The end of Hong Kong
On 30th June 2020, China passed a National security legislation for Hong Kong. ‘The Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’ The new national security law further blurs the distinction between the legal systems of semi autonomous Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China authoritarian Communist Party system.
What is Hong Kong’s status?
Hong Kong (Chinese special administrative region) is a former British colony handed back to Mainland China in 1997.
Hong Kong has its own judiciary and a separate legal system from the People’s Republic of China. Human Rights include freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. But those freedoms – the Basic Law – expire in 2047 and it is not clear what Hong Kong status will then be.
What level of ‘autonomy’ does Hong Kong have?
■ Own Government, multi-party legislatures
■ Legal systems, police forces,
■ Currency and customs
■ Immigration policies
■ Sports teams, official languages,
■ Postal systems,
■ Educational systems
■ Substantial competence in external relations
Military control of the People’s Republic of China No embassies (only Consulate) The world and United Nation accept them as part of Mainland China
One China – Two Systems
A lost Opportunity
Under Article 23 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong, Hong Kong was supposed to enact the national security law on its own. But, when the state government first tried to enact the law in 2003, the issue became a rallying point for massive protests that last year. Ever since, the government of Hong Kong steered clear of introducing the legislation again. China — Annex 3
Hong Kong Protests in 2019-20
Hong Kong protests started in June since last year against plans to allow extradition to the People’s Republic of China. The national security law bill was withdrawn in September last year but demonstrations continue and now demand full democracy and an inquiry into police actions. Clashes between police and people have become more and more violent.
China imposes a national security law
The details of the national security law articles 66 were kept secret until after it was passed.
New law mainly targets protesters with harsher punishments .
It criminalises any act of –
1. Secession – breaking away from the country
2. Subversion – undermining the power or authority of the central government
3. Terrorism – using violence or intimidation against people
4. Collusion with foreign or external forces
All 4 offences can summon life imprisonment as the maximum punishment, followed by lesser penalties.
- Hong Kong crowd Damaging public transport facilities can be considered terrorism
- People found guilty will not be allowed to stand for public office
- Companies can be fined if convicted under the law
- Beijing will establish a new security office in Hong Kong, with its own law enforcement personnel – which would come under the local authority’s jurisdiction
- This office can send some cases to be tried in the People’s Republic of China.
- Hong Kong will have to establish its own national security commission to enforce the laws, with a Beijing (Capital of China)-appointed adviser
- Hong Kong’s chief executive will have the power to appoint judges to hear national security law cases, raising fears about judicial autonomy
- If a trial involves “State secrets” or “public order”, it could be closed to the media and the public; only the judgment would be delivered in open court.
- People suspected of breaking the law can be wire-tapped
- and put under surveillance
- The law will also apply to residents and people “from outside Hong Kong, who are not permanent residents of Hong Kong”.
- China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee will have power over how the law should be interpreted, not any Hong Kong judicial or policy body. If the law conflicts with any Hong Kong law, the Mainland China law takes priority
- The law has been criticised by the US as “draconian”.
- The United Kingdom has also called its passing a “grave step”.
New Hong Kong security law by China explained