The NEW Hong Kong Charter
Updated: Mar 18
Hong Kong democracy activists have launched a new push to continue their fight among residents living abroad in the wake of a sweeping crackdown by Beijing and changes to the the semi-autonomous Chinese city’s electoral system aimed at shutting out opposition voices.
In a letter titled the “2021 Hong Kong Charter,” the activists stated that, “Numerous Hongkongers have no choice but to leave in exile, while those remaining in their city are living with the constant fear of being politically persecuted on any day.”
“The 2021 electoral reform imposed by the Chinese Communist Party further annihilated the democratic elements in our elections, putting the last nail in the coffin for “One Country, Two Systems,” the letter said, citing the framework for running the city after its handover from British colonial rule in 1997.
The letter, cosigned by eight prominent opposition figures, calls for international support to counter what they called the “global aggression” of China’s ruling Communist Party, along with reforms to the government and police force and the abolishment of a sweeping national security law imposed last year. Dozens of activists including former lawmakers have been charged under the law, prompting many to seek asylum abroad.
Unmasked: HK activists make connections online to launch the charter
“Under such high pressure from China, the diaspora from Hong Kong have more responsibility than ever to speak out and ensure we continue to draw international concern,” Nathan Law, who now resides in the U.K., said during an online news conference Sunday. “We hope our overseas communities can continue to fight until the day we can elect our own leaders.”
Hong Kong was rocked by months of antigovernment protests in 2019 that were met with increasingly repressive measures by security forces and the authorities in Beijing.
China’s legislature this month approved changes to election rules in the city that will virtually eliminate the influence of any political opposition, bringing strong criticism from the U.S. and the U.K., which ruled Hong Kong as a colony for 156 years. The changes tighten Beijing‘s control over the selection of Hong Kong’s leader, along with the makeup of its legislative council.
China had pledged to allow the city to retain freedoms not permitted elsewhere in the country for 50 years, but its recent steps are seen as a betrayal.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Saturday said Beijing’s decision to “impose radical changes to restrict participation in Hong Kong’s electoral system … is part of a pattern designed to harass and stifle all voices critical of China’s policies.”
Ted Hui leaves the UK for Australia. File Photo: May James/HKFP.
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Exiled activists launch the ‘2021 Hong Kong Charter,’ a vision for the future of the pro-democracy movement
The following was originally published in Chinese in the Stand News on March 15, 2021.
This translation was lifted from Global Voices.
On a virtual press conference, Nathan Law, Ted Hui, Glacier Kwong, Sunny Cheung, Brian Leung, Ray Wong, Baggio Leung, and Alex Chow urged Hongkongers living abroad to connect with other pro-democracy movements around the world against the expansion of totalitarian regimes.
Against the background of China’s latest moves in arresting the majority of pro-democracy leaders and rewriting election rules in Hong Kong, the group — who comes from a range of pro-democracy movements — stressed the importance of building a nonpartisan front among diasporic Hongkongers.
Nathan Law, a former lawmaker who escaped from Hong Kong after the National Security Law was enacted on July 1, 2020, explained the goal of the 2021 Charter (quote via William Yang on Twitter):
We are here to show solidarity and encourage people fighting against political suppression of the CCP to not give up. We also hope that our overseas community can continue to uphold Hong Kong’s basic values of democracy, freedom and our love for the city.
The charter begins with “the belief of the diasporic Hongkongers,” outlining the duty of those living overseas:
Diasporic Hongkongers shall speak what cannot be spoken in Hong Kong now, utilizing the precious freedom we have, to voice out for those silenced by the rule of terror in Hong Kong, […] stay united and not fall into the trap of internal conflicts.
The second section stresses the uniqueness of Hongkongers’ identity and their rights to determine the future and affairs of Hong Kong. It pledges to continue the international campaign for the abolition of the draconian National Security Law and for a genuinely democratic system in Hong Kong, free from China’s control.
The third section defines the abolition of the “one-party dictatorship” in China an essential step in the realization of democracy and freedom. The international Hong Kong pro-democracy movement pledges to join others against the Chinese Communist Party’s digital totalitarianism, cultural cleansing, and genocide in Inner Mongolia, Tibet, Xinjiang, and against other ethnic minorities, as well as military intimidation against Taiwan.
