CECC Report Details the Dismantling of Civil Society in Hong Kong

(Washington)—The Congressional-Executive Commission on China released today a special report, providing first-person accounts of the effects of the Hong Kong government’s efforts to dismantle civil society in Hong Kong since the 2019 demonstrations started against the draft extradition law.

The report, entitled Hong Kong’s Civil Society: From an Open City to a City of Fear, draws on interviews with 42 current and former members of Hong Kong’s civil society and details how the draconian enforcement of the National Security Law crushed democratic institutions and a once vibrant civil society in Hong Kong. The interviews excerpted in the report document how the crackdown transformed Hong Kong, including measures the authorities have taken to silence dissent; the challenges faced by people detained for speaking out against political persecution; the condition of civil society after the forced closure of the most influential independent media outlets and the largest civic organizations; and the implications of this repression for Hong Kong people who have left and for those who have stayed. 

“The National Security Law means the end of political space for civil society organizations,” said Patrick Poon, Visiting Researcher for Comparative Law at Meiji University. “The Chinese Communist Party thinks that it is in a life-and-death struggle with foreign forces in Hong Kong. It is determined to make the civil society collapse.”

“Hong Kong has changed from an open society to one in which people are gripped by fear,” said a professor in Hong Kong who requested anonymity. “And the fear is encompassing.”

Read the full report here and on the CECC’s website.

See also the CECC report Hong Kong Prosecutors Play a Key Role in Carrying Out Political Prosecution and the bipartisan letter from CECC Commissioners asking President Biden to sanction any prosecutor complicit in undermining Hong Kong’s once robust rule of law and the fundamental freedoms guaranteed to Hong Kong residents.