Hongkongers received a rude Monday morning awakening on August 10: well-known media tycoon Jimmy Lai was arrested, and the offices of Apple Daily, Lai’s Chinese-language newspaper, were raided. The arrest of pro-democracy activist and politician Agnes Chow followed just hours later.
For more than a year, Hongkongers have been increasingly vocal as the Chinese Communist Party refused to compromise on the 2019 Hong Kong Extradition Bill. Now, with the implementation of the crippling National Security Law, those who call Hong Kong home are pleading louder than ever to be heard.
This bombshell followed just a few weeks after what U.S. corporate media wants viewers to perceive as a federal abuse by President Trump. Many prominent voices have claimed the July 22 arrival of federal forces in Portland, Oregon supposedly indicates right-wing authoritarianism.
After observing weeks of sleepless nights in the riot-ridden city, and warning local and state officials that intervention would be necessary unless de-escalations in violence were observed, Trump authorized federal officers to protect Portland’s federal buildings, including the city’s federal courthouse, from violence.
Since then, responsibility for Portland’s federal buildings has been restored to state troopers, and protests have proven much less aggressive. Even so, the flustered media seized their opportunity to demonize the president’s successful defense of federal property. Yet between Trump’s actions regarding Portland riots and China’s abusive grip on Hong Kong, there is truly no substantive comparison.
The CCP’s newly infamous National Security Law targets what it calls inciters of subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces, and terrorism (defined as virtually anything contradicting the CCP) with life sentences and possible prosecution and trial in mainland China. The wide net cast by this legislation has no bounds. Anybody, anywhere in the world, can be targeted.
Chow, one of the many young activists dedicating her life to the fight for Hong Kong’s freedom, was charged with “inciting secession,” while Lai, a long-time critic of China-Hong Kong affairs, was arrested for “collusion with foreign powers.”
So, what was Lai’s crime? Meeting last year with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi regarding Hong Kong’s political climate. Otherwise, Lai had not violated the new National Security Law since its implementation on June 30. So his recent arrest proves China believes this law can be enforced retrospectively. These arrests likely come as retaliation against U.S. sanctions of 11 Hong Kong officials.
If sudden, high-profile arrests were not enough, Lai’s Apple Daily was raided by more than 200 police officers on Monday to freshly intimidate other Hongkongers and silence one of the few major sources of CCP criticism. As newspaper employees watched bags full of documents being carted off, many streamed live video on Facebook and other sites. More than 10,000 people from across the world watched in awe and horror as freedom of the press received a shocking stab to the gut.
To some, the crackdown by Chinese and Hong Kong authorities on Monday may seem similar to Trump’s handling of Portland, but that could not be further from the truth. When juxtaposing this week’s tragic Hong Kong episode with federal law enforcement in Portland, some key distinctions must be made.
First, punishing all forms of protest deviates from an attempt to quell repeated violence. While it is true that some Hong Kong demonstrations have been dangerous, Chinese and Hong Kong officers do not attempt to discriminate between those who genuinely are dangerous and those who aren’t. In contrast, federal occupancy in Portland was implemented to protect property from clear, active, and ongoing harm.
Similarly, those who oppose pro-democracy advocacy in Hong Kong are either power-wielding CCP and Hong Kong officials who have everything to lose to Hong Kong’s freedom, or mainland Chinese who have grown up in an immensely censored environment and have been essentially brainwashed by the CCP. Conversely, those who oppose the Portland riots are largely Americans who have unfiltered access to up-to-date information.
The timeline of these situations must also be evaluated. The presence of federal officers in Portland was limited to a single week — just long enough to restore some semblance of order to the city. Yet, as Pompeo asserted in July, the CCP’s history indicates that it likely does not intend to ease up; it seems activists and media will be stifled indefinitely.
Finally, the underlying intentions of the American federal government and the Chinese Communist Party are quite apparent when contrasted side-by-side: American officials strive to preserve their nation, while the CCP yearns to devour the prosperities of Hong Kong that had, until recently, been kept out of its reach.
Imagine if Apple Daily were an American media outlet — maybe The New York Times, or The Washington Post. How would Americans react if hundreds of police officers raided newspaper offices? A large majority of the American media community has claimed, at one time or another, that Trump has portrayed them negatively, even as “fake news.” But compared to how the media outlets in Hong Kong are being treated, American media is royalty.
Don’t forget that it was President Obama, not Trump, who used federal powers to surveil journalists. But even that is not comparable to China’s active suppression and routine punishment of reporters, both domestic and foreign.
Ultimately, Hongkongers are desperately trying to dissipate the CCP’s smokescreen that enshrouds their homeland while Americans, outraged by the federal government’s protection of U.S. property, are manufacturing a smokescreen of their own — one that is only further hiding the Chinese Communist Party’s agenda from view.
Left-wing authoritarianism (as exhibited by the CCP) remains the greatest threat to the world in this new decade, not right-wing authoritarianism, as the American media and self-proclaimed Marxists would have you believe. The Chinese Communist Party will stop at nothing to shield its benevolent façade as it draws China closer to becoming America’s nosy next-door neighbor on the world stage.
The United States of America has long been a symbol of freedom, and as this modern version of the Soviet Union’s iron curtain envelops the Far East, Americans have a pivotal opportunity to gaze outside U.S. borders before it is too late.