Hong Kong democracy advocates 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 territory’s electoral system aimed at shutting out opposition voices.
“Numerous Hongkongers have no choice but to leave in exile, while those remaining in the territory are living with the constant fear of being politically persecuted on any day,” the advocates wrote in a letter titled the “2021 Hong Kong Charter.”
“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 territory 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 the Chinese Communist Party, along with reforms to the government and police force and the abolishment of the sweeping National Security Law imposed last year.
Dozens of advocates including former lawmakers have been charged under the legislation, prompting many to seek asylum abroad.
“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 (羅冠聰), a prominent campaigner who now lives in the UK, told an online news conference on 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 anti-government 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 territory that will virtually eliminate the influence of any political opposition, bringing strong criticism from the US and the UK.
China had pledged to allow the territory to retain freedoms not permitted elsewhere in the country for 50 years, but its recent steps are seen as a betrayal.
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