Hong Kong

Hong Kong Protesters Stand Up to China's 'Draconian' Takeover

Pro-democracy legislator Charles Mok explains what China's new national security law means for dissidents and the future of the city.

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A week before protests and riots broke out in American cities as a response to the police killing of George Floyd, demonstrators were also out on the streets of Hong Kong.

Police misconduct is also a major concern in Hong Kong, and activists are demanding an independent investigation into the city's once world-renowned police force for its brutal treatment of the demonstrators.

The Hong Kong protests that began in fall 2019 have had their moments of violence, with property damage and attacks on innocent bystanders.

Triggered by the gruesome video of Floyd's murder, the U.S. protests are about the mistreatment of black Americans by law enforcement, while in Hong Kong, the issue is whether or not this bastion of political and economic freedom will maintain its autonomy from the authoritarian Chinese state.

The inciting incident last fall was the introduction of an extradition law that allowed China to transfer fugitives to the mainland.

China's passage of a national security law that criminalizes the so-called subversion of state power has incited the latest round of unrest, prompting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to tell Congress that Beijing's actions mean that "Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China," putting an end to the 'one country, two systems' model that was established in 1997 when the United Kingdom relinquished control of its former colony. On May 29, President Trump announced that Hong Kong's special partner trading status would be revoked and that sanctions are forthcoming.

Days before China's National People's Congress rubber-stamped the new law, Reason's Zach Weissmueller interviewed Charles Mok, a pro-democracy Hong Kong legislator representing the tech sector, to discuss the impact of the new law and what will happen if China sends its own police force into the city to go head to head with protesters.

Edited by John Osterhoudt.

Photos: Mike Pompeo, Liu Jie Xinhua News Agency/Newscom; Hong Kong Riot Police, Simon Jankowski/Polaris/Newscom; Charles Mok, Chen Xiaowei Xinhua News Agency/Newscom; Nation People's Congress, CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Newscom; Trump and Pompeo, Yuri Gripas/UPI/Newscom; Hong Kong Protestors Arrested, Willie Siau / SOPA Images/Sipa U/Newscom; Dennis Kwok, Dickson Lee/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Hong Kong Voters, Kyodo/Newscom; Hong Kong Tear Gas, Sam Tsang/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Hong Kong Protestors at Causeway Bay, Sam Tsang/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Starry Lee Wai-king, Dickson Lee/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Pro-beijing lawmakers, Edmond So/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Liau Chung-ren/ZUMA Press/Newscom.

NEXT: Violent Protests in 1968 Helped Elect Richard Nixon. Will Today's Protests Help Trump?

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  1. Don’t forget to take pictures of the protesters. These are people you will never see again.

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  2. Why is Reason wasting valuable ones and zeros on this trivia when peaceful protesters with arms full of loot and molotov cocktails are being treated like criminals?
    You would think they had a motto about free minds and free markets of something.

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  3. Charges in Floyd case have been upgraded to murder in the second degree (punishable by not more than 40 years in prison), and the other three officers will be charged with aiding and abetting.

    1. On the one hand, this satisfies my “eye for an eye” instincts. On the other hand, I worry that the prosecutors are deliberately overcharging in the hopes of getting him off the hook. They might also be tightening the screws in an attempt to pressure him to plead out. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

      1. My concern is they’re charging in response to public outcry, not because it’s the right thing to do. Essentially, make a public example out of this one guy, hope the riots and protesters go away, and continue business as usual, avoiding any conversation about Unions.

        1. This union will get plenty of conversation. It’s leaders showed up front and center at a Trump rally FFS. Payback time

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      2. My original opinion was that the other three were under pressure to testify against Dauvin, with the hope of light charges for good testimony. I don’t know what possible sentences await them now, but I bet aiding and abetting is lighter than manslaughter or murder. Maybe this is their reward. Maybe their trials will be later, so the charges can be reduced or increased depending on Dauvin’s result.

  4. If the shit hits the fan in Hong Kong, it’ll start tomorrow–the anniversary of the Tienanmen Square Massacre has attracted thousands of protesters in Hong Kong every year since the massacre. However, the group that normally gets the permit for the demonstration was denied a permit by the Hong Kong authorities for the first time this year ostensibly because of Covid-19.

