With the corona virus monopolising the news, last Saturday Beijing used the opportunity to arrest 19 highly-respected civil rights defenders in Hong Kong.
It presents a dilemma for those with a positive attitude towards the Chinese people. Should they express their dismay at the gradual elimination of democracy in China or should they keep quiet in the hope things improve?
Among the 19, those labelled the Hong Kong ‘Gang of Four’ (because they are seen as the most influential among those arrested) are aged between 72 and 80. They are household names because of their lifetime stand for democracy, they are distinguished professionals in law, the media and politics and they are all Catholics.
Some in Ireland will be happy to ignore what is happening in Hong Kong and on the mainland: business with China is important and you know what you can expect if you say anything negative about the Chinese government.
Others will say it has nothing to do with us. Even if the world’s second largest economy is run by a government that exerts its influence with an anti-democratic agenda, it’s not much different from having our social needs determined by multinational corporations (as we do at present).
However the 19 people arrested in Hong Kong do not agree with that attitude and they have more to lose than anyone here.
Maybe we should wonder why they show so little self-interest and should we be giving them more support?
Photos; Marin Lee and Anson Chan, two of the ‘Gang of Four’