Hongkongers’ “fears have come true” with the passage of Beijing’s national security law, said journalist Michael Yon in a recent interview with The Epoch Times’ “Crossroads” program.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is “clearly moving to absorb Hong Kong completely and utterly without caveat, and way ahead of the schedule they had agreed to years ago with the UK,” Yon said.
“They never abide by their promises. Lies are what they do,” he said.
Yon, an American journalist who runs his own website reporting on human rights issues, documented Hong Kong’s mass protests in the summer of 2019. When he tried to reenter the city in February, Hong Kong authorities denied him entry. He believes it was retaliation from the CCP for his pieces critical of Beijing’s tightening control on Hong Kong.
As a longtime war correspondent, Yon has covered stories in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he’s seen his fair share of wars and conflict zones. Hongkongers are “the most educated protesters I have seen anywhere in the world.”
“I have never seen somebody fight so well just with their minds,” Yon said.
The mass protests were ignited by opposition to a proposed extradition bill last year that would have allowed Beijing to extradite individuals to the mainland, where courts are notorious for failing to uphold the rule of law. Many Hongkongers feared the proposal would erode the city’s autonomy, which the Chinese regime had promised to preserve upon the territory’s transfer of sovereignty from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
That growing fear became reality with the national security law, implemented after Beijing conducted ceremonial votes via its rubber-stamp legislature. The law criminalizes individuals for any acts of subversion, secession, terrorism, or collusion with foreign forces against the CCP, with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
On June 28, the CCP indicated in the state-run newspaper Global Times that the national security law “could apply retroactively to those cases relevant to anti-extradition bill movement.”
At one point, roughly 2 million Hongkongers took to the streets last year.
“They realized this not just last year, but even before, that if they didn’t make a stand now, they had no chance whatsoever,” Yon said.
The protests were initially about the extradition bill, but eventually evolved into a movement against the Chinese regime’s overall encroachment on Hong Kong.
“[Hongkongers] don’t want to be forced to learn Mandarin instead of Cantonese. They don’t want to be forced to learn from textbooks that are probably written in a basement in Beijing somewhere, remaking history,” Yon said.
In June, the Hong Kong legislature passed a national anthem law, which criminalizes “disrespect” of the Chinese national anthem. Anyone who publicly and intentionally insults the CCP’s anthem can be jailed for three years and fined up to HK$50,000 (US$6,450). The law also mandates that the anthem be part of primary- and secondary-level education.
Since the handover, the CCP has been expanding its influence over Hong Kong’s education system. This entails ordering mainland Chinese teachers to be recruited to teach at nursery schools, primary schools, middle schools, and high schools in Hong Kong and Macau. This action has been criticized by netizens as the mainland exporting its political brainwashing to Hong Kong.
With the security law granting Beijing and Hong Kong authorities broad powers to prosecute Hongkongers, Yon fears the CCP will start disappearing large numbers of young protesters.
“We may never see them again,” he said. “We need to get them out and get them to the United States if they want asylum.”
“Crossroads” is an Epoch Times show available on Facebook, YouTube, and the Epoch Times website.