The Chinese Communists are looking to take full advantage of the coronavirus restrictions by imposing a new “National Security Law” specifically and obviously aimed at Hong Kong and their democracy movement. The law would virtually destroy Hong Kong’s guaranteed autonomy and lead to a severe crackdown on protests and protesters.
The South China Morning Post is reporting that a “Beijing source said the new law would ban all seditious activities aimed at toppling the central government and external interference in Hong Kong’s affairs. It would also target terrorist acts in the city.”
Apparently not mentioned in the law is the guarantee that Hong Kong would pass its own legislation and that it would remain independent of Beijing. Those guarantees, given by the Chinese government when the former British colony was handed over, have been eroding gradually in recent years, leading to increasing unrest and protests against Beijing’s interference.
This isn’t going to help matters.
The Basic Law, or the city’s mini-constitution, requires the Hong Kong government to enact its own national security law prohibiting acts of “treason, secession, sedition, or subversion” under Article 23.But the law has been in abeyance since 1997. In 2003, the Hong Kong government was forced to shelve a national security bill after an estimated half a million people took to the streets to oppose the legislation, which they warned would curb their rights and freedoms.
But Beijing has never stopped trying. And given the level of mistrust between the people of Hong Kong and the mainland government, it’s not surprising that all initiatives from Beijing would be suspect.
Wang Yang, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, on Thursday called on Hong Kong delegates to strengthen their sense of political responsibility to more firmly uphold the “one country, two systems” policy.
However, his work report omitted mention of the principles of “Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong” and the city’s “high degree of autonomy”.
Sources have told the Post that a draft of the national security resolution will be shared with delegates on Thursday night and presented as a motion to the NPC, on Friday afternoon.
China has been embarrassed by the protests. The unrest hasn’t threatened their hold on the island but they’ve shown the world another face of the “People’s Republic” that makes them uncomfortable. Like those who dared question the government’s response at the outset of the pandemic, they will try to make the Kong Kong protests disappear under the weight of what could fairly be described as their jackboot.
“The NPC decision will delegate the NPC Standing Committee to draft the new legislation for Hong Kong, which would be included in Annex III of Hong Kong’s Basic Law,” the source said.
“The new law will be introduced in Hong Kong through promulgation, without the need for local legislation.”
The agreement explicitly calls for a “local legislation” on all questions impacting Hong Kong. It clearly makes a mockery of the “one country, two systems” promise that was at the very heart of the agreement they signed with the British that made Hong Kong Chinese territory. London would never have signed a deal that sacrificed Hong Kong autonomy.
But that was 23 years ago. And the Chinese government has simply made it another part of their “non-history.”