(Hypebot) — Popular musician Denise Ho and 5 five others were arrested in Hong Kong for being tied to a pro-democracy online media group.
While we have been discussing the way mainland China’s plan to slow-creep the end of democracy in Hong Kong has turned into more of a sprint, it’s also quite true that what is occurring there hasn’t gotten nearly enough media burn as it should. Plenty of folks have chalked up China’s aggressive attitudes towards Hong Kong to the 2019 pro-democracy protests, but the real sprint began once it became clear that Donald Trump stood a good chance of losing the White House to Joe Biden. Trump showed little willingness to push back on China when it came to its treatment of Hong Kong and the theory was that Biden would reverse course and show some backbone. That he generally hasn’t is one of geopolitics great ironies. Beijing has taken such steps as to try to erase the CCP’s own bloody history, to censor all kinds of Hong Kong pro-democracy culture, and to arrest of all kinds of pro-democracy lawmakers and media.
Democracy is over in Hong Kong, in other words, and has been for some time now. What Beijing is currently in is a mop-up mode, as it looks to take the vice it has built around the city-state and spin the tightening lever. China’s actions have made any designation of Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region an absolute punchline, including at present when China is busy arresting more pro-democracy cultural icons, including a popular musician, Denise Ho.
Cantopop star and prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Denise Ho was arrested at her home on Wednesday morning by the city’s national security police.
She was one of six people arrested in an early morning operation, all linked to online media organization Stand News. Police later confirmed at a news conference that a seventh person had been arrested. They have been accused by police of “conspiracy to publish seditious material,” a colonial-era crime.
Ho, a former Stand News board member, was born in Hong Kong but grew up in Canada. She found fame in the early 2000s with a string of hit albums, before later building a successful career as an actress.
In addition to this raid, Chinese authorities raided the Stand News offices in a wild show of force. Hundreds of officers descended on the operation, all under the cover of the relatively new National Security Law passed in 2020 that seemed specifically designed to erase freedoms in Hong Kong. Perhaps the most surprising part of this story is how long it took for China to take this action against Ho. She is a gay, pro-democracy advocate who has regularly participated in protests and marches, all with a large following thanks to her musical and acting careers. In other words, she is absolutely a sensible target for a Chinese government intent on playing thought police over the city.
Her activism has also drawn other repercussions over the years — including being blacklisted and censored in mainland China.
Chinese state media has attacked Ho as “Hong Kong poison” in previous years. In 2016, amid criticism of Ho from Beijing, luxury brand Lancome canceled a promotional concert featuring the star, citing “safety reasons.”
But it’s the rest of the world’s collective shoulder shrug that is the issue here. Why is China continuing to take these actions? Because the rest of the world is not de-incentivizing those actions, of course. That we’re all sitting back and allowing this to happen without even putting up a fight is and will be a stain on the democracies of the world. That the world let things get this far in the first place without any real pushback, all the more.
Democracy is over in Hong Kong because, in part, we sat back and watched it die. Shame on all of us.