July 1 needs to be a day of mourning for all freedom-loving individuals: It’s the twenty fourth anniversary of Britain’s handover of Hong Kong to China, the first anniversary of Beijing’s imposition of a draconian national-security regulation on the territory and the centenary of the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party.
Britain handed over Hong Kong to the People’s Republic in 1997, following the expiration of a 99-year-lease. The Sino-British Joint Declaration, a global treaty lodged at the United Nations, made the handover conditional on two specific guarantees, legitimate for 50 years, or till 2047: first, that China would uphold the mannequin of “one country, two systems,” respecting Hong Kong’s primary freedoms, rule of regulation and “high degree of autonomy”; and second, that Britain would monitor and safeguard that first promise.
Twenty-four years later, the twin promise lies in tatters. Communist Party quislings dominate the Hong Kong authorities, and Beijing is more and more imposing direct rule.
How did issues go fallacious? Britain made two negotiation errors. It failed to incorporate and even seek the advice of Hong Kongers in the deal. And it didn’t search an enforcement mechanism in case the different facet broke its promise. London took Beijing on belief.
Which brings us to the second of three anniversaries: the Orwellian national-security regulation. “Enacted” a yr in the past by Beijing’s rubber-stamp National People’s Congress, with out even any pretence of session with Hong Kong and in complete violation of Hong Kong’s personal Basic Law, this repressive laws shatters the territory’s freedoms.
It turns regular, each day actions into crimes. Talking to a international journalist, politician or activist is now “collusion” with international forces. Protests are banned, criticism of Beijing is harmful and press freedom is lifeless — that final grim reality crystalized by the pressured closure of the Apple Daily tabloid.
Hong Kong is now a police state.
The third anniversary is the occasion animating the different two. In its century of existence, the Chinese Communist Party has killed thousands and thousands by the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, the Tiananmen Square bloodbath and the genocide of the Uyghurs, to not point out the repression in Tibet and the cover-up of COVID-19.
Add forced abortions, forced sterilizations, pressured labor, pressured disappearances, pressured televised confessions and compelled organ-harvesting from prisoners of conscience, and the image that emerges is of a Communist boot stamped on the face of Chinese civilization.
So how ought to the free world mark these three anniversaries?
First, with an entire, complete and unambiguous change of course. We ought to bury the concept that this can be a regime we may be associates with. How can a regime that declares battle towards constitutional multiparty democracy, separation of powers, elections, an impartial judiciary, human rights, civil society, tutorial freedom and an impartial media be a pal to democracies?
How can a regime waging a cultural genocide and crimes towards humanity be an ally? How can a state that repeatedly flouts worldwide treaties and threatens the worldwide rules-based order presumably be a dependable accomplice?
Second, we must acknowledge that the Beijing regime isn’t going to be influenced by sturdy statements. Words must be accompanied by actions, and Beijing must be left in no doubt that its crimes have penalties.
That means focused sanctions not towards the peoples of China, however towards officers in in Beijing and Hong Kong liable for violations of worldwide regulation. We also needs to goal strategic entities, corresponding to Western large companies offering a monetary lifeline to the Chinese Communist Party or these complicit with its surveillance state.
And third, the free world ought to act collectively. President Joe Biden’s effort to rally the West towards Beijing, following in the footsteps of his predecessor, is welcome. Australia has taken a notably more strong stand, and Britain’s message has shifted in the proper path; some European international locations may be starting to get up.
But there are nonetheless those that don’t get it. Germany’s place is deeply regarding. Senior figures amongst the ruling Christian Democrats describe Beijing as “a partner.” There is clearly more work to be achieved to coach and mobilize the democratic world.
Western democracies ought to diversify provide chains to cut back our dependence on Chinese manufacturing — a disaster highlighted by the pandemic.
If this regime will get away with what it has achieved to Hong Kong, it gained’t cease there. It can be emboldened in its aggression towards Taiwan, and it’ll proceed encroaching on our liberties, too. We can’t kowtow any longer.
Benedict Rogers is co-founder and chief govt of Hong Kong Watch, based mostly in London.