On 29 May, the National People’s Congress of China (NPC) passed a resolution to impose a national security law (referred to just as “the Law” in
this article) on Hong Kong, in light of the social unrest and protests that
have lasted for just over a year. 34 days later, the Law passed into force just
as its contents became available for the first time for the Hong Kong people to read. From the very first day when Hong Kong citizens were notified about a new national security law, to the day when the Law was written into law, Hong Kong citizens were completely disregarded. This signifies a complete directional turn to a more oppressive administration over Hong Kong and the complete failure of the one country and two systems.
In Chinese governmental discourse, Hong Kong is a security loophole: a
hotbed of terrorists, separatists, rebels and foreign spies. The social unrest
since last year is always cited to support their view which pictures a much
‘safer’, ‘harmonic’ and ‘peaceful’ imaginary future for Hong Kong once the Law is passed. Nonetheless, this narrative is deluded; it shows that the Chinese and Hong Kong government is either ignorant or tyrannical.
According to Johannes Chan, a professor of Law at the University of Hong
Kong, there are already adequate legal tools to safeguard national security.
For instance, the current Crime Ordinance (Cap. 200) covers treason (Pt. I),
including acts that: intend to overthrow the Chinese and Hong Kong government and secede China by force, and collude with foreigner to do any such acts; as well as any acts that manifest such intentions. The Official Secret Ordinance (Cap. 521) covers espionage, and the Societies Ordinance (Cap. 151) gives the Societies Officer (could be appointed by the Chief Executive) to refuse the registration of any societies if he/she believes that such refusal is necessary for the interest of national security after consulting the Secretary for Security.
If we look at the Law proposed by the NPC, it is not ‘national security’ it
safeguards. The Chinese version of ‘national security’ is rather, an internal one, targeting not against foreign spies but it’s very own people by criminalising any attempts that might threaten the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) rule. While the current ordinances mainly regulate treason in means of violence, the Law criminalises peaceful acts, like seeking support from foreign parliaments, peaceful protest for Hong Kong independence and any occasions or acts of creating and distributing materials that touches on these sensitive issues. What the Law truly does is to strengthen CCP’s rule by stripping away Hong Kong’s autonomy.
If the Chinese and Hong Kong government genuinely believe that the Law is
the solution to the social unrest and division, they are breathtakingly naive.
After all, conversation and mutual understanding is the only right path
forwards; but that is less and less possible the longer those in power deepen
social division and provoke people’s rage.
In the past few months, we have witnessed increasing oppression from the
government. The politically neutral Radio Television Hong Kong is pressured and criticised for being pro-protesters; the exam question in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education is cancelled because one question asked whether the Japanese Invasion against China brought more good than harm; protests and the 4th June Vigil are banned in the face of Covid-19 while theme parks are allowed to reopen. Even teachers and civil servants are being prosecuted for not demonstrating enough loyalty to China. The absurd list goes on and on.
On this tiny land in the time of turmoil, when what was absurdity becomes
norms, what was wrong becomes right, we are lost, desperate, helpless and
exhausted. You might not be brave enough to step into the darkness but believe it or not, just standing there won’t prevent the void from engulfing you eventually.
Image: Jonathan van Smit via Flickr