The human rights organization Amnesty International announced yesterday (Monday) the closure of its offices in Hong Kong due to lack of freedom of expression. Since the city was forced by the Chinese National Security Act in 2020, which strengthened Beijing’s control, Amnesty International has felt it has become “impossible” to work freely in Hong Kong.
The organization has two offices in Hong Kong: the local office, the Southeast Asia Regional Headquarters and the Pacific Ocean. The first will close on October 31, while the second will close by the end of the year.
Hong Kong is a former British colony that was returned to China in 1997. To this day, they operate according to the proverb: “One country, two systems.” At first he was kept from lack of freedom of expression, and he enjoyed his own legal system. As a result, many nonprofits and media outlets have chosen to establish themselves in Hong Kong as a regional base.
The 2019 Democracy Protests in Hong Kong turned the picture around and led to China’s intervention. Beijing then decided to impose a new national security law, bypassing the local parliament. The law, it said, “would impose sanctions in the event of subversion, segregation, terrorism and cooperation with foreign forces.”
Amnesty International complained that the law was too vague and general. The organization argues that any act can be considered a “threat to national security” under such conditions. For Beijing, this legislation has been hailed as a success and has helped restore stability in Hong Kong. While China is pleased with the implications of the law, Amnesty International believes it has radically changed the political, cultural and legal landscape of Hong Kong.
It is not just Amnesty International that has decided to close: several dozen NGOs and corporations in Hong Kong have closed in recent months for fear of the current regime. The city’s main pro-democracy diary, Apple Daily, also closed in June after its leaders were jailed and its assets frozen.