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Chinese Govt. Arrests More Pro-Democracy Icons In Hong Kong, Including Music Stars

from the sing-me-a-song dept

While we have been discussing the way mainland China's plan to slow-creep the end of democracy in Hong Kong has turned into more of a sprint, it's also quite true that what is occurring there hasn't gotten nearly enough media burn as it should. Plenty of folks have chalked up China's aggressive attitudes towards Hong Kong to the 2019 pro-democracy protests, but the real sprint began once it became clear that Donald Trump stood a good chance of losing the White House to Joe Biden. Trump showed little willingness to push back on China when it came to its treatment of Hong Kong and the theory was that Biden would reverse course and show some backbone. That he generally hasn't is one of geopolitics great ironies. Beijing has taken such steps as to try to erase the CCP's own bloody history, to censor all kinds of Hong Kong pro-democracy culture, and to arrest of all kinds of pro-democracy lawmakers and media.

Democracy is over in Hong Kong, in other words, and has been for some time now. What Beijing is currently in is a mop-up mode, as it looks to take the vice it has built around the city-state and spin the tightening lever. China's actions have made any designation of Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region an absolute punchline, including at present when China is busy arresting more pro-democracy cultural icons, including a popular musician, Denise Ho.

Cantopop star and prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Denise Ho was arrested at her home on Wednesday morning by the city's national security police.

She was one of six people arrested in an early morning operation, all linked to online media organization Stand News. Police later confirmed at a news conference that a seventh person had been arrested. They have been accused by police of "conspiracy to publish seditious material," a colonial-era crime.

Ho, a former Stand News board member, was born in Hong Kong but grew up in Canada. She found fame in the early 2000s with a string of hit albums, before later building a successful career as an actress.

In addition to this raid, Chinese authorities raided the Stand News offices in a wild show of force. Hundreds of officers descended on the operation, all under the cover of the relatively new National Security Law passed in 2020 that seemed specifically designed to erase freedoms in Hong Kong. Perhaps the most surprising part of this story is how long it took for China to take this action against Ho. She is a gay, pro-democracy advocate who has regularly participated in protests and marches, all with a large following thanks to her musical and acting careers. In other words, she is absolutely a sensible target for a Chinese government intent on playing thought police over the city.

Her activism has also drawn other repercussions over the years -- including being blacklisted and censored in mainland China.

Chinese state media has attacked Ho as "Hong Kong poison" in previous years. In 2016, amid criticism of Ho from Beijing, luxury brand Lancome canceled a promotional concert featuring the star, citing "safety reasons."

But it's the rest of the world's collective shoulder shrug that is the issue here. Why is China continuing to take these actions? Because the rest of the world is not de-incentivizing those actions, of course. That we're all sitting back and allowing this to happen without even putting up a fight is and will be a stain on the democracies of the world. That the world let things get this far in the first place without any real pushback, all the more.

Democracy is over in Hong Kong because, in part, we sat back and watched it die. Shame on all of us.

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Filed Under: china, democracy, denise ho, free speech, hong kong
Companies: stand news


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Dec 2021 @ 8:47pm

    vise, not vice...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 30 Dec 2021 @ 2:11am

    Well, it doesn't exactly come as a surprise.

    "She is a gay, pro-democracy advocate who has regularly participated in protests and marches, all with a large following thanks to her musical and acting careers. In other words, she is absolutely a sensible target for a Chinese government intent on playing thought police over the city. "

    This sort of points to a certain misunderstanding at the heart of the HK citizenry; That staying will somehow result in Beijing loosening its grip.

    That's not going to happen. If China were somehow left with the only way to properly leash HK being to put every last HK resident in a 're-education' camp somewhere and replace the citizenry with mainland Chinese immigrants - they will absolutely do that. Nothing short of world war 3 is going to get China to soften that stance.

    Democracy was dead in HK when the sino-british treaty was signed in 1984 and it isn't coming back. That battle is irretrievably lost.

    Denise Ho is brave to have stayed in HK during this time - because she must have known that there was no future which ended with her not getting picked up by the PRC IntSec people.

    This, I think, may be the most infuriating part of this. The HK civil rights activists are incredibly courageous...and in the end, irrelevant. A brief bump in PRC incarceration and reeducation numbers. And their parents choosing to stay in the 90's when the treaty was signed are to blame for these kids today facing a choice between bending knee to a totalitarian regime or living in an internment camp.

