With the world obsessed by the Xi Plague, the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong has faded from the headlines. But that doesn’t mean that Hong Kong’s struggle against the Beijing jackboot has gone away. In fact, under cover of a distracted world, China has been stamping even harder on Hong Kong’s democracy activists.

In extraordinary scenes, Beijing’s thugs have literally dragged pro-democracy lawmakers out of Hong Kong’s parliament.

At issue was a bill which would make it a crime to “disrespect” the Chinese national anthem.

Legislators were arguing over the leadership of a key committee, which would affect the bill’s progress.

One of the lawmakers carried out, Eddie Chu, told the BBC: “If Hong Kong was a democracy, we would not need to start scuffles like this.”

He added: “Unfortunately we are forced into this situation. I can foresee more fights within the chamber and outside the chamber.”

The massive street protests may have abated – but not vanished – during the northern winter and with the Wuhan pandemic sweeping the world, but signs are that they are about to roar back. The Xi Plague barely affected Hong Kong: despite its proximity to Mainland China, Hong Kong’s rates of infection and death have tracked fairly closely to Taiwan’s. The spring semester examinations will soon be past, unleashing potentially hundreds of thousands of the students who’ve been leading the protests.

Having lost so much global face over last year’s protests and then the Xi Plague, China will be desperate to assert control of the obstreperous peninsula.

So they’re acting with typical communist thuggery.

Last week, the council president appointed Chan Kin-por, a pro-Beijing lawmaker, to oversee the election of a new leader.

On Monday – before the Legislative Council began – Mr Chan was in the chairman’s seat, surrounded by more than 20 security guards.

As pro-democracy lawmakers entered the room, they tried to reach the seat, but were stopped by the guards[…]During the melee – which went on for several minutes – at least one person fell to the ground, apparently injured.

At one point, a lawmaker took a running jump to try to reach the chairman’s bench, but was stopped in mid-air by guards.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Ted Hui tried to jump onto the chairman’s bench. The BFD.

This should surprise no-one, given the way Chinese security forces bully their way even in countries like Australia. As professor Clive Hamilton relates, during the 2008 Olympic torch procession in Canberra, thousands of pro-Beijing thugs attacked a small group of pro-Tibet protesters. This took place right in front of Parliament House, supposedly the epicentre of Australian democracy.

More recently, Beijing’s bootboys have attacked and intimidated Australian swimmer Mack Horton and student Drew Pavlou.

If China treats even supposedly sovereign nations with such brutal contempt, no-one should be surprised at what is happening in Hong Kong.

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