China’s National People’s Congress has approved the controversial Hong Kong security law. It is now to be drafted and enacted in June.
The new law is intended to counter “splittism, subversion, terrorism, any behavior that gravely threatens national security and foreign interference”. It will thus enable authorities in mainland China and Hong Kong to take action more easily against protests and gatherings.
Ever since the plans became official, critics have warned that this could mean the end of autonomy for Hong Kong. Since 1997, when Britain returned Hong Kong to China after more than 150 years of rule, the city has enjoyed a high degree of autonomy. This includes rights to freedom of speech, expression and protest. The new law undermines this, critics say.
Probably the best-known protestor of the Hong Kong democracy movement, Joshua Wong, sees the most critical point in that the Chinese secret police can now arrest people in Hong Kong and then prosecute them in China. “This means that you end up in prison in Beijing instead of Hong Kong,” Wong said in an interview with Die Zeit Online.
International criticism over Hong Kong security law
The reaction from Washington was prompt: the government wants to withdraw Hong Kong’s special status under US law. The US has long granted the former British colony special status in trade and other matters. If it were to revoke this, it would threaten Hong Kong’s position as a global economic centre.
The US, Britain, Australia and Canada have issued a joint statement of protest against the security bill: “Hong Kong’s autonomy and the system that has brought so much prosperity are being dramatically undermined.” People’s freedom would be severely curtailed.
Hong Kong pro-democracy politician Wu Chi-Wai told Time that Hong Kong was no longer a place that could honour ‘one country, two systems‘. “It is a sad result…It won’t do any good to Hong Kong people”.