It is known that Hong Kong is extremely different from other Chinese cities. Before delving deep into its National Security Law, let us better understand its history. Hong Kong is a British colony for 150 years. It became a busy country store, and its economy began to expand within the 1950s as a producing hub.
Then, because the deadline for the 99-year-lease was approaching, within the early 1980s, Britain and China began talks on the long term with the communist government in China arguing Hong Kong should be returned to Communist Party. The two sides finally signed a treaty in 1984 that might return Hong Kong to China in 1997 but under the principle of “one country, two systems“. This technique allowed Hong Kong to enjoy “a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs” for 50 years until 2047.
As a result, Hong Kong has its separate legal body and borders, and rights including freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and free speech are protected.
How the things went changing for Hong Kong?
Hong Kong still enjoys that freedom, but it seems to get on the decline. Rights groups have accused China of encroaching on Hong Kong, citing examples like the disappearance of 5 Hong Kong merchants, and a tycoon who all ended up in custody in China.
It is also noted that freedom of the press and freedom of education has been violated. In March, China successfully expelled several American journalists and banned them from working in Hong Kong.
In conclusion, Hong Kong may be a former British colony handed back to China in 1997 with its own judiciary and a separate system from China. Those rights include freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. But those freedoms – the essential Law – expire in 2047 and it’s not clear what Hong Kong’s status will then be.
How did protests start in Hong Kong?
The 2019-20 Hong Kong protests were started by the introduction of the Fugitive Offenders amendment bill by the Hong Kong government. The new bill would now allow extradition to jurisdictions with which Hong Kong didn’t have extradition agreements, including China and Taiwan.
This directly had an impression on the people of Hong Kong as they might be exposed to the system of China, thereby undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and infringing civil liberties. This triggered a sequence of protests that began with a sit-in at the govt headquarters, an indication attended by masses on 9 June 2019, followed by a gathering outside the legislature Complex to stall the bill’s final reading on 12 June which converted into violence and caught the attention through which we know it today.
On June 16, only one day after the chief executive suspended the bill, a huge and violent protest erupted in protest of the June 12 police crackdown on police brutality.
As the protests continued, citizens raised five major demands, namely the issuance of a bill, an investigation into allegations of police harassment and misconduct, the discharge of all detainees, the withdrawal of the official status of the protest as “protests”, the resignation of Carrie Lam as chief military officer and therefore the introduction of total agreement.
Lam withdrew the bill on September 4 but refused to suits four other demands and a few months later, he called on paramedics to use the anti-masking law.
Conflicts escalated – allegations of police brutality and misconduct, with some protesters resorting to petrol bombs and vandalizing the Beijing government. The gap within the community grew as activists from each side attacked one another.
Understanding the Hong Kong National Security Law:
On 30th June 2020, China passed the National security legislation for Hong Kong. The law is known as The Law of the People’s Republic of China on safeguarding National Security within the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
The new national security law further blurs the excellence between the legal systems of semi-autonomous Hong Kong and therefore the mainland’s authoritarian Communist Party system. The small print of the 66 legal articles was kept confidential until it had been passed.
This new security law criminalizes any act of
- Secession – breaking away unity of the country
- Subversion – undermining the authority or power of the central government.
- Terrorism – using violence or intimidation against people
- Collusion – against the state with foreign or external forces
All four offences can lead to life imprisonment as the maximum punishment, succeeded by lesser penalties.
* Also, China will establish a replacement security office in Hong Kong, with its enforcement personnel- which may come under the local authority’s jurisdiction. This office can send some cases to be tried in China.
* Also, Hong Kong will need to establish its own national security commission to enforce the laws, with a Beijing- appointed advisor.
* Hong Kong’s chief executive will be given the facility to appoint judges to head the national security cases, raising fears about judicial autonomy.
* If an attempt involves “State secrets” or “public order”, it might be closed to the media and therefore the public; only the judgment would be delivered in open court.
* People suspected of breaking the law are often wire-tapped and anaesthetize surveillance.
* The law also will apply to residents and other people from outside Hong Kong who aren’t permanent residents of Hong Kong.
* China’s National People’s Congress committee will have power over how the law should be interpreted, not any Hong Kong judicial or policy body. If any law of Hong Kong conflicts with the centre, the centre law takes priority.
To implement this national security law with the utmost strictness, Zheng Yanxiong is appointed Hong Kong Security chief, who is understood to suppress many protests in China.
International response to the Hong Kong crisis:
India raises Hong Kong at the UN during a mild manner keeping in sight the trade treaties between the two. On the opposite hand, the US and UK strongly condemn this and United States Senate also approves the ultimate sanctions bill to punish China over Hong Kong. The UK has also called its passing a “grave step” and against their agreement signed in 1997. The UK has said to offer 3 Million Hong Kong residents eased way to British Citizenship.
China has this biggest fear that if their best professionals in fields of technology, medicine, and business leave the country, then the economy will fall thanks to brain drain and Hong Kong wouldn’t stay a business centre as it is today.