People of Hong Kong are finding creative ways to voice dissent after Beijing blanketed the city in a new security law and police began arresting people displaying now forbidden political slogans.
Faced with the sudden threat of prosecution for anything that might promote greater autonomy or independence for the restless city, residents are using wordplay and even subverting Chinese Communist Party dogma to express their frustration.
On a bridge in the busy shopping district of Causeway Bay, a key spot for pro-democracy protests over the past year, traffic thunders past newly daubed graffiti that declares: “Arise, ye who refuse to be slaves”.
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The phrase is taken from the first line of China’s national anthem. And while the graffiti could conceivably have been written by a patriotic nationalist, it is most likely a declaration of dissent.
Social media and chat forums have filled with suggestions for how to find safer ways to protest after Beijing on Tuesday imposed broad legislation banning subversion, secession, “terrorism” and foreign collusion.
In a semi-autonomous city used to speaking its mind, people will find ways around the law, said Chan Kin-man, a veteran democracy activist who has previously been jailed for his activism.
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“In a public space, one might either not say anything or use an ‘officially-approved’ language to protect themselves,” he told AFP news agency.
“But hidden language is something that cannot be banned by laws.”
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