Because of its colonial past, the UK has a duty to help residents of Hong Kong

hong kong march
Thousands take part in a pro-democracy march in Hong Kong on June 4, 2020.

  •  Many of China’s oppressive policies in Hong Kong are facilitated by laws introduced by Britain.
  • The British government has failed to acknowledge the role its colonial legacy has played in the persecution of Hongkongers today.
  • A new visa scheme giving Hongkongers a path to UK citizenship is a good start – but it doesn’t go nearly far enough.
  • Jason Reed is the UK liaison at Young Voices.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

In 2019, the government of Hong Kong proposed a bill that allowed the extradition of Hong Kong citizens to mainland China for trial. The bill set off months of protests, and eventually the Chinese government responded with a stricter measure that allowed for arrests of anyone in Hong Kong who voiced political dissent. 

In doing so, the Hong Kong and Chinese governments effectively ended the ‘one country, two systems’ framework, and subjected Hong Kong’s residents to the dictatorial rule of the Chinese Communist Party.

The sweeping national security law paved the way for a fascistic crackdown, with several high-profile pro-democracy figures arrested. Now, with every week that passes, there is a new, tragic case of a brave soul speaking out against Beijing and finding themselves locked away.

One recent example is radio DJ Edmund Wan Yiu-sing. “Giggs”, as he is better known, is charged with four counts of “doing an act with a seditious intention”. In other words, the Chinese government believes that Wan used his media platform to stir hatred and contempt against the authorities – although it has not offered any details of what “seditious” things he is alleged to have said.

Wan’s case is notable for a troubling reason. He was not charged under the national security law, or any other hurried new legislation from the last couple of years designed to quash brewing unease among pro-democracy activists. Instead, he was charged under the Crimes Ordinance, which has not been amended since 1972, when Hong Kong was still under British colonial rule. For a first offence on this charge, Wan could end up with a fine of HK$5,000 and two years in jail.

Last year, a group of British members of Parliament – all members of the governing Conservative Party – formed the China Research Group to campaign on issues relating to Hong Kong, and other China-adjacent areas of foreign policy. While their efforts have been admirable in drawing attention to China’s atrocities and forcing the government’s hand on matters of diplomacy, there has so far been a lack of appreciation of the role Britain has played in laying the foundations in Hong Kong for the oppression we are seeing today.

Imperial remnants

The Wan case is not the first time colonial-era British laws have been used to malicious ends by the CCP-controlled Hong Kong government. For instance, in April of last year, in an extraordinary indication of the disdain the ruling regime feels for those who speak out against it, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam doubled down on a ban on face masks which had been introduced in October of the previous year.

Lam even went to court to defend her right to prevent dissenters from covering their faces, despite the raging coronavirus pandemic, thanks to another colonial-era British law. The law in question – the Emergency Regulations Ordinance – was introduced in 1922 to combat strikes by Chinese fishermen who were protesting against their pitiful wages. It was passed in a single day with minimal scrutiny, and it remains on the statute book, with appalling consequences a century later.

Unlike the CCP’s genocidal campaign against the Uighur ethnic minority in the country’s Xinjiang province, where Beijing claims nothing of note is taking place, the Chinese Communist Party likes to draw the world’s attention to its deeds in Hong Kong. It is as if the CCP is taunting Britain, the region’s former ruler. For instance, it released a statement via state propaganda channels last July urging the UK to ‘abandon the illusion of continuing its colonial influence’ there.

So while the Chinese government makes out as though it is rescuing Hongkongers from the grip of its British imperial overlords by oppressing them and reneging on its international commitments, it is in fact making use of the legacy of British rule in Hong Kong for its own dictatorial purposes. This fact ought to be acknowledged in the UK, and it should inform the UK’s response to China’s aggression in the region.

Last month, after the governments of China and Hong Kong said that they would no longer recognize British National Overseas (BNO) passports as valid travel documents, the British government implemented a new visa scheme, granting Hong Kong residents a path to UK citizenship. This is a good start, but in light of the above, it plainly does not go far enough.