    Nothing will exculpate the aggressive dictatorship stripping a people of their rights. But it's a sorry excuse of parenting to raise children knowing that dictatorship just invaded.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Upstream (profile), 30 Dec 2021 @ 5:23am

      Re: Well, it doesn't exactly come as a surprise.

      Given what you said about WW3 being the only way China would change it's stance (and I think you are essentially correct in that view), I am not sure that "brave" and "courageous" are appropriate terms to describe people who remain in Hong Kong and openly protest the Chinese policies. Your other word, "irrelevant," is much more appropriate, and hints at some other more correctly descriptive adjectives.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        BernardoVerda (profile), 30 Dec 2021 @ 8:31am

        Re: Re: Well, it doesn't exactly come as a surprise.

        Most people in Hong Kong don't have the option of just leaving. Those that might, would effectively be leaving hostages behind.

        And occasionally, some people knowingly fight in a cause with the odds stacked against them, simply because the alternative is to just give up. The distinction between a "hero" and a "fool" can be very subjective, and quite arbitrary.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 3 Jan 2022 @ 2:37am

          Re: Re: Re: Well, it doesn't exactly come as a surprise.

          "Most people in Hong Kong don't have the option of just leaving. Those that might, would effectively be leaving hostages behind. "

          They had. The UK and other countries - like Taiwan - were fairly open about receiving HK immigrants back when the sino-british treaty was first signed.

          That's why I blame the parents. They had some 20 years of advance warning and it was guaranteed that either their children or their grandchildren would be living under the full PRC autocracy.
          The current generation? Mostly have the choice of being irrelevant martyrs of a long-dead cause or bend their necks to Emperor Xi.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        sabroni, 1 Jan 2022 @ 2:26am

        Re: Re: Well, it doesn't exactly come as a surprise.

        By that logic shouldn't all democrats of child rearing age be leaving the USA?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 3 Jan 2022 @ 2:31am

          Re: Re: Re: Well, it doesn't exactly come as a surprise.

          "By that logic shouldn't all democrats of child rearing age be leaving the USA?"

          If the GOP takes the house in 2022 and the landslide democrat victory in 2024 somehow ends up with Trump back in power?

          Depends. The difference between the 25% of the US citizenry who are A-OK with fascists and fanatical puritans in power and the 75% who are most definitely not is that the saner people outnumber the deranged ones. If push comes to shove it boils down to how many die or are suppressed before even the libs get ornery and go for their guns.

          For 7,4 million HK citizens to try to resist 1,4 billion, however, isn't the same equation. If the hostile part of the nation you find yourself part of can vanish you without anything you do making a difference your choice is to leave while the going's good or drop to your knees and kowtow nine times to his most August Bearsonage Emperor Xi.

          What happens in Hong Kong right now is comparable to a single household area in Washington D.C. declaring their secession from the United States - by firing at the passing beat cop. There is no chance it ends well for them.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 3 Jan 2022 @ 2:22am

        Re: Re: Well, it doesn't exactly come as a surprise.

        "I am not sure that "brave" and "courageous" are appropriate terms to describe people who remain in Hong Kong and openly protest the Chinese policies."

        They are, though. Their future is guaranteed to be miserable, any hope they ever had of a career, shot. At best.
        And there's no hope of the PRC switching stance here, given that to most Chinese people Life Is Good and thus a revolution isn't on the table. This isn't the Qing dynasty or the USSR where most people lived in misery that we're talking about.

        "Your other word, "irrelevant," is much more appropriate, and hints at some other more correctly descriptive adjectives."

        Like "foolish", for instance.

        As I said earlier, though I don't exculpate the PRC for being ultra-authoritarian asshats led by a thin-skinned Pooh Bear lookalike whose social policies are all based around the chinese concept of face - lése majéste, writ large...the most inexcusable culprits in this mess are the parents of the current generation of HK citizens who saw fit to stay in HK while it was still possible to leave, knowing their children would end up at the business end of the PRC's knife.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Upstream (profile), 3 Jan 2022 @ 2:55am

          Re: Re: Re: Well, it doesn't exactly come as a surprise.

          parents of the current generation of HK citizens who saw fit to stay in HK while it was still possible to leave, knowing their children would end up at the business end of the PRC's knife.

          This ^. With a lot less denial (I think there was sufficient foresight) China could have "taken over" a mostly empty shell.

          As for sabroni's comment about leaving the USA: I think there is sufficient foresight and much less denial about the dismal future of the USA, but where would we go, exactly?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 4 Jan 2022 @ 5:20am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Well, it doesn't exactly come as a surprise.

