The report cover shows logos of various civil organizations or groups that have been dissolved or disbanded in the past two years. These organizations include the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, (HKCTU), Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union (HKPTU), Stand News, and Hong Kong Alliance In Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (HK Alliance).
The CECC interviewed 42 people, either currently or formerly living in Hong Kong, including attorneys, former Legislative Council members, and university professors, and published 33 of the interviews in the report.
Interviews in the CECC report explore how suppression by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has changed Hong Kong's civil society. It exposes the challenges and political persecution that dissenters and arrestees face for publicly opposing the Hong Kong government. The CECC also discussed the impact of the Hong Kong government's clampdown on Hong Kong residents, including those who have left the city.
Some of the respondents wanted to remain anonymous. They feared they might be accused of colluding with foreign forces under the National Security Law, putting their families, former colleagues, or activists at risk.
The report argues that the CCP has wholly demolished civil society in Hong Kong. During the anti-extradition movement in 2019, the development of Hong Kong as a civil society reached a new height. However, the regime strangled and silenced influential civil organizations, leaders, and professionals, through the Hong Kong government and the Hong Kong Police Force.
The CECC state in the report that the Hong Kong National Security Law, set in stone in 2020, allows the authorities to prosecute democrats and dissidents by accusing them of subversion, separatism, and collusion with foreign forces. The report also mentions a person being charged by a colonial-era law just for applauding in court.
The regime has also strengthened its surveillance of professional organizations.
An unnamed university professor who resides in Hong Kong said, “Hong Kong has changed from an open society to one in which people are gripped by fear. And the fear is encompassing.”
A former functional sector member of the Legislative Council expressed solid evidence that the Hong Kong government can easily interfere with professional groups, not just through licensing and qualification requirements, but also through election governing boards. The regime also disrupts council elections organized by social committees.
The report discloses the Hong Kong authorities' ways of controlling and manipulating lawyers, teachers, social workers, accountants, and health care workers.
Another legislator points out, “The CCP government's crackdown on Hong Kong today is far more serious than the British government's repression of communist riots, as there was no crime in speaking then.”
A former editor, who worked at the now shut down Apple Daily newspaper for over 20 years, shared that the Hong Kong government has always wanted to control the freedom and independence of journalism in Hong Kong. The policies rapidly deteriorated in 2021 to eliminate "uncontrollable" media, such as, pro-democratic former Apple Daily and Stand News.
On Sept. 5, the Hong Kong authorities responded to the report saying they “strongly oppose the report made by CECC.”