Rowan Callick on the Hong Kong protests and freedom, democracy and authoritarianism in China

July 17, 2019

Rowan Callick is a highly regarded Australian and British author and journalist with The Australian newspaper. He’s one of the pre-eminent journalists and writers specialising in Asia-Pacific affairs, having lived and worked in the region for decades, including 4 years as China correspondent in Hong Kong. Rowan has won two Walkley Awards for his coverage of China and the Asia-Pacific, and has published three books on contemporary China, including Party Time, The Party Forever, and Comrades & Capitalists: Hong Kong Since the Handover.

In this interview, Rowan reminisces on the 1997 handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China, and examines the historical roots behind the 2019 protests which saw millions of Hong Kongers demonstrate against a proposed extradition bill, which would have enabled extradition to mainland China. We reflect on the history of democracy in China, social media and the digital surveillance state, and the growing authoritarianism of Xi Jinping towards separatist movements on the peripheries of mainland China.