Hong Kong’s National Security Law Smothers Dissent

Hong Kong skyline, September 2014

FLESH IS BEING put on the bones of the new national security law that Beijing is imposing on Hong Kong. The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress reviewed a draft late last week. The full text has yet to be made public but the summary that was released will do little to reassure many in Hong Kong that the territory’s independent legal system under ‘one country, two systems’ will be anything but undercut.

Even state media’s assurances that under the new law, ‘anyone shall be presumed innocent until convicted by the judicial organs’ managed to convey that conviction was the inevitable endpoint of the process. As there is to be a new class of courts dealing with national security cases, with judges chosen by Hong Kong’s chief executive, herself handpicked by Beijing and to be advised by a new national security adviser appointed by Beijing, that very likely will be what the future holds.

At the same time, the chief executive is to appoint a commission to oversee national security in Hong Kong which will report directly to Beijing. Other key aspects of the law include Beijing’s ability to intervene directly in national security cases, taking them under mainland law. Beijing will also supervise the policing of threats to national security in the territory. These are broadly defined under the headings of secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities and collusion with foreign or external forces, a swathe of offences broad enough for the Party to pursue any activity that it does not like.

The official narrative is one of the need for the new legislation to secure law and order in Hong Kong so it will remain attractive to foreign businesses and investors. That may betray a misunderstanding of what made Hong Kong attractive to foreign capital in the first place. Mainland firms will readily fill any vacuum, however, accelerating the absorption process. For residents, protest looks decreasingly viable or sustainable, but that is the intent.

Update: The South China Morning Post reports that the full text of the new law will not be published until after it is passed, which is expected to be by June 30, the eve of the 23rd anniversary of China’s resumption of sovereignty over Hong Kong.

2 Comments

Filed under Hong Kong

2 responses to “Hong Kong’s National Security Law Smothers Dissent

  1. Pingback: Hong Kong’s National Security Law Is Being Enacted | China Bystander

  2. Pingback: Beijing Cracks Down On Hong Kong Dissent With Growing Impunity | China Bystander

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