As we know, China's proposed national security law could end Hong Kong

As we know, China's proposed national security law could end Hong Kong
As we know, China's proposed national security law could end Hong Kong

Hong Kong is known for being a "city of protest", with hundreds of thousands of people taking their government into the streets.

Prior to the Umbrella Movement or continued political unrest last year, this reputation was consolidated in 2003, when forcing the government to archive a mass march law against an anti-treason bill known as Article 23 Managed to In the 17 years since then, despite promises to do so and many urges from Beijing, none of Hong Kong's administration dared to resume the process.

This week, Beijing's patience ran out. More than six months after the often violent anti-democracy protests in Hong Kong last year, the National People's Congress (NPC), China's parliament, plans to implement national security and sedition laws. In the name of the city, the Hong Kong legislature rarely passed through the constitutional gate.

The details of the proposed legislation were presented in 2003. In addition to criminalization of "treason, segregation, treason (and) sabotage" against the central government, it will also allow Chinese national security organs to operate. The city "undertakes reasonable obligations to protect national security according to law."

The NPC is expected to be approved at the end of this month and enacted in Hong Kong shortly thereafter, with the law heavily impacting all sectors of Hong Kong society for media from the city's rebellious and flawed political arena. , Education and international trade.

Wide application

Hong Kong has always pushed itself to follow the rule of law with an independent judiciary and civil liberties, which are beyond the limits of cross-border permission in mainland China. The type of general punishment, secret detention and naked political prosecution on the continent is almost unknown.

These rights are guaranteed (in principle) by the original constitution of the city and by an agreement between China (Britain), in the original law, when Hong Kong was handed over to the Chinese government in 1997. Unlike Hong Kong, China, it is also a party to international treaties that guarantees various civil liberties.

The new law challenges all of this. By criminalizing such broadly non-defined acts, it could pave the way for the authorities to pursue the city's opposition as they see fit.

In China, extensive national security laws have been used to attack human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and pro-democracy activists. Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who died after more than a decade behind bars in 2017, was convicted of "inciting the subversion of state power".

Allowing China's security system to operate in the city also increases the specter of extralegal harassment. In China, dissidents and activists are often disappeared by authorities or threatened with arrest for sensitive incidents, and many journalists and lawyers are dragged to "drink tea" with security services, during which they are thin Threats about the veil threaten. Possible results of your work.

At a press conference called by opposition lawmakers on Friday, Democratic Party legislator Helena Wong said that even the local government "would not be able to regulate agents in Hong Kong."

His colleague Claudia Moe told CNN that the news was evidence that Beijing would "do anything to control Hong Kong at any cost."

"It is clear that Beijing no longer cares about people's thinking," he said.

Implementation of the law in Hong Kong can be a nightmare for city courts, which operate separately from the Chinese legal system and are free from political pressure from judges on the mainland.

However, this does not mean that the law is in danger of being repealed. The NPC is the last court of appeal in Hong Kong and can issue an "interpretation" of any constitutional case, essentially rewriting the original law on the go.

But the confusion and uncertainty that new rules could create, and a potentially protracted battle in court, could take a severe blow to the city's reputation for maintaining the rule of law, which has long been considered important to an international. Hong Kong's status as. Financial and Business Center.

Cooling effect

Unlike the extradition bill that began last year's riots, the scope and effect of the traitor law can have a wider and wider society. A large-scale chilling effect can be expected in the media and political areas of the city: journalist groups have warned to increase self-censorship due to increased pressure from Beijing and newspapers and radio stations. The TVs are under the control of the Chinese owners.

The fate of the city's large international press corps is unclear. Foreign journalists are currently free to work in Hong Kong unaffected by the types of visas and other restrictions imposed on their allies in China, but new legislation already indicated that it was ending. New controls on reporting in Hong Kong can cause many media organizations to move out of the city, traditionally a basis for reporting on the wider region of Asia.

It can also have a disgraceful result against the city's legislature, where pro-democracy legislators occupy about one-third of the seats. In recent years, MPs have been expelled from the body and some candidates have been politically excluded. The new law could give Hong Kong authorities a broader mandate to remove obstructive lawmakers from their legislation or even prosecute them for blocking major legislation, especially for national security reasons.

The impact of the proposed change will likely be felt outside the city as well. US senators should issue an assessment under the Hong Kong Democracy and Human Rights Act (HKDA) on whether the city is autonomous enough from China to justify its particular occupational status. It is difficult to see that Beijing will not shape this decision by bypassing Hong Kong's parliament and enacting legislation on its behalf.

On Thursday night, several US lawmakers promised to impose sanctions against Chinese and Hong Kong officials responsible for enforcing the law, which they described as a "serious violation" of China's agreement with the United Kingdom to maintain the city's independence. Took sovereignty in 1997.

Beijing can rely on the fact that the coronavirus epidemic has undermined the ability and determination of the international community to exert pressure on Hong Kong: the United Kingdom, especially outside the European Union, depends on increasing trade with China To promote our stable economy.

With the new rules in force from the Hong Kong Legislature above, it is unclear what the protesters or opposition legislators can do to prevent them from becoming law. Lawmakers have filmed a proposed law that punishes the insult of China's national anthem for years, while protesters physically blocked the parliament last year and prevented further discussion about the hate-spreading bill. Any strategy against the new National Security Act will not work.

Time, given that the coronovirus ban is still in Hong Kong, which is only fully controlling its internal epidemic, it could mean that people join mass protests more than last year Are less inclined to.

However, amid widespread disappointment on Thursday night, Nathan Law, a former legislator and leader of the 2014 protest, called on people not to give up completely: "Just last year, we didn't think all this extradition law was definitive. Will pass? Hong Kong people can always create miracles. "

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