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Tag: Communist Party

A picture from Hong Kong worth a thousand words

Monday, 17 June, 2019

The people of Hong Kong identify far more with their city than with mainland China and they have a very different concept of “freedom” than the autocrats in Beijing. The core values Hong Kongers cherish include the universal values of judicial independence, civil rights and press freedom, but these are listed by China as among the “seven unmentionables,” putting Hong Kongers on the frontline of a dangerous clash between liberty and the Communist Party’s need for total control.

Protest becomes rebellion in the eyes of Beijing when the masses take to the streets to demonstrate against proposed extradition legislation, and this is mortally dangerous because those who took part in the killing of thousands of protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989 are now in a position to send in the tanks against today’s protesters in Hong Kong. Regardless of what happens, however, this remarkable image of people in Hong Kong demanding and defending freedom will remain.

Hong Kong protests

Note: More than 25 percent of Hong Kong’s population of 7.4 million people protested at the weekend. By proportion, these are the largest protests in modern history.


April 65th and the clocks are striking thirteen

Thursday, 4 June, 2015 0 Comments

As has been pointed out here before, Nineteen Eighty-Four starts with one of the greatest first lines in literature: “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” George Orwell’s dystopian novel is set in Airstrip One (Great Britain), which is governed by a corrupt elite of English Socialists who persecute independent thinking as “thoughtcrime”, as the regime’s invented language, Newspeak, puts it.

In China, contemplating the political significance of today’s date, 4 June, is a thoughtcrime and references are harshly suppressed, as are alternative ways of rendering it, such as April 65th and May 35th. On this day in 1989, Chinese tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square and the army opened fire on democracy protesters, killing hundreds. Despite threats by the Communist Party, the bloodshed of 4 June 1989 is being commemorated in Hong Kong today. The minimum that the rest of us can do is keep the memory of the date alive and recall the bravery of the Tank Man.

Freedom


May Day is mobile in Vietnam

Wednesday, 1 May, 2013 0 Comments

This time last year, Hanoi experienced the hottest day of 2012, with a high of 39°C and oppressive humidity. The people of Vietnam endured their May Day stoically, however, because they’re used to oppression. Hundreds of dissidents are in prison for challenging the one-party rule of the Communist Party. No independent media is allowed, pro-democracy blogs are banned, protests are forbidden and civil rights activists face constant harassment and persecution.

May Day in Vietnam

Yesterday marked the 38th anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam, but the vocal anti-war protesters of the 1960s and ’70s never speak out about what’s happening in the country today and neither do they demonstrate to help make Vietnam a freer country, like they so passionately professed to care about four decades ago. Still, there is hope. Access to independent sources of information is expanding rapidly thanks to the mobile phone, which is the ultimate status symbol, and people seem to be connected all the time. Texting while zipping around on the ubiquitous motorbikes is routine and answering phones while driving or in meetings is commonplace. If you want a SIM card, and thus a new number, just hand over a few dollars on a Hanoi street. No photo ID is required. All this suggests that the iron grip of the Party cannot endure forever. A May Day might yet come when the people of Vietnam are truly free.


Communist control and capitalist cake

Friday, 4 May, 2012

Until the authorities told him to leave in 2008, Bill Hayton reported for the BBC from Hanoi. The things that made Vietnam, with its almost 92 million inhabitants, so intriguing for him were: “The contradictions inherent in simultaneously having communist control and eating capitalist cake.” The paradoxes of the place, its people, its history and […]

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The May Day Firewall of China

Tuesday, 1 May, 2012

In mid-April, China’s “great firewall” system that blocks blacklisted foreign websites temporarily blocked all foreign websites. This was followed by an increase in website-blocking across the country. Then came the news that posts by weibo users with more than 10,000 followers will be individually vetted, and it is said that Beijing is also pushing the […]

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