Democracy threatened in Hong Kong: Mission 21 is in close exchange with local partners

Theologians speak for democracy: The director of Chung Chi College during a morning service of the demonstrators about a year ago. They protested in front of the parliament against the security law. Photo zVg

Uncertainty is the prevailing feeling in Hong Kong, Tobias Brandner said, shortly before the new security law was passed, in a Webinar Brandner has lived in Hong Kong for over 25 years as an international staff member of Mission 21 and has experienced the protests over the controversial law very closely: many of his theology students at Chung Chi College of the Chinese University in Hong Kong were actively involved in the protests. 

On July 1, the law came into force, and uncertainty turned into fear and horror for many. For the worst fears have come true. China's Hong Kong Security Law is aimed at, among other things, terrorism, any independence movements, and subversion of state power. The definition of what is covered by this is a matter of interpretation. 

Critics argue that the Chinese authorities can now take action against anything that is directed against the communist leadership in Beijing. Important elements of democracy, such as freedom of expression and the rule of law, are at risk or already undermined by the law. For example, the police now have broad powers to take action without court orders, such as house searches. Further details can be found, for example, in this Contribution of the Swiss radio SRF. 

Mission 21 project work not affected so far

Mission 21's partners in Hong Kong are also unsettled by the law. Some very prominent representatives of the democracy movement come from the Tsung Tsin Mission of Hong Kong (TTM), with which Mission 21 works closely. 

"Our project work in Hong Kong has not been affected so far," says Mathias Waldmeyer, Asia program officer at Mission 21. "But we are of course monitoring the situation very closely and are in dialogue about how we can support our partners in this critical situation."

Last spaces of civil society

According to Tobias Brandner and Mathias Waldmeyer, the importance of churches in Hong Kong could increase. Churches, and especially small, unofficial house churches, are among the last free spaces of civil society in mainland China and, in the future, probably also in Hong Kong. It remains to be seen, moreover, how the law will affect the ability to express critical views at Hong Kong's universities. Already, books by prominent representatives of the democracy movement are no longer available in Hong Kong (for an article on this see here). 

Mission 21 supports with a project a Emergency shelter for Indonesian migrant workers, which is run by the partner organization Christian Action is led. In addition, Mission 21 supports the Work by Tobias Brandner as a lecturer at the Divinity School of the Chung Chi College and as a prison chaplain in Hong Kong. 

As a prison chaplain, Tobias Brandner is also in close contact with activists of the democracy movement. Many people were arrested during the demonstrations surrounding the security law. During his visits, Tobias Brandner has many conversations and gains insights like hardly anyone else. If you want to learn more about his work in Hong Kong and his assessment of the situation, you can read the Panel discussion from June 18 (shortly before the law was passed) in full length online look at or its Newsletters read 

► Read/listen to the SRF report on the security law in Hong Kong

► Learn more about our projects in Hong Kong

► Watch the full webinar with Tobias Brandner on Vimeo

► "The church is a space of freedom": Read the report on the webinar

► Support our work in Hong Kong!

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