China spy claim: Beijing using coronavirus to gather data on citizens, warns campaigner

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And Beijing is also routinely targeting bookshops which sell books disapproved of by the regime of President Xi Jinping, while there are also rumours of kidnapping and even murder, Jack, a Hong Kong-based pro-democracy campaigner has told Express.co.uk. Tensions have been high in the former British colony since China announced its intention to introduce controversial new security laws which residents fear are the first step in abolishing the so-called “one country, two systems” policy which has been in force for more than two decades.

Jack, who is in his twenties, and who has lived in Hong Kong his whole life, said: “This week, a team of scientists were sent from China as the SAR government announced free Covid-19 screening would roll out for the “entire population”.

“So far, the three designated laboratories are subsidiaries of Chinese state enterprises.

“The reason people are cynical is China’s poor track record with personal data (eg the Social Credit System, DNA samples to track the identity of Uighurs in Xinjiang, etc).

“This is definitely a concern for us but we are watching as this develops.”

Last month widespread reports suggested China was initiating a new policy of “book-cleansing” which Professor Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at London’s School of Oriental and Asian Studies, said had disturbing echoes of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution.

Jack said Hong Kong was far from immune, with many bookshops scared to sell “banned” books.

He said: “Self-censorship has been on the rise since 2015, when owners of a bookstore were kidnapped into China by National Security agents.

“Since Popular closed down earlier this year, the bookstore market is dominated by three major Chinese-owned brands, which, needless to say, doesn’t publish ‘dissident’ books.

“The same censorship is seen in the media and academia.”

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Jack has attended several pro-democracy protests, and has witnessed sickening violence, including a girl being brutally clubbed with batons by four police officers as she lay helpless on the ground.

However, he added: “I think the most violent part of the protest would be what many of us suspect had happened to the arrested.

“A famous case would be the death of Chan Yin-lam, a member of her school’s diving team, who was found naked, floating in the sea.

“There have also been numerous videos circulating of unconscious people being pushed down from apartment buildings starting from September.

“The official suicide rate went up by 15 percent from the previous year.

“Many suggest the police have a part in this.”

With this as a backdrop, Jack suggested he and his fellow demonstrators had zero confidence in Hong Kong’s government – and especially not Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, who is widely regarded as a “puppet”.

He added: “She acts almost entirely on Beijing’s interests.

“Needless to say, she was elected by a council of 1200 under heavy influence of the CCP.”

Jack is not the man’s real name – Express.co.uk has agreed to protect his true identity for his own safety.

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