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Hong Kong activists plan parliament in exile after China security law

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  • A prominent Hong Kong activist says he is planning a “parliament in exile” after China imposed an ominous national security law.
  • Simon Cheng, a campaigner and former British consulate employee in Hong Kong, told Reuters “a shadow parliament can send a very clear signal to Beijing.”
  • The security law gives China new powers to arrest and deport dissenters in Hong Kong. It followed a year of pro-democracy protests.
  • In response, activists have deleted their social media, disbanded political groups, and even fled the country.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A leading Hong Kong pro-democracy campaigner says activists are planning a “parliament in exile,” after China imposed a new national security law on Tuesday.

In the aftermath, activists deleted their social media, disbanded their political groups, and fled the city, fearing retribution.

Simon Cheng, a campaigner, and former British consulate employee in Hong Kong, told Reuters that discussions were underway amongst activists to form a parliament outside Hong Kong.

“A shadow parliament can send a very clear signal to Beijing and the Hong Kong authorities that democracy need not be at the mercy of Beijing,” said Cheng, who lives in London.

hong kong protest

People seen running away from tear gas which was fired by police during anti national security bill demonstrations in June 2020.

Alda Tsang / Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images


“We want to set up non-official civic groups that surely reflect the views of the Hong Kong people.”

“We are developing an alternative way to fight for democracy.”

Cheng did not specify who he meant by “we.”

One prominent pro-democracy figure, Nathan Law, said on Wednesday that he had left Hong Kong.

“I don’t know whether I have any possibilities of going back there in the near future,” Law told NPR.

Law said that he felt a responsibility to carry on the fight outside of Hong Kong.

hong kong

A view of Hong Kong.

Bobby Yip/Reuters


“We need to have a voice on the international level with a public figure, so I think it’s time for me to carry that responsibility,” Law said.

Joshua Wong, the founder of pro-democracy youth group Demosisto, has remained in Hong Kong. “In the future, we will continue our fight and never surrender,” he tweeted, while wishing Law well in exile.

The new national security law means that anything deemed by police as “separatism, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference” in Hong Kong is now the remit of Beijing.

The law was a response to a year of protests. First over an extradition bill, and then over the national security law.

The UK, which ruled Hong Kong for some 150 years until 1997, offered three million Hong Kongers a path to British citizenship this week.

Australia, Germany, the US, and others, have expressed a willingness to welcome those wanting to flee Hong Kong. 

China has threatened a response.

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