Repression is rarely visible at first glance. Judging by appearances, Hong Kong remains Hong Kong. Business there seems to be flourishing, the economy is doing well. However, behind the varnish, everything has changed. Hong Kong is suffocating.
The changeover took place in a few months, between 2019 and 2020, until the adoption of a law on national security, dictated by Beijing. Theoretically guaranteed until 2047, under retrocession agreements and the principle of “one country, two systems”, public freedoms have lived. Dozens of associations have been dissolved, demonstrations are banned, opposition media no longer exist.
Eminent personalities who have denounced the repression are paying a high price, like Jimmy Lai, emblematic press boss, imprisoned for more than three years. This deleterious atmosphere has consequences that are as invisible as they are irreversible. Doctors, nurses, teachers… More than 300,000 Hong Kongers, most often belonging to the middle classes, have fled to guarantee a future for their children. The regime doesn’t care. He encourages “continentals” to settle in the former British colony. It imposes everywhere its doxa, a mixture of communism, nationalism and historical revisionism. It is obviously impossible there to evoke – and even less to commemorate – the massacre of Tian An Men.
Seen from Europe, the case of Hong Kong must be taken for what it is: a demonstration of the determination of the Chinese Communist Party to leave no chance to internal protest. And a lesson on the fragility of democratic principles, which weigh very little when the balance of power tends to be reversed.