Hongkongers see the Union Jack as a symbol of freedom from tyranny
David Hume posited that ‘reason alone cannot be a motive to the will, but rather is the ‘slave of the passions.’ However rational we consider ourselves; we are ultimately creatures driven primarily by emotion, sentimentalism and perception. This is evident in how we, as a society, protest. The death of George Floyd horrified the world. Unlawful murder was perpetrated by those we expect to be upholders of that very law they contravened. It is right to peacefully protest and demand justice. But whilst there is appetite for protestation, where is the societal call to action for the sake of the protestors for Hong Kong? This article is not a call to stimulate competition between worthwhile causes, but it is a charge on the western world that we are happy to indulge in selective activism. We must not turn a blind eye towards our Hongkonger brothers and sisters. So, since reason cannot provoke us to sympathy for the plight of these warriors for democracy, let us challenge ourselves to emotionally unite ourselves with their cause.
WATCH: Hong Kong lawmakers dragged from their legislature by Beijing officials
The protests in Hong Kong have been raging for more than a year now. They began as a response to proposed extradition laws that would see pro-democracy dissidents disappear into the clutches of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), that ‘undiscovered country, from whose bourn, no traveller returns’. Extradition was just the spark which ignited Hong Kong’s long held dismay at being subsumed into the Chinese state. In 1997 the United Kingdom gave up control of their colony, it became ‘one country, two systems’. Britain’s most valuable export to the world, its common law, was still hoped to protect the people from the authoritarian nature of the Chinese regime. Common law laid out a clear precedent for terms like ‘sedition’ and ‘treason’ to protect these charges being laid upon pro-democrats who fell on the wrong side of Xi Jinping’s temper. China would have the last vestiges of the UK system squeezed from Hong Kong. Because of our self-hating, post-colonial university curriculum, our nation’s young people are filled with guilt and hatred for our country. They see our country’s flag as a symbol of oppression, but the people of Hong Kong see it as a symbol of Freedom from tyranny. This is because the people of Hong Kong have actually had a glimpse into an Orwellian abyss.They know what real oppression is. We do not.
The most recent provocation came last week when Beijing announced its National Security Law at the National People’s Congress. The succinctly named ‘Decision of the National People’s Congress on Establishing and Completing the Hong Kong’s Special Administrative Region’s Legal System and Implementation Mechanisms for the Preservation of National Security’ was another wakeup call to the world regarding China’s nefarious intentions. Under this law any public meetings at odds with the CCP can be labelled terroristic in nature, shut down, and all participants jailed. This law also cedes power over language to the CCP. Anti-Beijing language is a punishable offence. Beijing also seeks to enact a program of ‘spreading national security education’ to target and poison the minds of young people against the pro-democracy movement. It is no wonder than that the people of Hong Kong are vehement in their protestation. Last month pro-democracy lawmakers were violently dragged from the legislature by Beijing thugs. Democracy itself is being dragged out of Hong Kong, kicking and screaming, whilst many of us in the west complain about so-called hate speech and microaggressions.
Woke capitalism has also found itself completely bankrupt as western corporations habitually prostitute themselves to the CCP in a bid to access their lucrative markets. Whilst Nike pontificates about domestic racial equality, they stand on the side of tyranny (and racism) in the Asian pacific. Last October when Houston Rockets manager Daryl Morey tweeted ‘Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong’. Nike and most of the NBA (with the notable exception of Shaquille O’Neil) castigated Morey; because when it counts, financial incentives take precedence over morality.
This week a statement from HSBC said that they ‘respect and support all laws that stabilise Hong Kong's social order.’ Whilst pushing diversity and inclusion, and championing every social justice movement they can get their hands on, HSBC and other ‘woke’ corporations show their cowardice in Asia. These corporations only have a moral backbone when it makes financial sense to have one, when it comes to the CCP they show themselves as the invertebrates they are. It’s time to look elsewhere for moral tutelage.
However, there is still hope for freedom. District council elections in Hong Kong turned in an overwhelmingly pro-democracy vote last November, and the primary elections for the country’s legislature, Legco, are due in September. There is a great possibility of a pro-democracy landslide that will send the message that Hong Kong will remain a haven of freedom on the doorstep of tyranny. However, our brothers and sisters in Hong Kong require the united support of the Free World. Last Thursday the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and other nations issued a joint statement warning China to drop its effort to coerce Hong Kong into reintegration or face repercussions. This conservative government is also showing its backbone. Dominic Raab told the house of commons that ‘the people of the UK will not just look the other way when it comes to the people of Hong Kong.’ The British Government is pushing one of the biggest changes to our visa system in its history. If the National Security Laws are ratified, Britain will allow Hong Kongers to work in the UK for extendable periods which in turn provides a streamlined path towards citizenship. If freedom is set adrift in Hong Kong, the British Government has provided a lifeline.
It is our national duty to uphold the UN ratified 1997 treaty of Hong Kong. It is our duty to stand by these protestors for democracy. So many of our grievances in the West pail in comparison to the harsh realities faced by the people of Hong Kong every day. We often see freedom as a meme, we roll our eyes at the American tendency to idolise their freedom, but this is because we have known it all our lives. You only can appreciate something truly when it is gone or being existentially threatened. Democracy is a delicate flower, let the flag of Hong Kong remind us of this fact; for that flower is currently being despoiled.