Today Hong Kong, Tomorrow the World: What China’s Crackdown Reveals About Its Plans to End Freedom Everywhere

Mark L. Clifford. St. Martin’s, $28.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-27917-0

Clifford (The Greening of Asia), the president of the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong, mixes memoir, politics, and economic analysis in this detailed portrait of how the Chinese government has curtailed the freedoms of Hong Kong residents since taking control of the territory in 1997. Making a convincing case that the personal freedoms and legal protections established under British colonial rule helped make Hong Kong “one of the freest and most prosperous places in the world,” Clifford explains how the influx of mainland Chinese tourists and property buyers in recent years have contributed to staggering income disparities that helped fuel the 2019 protest movement, which was sparked by the legislature’s consideration of a bill (since withdrawn) that would have allowed for the extradition of suspected criminals to China. He interviews students, journalists, and small business owners who joined the protests, and documents the chilling effects of the National Security Law imposed by China in July 2020, which “criminalizes opposition and criticism.” Though Clifford’s argument that China is on a campaign to “extinguish free thought” around the world borders on the hyperbolic, he makes an impassioned case that “anyone who believes in democracy” should support the protest movement. This cri de coeur rings true. (Feb.)