The Mekong Review has kindly donated 100 copies of their latest edition to HKFP. Supporters in Hong Kong can receive a copy, along with an HKFP keyring, with a minimum donation of HK$160 via our merch store.

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The latest edition includes an interview with activist Joshua Wong by Elaine Yu plus a piece on the national security law by HKFP columnist Kong Tsung-gan.

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Mekong Review August-October Issue

One of the many consequences of the pandemic has been to sweep aside news stories that would have carried a greater weight in other times. Hong Kong’s predicament as China ends the limited freedoms people enjoyed there may be a key moment in the way Beijing is seen around the world. It feels like the start of a new Cold War with Hong Kong playing the part Berlin did in the last one. The circumstances are very different though; everyone is now tangled up with China whether they like it or not. Nearly all supply chains run through the factories and chemical plants there. Pandemics and climate change necessitate cooperation. At the same time the treatment of Hong Kong and the Uighurs demands a greater response from democratic states.

The first twelve pages of this edition Mekong Review are devoted to Hong Kong and China, starting with Kong Tsung-gan’s take on the new security law. The long-time democracy activist, author of Liberate Hong Kong, see the law as a litmus tests for democracies. Allow China to get away with this and Beijing will flex its muscles elsewhere. What happens there will shape the world. Kong’s passion for the city’s future is matched by Joshua Wong, the young activist who was the face of the Umbrella Movement in 2014. Elaine Yu’s interview shows him to be as determined as ever, despite the threat of jail in Hong Kong or even deportation to China. Jeffrey Wasserstrom looks at two recent books on Hong Kong; Anthony Dapiran’s City on Fire and Aftershock, edited by Holmes Chan. They both cover the same terrain but from different viewpoints: the latter is a collection of personal essays by those involved in the struggle for democracy and highlights some of the very intimate struggles involved within families as politics turned rancorous. City on Fire is Dapiran’s second book on protests in the city. Asked if he would complete a trilogy in the future he said he had no idea yet whether it would be City of Hope or City of Despair.

Fang Fang is the pseudonym of a writer who gained international recognition during the pandemic for her on-line diary from Wuhan, now published in English and reviewed here by Tom Baxter. The diaries became required reading for many, even those who did not know the novelist’s awarding winning earlier work and now have found international attention. Overseas fame can be a challenge for any Chinese writer, particularly one who skirts the line of what is acceptable criticism. The Party is now enforcing its line on the virus: they brought it under control and showed the superiority of the Chinese system. No other views are acceptable.

The malevolent intent of the Party is the central theme of Hidden Hand: Exposing How the Chinese Communist Party is Reshaping the World by the prominent ethicist and environmentalist Clive Hamilton and the German academic Marieke Ohlberg. The book pulls few punches against those that have been taken in by the CCP’s relentless efforts to undermine democratic systems. In his review, Michael Riley points to Taiwan’s resistance to these efforts at subversion. Despite coming under more pressure from China that any other state, Taiwan has successfully maintained its democracy and identity.

There is of course more to this edition than China. We have a short story from the author of The Sorrow of War, Bao Ninh. Reviews of fiction from Korea-American writers as well as those from Australia and the Philippines. Stories from the writer Joey Bui about Vietnamese around the world and writing by Sanmao, the Taiwanese writer who died in 1991. Peter Guest takes apart Japanese pop culture and finds a country in stasis. There are also personal stories: from Febriana Ferdaus in Bali, Marc de Faoite in Jeju, and Erfan Dana, a refugee from Afghanistan waiting and waiting in an IOM shelter in Indonesia.

The HKFP keyring was made in Hong Kong by Mak Kam-sang – the city’s last minibus sign calligrapher and sign maker.

Hong Kong Free Press is a new, non-profit, English-language news source seeking to unite critical voices on local and national affairs. Free of charge and completely independent, HKFP arrives amid rising concerns over declining press freedom in Hong Kong and during an important time in the city’s constitutional development.