Beijing is already setting its sights on reunifying Taiwan with mainland China in a move which would surely provoke a major international crisis, the man, who is a veteran pro-democracy demonstrator in Hong Kong, has predicted. The former British colony has been the scene of tumultuous protests in recent months – although they have largely stopped since the passing of controversial security laws earlier this year, Jack, who is aged in his twenties and who has lived in Hong Kong all his life, told Express.co.uk.
He added: “We can’t say for sure, but if China gets what it wants in Hong Kong, Taiwan could be next.
“Chinese state media like People’s Daily and Global Times have repeatedly stressed the need to ‘reunify’ Taiwan, often to divert attention from China’s internal problems.
“Under Xi’s leadership, China is tending to become increasingly ambitious.”
Asked why people in the UK, several thousand miles away, should care about the situation, Jack explained: “Yes it’s true Hong Kong is far away but culturally we are definitely more distant from China.
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A protester has tear gas washed from her eyes last year
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“The communist party’s encroachment on our rule of law, free speech and cultural identity could be a warning to the rest of the free world.
“Already from Huawei’s alleged collection of personal data, we can see signs of Chinese ambitions threatening the UK’s security.
“We hope the world would stop appeasing China before it’s too late.”
Jack has been tear-gassed on a number of occasions and has also witnessed others being brutally beaten by police officers with batons.
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A protester is beaten by men in white t-shirts on July 21 last year
He explained: “Regarding the tear gas experience, it usually starts with difficulty in breathing, and an irritated throat as soon as you see the smoke in a distance.
“If you are unlucky enough to be caught within the smoke, you are guaranteed to cry involuntarily and have a runny nose for the next 10 minutes or so. The symptoms ease as one’s tolerance builds up.
He added: “On the few occasions when I was on the frontline, I saw riot police charging at us and clamping people onto the ground with their shields.
“Once, I was lucky enough to outrun them but another lady got caught.
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A policeman aims a canister of tear gas in Hong Kong last year
A mob beats a pro-democracy campaigner on July 21, 2019
“When I looked back, she lying on the ground, surrounded by 4+ officers, vigorously beating her with their batons. I don’t know what happened to her after that.”
Jack believes many in the West simply do not fully appreciate the grim reality of the situation, despite shocking footage of clashes which has been featured on the news regularly since last year.
He said: “I think the most violent part of the protest would be what many of us suspect had happened to the arrested.
“A famous case would be the death of Chan Yin-lam, a member of her school’s diving team, who was found naked, floating in the sea.
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“There have also been numerous videos circulating of unconscious people being pushed down from apartment buildings starting from September.
“The official suicide rate went up by 15 percent from the previous year. Many suggest the police have a part in this.”
With respect to the protests themselves, he added: “Mass protests virtually stopped after the law’s implementation on 1 July, when China sent their team over and set up an office in Metropark Hotel.
“It could also be due to the new coronavirus outbreak but people generally feel it’s no longer effective to come to the streets and risk having more arrests and disappearances.
A pro-democracy demonstrator shows injuries inflicted during clashes with police
“At this point, China’s actions in Hong Kong are becoming more draconian.
“Already, students are getting arrested for NS offences and the general election has been postponed by a year, apparently due to the new COVID outbreak.
“International retaliation, led by the US and the UK have given people hope, but the general consensus is that Hong Kong will go through a period of grimmer economic and political prospects before things get better.”
Jack is not the man’s real name – Express.co.uk has agreed to protect his true identity for his own safety.