Fears are surfacing in Hong Kong after the disappearance of several booksellers, that all may not be well in the city. It comes as residents in Hong Kong fear that their freedoms are limited, after two booksellers ‘disappeared’ last year, and have now turned up in Chinese custody on the mainland.
The disappearance of the booksellers, Swedish publisher Gui Minhai, and particularly editor Lee Bo – both known to supply books critical of the Chinese government – is said to be only one of many warning signs that Hong Kong is losing its sovereignty; many fearing the gradual tightening of Chinese rule. Gui Minhai was said to have been snatched from the streets of Hong Kong as a warning to others to keep their communist and salacious thoughts to themselves.
But the circumstances surrounding the booksellers is only one component of a changing climate in Hong Kong. HSBC has voiced concerns in the last month that they may move their headquarters away from an unstable Hong Kong. Reuters reported on the HSBC considerations, saying a two-day meeting was taking place with the board of directors weighing their options over the increased control by Chinese authorities on the financial sector, and the future independence of Hong Kong.
Source: Reuters Bobby Yip
The partial autonomy of Hong Kong, granted in 1997 after its release from British rule, alongside a 50-year promise by China to allow their freedom, is under scrutiny. Amongst the censorship and disappearance of booksellers, and HSBC relocating, some of the biggest riots since the 2014 pro-democracy uprising – or “Umbrella Movement” – broke out during recent Chinese New Year celebrations. The results ended with military-style police tactics most claimed to be heavy handed.
James Rice, a professor of philosophy at Lingnan University, Hong Kong, said he wasn’t surprised by the actions riots. “Moving from peaceful protests to any of violence is regrettable but given the government’s total inflexibility on democratic reforms, and given their constant refusal to even engage in any dialogue with an entire generation of young idealistic people, it was inevitable to see a gradual tendency toward ever more militant attitudes and tactics,” he told Bloomberg.
With 2015 began another wave of fear tactics against the people of Hong Kong. When the booksellers disappeared from Thailand and Hong Kong, to appear on Chinese shores months later; it signaled an encroaching censorship. With giants such as HSBC willing to ‘jump ship’ at a cost to them, the world begins to take notice.
This isn’t a singular student protest. What most may not realize is the promise made by China when Hong Kong was released in 1997, of free rule for 50 years without Chinese interference. Has the clock reached the witching hour sooner, rather than later?
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