Sushi protests show Hong Kong’s spirit is unabated – but it’s not enough!

Recently, there has been a sudden surge in the popularity of sushi and sashimi in Hong Kong. Long queues can be seen outside sushi restaurants, and the sashimi and sushi in supermarkets are quickly sold out every day. This is happening after the Hong Kong government announced a ban on imports of Japanese seafood. The Japanese Consulate in Hong Kong has expressed its gratitude on social media to the Hong Kong people for their “rational consumption.” In present-day Hong Kong, under the implementation of the national security law, citizens have found a way to express their lack of trust in the government through collective consumer action.

At the beginning of this year, the Hong Kong government lifted all the restrictions that were imposed due to the pandemic. As a result, some groups applied to the police for permission to hold protests. On International Women’s Day and Labor Day, they planned to organize events with only a few hundred participants. However, the police put pressure on the organizing groups, claiming that there were many threatening comments on their social media platforms, suggesting the intention to use violence against the police during the events. This eventually forced the groups to cancel their planned activities. Subsequently, media outlets published investigative reports revealing that all those threatening comments originated from pro-government internet users or fake accounts.

Another example involves a protest against the construction of industrial facilities near residential areas. The protest received approval from the Hong Kong police, but the police had to review all banners and slogans displayed during the event. Participants were also required to wear identification tags with numbers. The protest proceeded under strict police surveillance, and the organizing group stated that they would not hold similar activities in the future.

If you believe that Hong Kong people would not be targeted by the police if they do not participate in protest activities, let me tell you that the Hong Kong government designates certain days each year as so-called “sensitive” days. These include June 4th, commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, and July 1st, the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China. If you are on the streets on those days and the police notice you are wearing black clothing, displaying written messages on your clothes, or holding flowers, you have a high likelihood of being arrested.

And what’s even more agonizing is the daily news regular mention of marathon trials against pro-democracy leaders in the courtrooms. They are charged with conspiring to veto all government bills by organizing a primary election, with the aim of paralyzing the government and subverting the regime once elected as lawmakers. Some of them have been detained for over two years before their trials. When they defended themselves in court, they pointed out that politics is a process of persuasion, although they once chanted slogans that might seemed radical, they do not believe that opposing the government is equivalent to treason. However, their testimonies were humiliated by the judges, who lectured them, saying that even the British Prime Minister is not elected by one person one vote, and that the British referendum has led to more problems.

It’s not just political figures who are being trailed in court. What is most infuriating is that doctors and nurses who provided first aid services to citizens at the protest scenes in 2019 are also being accused. The judges accused them of treating convicted rioters, equating it to participating in a riot, and sentencing them to an average of over four years in prison. Even on the battlefield, if medical personnel are attacked, it is considered a crime against humanity! But Hong Kong judges claim that they make impartial judgments based on common law.

And if you repost these news reports on your own social media platforms, with a few dissenting comments, you will be at risk because dozens of individuals have been convicted of inciting hatred against the government through their social media posts in the past three years. Okay, you’ve decided not to express yourself anymore, but in the new school year, your children will be forced to go to mainland China, dressed in Communist Party clothing from the 1940s to attend learning classes.

When you become aware of how people are living in Hong Kong like this, perhaps you will understand why many professionals in Hong Kong have abandoned their developing careers and relatively high incomes, to choose to come to the UK through the BNO visa scheme and work in local gingerbread factories, all to provide their children with a normal education and not to take one more breath in their suffocating homeland.

* Christopher is based in Hong Kong and is a member of the Lib Dems Overseas. (We have anonymised this author due to restrictions imposed in Hong Kong via the National Security Law.)

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2 Comments

  • Sandy Smith 11th Sep '23 - 2:08pm

    The UK recognised that the government of China would wish to fully integrate Hong Kong into the test of the country and tried to prevent that until 2047 in the Treaty that returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule. The UK can therefore object that things are happening earlier than agreed, but not to the direction of travel – the principle was conceded in the Treaty.

  • Alex Macfie 11th Sep '23 - 9:14pm

    A treaty can be voided if necessary. Think about the Munich Agreement 1938.

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