!

                1. I found a video of you having lunch.


  7. It’s a good thing you spent 35 years with the General Secretary’s cock down your throat assuring us that purchasing a few trillion more dollars worth of Chinese slave-labor-manufactured goods and forcing just a few more million Americans onto welfare was going to bring the regime to its knees.

  8. I never understood why anyone expecting China to keep hands off until 2047. I am surprised they have waited this long.

    Especially for a piece of paper signed in 1987, before the USSR collapsed, while the Berlin Wall was still standing, and Communism was on full display around the world.

    I suppose the CCP was too busy honing their techniques in Tibet and Mongolia, and their economic boom was confusing the Western libbies into thinking they were nice people. I doubt it’s a coincidence that the tariffs wars kicked everybody’s economies and took the kid gloves off just before this put the capper on it.

    1. Lol. Yep. It was the tariff’s what done it!

    2. Stupid Hong Kongers should’ve left in 1986, but they stayed because of greed.

      They thought they could milk HK for another 60 years. Stupid greedy Hong Kongers.

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  10. And the NYT continues to run cover for communists. I give you Li Yuan, nominee for the Walter Duranty Truth in Journalism award:

    My latest on how the pandemic has upended many perceptions, including ideas about freedom. Chinese don’t have freedom of speech, freedom of worship or freedom from fear, but they have the freedom to move around and lead a normal day-to-day life.

    From The Federalist

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  13. His Fraudulency (Joseph Biden) will do nothing. Just watch.

    The Chinese Communist Party has to pay a severe price for inflicting the Wuhan coronavirus on America and killing ~400,000 Americans. No country should ever do something like this and walk away scot-free.

    1. It’s not free.

      It cost them a couple of million dollars.

  14. More Liz Wolfe please

  15. Does anyone believe these dissidents will ever be seen again?

    Nor do I.

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