Hong Kong’s new legislature is a mockery of democracy
Janurary 8th, 2022
“DEMOCRACY IN Hong Kong is flourishing.” These words, used by the Chinese Communist Party in a recent white paper, suggest a strange definition of democracy. On January 3rd lawmakers newly elected to the territory’s Legislative Council took their oaths. Not since long before China regained control of the former British colony have the body’s members been more pliant. All but one of the 90 councillors are party supporters. China made sure of that.
In elections in December, only “patriots”, meaning the party’s cheerleaders, could stand. The opposition was in tatters anyway. Many of its politicians were in jail, or heading there, for their roles in demonstrations in favour of real democracy that engulfed the territory in 2019. Most of those still free decided to shun the rigged polls. Turnout was at a record low.
The past few days have seen other reminders of how swiftly and dramatically Hong Kong has changed since the party began tightening its grip there in 2020. Police have arrested the editors of a popular pro-democracy news website and charged two of them with sedition. The portal has shut itself down. Two similar outlets have followed suit to protect their staff. The University of Hong Kong has removed a statue commemorating the massacre of protesters in Beijing in 1989. “Flourishing” used to be a good word to describe Hong Kong’s political spirit. A better one now would be “crushed”.