July 26, 2021

words from Hong Kongers who chose exile in the United Kingdom

By Cécile Ducourtieux

Posted today at 04:06

Raymond, Agnès and their two young children braved the greyness, this Sunday, June 27, to join, at Picadilly Circus, in the heart of London, the demonstration in tribute to Apple Daily, the last daily critical of the Chinese regime, forced to close five days earlier in Hong Kong. Like dozens of compatriots, this Hong Kong couple takes selfies holding up a 4-page, in Cantonese and English, recalling the epic of the newspaper, considered one of the last ramparts against Beijing’s authoritarian hold on the territory, former British colony ceded by London to China in 1997.

“It was the least we could do, explains the couple, settled in the United Kingdom since December 2020. We don’t have a job yet, but we have found accommodation in Kingston [dans le sud-est de Londres], it is cheaper than in the center. And also schools for children, that’s what matters most ”, says Agnès. “We left to prevent them from being brainwashed the government is instituting in schools. We don’t want that for them. In Hong Kong, you can no longer speak freely in the street, nor demonstrate like that ”, Raymond adds, pointing to the other demonstrators.

At Piccadilly Circus, in London, during a demonstration of solidarity with the Hong Kong newspaper

A few meters away, Hong, in his forties, carries her little boy on his shoulders. He also arrived a few months ago, with his family, he too refuses “Beijing Brainwashing in Hong Kong Schools”. The father has already landed a job “In new technologies, it was not too complicated to find”. It was these reasons again – securing a future in a free country for his 7-year-old son, which prompted Richard Lee to choose expatriation six months ago: “Authorities force children to love the Communist Party.”

Read also In Hong Kong, two journalists from the “Apple Daily” indicted by the courts after a search of the editorial staff

Richard holds the last copy of the daily, published Thursday, June 24, after the arrest of his management team. He is a former journalist of theApple Daily. “I stayed there for twenty-five years, we had survived so much. If I had not left, I would risk being arrested too ”, he sighs. The ex-journalist is “Ready to accept any job, at least here, we have the freedom”.

Young arrivals and graduates

Hong, Richard, Agnès and Raymond all obtained the “BNO visa” (British national overseas), this right of residence allowing, after five years, to claim British nationality. It was announced by Boris Johnson’s government a year ago on 1is July 2020. At the time, the national security law, making it possible to suppress any protest movement in Hong Kong, had just been imposed by Beijing, in defiance of the treaty to return the territory to China, based on the principle of ” one country two systems ”, supposed to preserve the pluralist regime in Hong Kong for fifty years.

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