The new security law criminalises pro-democracy protests, curbs free speech, and restricts Hong Kong's administrative reach in the island.
The full extent of the draconian security legislation for Hong Kong was revealed only after it was passed by China on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. The details of the security law was revealed on Tuesday night hours after it passed at Beijing's top legislature. The security law will be applicable in the Island from July 1st which is ironically the day for pro-democracy protests every year.
True to China's Communist hegemonic character, the new security law aims to punish anyone who is seen as a threat to China's dominance or questions the ruthlessness or demands democracy in the island. Violators of the security law may face life imprisonment.
Acts of secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces will carry a minimum of 10 years and maximum of life in prison for serious cases. Arson & vandalising public transport with an intent to intimidate the local or national gov't for political purposes will constitute acts of terror, according to the new law.
Erosion of Hong Kong's autonomy
In order to oversee the implementation of the security law, Beijing is to set up an office for safeguarding national security in HongKong. Personnel for overseeing the implementation will be dispatched from relevant Chinese security agencies. The security law further erodes the autonomy of the Island nation as it states that HongKong's administration will have no jurisdiction over the new offices in Hong Kong, nor can it oversee the behaviour, search or inspect law enforcement personnel.
The law states that HongKong shall have jurisdiction only to prosecute national security offences, except where it has "realistic difficulties" due to the involvement of foreign forces; or the situation's seriousness; or in cases where the country is faced with grave realistic threats.
The new law says that members of the press and the public may be barred from hearing part of - or the entirety of - cases involving classified information of the state. This will effectively take away the freedom of speech that was prevalent in Hong Kong till now.
As soon as the Law was passed in Beijing, HK police issued a statement on Tue evening warning protesters. It said: "In response to the various criminal acts that endanger national security, the Hong Kong Police Force will conduct arrests and take other law enforcement actions in accordance with the National Security Law and the Laws of Hong Kong..."
China invades Hong Kong through the back door
On Tuesday, China’s parliament passed the security law to criminalise sedition, foreign interference and terrorism which will be applicable to Hong Kong too. Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters say that this law will quash political dissent and freedoms in the semi-autonomous territory. The unanimous vote came a little over a month after Beijing announced its decision to impose the law without local legislative oversight. The passing of the draconian law indicates that a year of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong had no effect on Chinese administration.
Clause 56 of the new law states that China’s Supreme People’s Procuratorate can stipulate “relevant procuratorates” to prosecute, while the Supreme People’s Court can stipulate “relevant courts” for trial – under Chinese criminal law. Though the law does not make any reference to extradition to the mainland, it categorically says that members of the press and the public may be barred from hearing part of cases involving classified information of the state.
Pro-democracy Protests Banned
As soon as the law was passed by Beijing, Hong Kong police banned the annual July 1 pro-democracy march for the first time in 17 years citing violence during previous rallies and public health concerns amid Covid-19. Organisers, the Civil Human Rights Front, were denied an appeal at court on Tuesday evening. However, the pro-democracy demonstrators have said that they will assemble at Causeway Bay at 2pm in Causeway Bay.
Hong Kong Independence Union became the latest group to disband on Tuesday, hours after the security law was approved. Its convenor has reportedly fled the city. Earlier, pro-democracy group 'Demosisto' ceased it's operations. Another pro-independence Student localism group and the Hong Kong National Front said they would cease local operations but continue to work overseas.