Hong Kong, the Great Firewall, and why information and truth are so important

As the Great Firewall descends over Hong Kong, Taiwan must be more conscious than ever of what closer relations with the CCP really means

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(Wikipedia/Pixabay photo)

(Wikipedia/Pixabay photo)

KAOHSIUNG (Taiwan News) — Last October, some relatives took a trip to China.

Predictably, there were two weeks of radio silence while they were there. When they returned, to my considerable amazement, they seemed to be extremely surprised that they had been unable to send messages or share photos on Facebook or LINE.

Like most retired people in Taiwan, they spend a considerable amount of time on social media sharing news stories, memes, and photos. Yet despite being strong advocates of unification with communist China and big fans of Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), in particular, they were apparently oblivious to the fact that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had restricted access to all their favorite social media sites.

Of course, this has long been the case inside China as the CCP seeks to maintain control over the country and its people by restricting their access to information that contradicts the party line and removing any right to voice opposition to their regime.

With the introduction of the CCP’s absurd new "national security law," we are now seeing the so-called Great Firewall being dropped over Hong Kong too.

The CCP can now demand the removal of any online content that poses a threat to "national security," which essentially means content that questions the CCP. Huge fines and long jail sentences are the consequences for anyone deemed to have broken this law.

Surveillance powers have also been dramatically increased, meaning that the authorities in Hong Kong are able to spy on citizens as they please to seek out content that might break this law.

Over the past year, there has been no shortage of articles drawing a comparison between the rapid decline of freedom and rights in Hong Kong and what can be expected in Taiwan if this country goes down the route long espoused by the KMT and builds closer relations with China.

But for the minority of (largely older) people in Taiwan who still espouse such a position, it is so important to understand the consequences — and these do include the removal of access to their favorite social media sites.

For many younger people, who can see the evils of the CCP regime all too clearly, seeing so many in the older generations arguing for Taiwan to become subservient to it is a great curiosity.

This is the generation that lived under the military dictatorship of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣中正) and the 38 years of martial law enacted by him and his successors. They have experienced the curfews, the restrictions on free speech, and the brutal crackdowns on those that opposed the regime.

This is also the generation that fought for many years to bring democracy and freedom to Taiwan. Many of their peers lost their lives in this struggle, and they have first-hand knowledge of the sacrifices that were made in pursuit of the open and free Taiwan we all enjoy today.

Yet a significant number of these people still advocate a return to the dark days of oppression and constraint that their contemporaries fought so hard against. And make no mistake, the Chinese communist regime is far worse than the KMT military dictatorship at its height.

It is vital that everyone in Taiwan is made fully aware of the circumstances currently playing out in Hong Kong because make no mistake, this is what China has in mind for Taiwan too.

And it will not just be the loss of access to Facebook and LINE you will have to contend with, but arbitrary arrests, the rendition of people back to China, or even worse. Never forget that there are over 1 million people currently being kept in concentration camps and subjected to sterilization by the CCP.

No one who truly understands what the CCP represents will ever want to get close to them.

Knowledge is power and the CCP knows this. That is why they control the flow of information so carefully and why it is the responsibility of all of us to ensure that as many people as possible know the real truth.