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Jun 7, 2024, 12:01pm EDT
East Asia
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Semafor Signals

Hong Kong arrests three people in intensifying crackdown on dissent

Insights from Hong Kong Free Press, Nikkei Asia, and Semafor

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Fans cheering during Hong Kong’s World Cup qualifier against Iran.
Tyrone Siu/Reuters
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The News

Three people were arrested in Hong Kong after allegedly disrespecting China’s national anthem, marking the city’s latest crackdown on dissent.

The two men and one woman were accused of turning their backs to the field or failing to rise during the anthem’s broadcast at a soccer World Cup qualifier against Iran, the South China Morning Post reported.

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Since pro-democracy protests erupted in the city in 2019, Beijing has intensified control over the territory, drawing condemnation for curtailing freedoms.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

A trend of arrests at Hong Kong sports events over national anthem

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Sources:  
Hong Kong Free Press, Amnesty International

Hong Kong has often cracked down on dissent during sporting events as part of a 2020 law that criminalizes “insulting” the Chinese national anthem. Earlier this year, a man was arrested on similar charges during a volleyball match, Hong Kong Free Press noted. Amnesty International’s China director criticized the most recent arrests, saying it was yet another case in the city where “a thoroughly peaceful act of protest is met with a heavy-handed police response.” She noted these were the latest in a series of arrests under the new Beijing-inspired national security law “that increasingly depict Hong Kong as a police state.”

Pro-democracy Chinese intellectuals decamp to Japan in a repeat of history

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Source:  
Nikkei Asia

Beijing’s clampdown on freedoms has pushed pro-democracy Chinese residents to migrate to Japan. “The trend might reflect how difficult life can be in China, home to an extreme surveillance society and stagnated economy,” Nikkei’s former China bureau chief Katsuji Nakazawa wrote. Many of the Chinese residents who migrate to the capital of Tokyo are prominent intellectuals, journalists, and businesspeople, Nakazawa noted, mirroring history: Tokyo was the base for revolutionaries who ended up overthrowing the Qing Dynasty in 1911 to create the Republic of China.

Hong Kong is at an economic crossroads

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Sources:  
Semafor, Nikkei Asia

Hong Kong is struggling to balance maintaining its status as a top destination for global companies with proving its loyalty to mainland China, Semafor’s Liz Hoffman wrote earlier this year. Foreign businesses fled in the wake of COVID-19 restrictions, and were further spooked by the recent passing of the national security law; the number of US-based companies with regional headquarters in Hong Kong dropped to 214 in 2023 from 282 in 2020. However, the city’s top securities regulator didn’t share concerns of “doom and gloom.” Even as US businesses are pulling out, Singaporean and Swiss banks are ramping up hiring in Hong Kong and setting up new bases there, Nikkei reported.

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