1 July 2020 — Moon of Alabama
After the U.S. instigated riots in Hong Kong last year the central government of China saw a necessity to intervene. In sight of other anti-China measures the U.S. has taken the reputational costs of doing so had become less important.
Yesterday the Chinese parliament, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, added a national security law to the Basic Law that governs Hong Kong’s special status. The law is designed to end foreign interference in Hong Kong.
The Basic Law already had an article that stated that Hong Kong’s independent parliament, the Legislative Council or Legco, must create such a national security law on its own. But 23 years after Hong Kong again became ruled by China, Hong Kong’s parliament had still not done so. The foreign instigated violent riots last year, which had paralyzed Hong Kong’s economy, demonstrated that such a law is necessary. The central government finally acted and did what the Legco was supposed to do.
The new law, which was put into effect today, is banning secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security. Its 66 articles also ban support in any form for such acts. The offenses are punishable in several degrees up to life in prison. The law includes guarantees for human rights and due legal process.
A mainland ‘Office for Safeguarding National Security’ will be set up in Hong Kong to take care that the law is followed. While regular cases against the law will be handled by a new national security department within the Hong Kong police, significant cases, like those including foreigners, can be taken over by the mainland office and can be prosecuted by mainland courts.
The law has some extraterritorial power. It does not matter where the crimes are committed:
This Law shall apply to offences under this Law committed against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region from outside the Region by a person who is not a permanent resident of the Region.
People who break the new law while in some other country can be arrested and charged as soon as they step onto Chinese grounds which evidently includes Hong Kong. Members of Congress should consider that when they enact laws in support of the rabble rouser in Hong Kong. A later casino vacation in Macao could otherwise end in a lengthy unplanned stay.
The full text of the law in English is available here. Its promulgation in Hong Kong and the original Chinese text are here.
The new law has already shown results. Several of the U.S. supported student organizations which led the ‘pro democracy’ clashes last year have shut down days before the law was put into force. ‘Pro-democracy’ lawmakers have moderated their tone:
The national security law is already having its desired effect, even before its enactment. So far as Beijing is concerned, it has achieved far more with much less than rolling in the tanks.
Consider the recent statements of some leaders of the anti-government protest movement. They are either quitting or making U-turns.
Claudia Mo Man-ching (opposition legislator): “If we win more than 35 seats [a majority in the Legislative Council elections in September], we can all sit down and negotiate at a moderate pace.”
Mo’s statement may be the least sensational but most significant, assuming she represents the views of other “moderates”.
Early this year, the big plan was to force Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to quit. To do so, they would have to win a majority, veto all government bills, including the annual budget, and force Lam to dissolve the Legco session and call for new elections. If Lam still couldn’t get the budget approved in the new Legco, she would have to resign under the Basic Law.
No one talks about the plan any more. Mo is ready to negotiate if she wins again in September.
Suddenly, everyone sounds so reasonable and moderate. I wonder why.
Not everyone will submit peacefully to the new rules. The rabble rouser Joshua Wong, Senator Marco Rubio’s special friend, has set himself up as a martyr. He has called for demonstrations today which were not sanctioned by the police:
Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 @joshuawongcf –
We are on street to against national security law. We shall never surrender. Now is not the time to give up.
About a thousand students protested today against the law and the police arrested 370 of them. Some will be prosecuted under the new law. One policeman was stabbed when some demonstrators tried to free an arrested person.
The U.S. had financed some of the protester groups through the CIA aligned National Endowment for Democracy and the Open Technology Fund. If the U.S. wants to continue instigating unrest in Hong Kong it must now move those programs to the CIA and distribute the money secretly. The OTF funds for Hong Kong have already been frozen.
The British government has promised to give British passports to the 3 million Hong Kongers who were born while the city was still under British rule. One wonder what Brexiters think about such a potentially huge new inflow of people from abroad.
The U.S. Congress will do some huffing and puffing over the new law and Trump will issue some more sanctions but that will be likely it. The CIA’s infrastructure to create another ‘color revolution’ in Hong Kong will not be easy to replace. The U.S. has lost its supremacy and its meddling in Hong Kong will no longer have any effect.
Hong Kong will continue to have its special administrative status and economic freedom. But British and U.S. influence in the city will now be severely diminished.