The Death of Autonomy: The National Security Law

As a result of the introduction of the Extradition Bill in 2019, many, many, MANY Hong Kongers took to the streets in protest of the bill. The extradition bill threatened the autonomy of Hong Kong in the sense that the Extradition Bill empowers China to extradite criminals back to China to be tried and jailed. But Hong Kongers were not comfortable with the bill, especially after the Causeway Bay Bookstore Incident where the owners of the bookstore were arrested by the Chinese police on Hong Kong soil for selling books that were critical of Chinese politics and the owners were hence labelled as “criminals”. Hong Kongers are concerned that the law will legitimize arrests individuals on Hong Kong soil, and that it can be abused to target political opponents as China labels all who oppose the CCP as “criminals”. The proposed bill is a clear violation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984, a document agreed upon by both Great Britain and China that Hong Kong will retain autonomy, this means that China should effectively treat Hong Kong as a sovereign state, without interfering in it’s economic, financial and political matters. This resulted in MANY MANY Hong Kongers to protest the bill including myself, despite Carrie Lam claiming that she will be “retracting” the bill, protests have already escalated to a point of general anti-China sentiment that aimed to have it’s 5 demands addressed which are:

  1. The full withdrawal of the Extradition Bill
  2. An independent inquiry into police brutality over the course of the protests, especially during the dispersion of the protesters from the LegCo (Legislative Council) building.
  3. The the retraction of the characterization of the protesters as “rioters”. Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Police Commissioner Lo Wai Cheung described the protesters as “rioters” despite the absence of violence towards people. The careless usage of such words is a crime that can be punished by up to 10 years in prison.
  4. Amnesty for arrested protestors. So far, over 700 people have been arrested on charges from rioting to illegal assembly and assault. A woman has even been sentenced for “assaulting a policeman with her breasts
  5. Dual universal suffrage for both the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council. Although universal suffrage is something that China has promised to grant Hong Kong by 2017, only half of the Legislative Council is elected by the voters.

Regardless of these protests, China seems even more hellbent on crushing the protests in Hong Kong. So instead of addressing the 5 demands and discussing with the protesters like any normal government in the world, China decides to enact the National Security Law. And this is very very bad news. If China’s National Security Law passes, this would force Hong Kong to quickly enact the legislation that bars “subversion, separatism and other acts against the central government”. This would mean political dissenters and organizers of protests would be labelled as “terrorists”, “subversion of state” and “separatism”. Thus empowering China to arrest such “criminals” despite the fact that they’re merely exercising their freedom of expression.

“Law-based and forceful measures must be taken to prevent, stop and punish such activities,” the document said, according to the state news agency Xinhua. It appears that China is aiming to compel Hong Kong in enacting the National Security Laws as soon as possible as article 23 of the Hong Kong Basic Law states that the territory must enact such laws “On it’s own” as part of the agreement to grant Hong Kong autonomy. However, as the Extradition Bill protests continue passing the one year mark, China seems more determined than ever to crush the protests with the National Security Laws that can destroy Hong Kong’s autonomy and the “One country 2 systems” doctrine for good. Li Ke Qiang, a Chinese premier has said that the Chinese government would “establish sound legal systems and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security” in Hong Kong and see that the region “fulfils its constitutional responsibilities”.

“establish sound legal systems and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security” in Hong Kong and see that the region “fulfils its constitutional responsibilities”.

Li Ke Qiang

Taiwan’s mainland affairs council has urged China not to push Hong Kong into further turmoil and has said that authorities have wrongly labelled protesters as terrorists. US Senators Marco Rubio has said this course of action China is taking is an unprecedented assault on Hong Kong’s autonomy and “The Basic Law states clearly that the authority to advance Article 23 legislation rests with the executive and legislative branches of the Hong Kong government, and not with Beijing,”. Virginie Battu-Henriksson, spokeswoman for the European Union on foreign affairs and security, said the EU was watching developments “very closely … We attach great importance to the ‘one country two systems’ principle.

“The Basic Law states clearly that the authority to advance Article 23 legislation rests with the executive and legislative branches of the Hong Kong government, and not with Beijing,”

Marco Rubio

But why is this such a huge erosion to state sovereignty? First of all, China wants to enact article 23 in China which means that they will bypass the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, meaning that they are not allowing Hong Kong the chance to enact it themselves which they were supposed to as part of article 23 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong, thus denying Hong Kong autonomy. “From a constitutional perspective this is potentially the end of constitutional autonomy and legal separation. It’s several magnitudes worse than the extradition bill,” said Jeppe Mulich, who teaches global history at the University of Cambridge, and focuses on Asia.

According to experts, China might also be able to enact article 18 in Hong Kong which is also disastrous for autonomy. Article 18 allows certain laws in mainland China to be implemented in Hong Kong, therefore forcing Hong Kong to lose it’s historically “democratic” culture. Martin Lee, the founder of the Democratic Party and a senior barrister who helped draft the Basic Law said that “If this precedent is set, then there is no need for [Hong Kong’s] legislative council,” he said. Joshua Wong’s – the organizer of the 2014 Yellow Umbrella Protests – input on the issue through a tweet is that “people will continue to protest on the streets, Hong Kongers will not be scared off”

“people will continue to protest on the streets, Hong Kongers will not be scared off”

Joshua Wong

So please keep supporting us. Please keep supporting the fight for democracy, the fight for self-determination, the fight for liberty, the fight against authoritarianism, the fight for Hong Kong and the fight for our lives. If we keep fighting, we’re bound to win. 五大訴求,缺一不可。香港人加油。

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Savior699 says:

    Great read as always bro. I hope you and your family are safe.

    1. Yeo Ye Hang says:

      Thanks so much. How’s the coronavirus treating you guys? Hope your family is healthy. My family is doing fine thanks for asking!

      1. Savior699 says:

        Me and my family are all doing well thanks. Happy to hear you are well!

      2. Yeo Ye Hang says:

        That’s great to hear! Looking forward to more posts from you!

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