A Hong Kong lawmaker is warning that China is setting up a “global fight” with its new draconian national security law.
The Chinese Communist Party forced the law on Hong Kong last week, essentially outlawing calls from activists to free the territory from the authoritarian state. Chinese and Hong Kong security forces have already begun arresting protesters under the law’s expansive application.
The law also threatens people that speak out against the CCP from outside of China’s territory. Article 38 of the law says, “This Law shall apply to offenses 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,” according to Axios.
The law, as written, applies to everyone in the world. Donald Clarke, a professor of Chinese law at George Washington University, described the repercussions of the law in a July 3 blog post:
The alarming thing about the NSL is that, on its face at least, it provides for criminal jurisdiction over everyone on the planet for an act committed anywhere on the planet (Article 38). This is much broader than the purported reach of the PRC’s Criminal Law. Article 38 does not contain the limitation that the act in question must be serious enough to warrant a given minimum punishment and that it must also be a crime in the place committed. Thus, it is clear that an act that would violate the NSL if committed in Hong Kong will also violate it, and subject the actor to potential liability, if committed outside Hong Kong, even if the actor is not a Hong Kong resident or PRC citizen and has absolutely no connection with either Hong Kong or the PRC more broadly.
Nathan Law, a Hong Kong lawmaker who resisted the CCP’s influence over the Hong Kong government and fled the city last week, said, “One of the main purposes of having the national security law is to quash the international front of the movement,” according to Axios.
“For Hong Kong, we have to understand that it is the foreground of a very global fight, authoritarianism versus democracy,” Law told Axios.
For most of the world, the law is impossible to enforce despite its sweeping language. The law can have severe repercussions for people who have fled the city, however, and one day wish to return or still have connections to Hong Kong, such as assets or family members.
Chinese President Xi Jinping signed the sweeping national security bill into law on June 30. The bill purportedly bans acts of sedition, subversion, and terrorism, and Chinese authorities have since used it to crack down on protesters calling for a free and independent Hong Kong. Violations of the law carry a maximum sentence of life in prison. The National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), China’s top legislative body, reportedly passed the law in a 162-0 vote hours before it was signed.
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