The following is a revised version of the original text:
The Thomson Reuters Foundation reported from London. –
Chung Ching Kwong, unlike many others in their late twenties, does not desire to have any aspect of her life posted on social media.
The safety and freedom of her and her loved ones are in danger.,
Kwong stated that she departed Hong Kong in 2020 to evade detainment for her advocacy for democracy. This decision was made after China implemented a comprehensive national security law.
According to rights groups, the government is using online monitoring to suppress the activism of Hong Kong citizens living abroad as a response to the large number of residents who have left the city since 2020.
In July, authorities in Hong Kong intensified their efforts against eight individuals who oppose the government. Some of these individuals currently live in Australia, Britain, and the U.S. Arrest warrants were issued for them on charges related to national security, with a reward of HK$1 million ($127,876) offered for each arrest.
Activists abroad have reported that they and those in their vicinity are facing a growing need to bolster their online security and practice self-restraint by reducing their social media activity and refraining from public displays online or offline in order to safeguard themselves and their loved ones.
Kwong, who currently resides in Europe, expressed the mental toll of constantly worrying about what information can be gleaned from one’s social media or online activity. This heightened paranoia leads to questioning what others may already know and what topics should be avoided.
Kwong reported being the victim of doxxing, where her personal phone number was shared online, and has also received multiple threats while advocating for pro-democracy causes in Europe last year.
She is concerned about the consequences her family may face and has stopped communicating with her relatives since one of them was interrogated by the authorities last year regarding Kwong’s job.
Kwong, an employee of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, expresses discomfort with the idea that their work could potentially endanger those around them who are not involved in their work..
A representative for the Hong Kong police stated that they will abide by the law and take into consideration the specific circumstances when carrying out any operations.
The government did not provide a response to comment requests.
Anna Kwok had not been well-known among her fellow Hong Kong residents and the local police until last year.
One of the eight activists living outside of Hong Kong has a reward for her arrest. She was singled out for speaking out against human rights abuses in the international financial center following China’s implementation of its national security law.
“Following the announcement of the bounty, I received private messages from individuals in Hong Kong stating that they are no longer able to like or share my posts. They are aware that the government is monitoring online activity and therefore do not want to leave any evidence.”
In 2022, a 26-year-old individual assumed the role of executive director for the Hong Kong Democracy Council, an organization located in the United States that advocates for democracy and has urged for sanctions to be placed on officials in the Hong Kong government, among other initiatives.
Ever since the bounty was declared, Kwok – the only female and youngest person on the list – has reported a significant increase in online harassment, sexual violence threats, and hacking attempts.
Kwok, who departed from the port city in 2020, shared with the Thomson Reuters Foundation that she received numerous types of threats, including messages expressing a desire to sexually assault her.
Due to safety concerns, Kwok stopped communicating with her family. However, she learned from news coverage that her parents in Hong Kong were recently detained and questioned by the police.
INCREASED ONLINE ATTENTION
Maya Wang, the Asia director for Human Rights Watch, stated that the government is resorting to all methods to suppress pro-democracy movements in the overseas community.
According to Wang, residents of Hong Kong are becoming more aware of the increased scrutiny from authorities. In the past, individuals have been cautious about sharing personal information, but now their level of concern and anxiety has risen.
She stated that the authorities are resorting to various methods to reach them, including pressuring families who are still in Hong Kong and monitoring the connections and discussions of individuals in the diaspora.
Beijing has employed comparable methods to monitor young Uyghurs residing abroad who are progressively utilizing social media to advocate against the use of forced labor in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region, where Uyghur Muslims are the predominant minority group.
In the past, Hong Kong was seen as a stronghold of freedoms in close proximity to China. It had its own independent judicial system separate from China, as part of the “one country, two systems” agreement, upon its transfer from British to Chinese control in 1997.
China claims that the implementation of the 2020 national security law in Hong Kong was necessary to bring back stability following widespread pro-democracy demonstrations in 2019. As a result, a majority of the pro-democracy advocates have been imprisoned or forced to leave the city.
Authorities in Hong Kong claim that the implementation of the security law has resulted in stability. They also state that the eight individuals, including Kwok, who are considered to be fleeing, are putting national security at risk by seeking foreign intervention and engaging in other activities.
Kwok expressed her primary concern for the average citizens of Hong Kong, both within and outside the city, who now feel unsafe to engage in activities such as reposting, sharing, or liking pro-democracy content due to the implementation of the security law.
She stated that we could previously assess our number of supporters and determine effective strategies.
However, currently we no longer have access to this indicator as people are hesitant to even like a post. This greatly impairs our ability to accurately gauge the current state of affairs in Hong Kong and the true sentiments of the masses.
Michael is a researcher from Hong Kong.,
Practically all of his choices, whether it be the organizations he is affiliated with, public appearances, or online content, are carefully planned and influenced by the constant awareness that he is being monitored and followed, despite living in Europe.
“This is why self-censorship is sort of annoying and very real. We don’t know where the line is, we have to figure it out for ourselves,” said Michael, who used a pseudonym to protect his identity. “That is part of transnational repression.”
“Attempting to evade infrared is similar to this situation, as it cannot be seen. Oppression is not solely the overt type of oppression. A significant portion of it remains hidden, even when one is outside their home country.” – Reuters