Hongkongers, through no fault of their own, are caught in the middle of a deeply unpleasant diplomatic divorce between the UK and China. They are stuck under the thumb of an abusive parent and it is Britain’s duty to do everything in its power to help them upend and relocate their lives to the UK, even if that means embracing radical ideas. Half-measures will not suffice. Britain is Hongkongers’ only safe refuge now – they must be made to feel welcome.

Jason Reed is a policy analyst and political commentator. He is the UK liaison at Young Voices. Jason writes for the Times (of London), the Independent, the Telegraph, and many other outlets.

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Trump is now more isolated than ever as his administration is in its last gasps, but the wheels of the democracy he sought to destroy keep turning

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump.

  • The violence and disruption that ensued in Washington, DC, on Wednesday was unlike anything seen in modern US history: crowds of people marching through the halls of Congress, waving Trump flags, ransacking lawmakers’ offices, and planting MAGA hats on historic statues.
  • It was, though, in some ways a natural consequence of President Donald Trump’s chaotic four years in office, and a manifestation of his relentless attacks on American democracy.
  • The violence that erupted at the US Capitol was unprecedented and disturbing, but also entirely predictable — and ultimately won’t stop Trump’s term from coming to an end. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

One of the central pillars of American democracy withstood a devastating blow on Wednesday when an angry mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters converged on the Capitol building in Washington, DC, and, in relatively short order, breached its barricades, shattered its windows, and stormed in.

The violence and disruption that ensued was unlike anything seen in modern US history: crowds of people fanning out and marching through the halls of Congress, waving Trump flags, ransacking lawmakers’ offices, and planting MAGA hats on historic statues.

One intruder took a seat at the dais where Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been conducting the business of certifying the electoral votes that will confirm President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the next administration to assume the White House. He stood with a clenched fist, in a stance that’s become common amongst hardcore Trump acolytes. 

The unrest followed a rally at a DC park where thousands of people supporting Trump and his crusade to delegitimize Biden’s victory showed up to hear the president speak. Trump has stubbornly rejected the reality that he lost the election to Biden, and he only leaned further into that rhetoric Wednesday morning, even as the House and Senate prepared to execute their duties under federal law, just two miles away.

Political worlds collide

Lawmakers tasked with counting the electoral votes for each state had only managed to get through two of them, Alabama and Alaska, before a handful of Republicans launched into their planned objections to the states Biden won. But the digression didn’t last long before the Capitol went into lockdown. Secret Service agents swept Pence out of the room; Pelosi, other lawmakers, and congressional aides were rushed away to secure locations.

At least four people died, including a woman who was shot inside the Capitol. Residential neighborhoods surrounding the riot were placed on lockdown. A suspected pipe bomb was found near a building occupied by the Republican National Committee. The DC National Guard was deployed, and National Guard troops from Virginia were sent to help.

In the ensuing hours, the culmination of Trump’s four years in office unfolded in a dramatic, and yet ultimately unsurprising way. Years of the president’s unapologetic rhetorical attacks against democratic institutions and governance were manifested in the explicit and destructive actions of his supporters.

Trump’s Republican colleagues have long tolerated and appeased his bombast in the name of partisan expediency, but after the insurrection on Wednesday, the strong rebukes Trump received from some people within his own party may signal the true end to his grip on power.

A disparate law-enforcement response

The standoff between pro-Trump agitators and police stretched into the night in the District of Columbia, even after a 6 p.m. curfew imposed by Mayor Muriel Bowser went into effect. Protesters lingered and shouted at the police as they moved the crowds away from the Capitol building.

Police said they made at least 30 arrests, according to the Associated Press, prompting comparisons to the law-enforcement response seen months earlier during Black Lives Matter protests where peaceful demonstrators were tear gassed, brutalized, and arrested in far greater numbers.

At the end of the day, the picture was clear. Years of Trump’s allies insisting that his divisive rhetoric be taken seriously but not literally, and the argument that his fiercest supporters are patriots who are simply passionate about America, came unglued. And police did not appear as ready or eager to douse the flames.

