Friday, 05 June, 2020


Why reassertion of Xi Jinping's authority spells violence in Hong Kong

Members of the Democratic Party hold banner and placards during a protest China introduces new security bill in parliament to tighten controls over Hong Kong
Conrad Doyle | 23 May, 2020, 01:25

According to Lam, the proposed legislation would not affect Hong Kong's judicial independence or that of its legal entities, adding that Beijing's intention was to tackle illegal activities that the government believed had damaged national security.

It followed repeated warnings from China's communist leaders they would no longer tolerate dissent in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous city that endured seven months of massive pro-democracy protests previous year.

But the increasingly notable national security risks in the HKSAR have become a prominent problem, the document says, citing activities that have seriously challenged the bottom line of the "one country, two systems" principle, harmed the rule of law, and threatened national sovereignty, security and development interests. Members of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) from Hong Kong said Friday they firmly support the bill. But the unrest lent momentum to pro-democracy groups, who demanded Lam's resignation and free and fair elections in Hong Kong.

The move by China's Government, with legislation to be written in Beijing and introduced essentially by decree, is the most historic intervention in "one country, two systems" since the 1997 handover.

Mass protests in Hong Kong could well result, as could more punitive measures by the global community.

USA businesses oppose any change in Washington's recognition of Hong Kong as a sufficiently autonomous city, where major US companies enjoy access to China and Southeast Asia, and where bilateral trade flourishes across various parts of the economy, from wine to financial services. That is why Beijing wants to silence us, and that is why the world should do their best to save us, before it is all too late.

Hong Kong is only one flashpoint between the United States and China, the world's top two economies.

U.S. lawmakers are pressing for tough action over Hong Kong, which has become the latest front in soaring tensions between Washington and Beijing, but even some supporters of the territory's democracy movement ask if the "nuclear option" would be effective. The law, which looks set to bypass Hong Kong's lawmakers, would allow Chinese national security to operate in the city "to fulfill relevant duties to safeguard national security in accordance with the law".

Mainland-based investors have been on a 33-week buying spree in Hong Kong, even as the city's stocks lagged those onshore.

Mr Pompeo's intervention is likely to infuriate the Chinese government, whose relations with the U.S. have been strained recently by disputes over trade and the coronavirus pandemic. This is the end of one country, two systems. Hong Kong's investment in the United States rose $3.5 billion in 2018 to $16.9 billion.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Tanya Chan countered that the proposal goes against the Basic Law.

The city's Chief Executive Carrie Lam vowed Friday to "fully cooperate" with Beijing over the security law.

Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, explained that while the enactment of such legislation is required under Article 23 of the Basic Law, Beijing has decided not to try to force it through the Hong Kong legislature. Up to now, the worst charge most arrested protesters have faced has been for rioting.

But the move prompted immediate warnings that the law would be used to persecute protesters, and China could bring charges of subversion and terrorism against them. This time, Beijing has made a decision to circumvent the territory's law-making body using what critics say are dubious legal grounds under the Basic Law, which has served as a sort of constitution for Hong Kong since its return to China from British colonial rule in 1997.

This was enshrined in the Basic Law, which runs out in 2047.

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