▲ May 24, 2020 Hong Kong citizens' demonstration against the enactment of the Hong Kong National Security Bill in downtown Hong Kong (License: Reuters News Agency)
In 2003, Hong Kong’s government pushed to pass the National Security (Legislative Provisions) Bill. 500,000 Hong Kong citizens protested against the National Security Bill, and because of the lack of support the bill was withdrawn. Then on May 21, 2020, instead of trying to pass the bill through The Legislative Council of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (LegCo), The National People's Congress of China (NPC) bypassed LegCo to try and approve the National Security Bill. By passing the bill through the NPC, the Chinese government can avoid facing local opposition in Hong Kong.
Thousands of Hong Kong citizens protested against the bill, but a week later the National People's Congress voted 2,878 to 1 in favor of passing a draft of the bill, with six abstentions. So a draft of Hong Kong’s National Security Bill was passed. The contents of the National Security Bill draft focus on punishing acts such as overthrowing the national regime and forming terrorist organizations. It also restricts the ability of foreign forces to intervene in Hong Kong's internal affairs such as aiding a secession. If the government of Hong Kong implements this bill, then the Minister of Administration of Hong Kong would regularly report to the Chinese government regarding the bill. To summarize, the core purpose of the National Security Bill in Hong Kong is to ban anti-government activities.
The international community expressed concern over the National Security Bill. The United States, Britain, Australia, and Canada immediately issued statements denouncing the National Security Bill. The four countries pointed out that the National Security Bill would undermine Hong Kong's civil liberties and autonomy which would negatively affect the system that has made Hong Kong prosperous. The four countries also stated that China violated the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The Sino-British Joint Declaration established a signed agreement of ‘One Country and Two Systems’ when Britain returned Hong Kong to China. Hong Kong's mini-constitutional law also guaranteed Hong Kong's autonomy until 2047. The joint declaration was aimed at safeguarding democratic rights in Hong Kong, such as the freedom of assembly and the freedom of speech, which are not protected in China. By passing the National Security Bill, China would violate the Sino-British Joint Declaration and Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.
Major universities in Seoul have put up posters where students can put sticky notes with hand-written messages expressing their opposition to the National Security Bill. A ‘Lennon Wall’, a wall where students stick notes supporting Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, has also been put up. Bae Yun-bin, a student of the Department of English Language & Literature at CWNU, said, "Hong Kong citizens should have the right to pass policies that they approve of. The nation should be for the people and by the people." In response to similar arguments, China said Hong Kong is a Chinese internal affair that no foreign country has the right to interfere with.
China considers anti-China protests, such as the protests held last year in opposition to the Hong Kong extradition bill, in direct defiance to the Communist Party's power and legitimacy. By passing the National Security Bill, China hopes to seize complete control over Hong Kong. The National Security Bill could punish Hong Kong citizens for protesting against the National Security Bill. The press will also be censored and suppressed to limit freedom of speech. The bill may be implemented as early as August.
This may lead to an international loss of confidence in Hong Kong, and Hong Kong could lose its status as an Asian financial hub. Now that the draft of the National Security Bill has been passed, capital and people are fleeing to Singapore and the United Kingdom. The U.S. also stated that Hong Kong no longer merits ‘special status’ (which gives beneficial tariffs, trade agreements, and visas which are different from those with mainland China). The U.S. gave Hong Kong special status when it had high autonomy, but now the U.S. will begin the process of removing Hong Kong’s special status, stating that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous. If Hong Kong’s special status is revoked, more than 1,300 U.S. companies in Hong Kong will be subject to Chinese visa regulations, which is likely to result in a large exodus of foreign capital. It remains to be seen whether Hong Kong will continue to serve as an Asian financial hub in the future.
By Seo Hyo-Bin, cub-reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
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