As promised, China’s rubber-stamp parliament has submitted for “deliberation” a sweeping new national security law for Hong Kong that critics say would be the end of “one country, two systems” and of Hong Kong as we know it.
On the opening day of the annual session of China’s National People’s Congress, Wang Chen, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the NPC, explained the proposed law and why it was necessary, declaring that Hong Kong is facing increased national security risks that threaten national sovereignty and the rule of law while challenging the bottom of line of “one country, two systems.”
The new national security law includes seven articles. The fourth is likely to prove the most controversial, allowing Chinese security organs to set up agencies in Hong Kong in order to “fulfill relevant duties to safeguard national security in accordance with the law.”
The law’s obvious internet is to make it easier for Beijing to respond to political unrest, like the large-scale pro-democracy, anti-government demonstrations that wracked Hong Kong for much of last year, by prohibiting sedition, subversion, and secession along with foreign interference in Hong Kong affairs.
China’s NPC could pass the law by as early as next week. By passing the law in its own rubber-stamp parliament, Beijing will be able to effectively bypass Hong Kong’s own legislature.
China has the power to implement national security law in Hong Kong under the controversial Article 23 of the city’s mini-constitution. The last time it was tried in 2003, large-scale protests caused the effort to be scrapped.
Considering what has happened over the past year, it seems unlikely that will work again. However, activists have already called for mass demonstrations in the city on Friday for the first time since the health regulations following the coronavirus outbreak caused last year’s unrest to fizzle out.
The Hong Kong government, meanwhile, has quickly declared its support for the new national security with the city’s leader Carrie Lam issuing a statement saying that the proposed legislation will have no impact on the rights and liberties of the people of Hong Kong or the city’s judicial independence.
For its part, Chinese state media has looked to calm fears with big letters:
The massive NO NEED TO BE AFRAID towering over the city is a nice touch https://t.co/3VWU7qhFqi
— Jonathan Cheng (@JChengWSJ) May 22, 2020