The book is full of pertinent, mournful reflections on how mainland China continues to tighten its grip on the freedoms held so dear by the Hong Kong community. The author begins with a vital question: “How did a beacon of prosperity and freedom, a city of peaceful rallies where fathers stood vigil with their school-age children, find itself transformed into a place of firebombing and tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition?”
The author begins in 2014 with the Occupy Central movement, which, after initially dying down, regained momentum in the summer of 2019 following the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4. Soon after, writes the author, the government, “angered at its inability to bring Hong Kong to heel and convinced that Western plots to overthrow China lay at the roots of the protests, responded by ushering in an ominous new phase with the July 1, 2020 imposition of a draconian National Security Law and subsequent arrests of dozens of leaders of the democracy movement.”
The author believes these crackdowns are reminiscent of the violent practices embraced during the Cultural Revolution of Mao Zedong, when neighbor turned against neighbor, student against teacher. In addition to a potent personal narrative, the author widens his scope to encompass the larger-scale, nefarious intentions of Beijing to maintain control over its satellites.
The government’s methods have included efforts to tamp down Hong Kong’s Cantonese speakers and to lock down the film industry via censorship and plot alterations. An agile observer and diligent journalist, the author leads us through Hong Kong’s fraught modern history in relation to the striving for democratic freedoms, and he reveals many stark consequences brought about by the suppression of its spirit. The book is an intimate, eye-opening chronicle that should serve as an alarm to fragile democratic republics around the world. TW
You can also check fire & steel