Currently a contributing writer at The Nation, Wilfred Chan previously worked in Hong Kong for CNN International covering the 2014 Umbrella Movement and its aftermath. He can offer insight on the future of protest, free speech and democracy in Hong Kong under the new national security law.
For more than a year, Hong Kong has been protesting. Demonstrations started as a reaction to the since-withdrawn mainland extradition bill, but following a brutal police crackdown the scope quickly expanded to include the current five demands — an investigation into police brutality, the government to stop calling the protests “riots,” amnesty for those arrested and full universal suffrage in the city’s elections.
In response, Beijing bypassed the city’s legislature and directly implemented the new national security law, which effectively makes dissent against the central government a crime. Targeting crimes related to subversion, secession, foreign interference or terrorism, the law is quite expansive in scope — Beijing will set up its own independent police agency in Hong Kong, independent from both judicial review and the city’s legal system, and all cases deemed “serious” will be tried in Chinese courts with Chinese judges. Those convicted can face up to life in prison. And the law’s reach is not just limited to Hong Kong residents — under article 38, it applies to offenses committed by anyone, anywhere in the world.
Despite being implemented for a week, there’s already been a chilling effect with local pro-democracy political parties disbanding, citizens deleting social media profiles and shops removing political posters.
Chan’s most recent piece for The Nation — The Infinite Heartbreak of Loving Hong Kong — tackles the despair of watching the city change for the worse. An upcoming article will tackle the impact of the United States on Hong Kong politics, as seen with the 2019 Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and the Trump administration’s late June removal of some of the city’s special privileges.
Chan is a member of Lausan, a transnational collective that shares decolonial left-wing perspectives from Hong Kong writers and activists. His work has also been published in Dissent Magazine, The Guardian, Splinter News and ArtAsiaPacific.
Location: New York City
Expertise: Hong Kong protests and the national security law / pro-democracy movement
Email (preferred): firstname.lastname@example.org
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Last updated July 6, 2020