            "As for sabroni's comment about leaving the USA: I think there is sufficient foresight and much less denial about the dismal future of the USA, but where would we go, exactly?"

            There is also the difference in proportions. Some 75% of americans are not on board with Trumpism or the GOP shitting on the US constitution at every turn. Any actual confrontation isn't going to be one-sided.

            7,4 million Hong Kong citizens against a highly unified nation of 1,4 billion though? That's 0,5% of the nation. Assuming every last HK resident opposes the PRC agenda to the point beyond merely feeling inconvenienced...which they really don't.

            The Hong Kong freedom fighters are living in a shitty reality. I previously compared it to a single household in Washington D.C. announcing their secession from the US by taking pot shots at the passing beat cop. It's...not a winnable fight.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Matsu, 30 Dec 2021 @ 6:18am

    Fight Fight Fight

    " But it's the rest of the world's collective shoulder shrug that is the issue here... we're all sitting back and allowing this to happen without even putting up a fight "

    ...yeah, let's all grab our pitchforks and actively defend Hong Kong against the Communist Chinese hordes -- nothing much else going on in the world for us to worry about.

    This totally vague call to action by somebody just pecking a keyboard comfortably in the U.S. rings very hollow. A naive armchair general/statesman.

    How about the 1.5 Billion people in mainland China itself, with no democracy.
    Or the free people of Taiwan constantly threatened by Red Chinese takeover.
    Or the multitude of other non-democratic areas of the world?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 3 Jan 2022 @ 2:45am

      Re: Fight Fight Fight

      "This totally vague call to action by somebody just pecking a keyboard comfortably in the U.S. rings very hollow. A naive armchair general/statesman."

      To some extent, yes. Fight the battles you can fight. This particular one, though, was lost when the parties signed the sino-british joint declaration more than twenty years ago.

      What is left is to leave the dissidents left to the unkind hands of the PRC by their parents refusing to run while there was a chance, a way out and a visa.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Dec 2021 @ 8:01am

    Okay, so what do you want countries to do? “Let’s fight and expend vast resources for the freedom of this place that was gonna become part of China in a couple decades anyways”?

    Finger-pointing and guilt-tripping folks for shrugging at an inevitability while there’s a fucking global pandemic happening alongside democracy basically lying on the floor and bleeding out in the U.S. and elsewhere, you’re not really helping anybody, Tim.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Jordan, 30 Dec 2021 @ 8:21am

      Agreed

      Been saying this forever on this site. WTF do they want us to do about it?

      HK is China.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Matsu, 30 Dec 2021 @ 8:54am

      Re:

      I am not calling for any action at all on Hong Kong -- way too late for that.

      My point is that the article's author had absolutely no plan of action and was engaged in pointless rhetoric.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Dec 2021 @ 9:05am

        Re: Re:

        That reads like I have no plan for dealing with that wild fire, so I will not bother warning anybody in its path.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Dec 2021 @ 9:10am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Also forget every genocide in history. It's a done deal. What are we supposed to do about it?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Dec 2021 @ 10:42am

          Re: Re: Re:

          He’s not issuing a warning though. Tim Cushing is chastising and fingerpointing while engaging in the same vague do-something-ism that Techdirt rightfully decries in other areas.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Dark Helmet (profile), 30 Dec 2021 @ 12:11pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            First, wrong author.

            Second, I was unaware that pointing out a problem also required prescriptive solutions to that problem. I've never encountered this mindset before and can't imagine living in a world so paralyzed by an inability to comment on an issue without providing the detailed fix to it.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 30 Dec 2021 @ 12:35pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Okay, my bad on getting the wrong author.

              With regards to the rest of your comment: When you say stuff like

              That we're all sitting back and allowing this to happen without even putting up a fight is and will be a stain on the democracies of the world.

              Talking about how it’s all our faults, as we stood by and did nothing about this complex geopolitical situation that was always gonna boil over, it was just a matter of when. People are gonna shift into a defensive “Well, what the hell did you want us to do about it?” mode when you say things like

              Democracy is over in Hong Kong because, in part, we sat back and watched it die. Shame on all of us.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Rocky, 30 Dec 2021 @ 1:08pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                This is the story of the boy who cried wolf every time a wolf actually killed a sheep. The flock is almost gone by now because nobody actually listened, instead people now berate the boy for pointing out that if no one actually do something about the wolf, all the sheep will be gone.