World leaders react in dismay, the president punts

Reactions to the unrest on Wednesday were swift, and they stretched far beyond Washington’s political bubble. Top Republicans and Democrats rejected the savagery. Vice President Mike Pence said, “We condemn the violence that took place here in the strongest possible terms … We grieve the loss of life in these hallowed halls, as well as the injuries suffered by those who defended our Capitol today.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell, once a strong ally to Trump, went further: “The United States Senate will not be intimidated. We will not be kept out of this chamber by thugs, mobs, or threats.”

Former President Barack Obama said the violence at the Capitol was “incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election,” calling Trump’s actions “a great dishonor and shame for our nation.” Former President George W. Bush called the insurrection “sickening and disheartening,” and added, “This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic.”

Trump’s former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis offered a bleak assessment of the soon-t0-be former president’s future: “Trump will deservedly be left a man without a country,” he said.

World leaders lamented the scenes playing out on screens around the globe. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called it “disgraceful.” Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “I think the American democratic institutions are strong, and hopefully everything will return to normal shortly.”

Ireland’s minister for defense and foreign affairs, Simon Coveney, said: “We must call this out for what it is: a deliberate assault on Democracy by a sitting President & his supporters, attempting to overturn a free & fair election.”

In contrast, Trump tweeted hollow pleas for peace to his 88 million-plus followers, asking them to “remain peaceful,” and “respect the law.” The messages were seen as lukewarm, with Trump weaving platitudes like, “We love you,” and “You’re very special” into his remarks.

Members of Trump’s own inner circle publicly urged him to go further, but he resisted, staying true to his refusal to strongly condemn anyone who supports him, even if there is violence and bloodshed. One of the first examples of this came in 2017, in the midst of the deadly Charlottesville riots.

Trump’s former chief of staff Mick Mulvaney pleaded with him on Twitter at the height of Wednesday’s chaos: “The President’s tweet is not enough. He can stop this now and needs to do exactly that. Tell these folks to go home.”

It didn’t work. Trump followed up his Twitter statements with a video that rehashed his lies that he won the 2020 election. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pulled down the president’s video and the social media outlets temporarily locked his accounts.

The wheels of the US government keep turning, but Trump’s future is uncertain

Despite the relentless chipping away of democratic norms during the Trump presidency, the wheels of the US government kept turning, as lawmakers reconvened on the Senate floor late Wednesday night to continue counting electoral votes that will inevitably certify Biden’s clear victory in the presidential election.

But the last two weeks of Trump’s presidency are less clear. Multiple news reports of internal deliberations about how to deal with the outgoing president circulated in the hours following the attempted coup.

Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar said she would draw up new articles of impeachment. Rep. Cori Bush called on the House of Representatives to investigate whether lawmakers had “violated their oath of office to uphold the Constitution” and should face sanctions or removal.

And the specter of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office loomed larger than ever, one of the clearest signs yet that Trump is an imminent threat to the country he was elected to lead.

In a presidency that has prided itself in its appetite for chaos, Trump is getting what he wanted, but the long-term damage to America’s standing in the world may be costlier than anyone can quantify.

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Photos show the aftermath of an unprecedented destructive siege on the US Capitol Building that left one rioter dead

US Capitol Building riots
The aftermath of riots at the US Capitol Building.

  • The US Capitol Building was vandalized during a riot by supporters of President Donald Trump.
  • Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office was broken into with protesters writing “we will not back down” and one rioter taking a piece of her mail.
  • One person was killed during the riot and others were injured. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The nation’s capital entered mandatory curfew at 6 p.m. today following a never-before-seen siege on the US Capitol Building that saw rioters break into the during a joint session of Congress and clash with federal police who attempted to hold them back. Protests surrounding the certification of the Electoral College quickly turned violent as supporters of President Donald Trump descended upon Congress following the president’s speech near the White House.

Law enforcement agencies from around the capital including the United States Secret Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation arrived at the Capitol after the riots were underway. The neighboring states of Maryland and Virginia also sent National Guard and state police across the border into the District to assist. 

The siege left at least one person dead by gunshot, law enforcement officials told NBC News and the Washington Post, as well as countless injured. Law enforcement officials guarding the congressional chambers drew their weapons as rioters attempted to enter while pepper spray and tear gas were deployed. 

