No one could have predicted that it would happen this faster. When Carrie Lam tried to (unsuccessfully) pass her extradition law last year, we knew that this day would eventually come. But no one expected Beijing to force through their new security law so fast and with such disregard for the sentiment of the Hong Kong people.
The extradition protests began last year but now they seem a lifetime away. The new security laws are so much worse allowing Beijing to intervene in Hong Kong directly, allowing the Chinese government to take away dissidents at will and most worryingly, allowing them to imprison for life any and all dissidents.
This is the end of the so-called “one country, two systems” form of government so touted by Beijing. It all happened so fast, one wonders if it ever existed at all.
Analysts are now saying with Hong Kong placated, Taiwan is now at risk. With its democratic institutions and its position as the sole holdout against Beijing’s might, can it avoid confrontation with a bolstered Xi Jinping? Taiwan has even come out to support Hong Kong vociferously under their current leader Tsai Ing-wen. How long before Beijing sets its sights on what it considers to be a renegade province?
China’s growing aggression has not been lost on the people living in the region including those in Thailand. We have seen the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, Uighur concentration camps, Chinese aggression that led to the formation of the milk tea alliance, and much more. All of these moves have led us to ask why does Beijing not care more about its image?
Among Thai people of Chinese descent like myself, we have grown up with the idea that China was a bastion of culture and political independence with a history worthy of being recognized and elevated but the China of today is a far cry from those idyllic daydreams.
The idea that elites in this country worship Beijing as an alternative model to democracy is a gross perversion of reality and one we should not aspire to. While the elites do not want to hand over the country to China per se, it has cited the ‘Beijing-model’ as an alternative to liberal democracy.
What the elites in this country do not understand is that Chinese imperialism is real and it manifests itself both politically and economically. Thai Enquirer has already written about Beijing’s role in the damming of the Mekong and its effect on the people of this country and those in Laos and Cambodia. This imperialism is also a major threat to those fighting for democracy and freedom here in Thailand.
Dictators all over the world rely on one another and oppressive laws to hold onto power. China is trying to create a new Hong Kong where Beijing’s hand steers and guides all decision (as if it was not already doing that!). In our country, the government of Prayut is trying to do the same thing with its suppression of dissent and its use of opportunistic laws like the state of emergency.
China helps the dictatorial regime in Thailand and around the world by normalizing the abuse of it sown citizens whether it be Uighurs, Tibetans, or the people in Hong Kong. The term human rights Regimes around the world can use China’s “do not interfere in our local politics” as an excuse to crackdown on dissent, after all, if the second most powerful country in the world can do it, why can’t we?
Therefore, it is a moral and political duty for people around the region not only to oppose the regimes in our own countries but also oppose Chinese imperialism. If we don’t, what is happening in Hong Kong will eventually happen at home.