From the March-April 2021 issue of News & Letters
Alexandra Wong was among hundreds of supporters of the democracy movement in Hong Kong lined up on March 1 to observe court proceedings at bail hearings for 47 opposition politicians and to lend their support. She had been a regular participant in marches beginning June 9, 2019, originally to object to an extradition law that would transport Hong Kong residents to the certain injustice of China’s court system despite the nominal autonomy of Hong Kong until 2047.
The massive marches and demonstrations that followed peaked in size at two million of the seven million residents. They continued until COVID-19 crowd restrictions and the National Security Law that China imposed on Hong Kong last July 1, combined with more violent arrests, drove protests underground.
The 47 opposition politicians had been hauled in on charges of conspiracy to win an election by legal means. With many seats on the Legislative Council reserved for business constituencies tied to the pro-Beijing Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the odds were against success, but the attempt to turn broad popular support into a majority on the Legislative Council led to their incarceration. They are now awaiting trial. The National Security Law has been used to dismantle student organizations at universities in Hong Kong that have a tradition of autonomy, first breached by police forces during demonstrations beginning in 2019.
Alexandra Wong, sometimes called Grandma Wong, proved the wisdom of opposing the extradition law when, while visiting Shenzhen just across the Hong Kong border, she was detained on the all-purpose charge of “picking fights” and could not return for 14 months. Her return to public protest despite being detained and harassed shows much about the strength of opposition to Xi Jinping and to Carrie Lam.