This article was originally published by Radio Free Asia and is reprinted with permission.
Hong Kong pro-democracy activists marked China’s Oct. 1 National Day on Friday with protests in Taiwan against oppressive behavior by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and warnings of its ongoing attempts to infiltrate the democratic island’s media and political life.
As thousands of police boosted patrols in Hong Kong and the city’s leaders attended an official flag-raising event at the Convention and Exhibition Centre, four members of the League of Social Democrats (LSD) staged a small protest in Wanchai, before being surrounded and searched by police.
The four were surrounded by more than 20 police officers as they made their protest, calling for the release of 47 former opposition lawmakers and pro-democracy activists, who are facing subversion charges under the national security law for taking part in a democratic primary.
They were prevented from taking a pedestrian footbridge that leads to Bauhinia Square outside the Convention and Exhibition Centre, but nevertheless managed to display a banner and shout: “Release the 47! Release all political prisoners! Fully democratic elections for the whole country!”
LSD chairwoman Chan Po-ying, who is also the wife of jailed former lawmaker and activist Leung Kwok-hung, called on the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to implement clauses in China’s constitution guaranteeing freedoms of speech, thought, publication, assembly, and association.
Chan said: “Our request is simple: power belongs to the people, so we want universal suffrage throughout the country, and the release of all political prisoners.”
“Without the participation, supervision, and checks and balances of the people, an irresponsible and bureaucratic government can easily form cliques and interest groups for personal gain,” she said. “The evils caused by power struggles are a common feature of the 72-year history of the CCP.”
Police said they had received a report that someone had “maliciously destroyed” a Chinese flag in Lok Fu, Kowloon, early on Friday morning, and had retrieved a damaged Chinese flag from the scene, they said.
Calls for boycott, reforms
Meanwhile, Hong Kong groups in Taiwan called on Taiwan’s 23 million people to step up efforts to prevent an influx of Chinese money into their economy, for a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, and for democratic reforms in Hong Kong and Macau.
Since the CCP imposed a draconian national security law on Hong Kong from July 1, 2020, the authorities have launched a citywide crackdown on public dissent, peaceful protest, and political opposition, charging dozens of former lawmakers and democracy activists for taking part in a primary election, disqualifying pro-democracy figures from public office or candidacy, and jailing activists for peaceful participation in the 2019 protest movement against the erosion of the city’s promised freedoms.
An organizer of the protest outside Taiwan’s democratically elected Legislative Yuan who gave only the nickname Sky said he fears that a similar fate could befall Taiwan, if the island isn’t careful about whom or what it lets in.
“Oct. 1 marks the date that their totalitarian regime was established, so we, the oppressed, are giving them the gift of protest in return,” Sky told RFA.
“Those of us who are in a free and democratic Taiwan will be presenting our congratulations to China in the form of a portrait of [CCP leader] Xi Jinping, and invited guests will spray him with black paint,” Sky said.
Sky said that, apart from high-profile national security law trials and arrests, there has also been a rapid erosion of pro-democracy media and civil society groups in Hong Kong, including the demise of the Apple Daily newspaper and the jailing of its founder Jimmy Lai and senior editors, and the dissolution of the Professional Teachers’ Union, the Civic Human Rights Front, and the organizers of now-banned vigils for the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre, the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China.
Political commentator Sang Pu, who chairs the Taiwan Hong Kong Association, said China is trying a slightly different approach to undermine Taiwan’s democracy, which he likened to “termites” gnawing away at a building unseen.
“Everything points to the fact that there is no longer any room for civil society in Hong Kong,” Sang told RFA. “District councilors are being disqualified, one after the other.”
“We are honored to have this opportunity [to protest against the CCP in Taiwan], and hope everyone will united in their condemnation and criticism of the CCP,” he said.
Hongkongers in the U.K. told RFA they would hold a parade and rally on Oct. 1 in Manchester to demonstrate the “atrocities” of the CCP to the world.
A protest on Oct. 2 at Reading railway station will use three tombstones to symbolize the deaths of freedom of expression, economic freedom, and justice will be displayed, in a bid to demonstrate the city’s treatment at the hands of the CCP, they said.