Jimmy Lai, owner of the pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily, was on trial again in Hong Kong last week. He and some editors are accused of “secret agreements with foreign forces”. I was dismayed to learn that articles of mine were cited as evidence of alleged crimes by the editors. In it I appeal to the international community to defend our common values.

Even the description of the People’s Republic of China as a “spreading dictatorship” violates the National Security Law specially enacted by Beijing. And the call on the German government to “play a more active role in human rights issues, as it has promised” is interpreted as an attempt to cooperate with foreign forces.

It should not have to be constantly explained that in my articles – like many other authors – I have only exercised my right to freedom of expression. Although I know that in Hong Kong rational debates are now being used as a weapon by the state to condemn peaceful and freedom-loving people, I can’t help but feel guilty.

Things I have written will be used to put people behind bars. It’s the opposite of what I was taught as a kid in Hong Kong — that the rule of law and freedom of speech are core values.

But Beijing is not solely responsible for the decline of my city. Those who have not kept their promises to Hong Kong and failed to defend fundamental rights are also to blame. More and more people are realizing that developments in other countries are not isolated events.

If you elect a government that does nothing to address the growing threat of authoritarianism, you will eventually pay a price. While today Hong Kongers in particular are suffering from the loss of our freedom, the rest of the world will soon realize that it is their loss too.

Glacier Kwong alternates writing this column with Joshua Wong. The two young activists from Hong Kong are fighting against the growing influence of China in their homeland.