If you listen to rare public forays by senior members of the security establishment, the spies and their agencies, we in the West are under threat from several fronts. Looming front and centre, they say, is an expansionary Chinese Communist Party.
To be clear, Liberty Itch has no quarrel with the Chinese people.
However, Liberty Itch is sceptical of government of all stripes, whether in the West or the Chinese Communist Party. Government has a nasty habit of suppressing its people, sometimes stripping freedoms one imperceptible step at a time, its citizens in a saucepan of the slow boil kind. Sometimes government makes swift and savage moves against its people. History is replete with examples of both.
So well may we ask: Is the Chinese Communist Party friend or foe, our ally or adversary? We in the West welcome and educate their students. We trade with their corporations. Australia, the United States and indeed the entire OECD are beneficiaries of China’s emergence. Our shared prosperity is enormous as China brings a billion citizens out of agrarian life into a century-delayed Industrial Revolution and today’s Information Age simultaneously. The project is breathtaking.
But as Liberty Itch discovered, geopolitical relationships are complex. Material wealth is soulless if not accompanied by human rights. We cannot be so naïve or selectively blind as to ignore civil liberties in our estimation. The Dragon we feed and enable today should be ready to take its place on the world stage as a force for good.
With an open mind, Liberty Itch therefore embarked on an investigation, a series of tell-all interviews with people with particular direct experience with the Chinese Communist Party. The stories are real. The events described happened and cannot be ignored. What each does is illuminate, directly and personally, how the Chinese Communist Party acts from a civil liberties perspective.
Our first guest in this series is Fiona Hui.
You can see the former flight attendant in Fiona instantly. Urbane, impeccably-dressed and possessed of a welcoming smile, she possesses a charm hard not to like. She has navigated many of life’s milestones and responsibilities already while retaining her youthful energy.
First impressions rarely tell the whole story. As you peel-away the onion layers of her life, normality gives way to heartache, the collapse of her homeland, the incarceration of a loved one and a fight for survival with lessons for all freedom-lovers who value their civil liberties.
So her story is yours. There are some timely warnings for all of us.
Here’s Liberty Itch’s short interview with Fiona Hui.
LI: When did you become an Australian citizen?
FH: Although I have been living in Australia for nearly 20 years, I only became an Australian citizen very recently, in 2021. I applied for my citizenship in light of the loss of freedom and democracy in Hong Kong in 2019. At that point, I realised that Australia is my only home, so I submitted my citizenship application.
LI: Prior to this, you were a citizen of which country?
FH: Prior to 2021, I was a citizen of Hong Kong. I was born and raised under the British rule in Hong Kong.
LI: You lived in Hong Kong during which years?
FH: I lived in Hong Kong since I was born in 1980, until 2004, when I left Hong Kong and came to Australia to pursue a liberal arts education.
LI: What was life like in Hong Kong in those early years?
FH: As a successful former British Colony from 1841–1997, Hong Kong is a unique place blending East and West. I always felt free, safe, and connected to the West when I was a child and a young teenager. I enjoyed living in a ‘very Chinese city’ essentially, but also appreciated the opportunities to be exposed to Western literature, music, philosophies and ideologies. It was dynamic, stimulating and exciting.
LI: Why did you leave Hong Kong?
FH: I left Hong Kong for a Western higher education. I did not imagine Hong Kong could become what it is today when I left. Like most people. I have taken democracy for granted and couldn’t imagine otherwise.
LI: From the handover by Britain in 1997 to your departure, what changes did you notice in Hong Kong?
FH: Since the handover in 1997, there has been a steady and gradual erosion of Hong Kong freedoms. Since the structure of democracy was already in place, Hong Kong people had been asking for ‘universal suffrage’, all adult citizens should be able to vote for their government representatives, as highlighted by the Occupy Central and Umbrella Movement in 2014.
In 2019, 70-80% of the Hong Kong population participated in the largest and longest Hong Kong protests in history, in demonstration of the City’s strong will to safeguard Hong Kong’s declining civil liberties and freedoms.
Then in 2020, the National Security Law was introduced by the Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong. Under this law, any pro-democracy movement was suddenly classified as ‘secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion’.
2020 was the year when Hong Kong lost its press freedom, the rights to peaceful protests, and the complete collapse of the rule of law.
LI: I believe this is the time we saw footage of Chinese Communist Party agents breaking into the The Epoch Times and smashing the printing presses with sledge-hammers …
FH: Yes. They actually set fire to the bureau. The building was aflame.
LI: How did these changes impact your family initially?
FH: My family was fine for many years after the handover. The whole world thought China was opening-up and we could work together for a more prosperous world.
LI: Your brother was a Hong Kong democratically-elected parliamentarian. How did his status slowly change?
