An expert on China and its authoritarian grip says freedom is at state in Hong Kong.
At the same time Chinese military forces are preparing to take action against a pro-democracy movement that has stretched on for months, Gina Goh of International Christian Concern says protesters are marching over more than a hated extradition treaty with the mainland.
“They feel like the freedom of speech is under threat right now,” Goh says, “and if it's taken away from them it means from that point Hong Kong is no longer the autonomous region anymore.”
Known worldwide as a financial powerhouse, Hong Kong is considered a “special administrative region” of China after a 1997 handover from British rule, but the 7 million residents enjoy freedom and prosperity not seen on the mainland, and many resent the communist regime in Beijing.
For much of the year, millions have taken to the streets to protest a legislative proposal allowing extraditions to China, knowing Chinese authorities would use it to whisk away troublemakers.
Brynne Lawrence of China Aid tells OneNewsNow Hong Kong has been a "safe haven" for human rights activists, one with its own court system, while China tosses human rights activists in prison for causing trouble.
Goh says the bill would give the Chinese government greater legal authority to create “trumped-up charges” and arrest, for example, Hong Kong-based Christians who are aiding underground churches in China.
Carrie Lam, who serves as Hong Kong’s chief executive, announced in July the extradition bill was “dead” but in recent weeks has been denouncing the pro-democracy demonstrators and defending police.
According to a timeline of the protests, which date back to March, they have grown larger and the clashes with police have grown more violent over the summer.
Goh tells OneNewsNow she is hopeful nations in the free world will pressure China to back off and she calls for the Christian community worldwide to pray.