LONDON (Reuters) – The fate of Hong Kong shows China’s true authoritarianism, so the rest of the world should stand up to President Xi Jinping and start putting human rights above financial gains, said at Reuters pro-democracy activist Nathan Law.
China unveiled a national security law this week which, according to pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and the West, violates the “one country, two systems” principle enshrined in the 1984 Sino-British treaty which guaranteed autonomy of Hong Kong.
“The protests in Hong Kong have been a window for the world to recognize that China is becoming more and more authoritarian,” Law told Reuters via an Internet video. Law, 26, left Hong Kong this week. He refused to reveal his location.
The law called on the international community to place human rights above the financial interests of trade with the second largest economy in the world and to “deal more multilaterally with the Chinese question”.
“It is important to prioritize human rights issues over trade when we are dealing with China,” he said.
The British flag was lowered over Hong Kong when the colony was returned to China in 1997 after more than 150 years of British rule – imposed after Britain defeated China in the First Opium War.
Britain says national security law violates surrender agreements and that China is crushing the freedoms that helped make Hong Kong one of the brightest financial centers in the world.
Officials in Hong Kong and Beijing said the law was vital in filling the holes in the national security defenses exposed by the protests. China has repeatedly asked the Western powers to stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs.
“National security law is basically the end of” one country, two systems “because there are no longer two systems, no more firewalls between Hong Kong and China – it is basically merged,” said Law. .
“The international community should recognize this and put in place appropriate mechanisms to hold China accountable,” he said. “The international community should examine whether Hong Kong should be granted certain privileges on the basis that Hong Kong was autonomous.”
Law said businesses and professionals are seriously considering leaving Hong Kong, once classified as Asia’s premier financial center, due to the crackdown in China.
While Law said that the national security law was aimed at crushing the pro-democracy movement, he said that Hong Kong would not surrender and that resistance would continue.
“The democratic movement will always be dynamic even if it takes other forms or other modes of representation, but we can still see that the resistance movement is still alive,” said Law.
So what would Law say to President Xi?
“You better quit,” he said.
“It is time for a country leader who knows how to treat people well and lead the country in a healthier and more positive way rather than just spoiling the whole country.”