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How Hong Kong Reacted To A New Law Proposed By China

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

A few thousand people marched through Hong Kong yesterday to protest a new law proposed by the Chinese government last week. These protesters were met with tear gas, rubber bullets and the looming possibility of a major rollback of civil liberties. To talk about steps forward, we're joined now by activist Max Chung from Hong Kong.

Welcome.

MAX CHUNG: Hello. Thank you for having me.

CHANG: Well, thank you for being on our show today. This law has not yet been implemented. The National People's Congress in Beijing still has to draft the law and pass it, but it is expected to do so. So if or when the law does go into effect, how do you think it would change Hong Kong?

CHUNG: Yes, correct. And fear is already surrounding the - almost the whole Hong Kong. It's like a dark cloud flying around. And the more fearful thing is that some of these are Peking puppets. They said that there will be a new agency in Hong Kong. It could be a National Security Bureau. And do they have the law enforcement agency power? We don't know. We are just searching in the dark room at the moment.

CHANG: Well, what are people envisioning? How do people actually visualize expression changing in Hong Kong?

CHUNG: Most of us, we don't really need to imagine that because China is sitting right next to us. For example, there is a firewall blocking the Internet access in China. And we can expect that there will be no second voice or second opinions. All the newspaper will be the same. Everything is about propaganda issued by the authorities, and everything will be monitored. Like, wherever we go, they will track us down by our cellphones. And we just can't live freely as what we are living at the moment.

CHANG: Yeah. It sounds like you have no hope that China will reverse course on this, that this law will indeed go into effect.

CHUNG: Well, personally speaking, I would say it is a bluff...

CHANG: Oh.

CHUNG: ...Well, because until this moment, the so-called embargo and things like that hasn't been launched by the American or by the EU or by the U.K. So I believe that the Peking authorities are buying times at the same time and looking at ways on how are they going to draft a bill by observing the reaction from America, from the EU, from Taiwan, Japan and Europe and the U.K. as well. So they use fear to profit.

CHANG: The protests that happened yesterday were the biggest protests that have occurred in Hong Kong for months, but they were still quite a bit smaller than the protests from late last year. And, you know, in this new time during this pandemic, do you believe that this movement can sustain the same momentum it used to have in 2019?

CHUNG: The thing is that there are - like, almost 9,000 of us have been arrested by the police, OK? And the cause for protest is getting higher and higher. People are just disappointed, and they keep questioning themselves that - is protest useful, or can I make the change? And that is exactly the reason why the Peking authorities are taking advantage of the pandemic - to scare off the people. So the scare will be smaller, I assure you. But the fight will be more intense.

CHANG: Max Chung is an activist in Hong Kong.

Thank you very much for joining us today.

CHUNG: Thank you very much, Ailsa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Hey, thanks for reading.
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