Tough moves to be rolled out against Hong Kong dissenters

Domestic News

As Hong Kong police comb through the digital devices of activists and pro-democracy politicians arrested in a sweep last week, government sources tell Reuters to expect more harsh action.

Activist Owen Chow, whose devices were taken by police during his arrest in Hong Kong last week. Reuters/SOPA Images.

The arrest of more than 50 people on political charges in Hong Kong last week was just one phase of an ongoing crackdown on dissent and civil society, according to an individual “with direct knowledge of China’s plans” cited by Reuters.

China has been “too patient for too long, and needs to sort things out once and for all,” said Reuters’ source, adding that “more tough moves would be rolled out for ‘at least a year.’”

  • Another pro-Beijing source quoted by Reuters “confirmed there were advanced talks on structural changes to Hong Kong’s political system.”

The next phase of the crackdown will be digital, or at least based on data collection from the internet and the electronic devices seized from people arrested on last week’s raids. 

  • The Washington Post reports that by the end of that operation, “police had amassed more than 200 devices from Owen Chow [鄒家成 Zōu Jiāchéng Zau1 Gaa1 Sing4] and 52 others held for alleged political crimes that day, according to those arrested, as well as laptops from spouses who are not politically active and were not detained.”
  • The Post also cites sources who say “Hong Kong police have begun sending devices seized from arrested people to mainland China, where authorities have sophisticated data-extraction technology, and are using the information gleaned from those devices to assist in investigations.”

Some fear that mainland internet censorship will come to Hong Kong. After last week’s arrests, “Hong Kong users reported trouble accessing HKChronicles…known for publishing personal details of Hong Kong police officers and pro-Beijing figures” according to the Post.