Ted Hui
Civil Liberties

Ted Hui: “The more you persecute people, the more people will treasure that identity”

Ted Hui Chi-fung was (or is) a Democrat Party politician in Hong Kong, vocal on environmental issues, education, human rights and democracy. He is currently living in exile in Australia, after fleeing to Denmark in 2020 and then seeking political asylum in the UK. He remains wanted by Hong Kong police for “rioting” and “conspiring” to damage property and obstruct the course of justice in Yuen Long in July 2019. He has been known to release stink bombs in the Hong Kong legislature, specifically during the Second Reading of the National Anthem Bill which was intended to criminalise “insults to the national anthem of China”; and to grab mobile phones from intrusive Security Bureau guards, who are tasked with ensuring compliance with China’s nationality laws.

When you see your democratic rights disappearing and your essential identity being incrementally erased, you might understand the impulse to protest, agitate or object rather robustly, which is quite easily portrayed as obstruction, harassment, incitement (or in the UK, ‘hate’). Ted Hui is just one of a number of young Hong Kong activists who have been persecuted, imprisoned or forced into exile: the alternative is total compliance with Hong Kong’s new National Security Law, which is, of course, anti-democratic, anti-freedom-of-expression, anti-private-property, and anti-freedom-of-assembly. If you dissent, you will be arrested, tried in a kangaroo court, and dealt with in accordance with the diktats of the Chinese Communist Party ruling regime.

Journalist and author Louisa Lim has written a very moving essay for the Financial Times, entitled ‘Hong Kong, my vanishing city’, in which Ted Hui is quoted. The whole essay is worth reading because it is really quite brilliant and poignant, but you’ll need to navigate the FT‘s paywall (because good journalism is worth paying for, and the labourer is worth her hire).

She tells of Hong Kong’s journey from freedom to oppression; from a society of liberty, equality and the rule of law, to a state of coercion, surveillance, summary arrest and secret trials. You can taste the terror, smell the fear, and might even be moved to tears of compassion as she writes about the imposition of Beijing’s ‘safety laws’ on Hong Kong:

..outlawing secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with overseas powers. These crimes are so poorly outlined that clapping throughout a courtroom listening to now apparently constitutes a seditious exercise, as does criticising the federal government’s Covid response on social media, or sporting a T-shirt or possessing stickers bearing the favored protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Occasions”.

One database counts 183 individuals arrested below the nationwide safety legislation since its introduction, a 3rd of them for speech crimes. Vibrant civil society organisations have been pressured to disband and town’s feisty legislature was remodeled past recognition right into a patriots-only physique after 47 political activists have been arrested for subversion for holding a main ballot. Because the nationwide safety legislation is extraterritorial in nature, the potential menace it poses ripples far past Hong Kong’s borders.

..It quickly grew to become clear that the contours of the nationwide safety laws would solely emerge after that they had been contravened, leaving silence as the one assure of self-preservation.

And as she recounts tales of those who are brave enough to post notices of banned phrases, such as ‘I miss Residence Kong’, ‘Embrace Freedom’, and ‘Persist in Your Beliefs’, she introduces Ted Hui Chi-fung:

Hui was in Melbourne to open the pop-up market. “I’m one of many few who can communicate up,” he advised me, alluding to the handfuls of his colleagues who’re in jail awaiting trial on subversion prices. “That’s why generally I’ll give myself stress [to speak].”

He had been going through not less than 9 prison prices when he fled Hong Kong in 2020. Two Danish politicians who helped him go away are additionally going through potential prosecution by the Chinese language authorities, though they have been in Denmark on the time. Hui’s property, in addition to his spouse’s and his mother and father’, have been frozen by the Hong Kong authorities. “I really feel like I’m simply borrowing the freedoms that I take pleasure in whereas I’m abroad,” he advised me.

Hui commented on how the time period “Hong Konger” was unfamiliar throughout his childhood. It’s an id that has solidified by the protest motion. “Each slogan began with Hong Kong,” he advised me. “We all know we’re completely different. We all know that we are supposed to be free as a result of we’ve been free. We all know we had little room for freedom, and we have to exert that to struggle again.”

Now he fears that “Hong Konger” might grow to be a banned time period at dwelling. However he stays assured that Hong Kong communities in exile won’t be cowed. “The extra you persecute individuals, the extra individuals will treasure that id,” he mentioned firmly. “If it can’t be talked about in Hong Kong, then we’ll speak about it abroad.”

And that which can’t be talked about in Hong Kong is met with bloody brutality when it is talked about, with films bearing witness to the martyrs for freedom and the quasi-religious experience of sharing a moment with their spiritual greatness:

..we watched scenes of surprising violence, as police beat protesters and lobbed tear fuel at them, dragging younger individuals throughout the bottom. These scenes winded me, however they didn’t make me cry. Relatively, it was the moments of solidarity that moved me to tears; a man heartbroken that he might not shield the younger protesters; a medic begging the police to be allowed to deal with the wounded.

These have been the photographs that jogged my memory of how a lot we had misplaced. The post-protest laws had been designed to destroy any sense of neighborhood. It was alleged to atomise the bonds that made Hong Kongers keen to place their very own lives in danger for complete strangers.

When the movie ended, the viewers remained quiet, shocked. Then a person in entrance of me broke the silence: “Heung gong yan!” (“Hong Kongers!”). Others took up the chorus of the previous protest chant “Gaa yau!” (“Add oil!”). As I stood as much as go away, my chest was tight, constricted as if I have been about to have an bronchial asthma assault. I advised my companions I might hardly breathe. “I can really feel it in my abdomen,” mentioned one good friend. “It feels actually heavy.” One other pointed to her throat, “I really feel it right here. On a regular basis.” Now we actually have been carrying Hong Kong with us. Lastly it had grow to be inseparable from us.

As Ted Hui observes, “The more you persecute people, the more people will treasure that identity”, and in this he echoes Tertullian, one of the Early Church Fathers of the second century, who wrote in his Apologeticum:

We are not a new philosophy but a divine revelation. That’s why you can’t just exterminate us; the more you kill the more we are. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. You praise those who endured pain and death – so long as they aren’t Christians! Your cruelties merely prove our innocence of the crimes you charge against us…

And you frustrate your purpose. Because those who see us die, wonder why we do, for we die like the men you revere, not like slaves or criminals. And when they find out, they join us.

Christians in Hong Kong face persecution and prison for living according to their principles, for speaking according to their consciences, and for sharing a gospel which is at variance with The Gospel According to the Chinese Communist Party. Pastors have been beaten, nuns arrested, teachers of religion forced to adopt ‘reliable’ textbooks, and surveillance installed in churches to ‘monitor’ their worship. And there are warnings it could soon get worse.

The ‘official’ Church in Hong Kong is surviving; the ‘underground’ Church is thriving.

“The more you persecute people, the more people will treasure that identity.”