What Should the Left Do About China?
State oppression: Chinese police patrol the border in Xinjiang. According to estimates, China has detained over 1 million Uyghurs in the region. (Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Since March 2019, Hong Kong has confronted the greatest challenge to its relatively free and open civil society since it was transferred from British to Chinese rule in 1997. In incidents spanning more than a year, local police faced off against enormous crowds of young demonstrators fighting a losing battle to maintain the city’s autonomy within the People’s Republic of China. Using batons and more than 10,000 canisters of tear gas, officers crushed the protest movement in 2020, but the repression has continued: By February 2021, more than 10,000 Hong Kongers had been arrested in connection with these demonstrations, and over a quarter of those had been prosecuted, while tens of thousands more had sought asylum in Britain, Canada, or Australia.
For Promise Li, a young member of the Democratic Socialists of America born in Hong Kong, China’s crackdown was personal. “I have contacts and friends who are either imprisoned or under threat right now,” said Li, a cofounder of the Lausan Collective, which runs a site highlighting left-wing activist voices in Hong Kong. During the unrest, Li proposed that DSA’s International Committee put out a statement condemning the shuttering of Hong Kong’s largest independent labor organization….