In its final section, it states that the Hong Kong movement will actively connect democracy, freedom, social and environmental justice advocates around the world to promote the universal values of freedom, autonomy, fairness, diversity, equality, and democracy against the expansion of totalitarian regimes.
Nathan Law sees challenges in building solidarity across the Hong Kong diaspora, as he explained in the conference:
The disaporic Hongkongers are very diverse, some left Hong Kong after 1989, some after the 2014 protests and some after the 2019 protests. Some have spent their efforts on community building, some on political lobbying, some are working in the business field. All these people have different imaginations of the future struggle in Hong Kong.
The eight initiators stressed that solidarity is crucial to sustaining the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement, and that the Charter can provide a common vision for those who will continue the struggle overseas.
Glacier Kwong, an activist now based in Germany, pointed out that the CCP political oppression is not confined to Hong Kong and hoped that the future international campaign can connect with pro-democracy struggles in other countries.
Brian Leung who is now studying political science in the U.S. shared a similar view:
During the 2019 protests, Hongkongers asked the world to listen to their voices. Now we have to dialogue with the world and understand the context of people's struggles in other parts of the world.
Leung says that, in the next 10 to 20 years, the most important agenda for the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement will be to connect with international civil society, find inspiration from each other, and contribute to policymaking in other countries.
Alex Chow, who is studying urban geography in the U.S., says that overseas Hongkongers must engage in a variety of global struggles, including environmental justice and human rights, and lobby other countries to change diplomatic relations with China. He says that the Hong Kong story will not be a tragedy as long as people continue their struggle:
Hongkongers, whether in Hong Kong or overseas, are capable of overriding the script written by the state and instead write their own story.
. . . . . . o o o o o o . . . . . .
While Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and her pro-CCP allies would like to think the pro-democratic movement in the city has been extinguished, they are clearly deluded! You can lock up a few people in prison, but ideas are bullet-proof and have a life of their own.
Hong Kong will forever be a thorn in the side of CCP! People globally do not support despotic, militaristic, authoritarian and dictatorial regimes. No matter how CCP rewrites the narrative of history, the party has chosen a battle with Hong Kong, its people and international stakeholders that it simply cannot ever win using its traditional modus operandi.
There will ALWAYS be voices like that of Britain’s foreign secretary who recently criticized China for continuing to violate the Sino-British Joint Declaration as Beijing further tightens control over the SAR. (AP, 13 March 2021) Dominic Raab said Beijing’s decision to “impose radical changes to restrict participation in Hong Kong’s electoral system ... is part of a pattern designed to harass and stifle all voices critical of China’s policies.” The moves amount to the third breach of the Joint Declaration in less than nine months, Raab said in a statement.
CCP cannot carry on flagrantly ignoring and breaching international laws, international conventions and international alliances. CCP cannot keep on denying and ignoring the continuing, growing and never-ending chorus of criticism. CCP cannot carry on with its tiresome pretense of saying one thing while blatantly doing something else. CCP cannot claim diplomacy and sovereignty while at the same time it acts secretly, aggressively, and dishonestly against other nations.
There are consequences for CCP and more of them will be coming in time. Old dogs will be put down. Then it will be time to shake the monkeys out of the tree - for the party and its governing cronies who deliberately ignore the will of the people to take a hit.
Related News Stories:
(SBS News, 16 March 2021)
UK criticizes China for violating Sino-British Declaration (ABC, 13 March 2021)
Hong Kong activist ‘welcome to campaign’ in exile in Australia (Aljazeera, 11 March 2021)
Fleeing Hong Kong: British Visas Offer ‘Lifeboat’ for Pro-Democracy Activists (VOA, 11 March 2021)
This Hong Kong student protester fled to Australia. Now he's seeking asylum (SBS News, 16 June 2020)
Thousands of Hong Kong residents eligible to stay in Australia as safe haven visa extension kicks in (ABC News, 23 August 2020)
They fought for freedom in Hong Kong. Now, they must find it in exile. (Washington Post, 11 August 2020)
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