The case of Zhang Jialong and its lessons for Hong Kong

The flags of Communist China and Hong Kong flying in front of a blue sky.

The police came for Zhang Jialong at 9.40am on Tuesday morning.

His wife, who only gave her name to AFP as Shao, was told he just needed to answer some questions. It was not until the following day that she learned he had been detained.

The troubling case of Zhang Jialong

Zhang hit the headlines back in 2014 when, as a senior figure at Chinese internet firm Tencent, he met with then-US Secretary of State John Kerry in Beijing.

During that meeting, Zhang went massively off-script. He urged Kerry and the US to help “tear down the Great Firewall of censorship”. He also said the US should refuse visas to anyone complicit in internet censorship in China.

It was no great surprise that he was fired from his job shortly after that meeting. Tencent, like all successful Chinese tech companies, is in the thrall of the Communist regime there and Zhang must have known the likely consequences of his comments at the time.

But that incident was five years ago. Since then, Zhang has kept a low profile and, remarkably, continued to live as free a life as is possible in the world’s most Orwellian of surveillance states.

Until earlier this week that is. His official detention notice states that he has been detained for “picking quarrels and provoking troubles”. In the absence of any other obvious cause, the conclusion must be that it is historic comments to a former US government minister that are the motivation.

His wife and their young family have been struggling to get by over the past five years. Without Zhang, their future looks bleak. “Our daughter just turned two months old,” his wife explained. “ I feel really helpless and I don’t know what to do.”

The importance of personal security and anonymity in Hong Kong

For the hundreds of thousands of protestors currently taking to the streets week after week in Hong Kong, Zhang’s story should resonate.

The Chinese Communist Regime has long memories. Once the hue and cry over something has died down, most people would assume that the issue has been put to bed. Not in Communist China. Put one foot out of line there and you spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulder, waiting for the authorities to exact their revenge.

In Hong Kong, the issue is a long way from being put to bed. The protestors sense that this is their opportunity to secure their rights and freedoms and escape the fate that people like Zhang have suffered. They are showing no sign of backing down.

But neither are the CCP. They have used both the Hong Kong Police Force and local gangsters to try and beat and scare the protestors off the street. Now that approach has failed, they are readying a full-scale military invasion.

The massed ranks of the ironically-named People’s Liberation Army are poised just across the water ready to crush dissent in Hong Kong and force obedience to Beijing’s instructions.

But this doesn’t mean that the fightback by Beijing hasn’t already begun. Chinese Communist Party officials or their Hong Kong subservients will already be gathering evidence.

Photos of protestors are being collected, which is why most protestors are changing clothes, masks, and helmets regularly to avoid detection.

Internet records are being collected and Beijing’s army of hackers are working hard to infiltrate the main communication tools protestors are using to help identify the ringleaders and anyone in support of the protests.

As a result, protestors are using ever more convoluted means of communicating with codes being applied to conversations in such unlikely places as Uber and online games chat rooms.

However the Hong Kong protests are eventually resolved, those at the heart of them will always be looking over their shoulders. So too will anyone who has ever expressed even a modicum of sympathy or support for their objectives.

Communist China has a long memory

As the case of Zhang Jialong shows, the Chinese Communist Party never forgets and even if they don’t act now, they will eventually.

Here at VPNCompare.co.uk we fully support the people of Hong Kong in their struggle for freedom from the tyranny and oppression of the Chinese Communists.

We urge them to stay strong and keep courage in their convictions. We also implore them to take whatever steps they can to hide themselves from those officials who are watching.

VPNs have long been vital in China for anyone who wants to hide themselves from the Communist Party’s surveillance apparatus. In Hong Kong right now, they should be absolutely mandatory.

We urge all Hong Kongers to invest in a VPN today to ensure everything they do online is encrypted and hidden from the many prying eyes that are currently watching you. Even if you are not actively involved in the protests, or even sympathetic to their aims, it is a wise precaution to take.

Add oil Hong Kong. The world is behind you!

David Spencer

Author: David Spencer

David is VPNCompare's News Editor. Anything going on in the privacy world and he's got his eye on it. He's also interested in unblocking sports allowing him to watch his favourite football team wherever he is in the world.

Away from writing, he enjoys reading and politics. He is currently learning Mandarin too... slowly.

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