UNDER cover of the global health crisis, the world’s biggest tyrants are tightening their grip on power.
In Russia, Vladimir Putin rewrites the constitution so he can rule for another 16 years.
In China, Xi Jinping’s brutal crackdown on the pro-democracy movement wipes all trace of freedom from the former British colony of Hong Kong.
Both these brutal power grabs have been done under the cover of constitutional reform.
Putin, an old KGB brute weirdly keen on flaunting his macho nipples, has already been in power for two decades as either president or prime minister and can now rule until he is 83 after a controversial referendum widely described as “a sham”.
Xi sends the goon squad on to the streets of Hong Kong after passing a “National Security Law” that makes ANY dissent from Communist Party rule a criminal offence.
“Hong Kong is China,” they love to sneer in Beijing.
This is — tragically for the freedom-loving people of Hong Kong — true. But Hong Kong was British for 156 years, from 1841 to 1997, and it was handed back to China on the understanding that Hong Kong’s unique freedoms would remain unchanged for 50 years. One country, two systems was the promise.
China has trashed that promise. There is one country now — tyrannical communist China where you kowtow to the party line or face the consequences. It is now illegal to sing the wrong song in Hong Kong. It is now a criminal offence to carry the wrong flag. Demanding basic human freedoms that we take for granted — and were also the norm in Hong Kong — will now get you jail time without even the pretence of anything resembling a fair trial.
As the free world struggles with crashing economies, soaring unemployment and horrific coronavirus death tolls, communist dictators are reverting to the law of the secret police and kangaroo court, the baton and tear gas and terror.
The old men in Beijing love to say that outside agencies are interfering in Hong Kong’s internal policies. But the simple truth is that the young people of Hong Kong — all born after the Union Jack came down — have grown up with freedoms that are unknown on mainland China. They do not want to live under a soul-destroying communist regime.
That is why, at every attempt to roll back their freedoms and make Hong Kong as servile as every other part of China, the youngsters of Hong Kong have taken to the streets to protest in their millions. That is why riot police are currently arresting children in Hong Kong. Because they want to be free.
President Xi’s National Security Law allows communist China to crush dissent in any way China sees fit. Likewise, President Putin’s referendum marginalises the millions of Russians who would love to see the back of the floundering KGB hardman.
Millions of ordinary Russians and Hong Kongers have seen their freedoms eroded this week.
And although the UK has problems of its own, we should do everything in our power to stand up to these old communist thugs who rule Russia and China. Don’t do business with them, for starters. And when teenagers are being rounded up on the streets of Hong Kong, we should not be asking a Chinese tech firm to build our mobile network.
British history teaches us you can never appease a murderous bully
Enraging Beijing, a poll shows the British public are in favour of offering Hong Kong residents holding British National Overseas passports a home in the UK.
So much for a post-Brexit UK that closes its borders to the world.
So much for the racist, intolerant, xenophobic country we are supposed to be.
This has been a rotten week for freedom. But in the darkness, there is a light — the decency, generosity and tolerance of the freedom-loving British people.
And it is a light that will never go out.
Katie's Killing time
KATIE BOULTER, the golden girl of British tennis, says she is spending the cancelled Wimbledon fortnight watching the BBC crime series Killing Eve, which stars Jodie Comer – who many suggest is Katie’s doppelganger.
The blonde bombshell of the baseline, above, says: “My brother recently said that to me. He was like – you definitely look like her. You’ve got to watch this box set. It’s unbelievable!”
I do hope Katie is not disappointed. No series ever went downhill as fast as Killing Eve.The first series was great.
Then Phoebe Waller-Bridge bailed out and the second series was mediocre. And then the third series was unwatchable.
Killing Eve? Personally, I would prefer to be watching Katie Boulter on the Centre Court at Wimbledon.
COUNTING OUR LOSS
MEGHAN reportedly believes her lavish wedding to Prince Harry generated £1billion for the UK.
Seems a trifle optimistic, not to mention deluded.
I remember standing among the crowds on that sun-drenched wedding day in Windsor and feeling the love and goodwill for the happy couple.
As they marinate in self-pity and self-importance in their Hollywood mansion, I wonder if Meghan and Harry will ever understand the value of all that love and goodwill they chucked away.
Because it felt priceless.
A RACIST? WHAT THE DICKENS?
