The government must take in more political refugees from Hong Kong, human rights groups said in Taipei yesterday, after a Chinese court on Wednesday sentenced 10 would-be asylum seekers to prison.
“The Hong Kong government has achieved a capacity to purge and suppress dissent that the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] did not attain for a decade after its rise to power in 1949,” Wu Rwei-ren (吳叡人), an associate research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Taiwan History, told a news conference organized by the Covenants Watch, the New School for Democracy and other groups outside the Legislative Yuan.
The “ugly political trials” of the asylum seekers has exposed the ways in which Beijing uses courts in the mainland to control Hong Kong, Wu said.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
“The situation in Hong Kong is deteriorating with shocking speed,” he said, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed the territory’s government to deprive Hong Kongers of basic freedoms, such as holding elections and gatherings.
As nations closed their borders amid the pandemic, Hong Kongers became trapped in the territory, where the government is free to pick them off and settle scores, he said.
“Taipei must understand that Hong Kongers are trapped in a cage under the pretext of disease control, while the communist-backed Hong Kong government is destroying Hong Kong’s indigenous elites and the future of its next generation of residents,” he said.
Hong Kongers are living in a state of fear and the people’s anger is reaching a boiling point for which the territory’s government has no relief valve, so the risk for the outbreak of large-scale violence cannot be ruled out, Wu said.
“Hong Kong’s democracy advocates and ordinary citizens are living in a humanitarian crisis. Taipei cannot point to national security or fears of Chinese retaliation to excuse its own passivity and inaction,” he said.
Taiwan must relax immigration and university enrollment policies for immigrants from Hong Kong, and in addition, China’s persecution of democracy activists must be strongly and unequivocally condemned, he said.
Despite Taiwan’s international isolation, the nation commands legitimacy and soft power as a democratic nation, which the government should be using to help the territory, he said.
Such help is urgently needed, as freedoms and the rule of law are evaporating under Hong Kong’s National Security Law, the new cold war and the purge against localism that is conducted by Beijing’s allies, he said.
“Hong Kong’s mainlandization is proceeding apace as the Chinese Communist Party uses the National Security Law and pandemic protocols to enforce a virtual state of martial law,” he said. “This is accomplished via the rampant abuse of arrest and prosecutorial powers, imposing harsh punishments, taking extreme liberties with the law to trump up charges, and selectively applying the law to crush dissent.”
More than 2,000 Hong Kongers have been charged and many of the 700 residents accused of rioting are young people, he said.
China is broadening the campaign against dissidence to include figures such as media tycoon Jimmy Lai (黎智英), and ex-Demosisto and pro-democracy lawmakers, while employing legal and extralegal tactics that are reminiscent of the political struggles during China’s Cultural Revolution, Wu said.
The CCP has imposed its central authority over Hong Kong’s autonomy, repeatedly delayed the Legislative Council’s election and disqualified district councilors, he said.
The ideological controls specified by the National Security Law encourage the territory’s government to anticipate Beijing’s desires and purge dissidents from the public sector, especially in education and the media, he said.
Private entities have largely acquiesced to the penetration of CCP members and organizations into their businesses and schools, he said.
“As a whole, the Hong Kong Special Autonomous Region has an abrogated legislative branch, a judicial branch diminished to near death and an overweening executive branch, in a return to the dictatorship of colonial governors of the 1960s,” he said.
Hong Kong Chief Executive “Carrie Lam’s (林鄭月娥) complete obedience to the central authorities and the total penetration of communists into every aspect of society has transformed Hong Kong into a colony under the direct rule of the communists,” he added.
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