Editorial: Crushing freedom in Hong Kong: Beijing busts its pledge to leave the city alone

Forget daylight saving time; in Hong Kong (where they haven’t used it in a very long while) it’s not an hour early, but 23 years in the future, having already reached 2047. That is the year when the 50-year transition from British rule is to end.

During that period, until July 1, 2047, under the terms of the handover of the city from London to Beijing, “the laws currently in force in Hong Kong will remain basically unchanged.”

The agreement between the U.K. and China also states that during the 50 years, “the current social and economic systems in Hong Kong will remain unchanged, and so will the life-style. Rights and freedoms, including those of the person, of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of travel, of movement, of correspondence, of strike, of choice of occupation, of academic research and of religious belief will be ensured by law.”

But that was then. All those pretty words don’t mean anything now as those “rights and freedoms” are tossed aside. The pledge to retain Hong Kong’s liberties, including a free press, independent courts and its own government, didn’t even last half of the promised half century.

Four years ago, China’s Maximum Leader Xi Jinping and his Communist Party, fed up with protests in Hong Kong, had their phony baloney Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress unanimously pass the 1984-ish named Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, stripping city’s citizens of their rights.

The next year, Beijing changed how elections are conducted in Hong Kong so that only “patriots” could hold public office. And so on Tuesday, Hong Kong’s elected Legislative Council, now stacked exclusively with Beijing’s stooges, passed the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance on a vote of 89-0. There is one vacancy in the council.

Having imposed tyranny on Hong Kong wasn’t enough for Xi and the Politburo, they wanted their local puppets to do it as well. Do they actually believe that such unanimous staged votes illustrates anything but robotic control?

Jimmy Lai, publisher of Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper, would be calling all this out. That is if he wasn’t thrown in prison and his newspaper wasn’t seized by the government and shut down. The 2021 shuttering of the Apple Daily and its website came a year after Lai was arrested on some bogus charges. His trial began in December and is going on now. We are sure that he’ll get a fair trial.

On the occasion of the July 1, 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China and the lowering of the Union Jack, we wrote that the barometer of China living up its promise of non-inference for the next 50 years would be “Hong Kong’s vital and raucous free press” and “pressure on the press to conform to the party line will be an ominous sign of Beijing’s true intentions.”

The Communists aren’t even pretending. They are forcing the once free city to become a quiet drone following orders and staying in line. Freedom and liberty will be what the Party dictates. Anyone who complains, like Lai, will be dealt with.

As we’ve said before about other people, someday the Chinese will be free. And someday, Hong Kongers will be free again.