The Capitol itself also sustained damage as rioters broke windows and climbed scaffolding to gain entry. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office was also vandalized. 

Here’s what the US Capitol Building looked like after rioters failed to overturn the 2020 US election.

Protests quickly escalated to riots and pepper spray was used to block access into the building. The orange liquid now stains the Capitol walls.

US Capitol Building riots
The aftermath of riots at the US Capitol Building.

US Capitol Police officers were forced to clean their eyes with water after tear gas and pepper spray was deployed.

US Capitol Building riots
The aftermath of riots at the US Capitol Building.

Rioters broke windows to gain access to the Capitol Building, with some entering and exiting unscathed by law enforcement.

US Capitol Building riots
The aftermath of riots at the US Capitol Building.

Countless broken windows like these can now be found around the building.

US Capitol Building riots
The aftermath of riots at the US Capitol Building.

Security installations were rushed and the US Capitol Police was often overwhelmed since the rioters numbered in the hundreds.

US Capitol Building riots
The aftermath of riots at the US Capitol Building.

Pelosi’s office was one target of the rioters, who left a note saying “we will not back down” in all capital letters.

US Capitol Building riots
The aftermath of riots at the US Capitol Building.

Her office was further vandalized with rioters breaking mirrors.

US Capitol Building riots
The aftermath of riots at the US Capitol Building.

One rioter sat at Pelosi’s desk and kicked his feet up.

Pelosi office
A supporter of US President Donald Trump sits inside the office of US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as he protests inside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021

He was later photographed seemingly unscathed outside of the Capitol with a piece of Pelosi’s mail.

US Capitol Building riots
The aftermath of riots at the US Capitol Building.

Multiple nooses were erected outside the Capitol.

US Capitol Building riots
The aftermath of riots at the US Capitol Building.

Protesters erected a figure labeled “traitor” with a noose and its neck.

trump supporters protest capitol washington dc election noose traitor maga
A demonstrator holds a mannequin wearing a noose with “Traitor” written on it during a protest at the Washington Monument in Washington, DC, on, Jan. 6, 2021.

Media cameras were also destroyed and a noose was made from the cable wires.

US Capitol Building riots
The aftermath of riots at the US Capitol Building.

By the time day turned to night, at least one person had been killed in the siege.

US Capitol Building riots
The aftermath of riots at the US Capitol Building.

Read More: Woman shot dead after armed Trump supporters stormed the Capitol as lawmakers gathered to certify Biden’s win

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The largest police union in the US, which endorsed Trump in September, called on the president to ‘forcefully’ put an end to his supporters’ Capitol siege

Fraternal Order of Police, Patrick Yoes, Trump
Patrick Yoes, President of the National Fraternal Order of Police, endorsed Donald Trump in September.

  • The largest police union in the US has called on Trump to “forcefully urge” extremists to leave the US Capitol.
  • The National Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Trump in the 2020 election.
  • “Lawlessness is not how Americans affect change in our great country,” union President Patrick Yoes wrote.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Patrick Yoes, president of the National Fraternal Order of Police, called on President Donald Trump to urge the pro-Trump extremists to leave the US Capitol building.

Yoes said in an emailed statement that the actions in Washington, DC, demonstrate how critical law enforcement are to public safety.

“Without the protection afforded to us by our men and women in blue, our society cannot function,” he wrote in the statement.

“We also call on President Trump to forcefully urge these demonstrators to stop their unlawful activity, to stand down, and to disperse,” he added. “The actions of some of these demonstrators are endangering our elected officials, Congressional staff, ordinary citizens, and the law enforcement officers on the scene.”

Shortly after 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, a group of pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol building, forcing the evacuation of Vice President Mike Pence, members of Congress, their staff, and press.

The extremists stole and damaged government property, and members of law enforcement were injured.

It took four hours for law enforcement to secure the Capitol.

Yoes, who leads the largest police union in the nation, has been a staunch Trump supporter.

In September, the union endorsed Trump.

“President Trump has shown time after time that he supports our law enforcement officers and understands the issues our members face every day,” said Yoes said at the time. “The FOP is proud to endorse a candidate who calls for law and order across our nation.”

