June of last year, when the government proposed the Extradition Bill,
which is what kicked this whole thing off, Hong Kongers have been
protesting against what they see as the erosion of their civil and human
rights. Millions of people peacefully took to the streets week after
week, only to be met with violent suppression by the HK police. Of
course after the initial clashes, things escalated over time and turned
into something quite different, more like pitched battles between front
line protestors and riot cops. This went on for months, all coming to a
head when protestors took over the campus of the Polytechnic University
and the police essentially laid siege to the campus.
Covid-19 happened and things cooled down for a bit. But the grievances
were still there, and the government refused to take any responsibility
for the situation – they refused to have an independent inquiry into
police brutality complaints, they continued to pursue ‘rioting’ charges
against protestors which carry long jail sentences. They essentially
made no concessions at all. This brings us to the recent developments,
which have to do with two new laws which are in the process of being
passed. One is the National Anthem Bill, which criminalizes any disrespect to China’s National Anthem, and the other is called the National Security Law.
The Chinese government decided that since the HK government couldn’t
get a National Security Law passed on their own, China would step in and
do it for them. Many see this as a breach of the “one country, two
systems” policy that’s been in place ever since the British handover to
China. The NSL will give sweeping powers to the government and
encompasses activity they deem secessionist and subversive, as well as
foreign interference. The broad language leaves people with concerns
about how this may be applied, and what will be considered subversive.
Will companies who are critical of the Chinese government face
penalties? Will we for writing this? It’s all left intentionally vague
and can include whatever the government decides, which is why people
here are so worried. We recently made a T-shirt with a burning cop car to raise money for charities here and in the US.
Will that be illegal? If so where does that leave us as a brand? With
Covid basically gone from HK, one crisis may have ended, but the other
on is still very much ongoing. With these new laws coming into effect, I
expect we’ll see more protests, more crack downs, and more economic
pain. To be honest, we are still trying to sort out how and what is
going to happen after these events. However, we will continue to use our
platform and voice to support the people and community.
been a tough year here, but the HK people are super resilient and it’s
been amazing to see so many stand up for their rights, even when the
consequences of doing so are so dire. It was definitely hard to get
motivated in the beginning with all of the changes, but during tough
times, a lot of the local artists and communities still find ways to be
creative. Seeing all that has brought a lot of new ideas and we are very
excited to bring those ideas into reality.