By: Dr. Yang Jianli – February 2, 2021

The Human Rights Watch, in its 2021 iteration of annual publication ‘World Report’, began its observation on China as ‘the Chinese government’s authoritarianism was on full display in 2020’. According to the report, the human rights movement in China suffered through its ‘darkest period’ since the ‘1989 massacre which marked the end of Tiananmen Square democracy movement’. It also enumerated fourteen categories to judge the status of Human rights in China, including Hong Kong protests, suppression of Tibet and Xinjiang, freedom of speech and faith, disability rights, etc. It has also attempted to contextualize them (in part) with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic. The contents of the report were also echoed by the Congressional Executive Commission on China (CECC) 2020 annual report, which went on to describe Chinese Government as having a “long arm of authoritarianism.”

In Hong Kong, the report remarks, over a million people had come on streets a start of the year 2020 to march peacefully for democracy. However several actions by Chinese government, such as the appointment of Luo Huining (who allegedly had no experience with Hong Kong) as its Chief representative in Hong Kong by virtue being an ‘enforcer’ of the Chinese Communist Party, interference in political processes of the autonomous territory of Hong Kong, systematic removal of pro-democracy legislators from important committees, bypassing the Legislative Council of Hong Kong to pass National Security Law (NSL), etc. have been great cause of alarm. NSL especially had gained notoriety, as it provided for sweeping power to police and denial of freedom to civil society and media, that was used against people who were pro-democracy. The press also was battered by Hong Kong police; in May 2020 several journalists were forced to kneel and had pepper sprayed on them. In similar vein, several pro-democracy protestors like Professor Benny Tai, newspaper editor Jimmy Lai (and his sons) were either removed from their jobs, or arrested without trial. [Continue Reading]