“Thus we left Hong Kong to her fate and the hope that Martin Lee, the leader of the Democrats, would not be arrested…”
So wrote the future monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – alongside all her territories – Prince Charles.
His 1997 diary, as Britain handed control of Hong Kong to China, today goes from concern to eerily correct premonition.
Martin Lee, alongside up to 14 others including local opposition media owner Jimmy Lai, was arrested by police today in yet another Chinese regime crackdown against democracy protesters.
Lee, 81, has been integral to Hong Kong rights and democracy for decades.
He co-authored the Hong Kong Basic Law – effectively the constitution of the territory – in the months on the run up to the infamous British handover in 1997.
Then, in one of the most heinous examples of an overcorrection from British colonialism, the last jewel of the British Empire was handed to a burgeoning Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
In his missives, Prince Charles added:
“All the locals were being outwardly, thoroughly optimistic about the immediate future but in the background was the sneaking worry about creeping corruption and the gradual undermining of Hong Kong’s greatest strength – the rule of law.”
He was right. The Guardian reports:
Police arrested prominent figures, including the media tycoon Jimmy Lai and 81-year-old Martin Lee, the founder of the Democratic party and a senior barrister, in the biggest crackdown on the pro-democracy movement since the sometimes violent anti-government protests that have rocked the former British colony since June last year.
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The 15 people arrested allegedly organised and took part in unlawful assemblies and police do not rule out that more will be arrested, Supt Lam Wing-Ho said.
Also among the detained were the barrister Margaret Ng, lawyer Albert Ho, labour rights activist Lee Cheuk-yan, former legislators Leung Kwok-hung and Au Nok-hin, and younger activists such as Figo Chan, the vice-convener of the Civil Human Rights Front, which organised several mass protests approved by police last year.
The 15 were accused of joining three unapproved protests on 18 August, 1 October and 20 October last year, local media reported.
Charles’s words were first published in 2006, when the BBC reported: “The 3,000-word document is said to have been written as the Prince flew back from Hong Kong in 1997 after attending the former colony’s handover to China. He mentioned talks with Tony Blair and the “ridiculous rigmarole” of meeting the then Chinese President Jiang Zemin.”
The article suggests Prince Charles “recounted that Britannia [his ship] was followed by a Chinese patrol craft during his stay.”
He is said to have written: “The whole business was drearily reminiscent of the Soviets and their behaviour when I was in the Royal Navy over 20 years previously.”
The diary was entitled: “The Handover of Hong Kong or The Great Chinese Takeaway.” Extracts can be read, here, including the particularly poignant explainer of the handover ceremony:
[Chinese President Jiang Zemin] then gave a kind of “propaganda” speech, which was loudly cheered by the bussed in party faithful at the suitable moment in the text. At the end of this awful Soviet-style display we had to watch the Chinese soldiers goose step on to the stage and haul down the Union Jack and raised the Chinese flag. The ultimate horror was the artificial wind which made the flags flutter enticingly. The ceremony ended with us all being photographed in a group, shaking hands and marching off through different doors.
WATCH THE HANDOVER: