City of Fear: The Death of Democracy in Hong Kong | Foreign Correspondent



Once a city of protest, Hong Kong has become a city of fear. The ABC’s China correspondent Bill Birtles reported on the tumultuous Hong Kong pro-democracy protests throughout 2019-2020, before his abrupt return home when China-Australia relations blew up. Now Birtles brings us the final chapter of the Hong Kong rebellion, as Beijing exerts an iron grip on the once liberal outpost, snuffing out the last breaths of democracy. He tells the story of Max, a young Hong Kong activist, who must decide if he should stay and fight for democracy, risking jail, or flee and continue to campaign from outside. “The atmosphere is different. It’s a lot grimmer. And it’s become a lot harder to hold on to hope,” says Max. We speak with protest leader Joshua Wong, on trial for organising protests. “Now is not the time for us to kow-tow to Beijing and surrender!” declares a defiant Wong. Days after our interview, Wong is jailed. We join pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo as she packs up her office in the Le gislative Council, having resigned in protest at China’s squeeze on who can run for office. “I was quite happy to call it a day but that doesn’t mean we’re giving up the democracy fight in Hong Kong,” says Mo, but she concedes it’s a losing battle. “On the surface, Hong Kong is still quite so glamorous, quite so prosperous looking, but then deep down it’s rotting.” Some locals-like Australian educated, pro-government politician Nixie Lam-welcome an end to the chaos of protest, and the return of law and order. “Just don’t say you want Hong Kong independent…or accept foreign monies to try to promote things like that. Then you’ll be totally fine,” says Lam, denouncing the protest leaders as traitors. As Max prepares to depart, Beijing orders a wave of arrests, sending a thousand police across the city to detain the remaining pro-democracy leadership. Claudia Mo is on the list. “I never imagined Hong Kong would have come to this,” she says. About Foreign Correspondent: Foreign Correspo ndent is the prime-time international public affairs program on Australia’s national broadcaster, ABC-TV. We produce half-hour duration in-depth reports for broadcast across the ABC’s television channels and digital platforms. Since 1992, our teams have journeyed to more than 170 countries to report on war, natural calamity and social and political upheaval – through the eyes of the people at the heart of it all. Contributions may be removed if they violate ABC’s Online Terms of Use (Section 3). This is an official Australian Broadcasting Corporation YouTube channel.

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