By Sophia Monastra
If I wrote this review in Hong Kong, I could be arrested.
During the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) instituted a new national security law over Hong Kong. Anything that the CCP defines as “a national threat” could be deemed dangerous, and citizens of any country could be charged. This definition is left intentionally vague, and the law was reportedly passed before the contents were released. Pictures of Hong Kongers protesting this new and dangerous law sparked public outcry. However, in the middle of American turmoil, the security law and issues relating to Hong Kong have been pushed into the background.
The filmmakers at Action Institutes set out to change that through the documentary, “The Hong Konger.” The film follows the story of China’s takeover of Hong Kong, and the city’s resistance, and intertwines it with the life and actions of businessman turned media tycoon and activist Jimmy Lai.
For years, Hong Kong was the center of free trade, freedom of speech, and order of law. After immigrating from mainland China to Hong Kong, Lai built the successful clothing company, Giordano, from the ground up. He watched as free-market principles brought economic prosperity to China’s economy. In the wake of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, Lai began Next Media and published Apple Daily, a pro-democracy newspaper.
In 1997, Great Britain turned over control of Hong Kong back to China. A policy of “one country, two systems” was instituted, where Hong Kong would be considered part of China, but keep its governmental systems. Hong Kong was granted autonomy for the next fifty years. However, the CCP has already begun to crack down on Hong Kong’s freedoms. Memorials remembering the Tienanmen Square Massacre have been taken down, vigils have been canceled, and potential candidates for Hong Kong elections are screened for “patriotism”.
As Jimmy Lai saw the beginnings of the CCP’s attack on his city, he took action, placing himself at the front of the protests. So far, he’s been arrested three times. His house has been firebombed. His bank accounts have been frozen. He could have left at any time, but he chose to stay. “Choice is freedom,” he says. “Even if they kill me, I will fight to the last day.”
In June 2021, Apple Daily was forcibly closed. Lai is currently in prison, no bail, awaiting trial for China’s anti-sedition law and organizing Tiananmen Square vigils. In 25 years, Hong Kong will officially lose its autonomy; unofficially sooner. The documentary ended with a call to action, encouraging viewers to spread the hashtags #FreeJimmyLai and #FreeHongKong.
Current events never fail to make me feel small in the world. There’s so much that’s wrong, and I’m just one person. I found this documentary challenging, both to watch and think about. Would I be brave enough to give up my resources, my freedom, and my life to preserve liberty? How much does freedom matter to me?
Dr. Jeff Haymond, an organizer of the screening of the film on Cedarville’s campus, brought up the point that “We tend to overestimate the power of social media and underestimate the power of prayer.” Even when things seem out of control, God is on his throne.
“The Hong Konger” was shown at Cedarville on September 13, 2022. The initial screening was limited by the size of the room (BTS 104) and virtually every seat was filled. If you would like to see this, the university would be glad to offer an additional showing given enough student interest. More information can be found at https://thehongkongermovie.com/
Sophia Monastra is a freshman Environmental Science major and writer for Cedars’ Arts and Entertainment section.