fredag 29. mai 2020

Amid the Pandemic, Is Hong Kong Facing a Different Kind of Death?

In the middle of a pandemic that has killed more than three hundred and fifty thousand people worldwide, what does it mean for a city to die? Last Friday morning, at the annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress, the Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, put forward a national-security law that would ban “treason, secession, sedition, and subversion” in the semiautonomous city of Hong Kong. Under the law, Beijing has the authority to bypass the territory’s own parliament to crack down on any activity that it defines as threatening to its political legitimacy. Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State, called the measure a “death knell.” On Twitter, journalists, pundits, and politicians made similar pronouncements. Lo Kin-hei, a leader of the Democratic Party, tweeted, “No matter how prepared we are to witness the death of our loved city, and no matter how many times it felt like it is dying, it still pains me to see another part of the remaining flesh is gone.”

On Sunday, thousands of people, wearing protective masks, took to Hong Kong’s main thoroughfares in demonstrations similar to those that have convulsed the city since last year, when Beijing proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed people arrested in Hong Kong to be tried on the mainland. On Wednesday, protests erupted again, when the local legislature began debating a bill that would criminalize disrespect of the Chinese national anthem. Police in surgical masks fired repeated rounds of pepper pellets into the air and rounded up dozens of people, including schoolchildren.