A political cartoonist has left Hong Kong, becoming the third to do so in less than seven weeks, citing concerns about shrinking freedom of expression in the city.

Photo: Screenshot via Hong Kong Worker Facebook.

Cartoonist Hong Kong Worker announced his departure on social media on Sunday, saying that he had arrived in Britain.

“You may think there is one less voice in Hong Kong, but if I stay, it would only be a matter of time before I am silenced or forced to change topics. The choice I have made allows me to continue – continue to have a voice in the world that supports Hongkongers,” the artist wrote.

“We will blossom in places around the world,” he added.

Hong Kong Worker told HKFP on Monday that he left because he “sensed that he could no longer create normally in Hong Kong.”

Security concerns

Hong Kong Worker’s announcement came less than two months after the departures of comic artist Ah To and former school teacher and cartoonist “vawongsir.” The other artists’ reasons for leaving included the “great mental stress” of producing political cartoons in Hong Kong in the wake of the national security law, and fear of arrest under the colonial-era sedition law.

Manga artist Tony Lu and performance artist Kacey Wong both relocated to Taiwan last year citing anxiety felt by the city’s creative industry sector under the security law.

Photo: GovHK.

The national security law, which came into effect in June 2020, criminalises subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Authorities have also used another colonial-era law to punish “seditious” acts, such as uttering seditious words or making seditious publications.

A few days before announcing his departure, Hong Kong Worker posted several drawings about the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989, when the People’s Liberation Army cracked down on protesters in Beijing, resulting in the death of hundreds, perhaps thousands.

A political cartoon about the Tiananmen crackdown by Hong Kong Worker.

One illustration showed four people wearing t-shirts that said “nothing happened.” Pro-democracy activists have accused the authorities of attempting to erase the memory of the Tiananmen crackdown by banning commemorations in Hong Kong in the past few years.

Hong Kong Worker, who has been a cartoonist for about two years, covered not only politics, but community affairs. For example, he made a series of drawings about the removal of the iconic Jumbo Floating Restaurant in the Southern District of Hong Kong Island.

Hong Kong Worker has more than 3,500 followers on Instagram and around 14,370 Facebook fans. The artist said that he would continue creating works about and for Hong Kong.

HKFP has reached out to Hong Kong Worker for comment.

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Almond Li

Almond Li is a Hong Kong-based journalist who previously worked for Reuters and Happs TV as a freelancer, and as a reporter at Hong Kong International Business Channel, Citizen News and Commercial Radio Hong Kong. She earned her Masters in Journalism at the University of Southern California. She has an interest in LGBT+, mental health and environmental issues.