Hong Kong democracy activist Honcques Laus’ book has been added to the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford.
Laus’ book Hing Leun Si Tsing(輕論時政) is a critique of the regimes that currently govern Hong Kong and China. It was published in 2019, written in Cantonese. Hing Leun Si Tsing(輕論時政) covers the politics of Hong Kong and reads of the plight for independence for the state.
Honcques Laus told Eat News, “It could spread Hongkongers’ voice of struggling for freedom to the international community and the academic sphere. It would also increase the number of books written in Cantonese as independent from Chinese, in Oxford. I hope people would understand more deeply the outrageous nature of the tyrannical regimes in Hong Kong and China. And I hope this book will widely spread the voice of the Hong Kong dissident, struggling for civil liberty.”
There are hopes that the text will be now widely read by scholars and students in Oxford, and that it might shine a light on the struggle for freedom from the Chinese Communist Party.
At just 19 years of age, Laus is one of the youngest pro-independence activists to be exiled from Hong Kong. He sought asylum before Hong Kong’s national security law came into force in June last year. After arriving in the UK, Laus applied for political asylum at Heathrow Airport. A decision was expected by January 2021 – however, he told Eat News that this has been delayed by the pandemic.
Since arriving in the UK, Honcques has been lobbying foreign politicians and raising awareness about the situation in his home country. He told us, “I can enjoy my freedom of speech in Britain, hence I’m thankful to be here. Since I’ve asserted freedom of speech, I’ve been allowed to criticise the regimes in Hong Kong and China. At present, I’m wanted under oppressive China’s National Security Law, hence this book can be regarded as a signifier of assertion of freedom of speech.”
Laus says he is currently translating On Liberty by John Stuart Mill MP into Cantonese, to spread British philosophy, and strengthen Hong Kongers’ sense of liberty.
The addition of this book to the Bodleian Library comes just weeks before the news that nearly 30,000 Hongkongers have now applied to permanently live in the UK. The British National Overseas (BNO) scheme is open to 3 million eligible Hongkongers. It would give people the right to live and work for up to five years, with the possibility of becoming a British citizen.
Just 5,000 people applied in the first two weeks of scheme, which was a direct response to China’s national security law, back in January. The number of people applying has only accelerated as Beijing’s control over the city intensifies.
On March 11, the National People’s Congress of China approved the plan to control Hong Kong’s elections – Legislative Council of Hong Kong has now been passed to overhaul the entire electoral system. It will reduce democratic representation and allow a pro-Beijing panel to elect candidates.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Twitter, “China’s latest decision to undermine Hong Kong’s electoral system and stifle democratic voices renders it in ongoing non-compliance with the Sino-British Joint Declaration.”
In a bid to tighten controls over the city, the move has been accelerated as China passes these changes to the electoral rules. The number of directly elected seats in parliament has been cut by almost half, and only “patriotic” figures can run for positions of power.
Benedict Rogers, Hong Kong Watch’s Chief Executive, said in a statement published on March 30, “These amendments to Hong Kong’s electoral system present not just a breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and Hong Kong’s Basic Law but a wholesale rewriting of the rules by Beijing. It is clear that President Xi is not even willing to pay lip-service to the idea of One Country, Two Systems or to China’s international treaty obligation anymore.”
Despite the backlash, Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam is remaining firm that the decision won’t negatively impact democracy. Lam has said that as long as candidates show allegiance to Hong Kong and pass national security checks, they will be allowed to run for election. The first vote under the new rules will be held in December.
Honcques Laus has spoken to Eat News about the decision, saying, “The Chinese Communist Bandit has outrageously violated civil liberty and obstructed every opportunity of democracy in Hong Kong. It is indispensable to impose further and stronger sanctions against the CCP. We, Hongkongers, will practice democracy by ourselves in the Shadow Parliament of Hong Kong.”
The Shadow Parliament exists in parallel to the current political practices of Hong Kong. It seeks to empower and enfranchise people, giving them another avenue to achieve democracy. Whether this will replace the current system is yet unknown, but by its own admission, this is not the goal of the Shadow Parliament.
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