Updated: Aug 1
31 May 2023 – The long arm of the Hong Kong government stretched more than 8,000 miles to intimidate a church in Guildford that was scheduled to host an event on the impact of injustice in Hong Kong.
For the Late Spring Bank Holiday, local Hong Kongers were looking forward to gathering at Guildford Baptist Church for a civic education workshop. However, after former Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (CY Leung) urged the British police to investigate the event for involving children’s books about sheep and wolves that are “illegal” in Hong Kong, the church left the organisers with no choice but to cancel the event.
Bowing to pressure from the Chinese Communist Party, Guildford Baptist Church said, “Our church is made up of people from many nationalities, and whilst we do understand some of the underlying issues tackled by the Village Sheep books, we are mindful of the wider impact on our community.”
This case is part of an ongoing pattern of Chinese transnational repression in Britain. Chinese Confucius Institutes have regularly cancelled speakers related to the Dalai Lama, Tibet and Taiwan in British universities. The Chinese Communist Party has also set up secret Chinese police stations to spy on dissidents across the globe, and continues to arrest individuals under the National Security Law in Hong Kong and abroad.
The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation condemns this outrageous act of Chinese state interference in Britain.
Simon Cheng, Organiser of the Event and Founder of Hongkongers in Britain, said:
“The Chinese regime is so fragile that they deemed children’s books that may allude to the Chinese authorities as wolves to be illegal. More than that, they pressured Britain, where Hong Kongers have fled to for safety, to honour this ban.
“It is scandalous that local Hong Kongers who live, work, study and pay taxes in England continue to be targeted by the Hong Kong and Chinese authorities. We hope that the British government will do more to protect Hong Kongers who want to exercise their right to freedoms in peace.”
Mark Sabah, Director of the UK and EU for the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation, said:
“Britain is not China nor the Soviet Union. The British government should immediately and publicly speak out against this egregious act of transnational repression against Hong Kongers who have fled to Britain to escape the oppressive hand of the Chinese Communist Party. Under no circumstance should Hong Kongers be intimidated for simply wanting to discuss children’s books that are feared by the feeble Chinese regime. It the responsibility of the UK government to ensure that Hong Kongers in Britain can live their lives freely, without further instances of Chinese state interference.”