This highly topical issue of The Dissident Blog focuses on the current developments in Hong Kong
#30 Hong Kong Voices with China in View / www.dissidentblog.org
While this special issue about the freedom of expression in Hong Kong is released hundreds of thousands of people are demonstrating in the streets of Hong Kong. Among them are several of the contributing writers. The 1984 agreement reached between China and the United Kingdom, where Hong Kong would retain its constitution guaranteeing the freedoms of press, speech, and assembly for the next fifty years according to the formula “one country, two systems,” seems a mere memory. The texts in this issue, compiled in collaboration with our sister organization PEN Hong Kong, confirm this.
Elnaz Baghlanian, editor-in-chief of The Dissident Blog, writes in her editorial:
“The brave voices from Hong Kong collected in this issue of The Dissident Blog combine to form a strong and urgent act of resistance to the developments in the region. This act of resistance is made possible thanks to PEN’s large network, and here thanks to our guest editor Tammy Ho Lai-Ming. At her inaugural as the Chairperson of PEN Hong Kong in March she said: ‘I feel that we are now creating art or writing in a time of uncertainty. Increasingly, this sense of being uncertain, of feeling unease, walking a tightrope, becomes more and more prevalent for writers and artists.’ It is of vital importance that the world understands and takes this worry and sense of uncertainty seriously.”
“Freedom of expression is under threat in Hong Kong, one of many critical issues the city is facing—and the most urgent of all at the moment is the Hong Kong government’s proposed amendments to the extradition law, which would open the way to people being sent for trial to mainland China. In this edition of The Dissident Blog, a group of writers concerned about Hong Kong’s democratic future tell us what they think about living in Hong Kong with the spectre of a stultifying repressive China looming on the horizon,” says Tammy Ho Lai-Ming, Chairperson of PEN Hong Kong.
In “Voices from Hong Kong with China in View” we present controversial poetry from a younger generation of poets in Hong Kong; an interview with the publisher Bao Pu, who has published politically sensitive books since 2005; critical social texts that put words, thoughts, and feelings on the events that preceded the ongoing mass-demonstrations in Hong Kong.
A selection of texts:
Yan Lianke | Hong Kong is my Myth and my Legend | Hong Kong
Yan Lianke is one of China’s foremost authors. His recent texts have become more critical of society, which has made it harder to get them published. His works have either been retracted or not re-published. In this text Yan Lianke describes his relationship with Hong Kong—this familiarly strange and strangely familiar place. To him Hong Kong remains a myth—a distant fairy-tale place that never becomes a reality.
Jason Y. Ng | Brave New City | Hong Kong
Writer and human rights activist Jason Y. Ng writes for The Dissident Blog about how the long arm of the Chinese mainland stretches ever further into Hong Kong. Since the handover to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, the relative freedom of Hong Kong has been gradually circumscribed and the promise of autonomy under the “one country, two systems” principle seems to have been broken. But there is also hope, writes Jason Y. Ng. In this text he emphasizes the importance of the work of various PEN organizations to reverse the negative trend.
Louise Law | What are we talking about when we talk about Hong Kong literature? | Hong Kong
What is Hong Kong literature? Louise Law addresses this question in her text exploring the various literary tendencies in Hong Kong. This city, informed by linguistic and cultural diversity, is beginning to witness a more streamlined literature, not least due to the Chinese regime’s attempt to undermine Cantonese—the language that has shaped Hong Kong’s literary scene. Louise Law depicts some unsettling developments wherein Cantonese risks becoming extinct and Hong Kong’s literary landscape risks fundamental change.
Eva Gedin | Letter to Gui Minhai | Sweden
It has been over 1,300 days since the Swedish publisher Gui Minhai was imprisoned in China. This is a letter to Gui Minhai written by his publisher colleague Eva Gedin. “You cannot hear us but we are here,” she writes. Even though this message cannot penetrate the walls that surround his prison cell in Ningbo, the words become a reminder to the world: do not forget Gui Minhai.
Read the latest issue here.
The Dissident Blog is an online magazine that provides opportunities for writers and journalists from around the world to speak out on global issues without censorship of their voices or policing of their thoughts. We publish what the rulers want to delete.
Illustration: Amanda Åkerman