Mass arrests. Newspaper raids. Banned protests. Exiled politicians. A curriculum designed to brainwash.
China has spent decades fine-tuning its playbook on how best to snuff out dissent and rewrite history. Now, Beijing has unleashed those tactics on Hong Kong.
And it’s all happening under the sweeping new National Security Law – a law imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong exactly a year ago that criminalises vaguely defined crimes of subversion, secession, terrorism, and foreign collusion, punishable by up to life in prison.
In a new four-part podcast, Hong Kong Silenced, The Telegraph documents how life has changed for Hong Kongers in the past year.
Pro-democracy politicians and activists such as Ted Hui and Nathan Law have fled the city, seeking asylum in countries including the UK, US and Australia. Many of their peers, including well-known activist Joshua Wong and moderate politicians such as Claudia Mo, have found themselves denied bail and been left shuffling between courtrooms and jail.
Hong Kong’s most popular tabloid, Apple Daily, has been shut down and it’s founder, Jimmy Lai, an outspoken critic of Beijing’s authoritarianism, locked up. Some of the newspaper’s journalists have been barred from leaving the city, creating a chilling effect on the media industry
Civil servants are required to pledge loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party – those that refuse are deemed unfit for service.
Teachers, lawyers, business leaders are now fearful that what they say in public and in private could be used against them. Even regular people – minding their business, raising their children, and holding down their jobs – have been scared into silence.
In just one year, the law has created a “human rights emergency” and put Hong Kong on a rapid path to becoming a police state, warns Amnesty International.
But this is also a story about China, a rising global superpower, how its government views ideas such as democracy and human rights, and what happens to those who challenge it.
The Telegraph spent months speaking with Hong Kong people from all walks of life – a mother worried for her children’s future; an activist who narrowly escaped arrest; a journalist who self censors for his own safety; a politician who went into self-imposed exile; a young protester weighing whether to stay or leave.
Their stories chart how a once-glittering global business hub quickly lost its treasured freedoms, and explain what it really means when Hong Kong people say their beloved city is now becoming ‘just’ another part of China..
Follow their journeys in this four-part documentary podcast, set against the dramatic score of what Hong Kong used to sound like – filled with dissent, debate and protest – to what it sounds like now – silenced.
Listen to Hong Kong Silenced using the audio player at the top of this article, and subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts or by searching ‘Hong Kong Silenced’ on your podcast app.