Hong Kong is currently facing two plagues from China, Lee wrote: the coronavirus (COVID-19) and “attacks on our most basic human rights.”
“We can all hope a vaccine is soon developed for the coronavirus. But once Hong Kong’s human rights and rule of law are rolled back, the fatal virus of authoritarian rule will be here to stay,” Lee wrote.
He said that the free press in Hong Kong was vital for alerting the world to the dangers of the coronavirus, even as Chinese state media sought to repress information about the outbreak.
Now, Chinese authorities are attempting to pass legislation to increase their influence over Hong Kong, Lee said.
Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. Hong Kongers enjoy freedom of worship and evangelization, while in mainland China, there is a long history of persecution for Christians who run afoul of the government.
In January, China appointed Luo Huining as the head of the powerful Central Liaison Office in Hong Kong. Luo last week intensified calls for Communist China to exercise more control in Hong Kong by passing “national security legislation.”
The legislation would outlaw “sedition, subversion and the theft of state secrets,” Lee wrote.
This is not the first time the legislation has been introduced— in 2003, widespread protests against the measure led China to withdraw it.
The passing of such a “subversion” law would give China even more power to quash Hong Kongers’ freedoms, Lee warned.
“These vague standards are designed to protect the Chinese Communist Party and undermine core freedoms of Hong Kong, such as freedoms of religion, assembly and the press — including the reporting of pandemics that embarrass Beijing,” he wrote.
The Justice and Peace Commission of the Diocese of Hong Kong released a statement condemning the arrests April 18, calling for an end to all arrests until an independent commission can be established, and for the police to return the mobile phones of all arrested persons in order to ensure their privacy.
The diocese also reiterated that the government must respond to the demands for which the pro-democracy demonstrators have been calling for months, which include an independent inquiry into police tactics.
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A Hong Kong friend of Lee, who declined to be identified for safety, said they believe Sun Li Jun— the deputy public security minister for Hong Kong who oversees the Chinese secret police— wanted to send a message of power ahead of Chinese Workers’ Day celebration on May 1.
The friend believes Sun— who is reportedly under investigation by China for corruption— ordered the arrests to show that the authorities have control of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
“As the followers of God, we will keep praying for [Hong Kong] and let our Lord lead the way,” Lee’s friend told CNA.
“In HK we all love China and Chinese people but we are against CCP [Chinese Communist Party] for what they did to all of us now and before.”
An estimated 1 million protesters turned out at the first major pro-democracy demonstration in Hong Kong on June 6, 2019.
Catholics have played a major role in the protests, which continued after the extradition bill was revoked. Protestors largely called for the resignation of chief executive Carrie Lam— herself a Catholic— more open elections in the region, and an investigation into police brutality allegations.