Nathan Law, former member of Hong Kong Legislative Council and leader of 2014 Umbrella Movement who fled arrest and is now in exile, addressed the 13th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy as a panelist on the Fragility of Freedom and Democracy panel – see quotes below.

For the full text of the Fragility of Freedom and Democracy panel, click here.

For links to other speakers’ quotes, videos, livestream, and more, click here.

13th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, Monday, June 7, 2021

On China removing Nathan Law from parliament:

“The Chinese government issued a reinterpretation [of] our constitution…to apply a new restriction on our oath-taking ceremony…retrospectively so that they could make my oath-taking session invalid.”

“So then after I assumed office for nine months, I was disqualified, and more than 50,000 ballots were cast into the rubbish bin.”

On China’s increasing interference in Hong Kong:

“China has been interfering in our internal system and also depriving us [of] our basic rights — for example, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly.”

“For Hong Kong now the “one country, two systems” basically turned into “one country, one system,” and Hong Kong is becoming another ordinary Chinese city.”

“We’ve got all the understanding of how China is invading the society and doing a lot of terrible suppression on individuals.”

On pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong:

“We believe that Hong Kong people deserve democracy and freedom. And that’s why we come out to protest and to fight against all these authoritarian approaches to Hong Kong, the destruction of our free system — and also to fight for our future.”

On the policy of the West towards Hong Kong:

“I think the West does not intend to sacrifice Hong Kong. But, in reality, their appeasement strategies towards China for the past couple of decades indeed created that result.”

“There had been a dominant theory about China since the West started to rebuild its relationship with the regime in the 1980s. That is the modernization theory: When China’s economy grows, when it’s middle-class grows, when the demands for rule of law and an open society grow, then it will step into a modernization, democratization, and liberalization path just like it’s neighboring countries, South Korea and Japan.”

“The way that they appeased China to engage with them…became the fuel and resources for them to grow much more authoritarian.”

On what the West should do to protect democracy in Hong Kong:

“Western countries should really be equipped with a thorough understanding of how [China] infiltrates into our system…in order to block their ideological expansion and to protect the democracy system from being dismantled and discredited inside out.”

“We should form an alliance as soon as possible to see the decline of global democracy as one of the major global crises, just like a climate emergency and a public health pandemic, in order to tackle it with the effort of every single democratic country.”

“One of the access points of these authoritarian regimes is their misinformation campaigns and the infiltration into democracy to discredit them. So I think it’s important that we really impose scrutiny on Chinese enterprises and Chinese government individuals and block all their exponential activities and uphold democratic values on their soil.”

On trying to bring change:

“We all understand for every single ending of an authoritarian regime or dictatorship, there must be elites defecting. There must be certain cracks and divisions inside the ruling regime or conglomeration, and those are also the factors that we need to take into consideration.”

On China’s increasing power:

“I think a large part of the world is being fooled by the Chinese regime. They are very good at disguising themselves under the sugar coating of a peaceful rise. But actually they are aiming at topping the world and expanding their authoritarianism through their multi-continent projects.”

On democracy:

“Democracy and freedom are so fragile.”

“People should not only be the beneficiaries of these free systems but also the guardians of it.”

On Hong Kong’s future:

“As long as Hong Kong people are there — as long as they are not giving up, they are protesting, they are upholding their values — there will be no point of no return.”

“There will be a free and democratic Hong Kong in the future. I genuinely believe that.”