China looks to douse freedom in Hong Kong

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China looks to douse freedom in Hong Kong

The Communist Party of China (CPC) recently ordered large-scale arrests of dissidents and imposed a security law, which attacks Hong Kong’s Basic Law (effectively, a freedom-protecting constitution) by bypassing Hong Kong’s Legislative Council. While details have yet to be released, the law is intended to allow mainland authorities to crush freedom in Hong Kong and extend absolute CPC rule.

Violence may follow. Pro-democracy demonstrators, young and old, Chinese, and the many other groups that populate Hong Kong, are unlikely to give up their hopes for their future or the future of their children and grandchildren. The CPC will respond almost certainly with increasing aggression.

U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told Congress that Hong Kong no longer deserves its special trade status as an autonomous region of China. "No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground," he said.

That means that the United States would treat Hong Kong the same way it does China and end special tariff treatment and visa-free travel. More fundamentally, it would shake the confidence of the city. Yet, pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong has urged other countries to follow the U.S. and reconsider Hong Kong's special trade status. Few have taken strong action. But Australia, the United Kingdom and Europe are talking tougher. And Asian neighbours fear the CPC’s aggression and claims in the region.

A strong global response to the CPC’s imperialistic behaviour is critical. When the CPC thinks it can get away with something or bear little cost, it marches on. Only a strong response to aggression has any hope of holding it at bay.

Canada, with 300,000 citizens in Hong Kong, should be at the front of the international effort. Prime Minister Trudeau says he’s “concerned” and called on China to have “constructive” talks with Hong Kong—that’s like asking the lion to have constructive talks with the lamb.

The great city of Hong Kong will suffer more in the coming months as the totalitarian thumb of the CPC presses down. The stronger we stand now, the more hope of persevering the miracle of Hong Kong, which rose from the ashes of the Second World War to the reach the highest levels of prosperity and freedom (in fact, Hongkongers have enjoyed the highest level of personal freedom in the world, according to the Human Freedom Index).