Ian Vásquez, Cato Institute
Our friends at the Fraser Institute in Canada have released this open letter in which they express their solidarity with “the people of Hong Kong as their rights and freedoms are threatened by the actions of the Communist Party of China.” The letter, signed by think tank leaders from around the world, notes Hong Kong’s astonishing progress under its market‐liberal system and rightly denounces the new security law that mainland China is imposing on the territory as an attempt to “crush” Hong Kong’s freedoms. Read the whole letter here.
The sentiment of the letter is shared by millions of people around the world who cherish human freedom and are appalled by China’s strengthening dictatorship. In the same spirit, I share the statement I released to the media earlier this week:
With its imposition of a national security law on Hong Kong, Beijing is violating the territory’s autonomy to a degree that fundamentally subverts the liberal system that made Hong Kong one of the world’s most remarkable success stories. Hong Kong’s system—based on a strong rule of law and a high degree of economic, personal and civil liberties such as freedom of speech and of assembly—allowed its people to rise from widespread poverty to a level of prosperity that exceeds even that of its erstwhile colonizer, Great Britain. It is the system that also helped inspire market reforms in mainland China, leading in the past four decades to extraordinary gains in human well‐being there too.
China’s clampdown on Hong Kong reflects the Communist Party’s troubling turn toward nationalism and the strengthening of authoritarian rule under President Xi Jinping. As a bastion of human freedom, Honk Kong represented a system that became increasingly incompatible with, and even threatening to, a more assertive China. The new national security law will diminish all aspects of freedom in Hong Kong. It will weaken the rule of law, increase self‐censorship by the media and others, restrain civil society, increase arbitrary local rule, and politicize business decisions, including where and with whom to invest and what charities or causes to support. In short, the new measure will reduce economic, personal and civil liberties in Hong Kong, and it puts a definitive end to the city as a symbol of human freedom.
Ian Vásquez is the director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity. His articles have appeared in newspapers throughout the United States and Latin America, and he is a columnist at El Comercio (Peru). Vásquez has appeared on CNBC, NBC, C-SPAN, CNN, Telemundo, Univisión, and Canadian Television, as well as National Public Radio and Voice of America, discussing foreign policy and development issues. He received his bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and his master’s degree from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He is the co-author of The Human Freedom Index, editor of Global Fortune: The Stumble and Rise of World Capitalism and coeditor of Perpetuating Poverty: The World Bank, the IMF and the Developing World. He has testified numerous times in the U.S. Congress on economic development issues.