Conflicts & War

Chinese security law for Hong Kong: End or restart of protests?

By Jesus Centeno

Beijing, May 25 (efe-epa).- The new national security law for Hong Kong that the Beijing Government plans to approve this week will not only imply cuts in the freedoms of Hong Kong people, but could cause a political earthquake with unforeseeable consequences, according to various analysts.

Its likely processing has appeared against all odds and is the issue that is raising the most dust in the National People’s Congress of China this year, focused on the management of the coronavirus by the authorities.

The Hong Kong legislation, which according to the state press is still being debated, aims to “safeguard national security” in the wake of the protests that erupted last year, although it remains to be seen how it is implemented and whether its ultimate goal is to control the semi-autonomous city.

Thus, it will prohibit “any act of treason, secession, sedition and subversion” against the central government, in addition to the “theft of state secrets and the organization of activities in Hong Kong by foreign political organizations,” terms that the Chinese Executive has previously used to curb dissent.

However, Article 23 of the Basic Law (Hong Kong’s Magna Carta) stipulates that the city must endorse legislation in this area, something that has always been extremely controversial among the population for fear that it would result in a reduction of freedoms.

“The Chinese government wants their word to be worth more and that the local government and Hong Kong society end up with much less autonomy and freedoms. The impact will be negative,” academic Jean-Pierre Cabestan, director of the Department of Political Science of the Baptist University of Hong Kong, told EFE.

The expert believes that the “reinterpretation” of the Basic Law will only succeed in “reviving the protest movement,” and that it will clash with the one previously adopted in the United States in support of the Hong Kong opposition.

Beijing wants at all costs to prevent Washington from influencing what it considers its “internal affairs,” with which the conflict is served: NGOs like the US Human Rights Watch have already asked the international community to “take action” in this regard and another In the same country, Human Rights in China, has warned of the “threat” posed by “an irresponsible regime that ignores its international commitments.”

Professor and coordinator of pro-democratic groups Joseph Cheng told EFE that the law will be ready in six months.

“Chinese leaders act in defiance of the international environment and the domestic situation. They want to tell the world that they are willing to pay the price (to shield Hong Kong). The law will be ready in six months,” says Cheng.

He adds that the Hong Kong people are “disappointed and angry,” but that from now on they must calculate the cost that it will have to demonstrate against the government: “The fight will continue. That is why the support of international public opinion is important,” he said.

Although the congress has not offered more details on the legislation, the official press is already campaigning to defend it: “The absence of a national security law is one of the reasons why Hong Kong became a chaotic place,” estimates one recent editorial in the Global Times newspaper.

“Its value system has deviated from the normal path, and this must stop. If the Hong Kong government is in a difficult position to complete this task, the congress must take the responsibility given to it by the Constitution and the Basic Law,” it adds.

Beijing ensures that freedoms will not be affected by the law and has the support of the controversial head of the Hong Kong Executive, Carrie Lam, and her entire government, who sees in the text an opportunity to make Hong Kong “one safer city.”

In fact, thousands of Hong Kong people took to the streets Sunday to protest against the legislation and 180 of them were arrested, according to local police.

However, experts indicate that the law could lead to a “reset” of the political agenda, resuming the commitment of the chief executive to the election, initially planned for 2017, whose limiting requirements would be omitted with this law. EFE-EPA


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