When Hong Kong’s protests began earlier this year, protesters were calling for the withdrawal of an extradition bill that would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial.
The bill was eventually withdrawn, but the protests rapidly evolved into calls for full democracy, and increasingly violent pushback against Chinese leader Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.
French lawmaker Jean-François Cesarini said the international community must not wait until there is a tragedy in Hong Kong and then express regret.
“We are at a crossroads. When we see the escalation in the streets, at the universities, it’s not just a bill issue, this is a revolution coming,” Cesarini said.
Cesarini signed an open letter in August with about 20 other lawmakers, calling for France’s president Emmanuel Macron to denounce the violence of Hong Kong’s police.
There were very few reactions from French politicians before the letter.
But things changed after the G7 summit in France at the end of August.
On Oct. 2, the European Union published a declaration that “any violence is unacceptable” and that “the EU attaches great importance to Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, which must be preserved.”
On Oct. 22, Cesarini met with a delegation of Hong Kong democracy supporters. According to the lawmaker, France could help Hong Kong protesters with new measures such as facilitating asylum applications for protesters.
Cesarini says it’s a matter of time before Hong Kong eventually wins its fight for freedom.
“So many Hong Kongers are ready to die, nothing seems to stop them. In my opinion, that’s good news,” he said. “The Chinese regime has to understand what’s happening so they can facilitate Hong Kong’s wish for freedom.”
He said it’s the role of Western diplomats to remind Beijing of the importance of respecting peaceful protests—and that otherwise, the Chinese regime will collapse.
“Remember how strong the USSR was—and it collapsed in a matter of days. Even if the Chinese regime looks strong, the wish for freedom will eventually wipe it out,” Cesarini said.
Macron said earlier this month he raised Hong Kong’s human rights issues privately with Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping.