- The Washington Times - Monday, July 1, 2019

Protesters in Hong Kong have amassed by the hundreds, or more, to set the government on notice and make clear: We don’t need no stinkin’ Communism.

It’s rather a sight for freedom-loving eyes.

The protest — an offshoot of an annual gathering to mark a national anniversary of the city’s change-of-rule, from British to Chinese — comes as Hong Kong was poised to pass an Extradition Law that would’ve allowed its governing officials to send anyone within city limits — whether they be citizens or foreign tourists and business people — to China to face Chinese courts. To face Chinese courts run by China’s Communist government. In other words: To be found guilty by China’s Communists courts and tossed in the Communist country’s atrocious prison system.

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But how can this be? Hong Kong is a free city, right?

Well, it is and it isn’t.

Until 1997, Hong Kong was a British colony. It was then that the city was returned to Chinese rule — although it still maintained, under its new “one country, two systems” terms of transfer, plenty of British freedoms.

Plenty in Hong Kong worried, however, that one day, China’s Communism would start to seep and that “one country, two systems” would crumble — and the city would become just another offshoot of Beijing’s dictatorial rule.

Enter Extradition Law, pushed by Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam. And now angry and fearful protesters have stormed the streets, stormed the Legislative Council, stormed to the stoops of the chief executive’s office and demanded her ouster. Police have responded, and Hong Kong is in chaos.

In response, Lam has suspended the extradition bill. But that’s not the same as a full withdrawal.

Nor should it be seen as one and the same.

What’s happening in Hong Kong is a lesson for freedom lovers everywhere. There are two basic ways to steal freedom — by force, meaning by all-out, no-holds-barred war, or by chip and ding and dent. Hong Kong’s extradition law was of the chip-and-ding-and-dent variety. Protesters are quite right to express concern — and then some — though, of course, violence isn’t generally the best way to go. 

Yet, the price for capitulation and quiet cowering would be steep.

Once freedom’s lost, it’s very difficult to recoup.

The spirit itself may never die. But as Hong Kong shows, it takes eternal vigilance to keep that spirit coursing strong — it takes discernment and courage to call out a chip or ding or dent for what it really is — it takes total commitment to cause and principle to risk all for freedom. Some in the media may paint the chaos in Hong Kong in dark colors. 

But let’s remember: Fighting for freedom, historically speaking, has never been calm and peaceful and pretty. And there is no better cause for fight.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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