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18 August – Bestselling authors Levitsky and Ziblatt say that democracies die slowly — norms and institutions are broken down, bit by bit over time. But under a global pandemic, we face a rapid drive towards authoritarianism. 

In MBC and KAS’ webinar on “Asian Democracy in Pandemic Times”, former Democratic Party Chairperson Emily Lau talked about the dismantling of liberal democracy in Hong Kong. Emily said that serious attacks on the city’s “little freedoms” started with the National Security Law.  Using the leeway provided by COVID-19, the authorities arrested pro-democracy advocates and newspaper owners — chillingly showing how free speech and liberty can be stifled in the name of “security”. 

Emily said Hong Kong’s dystopian present may be the future of democracies in the region. To prevent this, political leaders should call for Beijing to be a responsible member of the international community. Business leaders on the other hand can ask for reciprocity in the freedoms and  transparency their own countries extend to Chinese investors. 

More on “reciprocity” in the last session of the Freedom and Democracy Series. Larry Diamond talks about the State of Global Democracy on 25 August, 10:30AM.