ENTERTAINMENT

A rousing message to the world from a young leader of the democracy-friendly demonstrators who oppose China


When my plane took off, I looked wistfully for the last time at the city I love so much with its skyscrapers, its ferries and its fabulous energy.

I said goodbye to Hong Kong. At the age of 26, I left my home, my parents, my two brothers and my friends – even the pair of cats that I had saved from the street and that offered me unconditional love in return.

I have had no desire to leave this bustling, life-supporting metropolis that has been my home since I moved with my family from the Chinese border town of Shenzhen at the age of six.

But like other activists fighting for democracy and freedom, I knew that under a comprehensive new security law, the Communist leaders in Beijing would target me to silence the millions of Hong Kongers who are slipping into the Oppose autocracy.

26-year-old Nathan Law (top) left Hong Kong knowing that he would be "attacked by the Communist leaders in Beijing under a comprehensive new security law to silence the millions of Hong Kong people who were slipping into oppose autocracy ".

A man is arrested by the riot police during a demonstration against the new national security law on July 1st, which marks the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong's surrender to China

A man is arrested by the riot police during a demonstration against the new national security law on July 1st, which marks the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong's surrender to China

This is a dark moment for Hong Kong. China is openly tearing apart the agreement with One Country, Two Systems, which was agreed with the United Kingdom in 1997. It should take 50 years and protect the freedoms that have made my city so alive and one of the best financial centers in the world.

No one in Hong Kong has any illusions that Beijing will keep these promises or respect its human rights.

My mother saw the horrors and violence of the Cultural Revolution in China half a century ago. This law triggers a new cultural revolution in Hong Kong.

Last week I had to get on this plane and go. Now I even have to hide where I am so that I can continue my advocacy work while asking the world to support my people and stand up to totalitarianism.

Neither of us knew what was in the clampdown bill until it was suddenly inflicted on us. Then, on Tuesday, we saw reality on the streets – and it scared us.

Hong Kong's Hong Kong director Carrie Lam can now determine if a measure violates national security. She can decide whether to monitor someone like me or to listen to phones.

A new security agency has far-reaching powers, and officials are forced to submit to their iron will. The secret police can now operate openly in Hong Kong and no longer has to hide their presence as in the past. Legislative provisions are intentionally vague, but the penalties are tough, with the possibility of secret trials without juries, extradition to China, and life imprisonment.

The new law targets alleged foreign agreements – an approach used in mainland China under President Xi Jinping to silence dissidents and suppress challenges.

China is openly tearing up the One Country, Two Systems deal it agreed with Britain on the 1997 handover that was to last 50 years. Above, demonstrators raise their hands to symbolize the five demands of the democracy movement

China is openly tearing up the One Country, Two Systems deal it agreed with Britain on the 1997 handover that was to last 50 years. Above, demonstrators raise their hands to symbolize the five demands of the democracy movement

We have seen Demosisto, the political party that I founded with my friend Joshua Wong and others after the previous wave of "umbrella" protests in 2014, routinely smeared with false claims of CIA funding in Chinese state media .

When the new law came into force, I had to leave Demosisto, which has since broken up, like other groups working for democracy. We were too recognizable, the risks were too great.

The next day, I spoke on video to the United States Congress Committee on Foreign Affairs. It was my third testimony on Capitol Hill, but speaking only now in such a forum about the Hong Kong plight has become a "violation" of the law.

As I said to these American politicians, so much has been lost in the city that I love – especially the freedom to tell the truth. I knew that my testimony would endanger my safety. Of course I'm sad to go. However, I am determined to face the future.

The world must understand that these events in Hong Kong show how China is becoming more and more confident and autocratic under President Xi. The situation has deteriorated for several years, with attempts to impose China's agenda on schoolchildren, weaken freedom of speech and even confiscate booksellers who have sold literature about their leaders.

In September 2014, the umbrella movement saw hundreds of thousands of people holding umbrellas peaceful sit-ins to demand democracy in response to China breaking promises of universal suffrage. The police ended up firing tear gas.

I was elected to the Hong Kong Legislative Council four years ago. Beijing finally thwarted me by claiming that I did not take the oath properly because I quoted Mahatma Gandhi's saying "You can never lock my mind up".

A month after the disqualification, I was detained for participating in the sit-ins. I spent a few months with gangsters, which was unforgettable – even though I had no internet, I had time to read and think.

The public's rage exploded again last summer. The cause was an extradition law that could put Hong Kong citizens on trial in China, where the legal system is to serve the interests of the ruling Communist Party.

Huge protests by up to two million people have been answered by the police with tear gas and even gangsters hired to attack demonstrators. We saw the footage of attacks and blows, spraying spectators – even children – with pepper spray, shooting journalists up close with rubber bullets and beanbag bullets. I visited arrested protesters in prison.

Demosisto, the political party Nathan Law (right), which was founded after the previous wave of "umbrella" protests with Joshua Wong (left) in 2014, is routinely smeared with false claims about CIA funds in Chinese state media

Demosisto, the political party Nathan Law (right), which was founded after the previous wave of "umbrella" protests with Joshua Wong (left) in 2014, is routinely smeared with false claims about CIA funds in Chinese state media

Nathan Law said that he had "no wish to leave home," but was leaving town in an unknown location so that he could continue to work for Hong Kong and "fight for freedom on the world stage."

Nathan Law said that he had "no wish to leave home," but was leaving town in an unknown location so that he could continue to work for Hong Kong and "fight for freedom on the world stage."

Many were clever children who risked a bright future because they love their city and loathe corruption. It was touching to see more than 100,000 people back on the streets last week, even under the draconian new safety law. That gives me hope.

Hong Kong's traditional way of life is being wiped out, but people have shown how much they value freedom. They must be supported in their epic struggle as they are at the forefront of a global struggle between authoritarianism and democracy.

We are grateful to Britain for protecting three million Hong Kong people. Now we have to see a unified and vigorous response from all nations that respect democracy to stem the new Chinese expansionism – or Taiwan will be the next.

Companies also have to demonstrate that Beijing's money does not buy them. China may be able to offer some lucrative deals, but in the long run Western companies risk selling their liberal assets.

The protests can continue if the world shows support and human rights are prioritized over trade agreements. China, despite all its willingness to fight and imperial dreams, is less strong than it seems, with an aging society and an unbalanced economy.

I didn't want to leave my home. I was faced with the choice of whether to remain silent about autocracy or to continue the fight for freedom on the world stage.

We will maintain our resistance on all fronts. Millions of courageous people in Hong Kong facing the Chinese dictatorship have shown that their determination to democracy will not be easily wiped out. They give us hope. We can't let them down.

(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) Debate (t) Hong Kong