The suppressive local weather in Hong Kong cultivated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)—underneath which attackers can rampage the printing press of one of many metropolis’s unbiased newspapers with impunity—is what Beijing hopes to foist on the West, in accordance with the Guo Jun, director of the Hong Kong version of The Epoch Times.
Once hailed for its democratic freedoms, Hong Kong has seen a gradual rollback of its autonomy because it reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997. Over the previous 12 months, Beijing imposed sweeping legal guidelines to criminalize vaguely defined acts of secession, subversion, and overseas collusion, whereas instituting electoral reforms declaring that solely patriots might rule the territory.
Since then, authorities have prosecuted dozens underneath the brand new safety legislation or different fees, together with most lately media mogul Jimmy Lai, writer of native outlet Apple Daily and a fierce critic of the Chinese regime.
“Hong Kong is the perfect example of how the CCP turned a free society into one where people fear speaking freely,” Guo mentioned in a current interview on The Epoch Times’ American Thought Leaders.
“Today, even the Oscars can’t be aired in Hong Kong because movies have to be reviewed by the Chinese regime before they can be played in Hong Kong theaters. The Chinese regime, step by step, turned Hong Kong into this,” she mentioned, including that she has noticed the identical phenomenon taking place within the West.
“Hollywood, some big tech companies, Wall Street, they need to do business with China, so they toe the Chinese Communist Party line when it comes to topics that the Chinese Communist Party does not like,” she mentioned.
“Imperceptibly, things change around you and you realize the world is different,” she added.
“People don’t dare to say what they really feel because they fear being attacked or discriminated against.”
Some could discover it onerous to conceive that this could possibly be taking place in a free society, Guo mentioned.
“But who’s behind all of this, controlling all of this? Who’s using financial incentives and China’s market as bargaining chips to change the entire world?” she mentioned.
“We know it’s the Chinese Communist Party and it’s honed its skills in Hong Kong.”
Bringing the Truth
On April 12, 4 males barged their means into the Hong Kong Epoch Times’ printing plant. Wielding sledgehammers, two of them smashing crucial printing tools, bringing the outlet’s newspaper distribution to a pause. The version resumed publication on Friday, in time to cowl the sentencing of Lai and different outstanding pro-democracy activists.
Guo, citing a sequence of comparable sabotage attempts for the reason that manufacturing unit’s arrange in 2006, mentioned the CCP was extremely doubtless behind the violent assault.
“The Epoch Times doesn’t have any hostile enemies because we don’t owe any debts and we never had any financial conflicts with groups or individuals,” she mentioned.
Guo, who was among the many founding members of The Epoch Times in Atlanta, Ga., in 2000, mentioned the shortage of unbiased data from inside China was what motivated them to ascertain the newspaper.
They wished to “bring the truth of China to the entire world and also convey international voices to the Chinese people,” Guo mentioned.
At the time, the Chinese regime staged a self-immolation incident to make use of as propaganda to justify its persecution towards Falun Gong adherents, launched just a little greater than a 12 months earlier.
Guo discovered that Chinese and English-language shops weren’t reporting on the proof rising of how the CCP staged the entire occasion. But “our newspaper at that time was able to report the truth about this event to the world,” she mentioned.
A 12 months later, when SARS broke out in southern China in late 2002, the CCP, like throughout the present pandemic, covered up the outbreak. “It was the Hong Kong Epoch Times that first broke the story,” Guo mentioned.
But the outlet’s unfiltered reporting of the Chinese regime has come at a value. Not lengthy after the group was based, its first cohort of reporters in China had been all arrested.
“A lot of them are graduates from Tsinghua [University] and other prestigious universities in China,” Guo mentioned. “They were tortured for a long time in prisons in China.”
Even in the present day, reporters with the outlet are focused by the regime.
“We also have a lot of reporters globally whose family members continue to be harassed and threatened in China,” she mentioned.
In March, a number of The Hong Kong Epoch Times’ on-line present affairs packages received a message, delivered by a relative, from mainland Chinese police: Stop broadcasting or face arrest underneath the brand new nationwide safety legislation.
Guo herself has been the goal of intimidation by the CCP. When she moved to Hong Kong to work on the version, she acquired a letter demanding she instantly go away town. The author additionally mentioned they’d surveil her each transfer and observe her the place she goes.
The regime has additionally tried to sabotage the Hong Kong version by placing strain on retailers and advertisers.
Guo recalled one occasion the place a small promoting shopper in Hong Kong acquired threatening letters in 4 completely different languages.
“Some of these clients [in Hong Kong] are Koreans or from other countries, so the Chinese regime uses different languages to threaten and harass them,” she mentioned.
In May 2019, the Hong Kong Epoch Times began promoting newspapers throughout about 500 7-Eleven shops within the metropolis. “People were very happy that it was now very convenient to purchase The Epoch Times,” Guo mentioned.
But this association didn’t final lengthy.
“Unfortunately, the Chinese regime very quickly put pressure on the 7-Elevens, so 7-Eleven unilaterally backed out of the contract and took The Epoch Times off its shelves,” she mentioned.
Not Backing Down
What the regime seeks to attain will not be “not just about filtering out one or two news items,” however to export its total system by means of a mixture of threats and financial coercion, mentioned Guo.
Because Hong Kong is free from Western sanctions, the Chinese regime has taken benefit of Hong Kong’s standing as a world monetary middle to draw overseas funding and have interaction in pressured know-how switch, she mentioned.
“Its tactics are to lie and to use financial incentives to get major financial groups to partner with it, and these big financial groups and companies control the media and important institutions,” she mentioned. “Financial incentives make people lose their conscience, to self-censor, and to even restrict other people’s free speech.”
“You can be very financially free and relatively prosperous but fundamentally, you have to operate within the rules of the Chinese regime,” she mentioned. “Your freedoms are restricted, you have to give up freedom of speech, and you have to attack the other group of people so that they can’t speak up.”
Asked whether or not she was afraid, Guo vowed to by no means again down.
“For us, humans must have basic dignity, basic freedoms of expression,” she mentioned. “There’s no turning back for us because this is so essential. If we give up even this, then we won’t have basic dignity.”
Guo added that she has acquired loads of recommendation about shifting the outlet’s operations elsewhere as a result of escalating political strain.
She urged the free world to face collectively in defending Hong Kong’s primary rights and supporting the paper’s persistence within the metropolis, calling it a “shared responsibility.”
“A popular nickname for Hong Kong is ‘base to counter the CCP,’” she mentioned. “The Chinese regime also sees this. Its strategy this time around is to take Hong Kong but not its people … through intimidation and threat.”
“If it really comes to that point one day, I feel it would be a tragedy, not just for Hong Kong people and Chinese people, but very unfortunate for the world,” Guo mentioned. “So we hope to stop this downward trend while we still can.”
Cathy He contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times