Edward Leung (梁天琦), one of the leaders of the Hong Kong localist movement, was on Monday jailed for six years after being convicted of rioting. Another riot charge against him is still under review.
This is a political verdict using “rioting” as an excuse; the Chinese Communist Party is using the judiciary to suppress the Hong Kong localist movement.
In the same way that the authoritarian government in Taiwan used Article 100 of the Criminal Code, Beijing has been using rioting as an excuse to stage political trials against young Hong Kong localists who participated in the Mong Kok unrest, also known as the “fishball revolution.”
A total of 91 people between 14 and 70 years of age were arrested in connection with the events and at least 28 have been convicted — the harshest sentence being seven years in prison.
The series of political trials reflects China’s awareness of the increasingly vocal Hong Kong independence and anti-China protests, and explain why it is deploying the police and military to suppress protesters and then using legal sanctions to repress them.
This overbearing strategy that covers up its weaknesses is the same approach used during the Kaohsiung Incident trials in Taiwan in the 1970s.
Claiming to be “the authentic China,” the despotic colonial regime was facing a burgeoning domestic democratic movement, while losing recognition from the international community. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) hoped to use political trials to suppress pro-democracy voices and divert focus from the domestic and international challenges to its rule.
Beijing has not been able to gain complete control over Hong Kong after its return to China. As the division between its rule and Hong Kong’s younger generations grows stronger, China is becoming further aggravated and has decided not to hide its colonial mentality.
Among its measures, the most ineffectual one has been blocking all channels and systemic cracks that can be used to propagate anti-Chinese and pro-Hong Kong independence messages.
Not allowing Leung to run in the 2016 legislative election because of his pro-independence stance and the disqualification of several members-elect of the Hong Kong Legislative Council due to the “flawed” oath-taking process are two notable instances.
The Chinese government is forcefully rejecting the notion of allowing the public express its views through elections.
Today, the symbolic result of the Chinese government’s “fishball revolution” political trials is to highlight China’s political infiltration of Hong Kong’s judicial autonomy and independence, once the territory’s pride.
Political trials are the Chinese government’s own unique take on “transitional justice.” They make it clear that the “one country, two systems” framework is really only about “one country.”
In Taiwan, many commentators parroting Beijing’s political views have incessantly condemned President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) refusal to acknowledge the so-called “1992 consensus” as the main cause of Taiwan’s problems.
In the name of freedom of expression, these pro-China commentators are endorsing an enemy state lacking either freedom or democracy. They are fellows of the Chinese communist regime, standing in opposition to a generation of young Taiwanese and every person who would defend the nation’s freedom and democratic system.
Yen Ming-wei is the spokesman of the Taiwan Radical Wings party and a senior in National Sun Yat-sen University’s sociology department.
Translated by Ho-ming Chang
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