Ian Driver, 63, is the former Green Party councillor who admits scrawling “racist” on the wall of a Charles Dickens museum in Broadstairs, Kent, causing £2,000 of criminal damage.
But Charles Dickens was famously progressive – he cared deeply about the poor, he cared deeply about social injustice and he campaigned against capital punishment in an age when public hangings were entertainment for the masses.
Dickens’ experience of watching a hanging at Newgate informs the end of Oliver Twist, when Fagin is hanged – it is only in Lionel Bart’s cheerful musical Oliver! that Fagin gets to dance off into the sunset.
With his profound sympathy for the oppressed, the average Victorian would have considered Charles Dickens decidedly “woke”.
The character of Fagin in Oliver Twist – my favourite Dickens novel – is meant to be evidence of Dickens’ racism.
But Fagin is Jewish – there is nothing anti-Semitic about his portrayal.
Has this elderly Green Party graffiti artist actually read any Dickens? If not, he doesn’t know what he is missing.
Nobody else has created the range of dazzling characters that poured out of Dickens’ imagination – Scrooge, Fagin, Oliver Twist, Miss Havisham, Mr Bumble, the Artful Dodger, Bill Sikes.
Every writer in the English language lives in the shadow of Charles Dickens.
This big-hearted genius enriched the language, the world and the imagination of generations.
Calling him a racist is pig ignorant.
Dickens lived and died in Victorian England.
Expecting him to think exactly like a 21st-century Twitter user hardly seems fair.
In fact, it hardly seems sane.
Tea for two - one failure
THE UK and Japan are both tea-drinking monarchies. Both countries have an ageing population. Both are densely populated islands. But in the UK, the Covid-19 death toll stands at 44,000. While in Japan, the number of deaths is still less than 1,000. The difference is obscene
Public Health England receives £300million a year “to protect and improve the nation’s health”.
JEN, YOU SERIOUS?
“I COULD not escape Rachel from Friends,” confesses Jennifer Aniston.
“And it’s on all the time and you’re like, ‘Stop playing that f***ing show!’ ”
Jen says that playing Rachel Green for ten seasons of Friends from 1994 to 2004 blighted her career as a serious actress.
But how many serious actors or actresses end up with Jen’s fortune, estimated at between $200million and $300million?
Perhaps you have to decide between serious actress and serious money.
BIG HAND FOR JASON
WHICH cast member of The Crown can do one-handed handstands?
Claire Foy (young Queen Elizabeth)? Claire could plausibly have done gymnastics at school.
Matt Smith (young Prince Philip)? Matt looks like a natural athlete.
Or – a long shot – Helena Bonham Carter (the older Princess Margaret)?
Probably, chubby, avuncular Jason Watkins (Prime Minister Harold Wilson) would be your last choice. And yet there Jason is, executing an immaculate one-handed handstand after Boris Johnson did press-ups to prove he was “as fit as a but-cher’s dog”.
“Does this make me Foreign Secretary?” asked Jason, inset. More like king of the world, Jason.
THE Queen is reportedly not amused that some of her subjects are using the leafy corners of Balmoral as a toilet.
But our Queen is smart enough to know that happens when the country is open but councils keep public toilets closed.
The toilets and the schools should have been the first things to reopen.
Instead, they are going to be the last.
JEREMY CLARKSONI’m 60 and falling apart…but at least my mind is still racing
LORRAINE KELLYIt's shameful to heap more stress on the Queen...both as a monarch and a mum
THE SUN SAYSAndrew now has no choice - he must give a full statement to the FBI under oath
THE SUN SAYSLet's drink today to freedom & the signs of hope Britain's bouncing back fast
ROD LIDDLEI’m worried Super Saturday will lead to Terrible Thursday with a virus spike
ANNEMARIE PLASWhy we need another clap of honour - this one with an eye to the future
NOWHERE TO HIDE
COME clean, Prince Andrew.
Now that Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged groomer is in FBI custody, you can’t hide behind royal flunkies.
Remove this stain from your reputation, the Andy formerly known as Randy.
Start yak-king to the Feds. You can bet your life that Ghislaine Maxwell will.
Blairs done but not dusted
TONY BLAIR says he has not done any household chores since becoming Prime Minister in 1997. With the millions the Blairs have stuffed into their bloated coffers over the years, I can’t imagine Cherie has done much dusting since Brit Pop.
GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL [email protected]