    I predict thousands will turn out to protest anyway, and I suspect China’s ultimate response may be similar to the Tienanmen Square Massacre. God bless the good people of Hong Kong. I’ll always have a warm spot in my heart for them and their shining example of the benefits of capitalism. When Hong Kong was handed over from the U.K. to the Chinese, the city was an embarrassment both to the government of the U.K. and the CCP for that reason.

    It was an embarrassment to the government of the U.K. because the standard of living of the average Hong Kong citizen was higher (measured in GDP per capita) than the standard of living in the U.K. (It still is!) Understand, Hong Kong has no natural resources to speak of other than a harbor and people living in a capitalist society. The U.K. has coal and land, far more resources than the economy of Hong Kong–and yet the U.K. still couldn’t provide a better standard of living for its people in the U.K. than the colony it governed provided for themselves. And that was all because Hong Kong was capitalist and the U.K. was far more socialist. How embarrassing for your own little colony to outperform you!

    Of course, Hong Kong was a major source of embarrassment to the CCP, as well. I suspect a major reason why the Chinese decided to do perestroika (sans Glasnost) with enthusiasm was because Hong Kong, being perhaps the most capitalist society at the time, provided such a better life for its people than the CCP had managed to do since they went communist and their two societies diverged. The CCP looked across the fence and said, “If you can’t beat ’em, join em. Let’s be like Hong Kong!” (Singapore with their standard of living and commitment to capitalism didn’t hurt either).

    It’s still that way today. Show me a country that ranks high on the list of most free economies, and I’ll show you a country that also ranks among the countries with the higher standards of living (GDP per capita as measured in $US). There may be some exceptions that prove the rule, like small socialist countries with large amounts of oil exports that don’t rely on human endeavor to create wealth, but the data is clear. If you want to raise standards of living, become more capitalist. The reason we don’t enjoy even higher standards of living here in the U.S. is because we choose to be less capitalist than we could be.

    1. Ken, it is absurd to think that Per Capita GDP is some sort of measure of well being. What is their GNI coefficient? Environmental record?

      1. Yes, increased wealth is a piss poor indicator of how many resources can be devoted to side considerations like the environment, once the basics like food, shelter, and clothing are taken care of. We must insist that developing nations, with one tenth or one one-hundredth of our GDP, set aside as many dollars for the environment as we do.

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      2. In effect, we take the value of all goods and services produced within a country’s borders, adjust for inflation, and divide by the total population. If average real GDP per capita is increasing, there’s a strong likelihood that: (a) more goods and services are available to consumers, and (b) consumers are in a better position to buy them. And while buying more things won’t necessarily help us find true happiness, true love, or true enlightenment, it is a pretty good indicator of our material standard of living.

        —-Boston Fed

        https://www.bostonfed.org/-/media/Documents/ledger/ledger2003/measure.pdf

        1. If you can think of a better measure of the relative standard of living, I’d love to see it.

          Meanwhile, the fact that the U.S.A generates about $65k a year in GDP per capita, China and Mexico both generate about $10,000 a year in GDP per capita, Hong Kong generates about $50k a year in GDP per capita, and Haiti generates about $800 (eight hundred) a year in GDP per capita is a fairly accurate depiction of how those countries stand relative to each other based on the standard of living of the people who live there.

          Show me which ones are out of order:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)_per_capita

  5. Hong Kong people protesting for rights without looting, in America people protesting for loot and nothing more.

    1. Both are wrong. Hong Kong did have some looters and vandals. America has more protesters than looters and vandals.

  6. You think he’s acting, but he’s not.

    His name is Mok, so thanks a lot.

  7. Well you see unlike DRUMPF’s America where everyone is out for themselves, XI’s China cares about the well-being about every citizen. China tells us that the future is the individual serving the needs of society and if you disagree you’re selfish and racist.

  8. The Hong Kong protests that began in fall 2019 have had their moments of violence, with property damage and attacks on innocent bystanders electrician lancaster ca

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