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China’s Cardinal Sins in Hong Kong

With the world’s attention focused on Ukraine, China is stepping up its repression in Hong Kong. The choice of a brutal ex-policeman as the city’s new chief executive, and the arrest of a 90-year-old Catholic cardinal for his efforts to support pro-democracy protesters, suggest that the situation is going from bad to worse.

LONDON – Much of the world remains focused on the grisly developments in Ukraine, where Russian President Vladimir Putin’s army continues to commit war crimes against a sovereign country he claims is an inalienable part of Russia. Meanwhile, the story in Hong Kong has gone from very bad to even worse.

In a farcical selection process dressed up as democracy, the Communist Party of China recently installed a former policeman, John Lee, as the new chief executive of its puppet regime. Lee is not just any old cop. He got the job because he supervised the brutal 2019 crackdown on demonstrations in Hong Kong after two million residents protested against the city government’s plan to allow the extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China. That proposed change in the law was necessary, said one pro-Beijing adviser, in order to make abductions by China’s security services unnecessary.

Lee’s crackdown substituted tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets, and tasers for dialogue. Even some of those providing medical assistance to the demonstrators were arrested and beaten. Such methods brought shame on Hong Kong’s police force, which can no longer be called Asia’s finest. Lee behaved as though he would also have willingly suppressed the young demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989 – an episode that he and others like him now try to stop Hong Kong’s citizens from remembering in vigils and religious services.

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