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EDP MEPs tell us why they chose to fight for Europe

"Languages, cultures, regional differences and local initiatives must be cherished because they are Europe’s strongest asset."

Censorship & human rights in Hong Kong

Panel Hong Kong

2 weeks ago, German MEP Engin Eroglu (Freie Wähler) welcomed three prominent Hong Kong activists, Finn Lau, Glacier Kwong and Ray Wong, as part of the documentary premiere of "Black Bauhinia" and a panel discussion on censorship & human rights in Hong Kong. Overall, the topics ranged from exchanging views on the latest situation in Hong Kong, the activist work from exile in Europe, and China's positioning in the Ukraine war.

Engin Eroglu emphasised not losing sight of the situation in Hong Kong despite Putin's war against Ukraine. "While the world's attention is rightly focused on Putin's illegal invasion and the war against Ukraine, we must not forget the ongoing struggle of the pro-democracy movement and courageous activists in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, there has been a trend for some time that dictators around the world are trying to expand their power, and more and more autocracies are emerging. This sad truth has dangerous consequences - whether in Hong Kong or Ukraine. Today, the ruthless actions of dictators like Putin and China's ruler Xi Jinping are being closely watched. For this reason, it is essential to stand together and isolate autocrats internationally because a fate like the one Ukraine is currently suffering could also befall Hong Kong or Taiwan. Putin's war has shown us once again how quickly an autocratic regime can try to destroy its democratic neighbour. This must be prevented at all costs."

Following China's implementation of the National Security Law (NSL) in Hong Kong in response to massive pro-democracy protests, Chinese influence is increasingly rising, and arbitrary arrests and police violence against civilians are the order of the day. The controversial law reduces Hong Kong's judicial autonomy and makes it easier to punish demonstrators and activists. As a result, Ray Wong, Glacier Kwong and Finn Lau now live in exile in Europe and continue to engage with the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong from abroad. In light of that, Engin Eroglu stressed the importance of their work: "Even though resisting an overpowering dictator often seems like tilting at windmills, there are always people who, even in the face of this oppression, risk their own lives to stand up to those in power. Finn Lau, Glacier Kwong and Ray Wong are three of these courageous activists. Although they continue to fear censorship and persecution by the Chinese government and even contact their families and friends back home is no longer possible, they continue to fight for what they believe in: an independent, autonomous and democratic Hong Kong."

The EU, as well as the individual member states, must do more to support the courage and commitment of these people, says Engin Eroglu: "Ray and Glacier now live in Germany and have told me the difficulties they face in Germany because German authorities register them as Chinese nationals. Their BN(O) passports are not properly registered, although these are British travel documents valid worldwide. The EU Commission should provide assistance to improve the current situation and recognise the special situation of Hong Kong people."

"Through the war in Ukraine, we saw that the EU can act when it responded to Putin's invasion with tough economic sanctions, measures to reduce dependence on Russia and targeted support. For a long time, I have been calling for the extension of sanctions against Chinese officials who trample human rights in Hong Kong. At the same time, we must stop the partially still existing extradition treaties with China, implement a targeted lifeboat policy for Hongkongers and reduce our economic dependence on China. Hong Kong must not suffer the same fate as Ukraine."