In his statement on Wednesday, Yoes called the scene at the Capitol building heartbreaking and commended the work of the US Capitol Police, DC Metro Police, US Park Police, and other responding agencies.

“Lawlessness is not how Americans affect change in our great country,” the statement said. 

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Fox News anchor called Trump supporters breaching US Capitol ‘a huge victory for these protesters’

dc maga protest
Protesters interact with Capitol Police inside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump.

  • Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum called the rioters who broke into Capitol Hill Wednesday “a huge victory for these protesters.”
  • Thousands of Trump supporters gathered in Washington, DC to protest the Electoral College vote to certification. 
  • But the electoral vote certification debate was halted after rioters breached security, causing all Capitol buildings to be put on lockdown. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum called Trump supporters who breached police barricades and caused a lockdown at the US Capitol Wednesday “a huge victory for these protesters.”

“They have disputed the system in an enormous way,” MacCallum said referring to the rioters, who halted the electoral vote certification debate,  left multiple officers injured

 

Thousands of supporters gathered in Washington, DC for the “March for Trump” demonstration on Wednesday morning to rally against Congress as they debate the 2020 general election results after weeks of the president’s baseless claims stating that he won. 

Videos captured protesters’ standoff with law enforcement and rioters rushing into the Capitol building prompting immediate evacuation for lawmakers and reporters. Other representatives were asked to shelter in place. 

 

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a 6p.m citywide curfew until Thursday morning.

“Durin the hours of the curfew, no person, other than persons designated by the Mayor shall walk, bike, run, loiter, stand, or motor by ar or other transports upon any street, alley, park or other public place within the District,”  Bowser said in a statement. 

Trump, who spoke at the rally before Congress convened, eventually called for his supporters to “remain peaceful,” but officials called for a stronger denouncement of the rioters. 

“No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the law and our great men and woman in Blue. Thank you!.”

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Clashes broke out between Trump supporters, Proud Boys, counter-protesters, and police after thousands gathered in DC to contest the election results

dc protest clash
Members of the Proud Boys and counter-protesters stand off near Black Lives Matter Plaza on December 12, 2020 in Washington, DC.

  • Clashes broke out between protesters, counter-protesters, and police following a day of pro-Trump rallies in Washington DC on Saturday.
  • The DC mayor’s office said at least 23 arrests were made and at least eight people were hospitalized, local Fox 5 DC reported.
  • Two days before the electoral college vote is expected to solidify President-elect Joe Biden’s win, thousands demonstrated in support of President Donald Trump earlier on Saturday.
  • Hundreds of members of the far-right Proud Boys were in attendance and were seen facing off with black-clad counter-protesters and vandalizing “Black Lives Matter” flags.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Clashes broke out between protesters, counter-protesters, and police on Saturday night, leaving multiple injuries and nearly two dozen arrests following a day of pro-Trump rallies in Washington, DC.

Two days before the electoral college vote is expected to solidify President-elect Joe Biden’s win, thousands demonstrated in support of President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the election.

The march was largely made up of people who defended the president’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud and refused to acknowledge that Biden won the election.

Hundreds of members of the Proud Boys were in attendance as well, and could be seen in videos marching while chanting “fuck antifa.” The far-right group is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

 

Later in the evening, pro-Trump protesters and Proud Boys clashed with black-clad counter-protesters near Black Lives Matter Plaza and other areas of DC. The Washington Post reported at least six people were arrested during the protests earlier on Saturday.

The DC mayor’s office said at least 23 arrests were made related to the protests, and at least eight people were hospitalized, local Fox 5 DC reported. Two of those hospitalized were reportedly police officers.

Videos shared on social media showed the confrontations between the groups, as well as police intervening and people being arrested.

Other video showed members of the Proud Boys pulling down, tearing, or burning “Black Lives Matter” signs.

 

The pro-Trump rally occured one day after the Supreme Court rejected a bid to overturn the election results. It was the latest in a string of defeats for the Trump campaign and other Republican officials who have mounted a flurry of legal challenges to no avail.

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