Annie Boyajian, director of advocacy at Freedom House, told Fox News that things in Hong Kong have been developing so rapidly that it is "hard to keep track of all the flagrant violations of rights.
"And things have gotten worse by the day," she said. "Authorities are undertaking an intense and widespread crackdown on pro-democracy voices and expressions of dissent, and there is also widespread self-censorship. As time progresses and Beijing further tightens its grip in Hong Kong, we will see Hong Kong look much more like the mainland, with a greater number of arrests for anything that offends the government or – in the minds of Chinese officials – jeopardizes their grip on power."
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The arrests for "colluding with foreign forces" have been swift.
Prominent rights activist advocates Agnes Chow was apprehended earlier this week, along with pro-democracy media baron Jimmy Lai – as well as two of his sons and four employees. Chow and Lai have since been released on bail, and join the ranks of dozens of others who have been arrested since the law went into effect.
As part of the new law and the guise of national security, Hong Kong police are now permitted to execute search and seizures without a warrant.
Moreover, 12 opposition politicians – including former journalist turned freedom advocate Gwyneth Ho – have also been prohibited from participating in legislative elections, which have now been postponed for at least a year. The city's chief executive, Carrie Lam, citied the coronavirus pandemic as the reason to invoke emergency powers. Murky reasons given for their ban entail "obstructing government proceedings."
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The new law also contains abroad extraterritorial reach – meaning that their laws apply to anyone in the world, even those who have never gone near Hong Kong – and authorities have wasted no time in putting the provision to practice. Samuel Chu, a Hong-Kong born U.S. citizen who is based in Washington and lobbies politicians on issues related to Hong Kong immigration to America and the limitation of Beijing's rule, is now wanted – 6,500 miles away – by his homeland government.
"The arrest of Jimmy Lai was a big deal, clearly meant to chill media freedom and to show no one is above this new law. But charging Samuel Chu, an American citizen living in the U.S., even though, of course, he will never be tried is a bigger deal," said Walter Lohman, director of The Heritage Foundation's Asian Studies Center. "It demonstrates an intention to apply the law exterritoriality and thereby force critics to self-censor."