FH: It was not until 2019 with the breakout of large-scale protests in Hong Kong that it started to seriously impact my family. My brother, Ted Hui, being a vocal pro-democracy legislator, was frequently arrested due to his involvement in mediating the protests, wanting to protect young people and ordinary citizens from being abused and arrested. Like the majority of the population, Ted was pepper sprayed, tear-gassed, abused and arrested many times. In the end, his parliamentarian status was completely disregarded by the Hong Kong Police and the Chinese Communist Party. They just treated him like a ‘criminal’. Democracy had suddenly become a serious crime.
LI: How did your brother and other democratically-elected parliamentarians reconcile the freedoms bequeathed by British rule and a growing autocratic influence from the Chinese Communist Party?
FH: They have never reconciled the loss of freedoms. Some of his MP friends are still in prison. Many like Ted, went in ‘exile’ and continued with the movement overseas, lobbying governments of the Five Eyes, warning them of the dangers of the Chinese Communist Party regime. I guess they are now all ‘colluding with foreign forces’, as the Chinese Communist Party would describe it.
LI: How did things come to a flashpoint?
FH: The prolonged protests in 2019, combined with the noble and pure intention of democracy-loving Hongkongers, and the Chinese Communist Party led by a psychopathic Chinese President Xi Jinping have all contributed to this flashpoint.
LI: What role did you play in responding to the loss of civil liberties?
FH: I was not interested in politics at all prior to 2019, I had a great life in Adelaide. Who cared? However, the 2019 Hong Kong Crisis made me awake. The images and live-streaming of abuse in Hong Kong stunned me. I was in disbelief that freedom could be lost like this overnight. I couldn’t believe that people could be thrown in prison for protesting and speaking. It was all just unimaginable.
So I became a ‘democracy activist’.
Then I discovered CCP activism in my adopted country of Australia. So I exposed the CCP’s interference in Australia and politicians who were working with the CCP for their own self-serving interests.
I joined the Liberal Democrats for a period because I saw that they had good policy in support of libertarianism and humanitarianism principles. I also connected with organisations and communities who cared about our civil liberties.
LI: How did your brother escape?
FH: My brother got ‘invited’ by some young, democracy-loving Danish politicians and libertarians to attend a ‘Climate Conference’. It was staged so that Ted had an excuse to get out of Hong Kong. At that time, his passport was detained by the Hong Kong Court, but the judge decided to release his passport so that Ted could attend this ‘conference’. The judge made a fine decision but, to this day, I don’t know whether he was subsequently imprisoned by the Chinese Communist Party!
Ted escaped also because many people around that world have played a part in helping him and praying for him. This includes the Australian Government and many nameless men and women within and outside our government. We have some good people in this country, who have empathy, intelligence, capability and goodwill. God bless Australia.
LI: What did you leave behind?
FH: My family and I won’t be able to go back to Hong Kong for a long time. Under the current circumstances, I’ve convinced myself there is not much worth going back for anyway. I miss the mountains. I miss the views. Any love I had of shopping there is tainted by the lack of a free press, no free speech, no rule of law. Home is where the family is. Australia is my only home. Look forward rather than backwards!
LI: Why choose Australia to live?
FH: I chose Australia due to its beauty, its reputation in higher education and its proximity to Asia.
LI: What worrying early-signs in sliding from democracy to tyranny do you see in Australia?
FH: The early-signs were shown during the last two years: how our governments managed COVID, especially in Melbourne, the prolonged lockdowns, and the mandatory vaccinations in various industries.
Modern technological advancement means that people are more easily monitored. I’m worry about the introduction of My Gov Accounts, facial recognition cameras in our City here in Adelaide, digital IDs and yet more business-crushing IDs for company directors.
We have to be careful how people in positions of power use these mechanisms. They could be used to make us a more effective country, or they could be used as a means of monitoring and control. It all depends on how you view the government and the people holding those powerful positions.
We need to be awake and alert.
LI: How quickly can that slide happen, in your experience?
FH: The loss of freedom could happen so quickly that people will be in disbelief. Just look at Hong Kong. A clean, proper judicial system could end so fast. Unimaginable.
LI: What can your fellow Australians do to counteract this?
FH: Stay aware and united with fellow Australians. Unity and helping others in need. Play a part to end the divide and polarisation in society. Be the change you want to see in the world.
LI: What do you think the outlook is for Australia?
FH: Australia is a lucky country. I believe that we will continue to be blessed. Be careful of the ‘doom and gloom’ presented in the media. I feel hopeful and positive about our country.
Thank you for your support. To help us in our battle to protect liberty and freedom please click here
An entrepreneur who has employed 1,470+ people, Kenelm was admitted to the BRW Fast 100 three times with businesses in Australia, NZ, Singapore and New York, where he lived for 12 years. Kenelm’s investment firm performs mid-market leveraged roll-ups. He was a regular columnist for the Australian Financial Review. Kenelm is the Founder of Liberty Itch.