On Friday, Chinese authorities announced a new law cracking down on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy and anti-China movement, sneaking in heavy regulations that could allow the Communist behemoth to arrest anyone accused of fomenting “dissent” or “sedition” in the city-state while much of Hong Kong remains under coronavirus-related lockdown.
The shocking new regulations, Toronto’s Globe and Mail reports “will criminalize conduct according to Beijing’s definitions of what constitutes separatism, terrorism, subversion and illegal foreign meddling,” and, worse, the draft completely revolutionizes Hong Kong’s legal system, empowering Hong Kong law enforcement to arrest city-state residents at the behest of the Chinese government, and giving “mainland China the right to place its own enforcers on Hong Kong soil.”
Actual details of the draft legislation remain under wraps and China hopes the law will pass without transparency.
China is racing to get the measure passed through the Hong Kong legislature, which is currently under a filibuster by pro-democracy lawmakers. The law “has become a pressing priority. We must get it done without the slightest delay,” China’s foreign minister told state-run media on Saturday.
”Protesters now face graver potential danger and legal consequences,” one pro-democracy protester told the Globe and Mail.
“Given the severity and urgency of the national security law, people will certainly want to return to the street,” said another. “I worry that many people cannot return to the street to protest without risking their personal safety.”
Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, is largely considered to be a puppet of the Chinese Communist Party, and has been under fire from Hong Kong residents for trying to give mainland China access to political dissidents and other enemies of the Chinese state hiding out on the island. Her support of a law to that effect triggered months of increasingly violent anti-Chinese protests, which subsided only when the island was hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
As Hong Kong suffered through lockdowns, there were indications that China would use the pandemic as cover for more intensive missions to undermine the island democracy and impose Chinese authority. Hong Kong police arrested pro-democracy movement leaders trapped in their homes under lockdown, and China is moving to bring a swift end to the “one nation, two systems” freedom that Hong Kong has enjoyed since being released by the United Kingdom in the late 1990s.
Overnight Saturday into Sunday, Hong Kong exploded in new protests.
“Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong Sunday to oppose the Chinese government’s move to impose a controversial national security law, which threatens the city’s autonomy and civil liberties,” CNN reported. “Police fired tear gas at the crowds less than an hour after the start of the march, which did not receive official authorization and went against coronavirus social distancing restrictions, which ban groups of more than eight people meeting. An online stream showed protesters throwing objects at police.”
The United States, through Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has threatened trade consequences if China goes through with forcing the law, suggesting that the U.S. could drop its trade relationship with Hong Kong altogether.
Beijing, however, remains adamant that it will do what Hong Kong’s government was unable to do: quash all freedom within Hong Kong.