Hong Kong protesters defy social distancing orders previously respected since the appearance of Covid19. The re-emergence of large scale democratic demonstrations is seen for the first time in months as the threat of a new security law is being rushed through in Beijing. A proposed decision on the law is pending approval at China’s NPC (national people’s congress) which is currently underway.
Last Thursday China’s NPC announced it would force a law banning subversion, separatism, and acts of foreign interference on Hong Kong. The addition of this law into Hong Kong’s de facto constitution without consideration by the local legislature, would allow for Beijing to install “national security agencies” in the city.
Despite Wang Yi, China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, attempts to ease concerns of Hongkongers saying “The decision targets a very narrow set of acts that seriously jeopardise national security,” and “It has no impact on Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents or the legitimate rights, interests of foreign investors in Hong Kong.” Critics and legal observers have said it is one of the most blatant violations of the “one, country, two systems” framework since the handover of Hong Kong in 1997.
The enactment of this law may have international consequences, for instance, legislation passed in 2019 by Donald Trump requires the US to sanction officials deemed undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy.
Seeing the National Security law as a serious infringement upon Hong Kong’s autonomy and political freedoms the US will be considering revoking Hong Kong’s special economic and trade status. “It looks like, with this national security law, they’re going to basically take over Hong Kong,” O’Brien, White House national security told NBC on Sunday. “And if they do… [secretary of state Mike] Pompeo will likely be unable to certify that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy and if that happens there will be sanctions that will be imposed on Hong Kong and China,” he said.