Hong Kong is packed with people from all over the world. The city’s seven million residents are made up of people who create much wealth and global trade. They are people accustomed to expressing their beliefs freely. This summer, new National Security Laws took effect in Hong Kong. Life changed for these free people almost overnight.
The new laws say police officers can search Hong Kongers without warrants and tell internet service providers to take down messages online that criticize the Chinese government. Chinese officials drafted and decreed the laws with no input or permission from lawmakers in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is a city, not a country. For more than 100 years, the British government controlled it. Great Britain handed Hong Kong over to the Chinese government in 1997, with a caveat: For 50 years, Hong Kong officials would make their own laws, and Hong Kongers would handle their own money. The independence would end in 2047. But Hong Kongers feared China might take away some of their freedoms before the 50 years expired. It looks like they were right. Now democracy-loving Hong Kongers face persecution at home. Once the new laws passed, police started searching bags and arresting people with Hong Kong freedom flags. They even arrested people for carrying white flags that said nothing at all.
Hong Kong citizens living in other parts of the world watch as China commandeers more power in the territory. What will become of those who don’t feel safe returning?
Officials in Australia suggest they make the outback their permanent home. The Land Down Under will offer around 10,000 Hong Kongers living in Australia a chance to stay for good—a bold move that could threaten Australia’s important trade relationship with China.
Great Britain offers help to Hong Kongers too. Remember, Great Britain first made the treaty with China that said Hong Kong could rule itself for 50 years—a deal British officials say China is violating. So Britain will allow up to three million Hong Kongers to come work in the United Kingdom for five years. After that, they may apply for British citizenship.
Not everyone can leave Hong Kong, of course, and not everyone wants to. Some do not have enough money, and some love their city too much to go. Some want to stay because they are proud to be Chinese.
Communist China has self-preservation reasons for cracking down on Hong Kong’s freedoms. Freedom tends to spread. Officials fear people in mainland China will eye the wealth and liberty enjoyed there and start to want their own.
You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. — John 8:32