Frequent Political Crackdowns Force Hong Kong Alliance to Lay Off Staff

By Jennifer Bateman
Jennifer Bateman
Jennifer Bateman
Jennifer Bateman is a news writer focused on China.
July 15, 2021 Updated: July 15, 2021

Recently, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been escalating its crackdown on political groups and the media in Hong Kong. On July 10, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (Hong Kong Alliance) laid off all its staff because of political pressure. On the same day, Hong Kong Chief Secretary for Administration Lee Ka-Chiu announced to fight against “spreading of false news.” Meanwhile, Chief Executive Carrie Lam called for “patriotic education” on Hong Kong youths.

The Hong Kong Alliance said in a press release that the political environment in Hong Kong had degenerated drastically in the past year, and the political suppression against the Hong Kong Alliance has become more intense and evident in the past two months.

After much deliberation, the Alliance also affirmed that their Standing Committee has decided to “strategically reduce” the number of members from 14 to 7. At the same time, in response to the increased political and legal risks, they will lay off all staff at the end of July to protect their safety.

“Ending one-party dictatorship”—one of the five guiding principles of the Hong Kong Alliance—is “the real enemy of Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability,” said Luo Huining at a forum on June 12. Luo is the director of the Liaison Office of the Central Committee of CCP (Liaison Office), the highest-ranking CCP officer in Hong Kong.

The five primary guiding principles of the Hong Kong Alliance are: releasing pro-democracy activists; vindicating the 1989 pro-democracy movement; pursuing responsibility for the massacre of Tiananmen Square; ending one-party dictatorship; and building a democratic China.

“Hong Kong Alliance must remove this politically subversive guiding principle, or else they will ban the Alliance,” threatened Tian Feilong, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Research Association, in Sing Tao Daily on May 31.

“Under the National Security Law, the Hong Kong Alliance has only two choices: either to disband or to proscribe, which is … something that must be done.” claimed Lu Wenduan, the vice-chairman of the Overseas Chinese Association, in an article in Ming Pao on June 7.

Hong Kong Alliance was established on May 21, 1989, to support the student democracy movement in China at the time. After the world-shaking June 4 massacre in Tiananmen Square, the Hong Kong Alliance holds a large-scale memorial event on June 4 every year.

However, starting last year, Hong Kong authorities forbid the event with the excuse of the epidemic. Furthermore, the organizers and participants of last year’s June 4 event were all retroactively prosecuted under the “Hong Kong version of the National Security Law,” including Lee Cheuk-yan, Ho Chun-yan, and Chow Hang-tung, who are still in jail or detained.

Hong Kong Government Targeting ‘Fake News’ to Suppress Independent Media

On July 10, Lee Ka-Chiu said in a Hong Kong Commercial Radio program that the government is studying “combating the dissemination of fake news” and does not exclude implementing it through administrative and legislative means.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) responded on its Facebook account, reminding that the authority would “first understand the operation of Functional Constituency before it coins the term ‘fake news’ and makes presumptuous accusations against the press.”

Functional constituency, also called “professional representation,” is a category of a professional or particular interest group that has special voting rights in the Hong Kong electoral process. Early in 1998, sports, performing arts, culture, and publication (to which the press belongs), was listed in the functional constituency in the elections for the Legislative Council of Hong Kong.

But on June 24, press organizations, including the Hong Kong Epoch Times and the Hong Kong Journalists Association, received letters from the Voter Registration Office informing that they were no longer eligible to register as voters in their constituencies.

Among the 133 votable groups listed in the “sports, performing arts, culture and publication sector,” most of the media in Hong Kong are excluded. As a result, only the CCP-controlled TVB, Commercial Radio, Metro Radio, Wen Wei Po, and Ta Kung Pao remained on the votable group’s list.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association said that Hong Kong press organizations and major media organizations have relevant codes of conduct for journalists. The Code of Professional Conduct for Journalists was jointly established in 2000.

“Only a media that has the trust of the majority of the public will have the monitoring function of the fourth estate,” said the Hong Kong Journalists Association, warning the Hong Kong authority, “It is counterproductive to use ‘administrative and legislative means’ to interfere with public-accepted social operation.”

CCP Implementing ‘Patriotic Education’

At the “Hong Kong Patriotic Education Summit” on July 10, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam called to “promote patriotic education in Hong Kong,” focusing on young people “so that students can be more aware of their national identity.”

In the coming school year, Hong Kong schools will replace liberal studies with Civic and Social Development, aiming to strengthen the national identity of Hong Kong’s next generation through learning about “one country, two systems” and the “Basic Law,” and so on. Lam has listed all these in her work achievements.

Chinese Vice Minister of Education Tian Xuejun said in a video that the main theme of patriotism is to be promoted in Hong Kong. Tan Tieniu, deputy director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong, also said that “patriotic education” carried out in Hong Kong should be done with “with integrity and vigor.”

On Feb. 4, “patriotic education” would start in kindergarten and teach children to comply with the “Hong Kong version of the National Security Law,” ordered by the Hong Kong Education Bureau.

It is a “brainwashing education,” said Pak-ho, a high school student who supports Hong Kong’s Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement.

The Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement began in 2019, something the CCP media attributed to the “more liberal education” in Hong Kong.

In May, the Hong Kong Correctional Services Department admitted in its annual report that they had invited people from pro-China backgrounds to their prison to provide “patriotic education” to the youths imprisoned for participating in the protests.

The so-called “patriotic education” imprisons young people ideologically, said Chung Kim-wah, deputy Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong Institute of Public Opinion Research, who mentioned that “really has the characteristics of Xinjiang education camps and brainwashing camps.”

Jennifer Bateman
Jennifer Bateman
Jennifer Bateman is a news writer focused on China.