For Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Andy Chan Ho-Tin, China’s recent passage of its draconian national security law is an omen of what awaits him and others for standing against the communist regime. Chan’s voice is the voice of so many millions around the world who speak out against the oppression but for activists, like Chan, the stakes are much higher.
I have not been able to speak with Chan since the passage of China’s new harsh national security law which was enacted on June 30. It has basically made it a crime for residents of Hong Kong, or for that matter the world, to speak out against the Chinese Communist regime. Moreover, those that have spoken out can and are being monitored continuously by the state and can be jailed for small infractions the Chinese government deems political.
Chan is someone I have great admiration for. He is the founder of the now disbanded Hong Kong National Party and has been nominated for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for his work to promote independence and liberty for the people of Hong Kong. He was always well aware that his actions could lead to his arrest or disappearance but his love for Hong Kong was worth all the risk, he told me.
Freedom isn’t just a word to Chan, it is deeply engrained into his political core and is an ideal he believes belongs to every citizen of his island nation, and for that matter the world.
My first in person meeting with Chan in Korea in October of last year and our few conversations have left an indelible impression on me. We had planned to meet earlier that year in August, in Japan, but he was arrested by Hong Kong authorities at the airport as he got ready to board his flight to Tokyo. He was supposed to speak on the topic of freedom at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Japan. After his release from prison we spoke on the phone and then months later we would would have our first meeting.
“I’ll read you the quote from Thomas Jefferson again,” said Chan, who recited the quote from memory. “‘The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of tyrants and patriots.’ Why from time to time? Because people forget. People always forget. Our grandparents’ fight for freedom for democracy and our parents forget, and then the third generation will suffer, and then the third generation will fight, and then our next generation will forget. History just repeats itself.”
We sat together in a board room at a hotel in Seoul, South Korea last year. It was the first time I met Chan in person and he was only given permission to visit Korea for one day.
What China fears most is the uprising of its own people and particularly those inspirational leaders like Chan, who are pro-democracy advocates. China also fears any nation or person with power supporting the freedom fighters, which is why China implemented the stringent National Security Law, which under Article 32 targets basically anyone who speaks out against its communist regime.
In Hong Kong, the system is undergoing rapid change since the implementation of the law. Reports from the region already show signs that the people of Hong Kong are seeing little signs of hope. In fact, Taiwan and the U.K have already supported plans to allow Hong Kong residents fleeing Beijing’s expanded rule to emigrate to their nations. And as of Wednesday, citizens of Hong Kong have exhausted the supply of U.S. dollars in an attempt to safeguard their wealth prior to the possible takeover of the Chinese yuan, as suggested in a recent report.
The Chinese regime sees Chan, and others like him, as a direct threat to their plans to completely immerse Hong Kong into Beijing’s rule. Chinese officials fear these individuals more than any current concerns raised in news reports that the United States and Russia may reset relations after China’s failure to warn the world about the spread of the deadly Wuhan virus.
Chan’s decision to stand up to China early on -regardless of the regime’s threats of imprisonment- is a simple one, he told me last year, because China’s “authoritarian rule over Hong Kong turns the entire nation into a prison, so ‘there is really no difference.’ “
Life is truly worth living when a person is free, he said.
Last year, in August, he was taken into custody as he was preparing to leave Hong Kong for Japan to speak at CPAC Japan. He issued a powerful statement in absentia: “I am now urging everyone of you to join the revolution. We need you. … To make things clear, it is not just the revolution of Hong Kong people but the revolution of the free world, the revolution of our time. We are now in the 21st century, the year of 2019. It is ridiculous to me that there is still such a massive communist country in the world. What was not finished by our predecessors now falls upon our shoulders. It is time for us to end communism. It is time for all of us to join the revolution. When dictatorship is a fact, revolution becomes a duty.”
For that statement, China made Chan a top target of their regime.
Being in China’s crosshairs is not something to be taken lightly. Chan, along with other human rights activists, described the brutal tactics taken against the protesters in Hong Kong by Chinese sympathizers in the Hong Kong government. Protesters have been illegally arrested, restricted from leaving the country and consistently monitored by the Chinese government. Their families have been harassed and many people that have been taken into custody have been beaten, raped and sodomized during their captivity.
For the people of Hong Kong, this moment in history will determine the future of the nation but unfortunately, the people of the small nation were never offered the opportunity for self-determination when Great Britain, which ruled Hong Kong for 156 years, returned it to China.
China’s implementation of its new national security laws was the final blow to any legitimate independence Hong Kong but what the global superpower has not been able to do as of yet is break the human will of those in Hong Kong who want to be free.
And it will bring to fruition what Chan and other freedom fighters have been asking for since the beginning of the protests against China’s rule: to sanction Hong Kong to prevent China from bypassing the U.S. trade sanctions.
“China can escape the sanctions through Hong Kong for example, they can pretend they are Hong Kong company, they are Hong Kong people and then they buy the technology which is banned from exporting to China,’ said Chan. “First they go into Hong Kong then go into China. That’s the backdoor.”
In Hong Kong, anyone under the new law can be prosecuted. In fact, the running joke in some circles in Hong Kong was that even President Donald Trump could be prosecuted.
And under the law, there appears to be no limits to the government’s power. The people are subjected to searches without warrants, the government can prevent those opposed to the government from leaving Hong Kong, like they did with Chan, freeze assets and intercept any communications, as stated by writer and human rights activist Luke de Pulford on Twitter.
Chan warned that what has happened in Hong Kong can happen anywhere when people fail to react early on to sweeping changes that fundamentally change a nation.
In the United States, the warning signs are already here. A similar style of Marxist ideology spreading among the youth but not by force from an outside government but from inside after decades of anti-American, anti-Democratic instruction by professors in the high schools, universities and colleges.
The rioters, along with some of the protestors, are not fighting for freedom but against the fundamental beliefs of liberty and independence that Chan cherishes so much.
These rioters and protesters, along with the ‘cancel America’ crowd have been fed lies.
All one needs to do is to look at the sacrifices made by young people standing up to the tyranny of China in Hong Kong to understand how precious and fragile freedom is.
“We have to be vigilant against those that want to take away our freedom,” said Chan last year. “This is not just about Hong Kong but about every nation and every person’s right to be free.”
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