                The moral of the story is that a lot of people refuses to listen to inconvenient truths and they will attack people who points this out.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 30 Dec 2021 @ 3:27pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Everyone knew this shit was gonna happen. The only thing we were wondering was if China was gonna push up their time table.

                  If China held back and upheld their end of the deal until 2047, and then started cracking down in this exact same way, would you still be going “Wait, no, this island that Britain stole from China while Britain was poisoning the Chinese with opium needs to stay free and democratic! Let’s roll an aircraft carrier and a destroyer up next to the city to defend Hong Kong!”?

                  Everyone knows about the wolf. But the wolf is armed with nukes, has a population of over 1 billion, and an autocratic dictatorship and supply chain that can prolly pivot to churning out weapons and vehicles at a moment’s notice. And the wolf owned that island to begin with.

                  I’ve been scrolling through the past articles on Hong Kong and I tend to agree with Scary Devil Monastery. This was an inevitability. Raising our hackles about it now ain’t gonna do any good. We have a lot on our plate currently with regards to keeping democracy alive in countries where it actually stands a chance.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    sabroni, 1 Jan 2022 @ 2:30am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    maybe other countries could try diplomacy?

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 1 Jan 2022 @ 2:16pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Diplomacy to do what, exactly? Get China to not take back the island that was stolen from them and then was promised to them in a treaty?

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 3 Jan 2022 @ 2:59am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      "maybe other countries could try diplomacy?"

                      What makes you think they aren't?

                      Here's the baseline; For the PRC to completely and utterly subdue HK and make it march in obedient lockstep with Beijing is a matter of national face. If you want to tell China what they can and can not do on their own soil you will first need to go to war.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 3 Jan 2022 @ 2:56am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    "This was an inevitability. Raising our hackles about it now ain’t gonna do any good."

                    And inevitable even way back when the british opium lords extorted HK from the Qing. China has a very long history and it's shock full of examples of the chinese empire, in their zenith, taking back what they lost in their nadir.

                    The sino-british joint declaration looks very amicable but the reality is the UK was facing the choice of bowing out gracefully and pretend they believed in the assurances of the PRC...or try to project significant force forever to fight a war of attrition on a mainland China which would have made taking the place a point of national pride. Last time the UK was that dumb was the Falklands.

                    What they could have done would have been to remind the HK residents that, in no uncertain terms, that sooner or later the PRC would reverse on the policies of "One nation two systems" and their children would live under those conditions.

                    And the time to leave for a life in the UK, the US or Taiwan was, sort of right bloody now.

                    Yet they didn't and the parents of the current generation were, apparently, fine with dumping their children into the current mess.

                    "We have a lot on our plate currently with regards to keeping democracy alive in countries where it actually stands a chance."

                    If US democracy hadn't lost every credibility under GWB and Trump I wonder...China would still do China but I wonder in how many places the fear of western intervention would have made power-mad dictators stop and think?

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Dennis, 30 Dec 2021 @ 3:17pm

              Re: I was unaware that pointing out a problem...

              well, this Hong Kong problem has been in world news headlines for a long time and repeatedly addressed here.

              Just what do you think Mr Geigner's actual purpose was in posting this on Dec 29th 2021, in an obscure American blog ?
              Do you believe he seriously thought his post would have even the slightest effect on the Hong Kong problem or future of democracy ?

              Opinions and comments are fine and there are millions daily on the web. Quality of those opinions varies widely.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Arijirija, 31 Dec 2021 @ 9:21pm

                Re: Re: I was unaware that pointing out a problem...

                Well, democracy in Hong Kong and the rest of the Chinese-speaking world for that matter, is primarily their concern. Our concern is basically that accountability in government is a human right - that is, a right that belongs to all humans by virtue of being human, not by mere accidents of location and time. And significant events in Chinese history over the past few centuries center on accountability, which will make for an interesting future - Sun Yat Sen's masterminding of the Chinese revolution of 1911 was largely in response to a perceived lack of accountability from the Manchu dynasty at that time. Ditto the Chinese students' May the Fourth movement which started in 1919 ... I'm sure that the Chinese will view the provincial government's constraints placed on the doctor reporting the first Covid19 cases in rather the same light as eroding the legitimacy of the current PRC administration. Or to use the Confucian terminology, "taking from it the mandate of heaven".

                Our role in this is basically that of background support. It's their fight.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Dec 2021 @ 10:43am

        Re: Re:

        I agree with you. Although my comment is under yours, I wasn’t replying to you.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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