China Watch: Did It Just Break Hong Kong?

China Watch: Did It Just Break Hong Kong?

China Watch: Did It Just Break Hong Kong?

China just clamped down on freedoms in Hong Kong by passing a “security law” proposal on the supposedly autonomous city. Even worse, Beijing will enact the law by decree and bypass the local legislative process. It sounds rather like the pandemic “executive orders” that some governors have wielded here in the US, only even more draconian.

The preamble to the proposal, which passed at the end of Beijing’s annual “parliamentary” meeting (which I put it quotes — there’s nothing truly “parliamentary” about it) reads:

“In recent years, the national security risks of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region have become prominent, and various illegal activities such as ‘Hong Kong independence,’ splitting the country, and violent terrorist activities have seriously endangered the sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity of the country.”

The proposal passed with a vote of 2878 to one. What a surprise.

In HK, protests began immediately, with protestors stepping on images of Chief Executive/Beijing toady Carrie Lam. They also sang the unofficial protest anthem, “Glory to Hong Kong.”

On Wednesday, police arrested over 360 people, most of whom were in their teens or early 20’s. As one 20-year-old protestor said, “I think maybe this is the last chance we have to fight back.”

The law will go into effect in September, and observers expect immediate crackdowns by Beijing. These may include the banning of activist groups while Chinese security agencies seek out violators. There will be renditions to China for trial and detention. Offenders could also receive long jail sentences. Even disrespect of the Chinese national anthem could bring criminal charges. As Lam put it, “Rights and freedoms are not absolute.”

HK legal scholar Johannes Chan also gave this ominous warning on Radio Television Hong Kong:

“In China they never really define what exactly is ‘national security. So the law could change according to political expediency or political necessity.”

The People’s Liberation Army garrison in Hong Kong also promised to “resolutely” protect Beijing’s interests in China. Garrison commander Maj. Gen. Chen Daoxiang gave a statement on CCTV, China’s state television network:

“Garrison officers and soldiers are determined, confident, and capable of safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests and maintaining the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.”

Chen was also one of the delegates to the National People’s Congress, which passed the proposal. My guess is that he wasn’t the lone vote against it.

So why is China cracking down on Hong Kong, even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic?

China observer Gordon Chang says that one reason is because the Chinese economy is contracting. President Xi Jinping cannot rescue it, either. In fact, says Chang, rather than a V-shaped recovery, China is likely to endure a long, drawn-out L-shaped experience. The Wuhan virus has flattened export markets in the US and Europe and won’t recover anytime soon.

Hong Kong

Credit: by permission.

Nor does Xi care about international approval anymore, either. Jean-Pierre Cabestan, professor at Hong Kong Baptist University writes:

“There was this idea before about China being cautious and trying to cultivate its soft power around the world. Those times are gone with Xi Jinping.”

So Xi is resorting to propaganda and aggression. Last month China rammed and sank a fishing boat in disputed waters near Vietnam. A Chinese ship also shadowed a Malaysian oil company ship doing exploratory drilling. Beijing is also ramping up its long-simmering border dispute with India.

Meanwhile, Xi also sees Hong Kong as a threat. As Cabestan said:

“Hong Kong is being perceived more and more as a base of surveillance, as a factor in the destabilization of the Chinese state.”

As a result, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday that the State Department no longer considers Hong Kong to be autonomous, which means that the Trump administration may discontinue its special trade relations with HK. Such moves would be some of the harshest punishments leveled against China in years. And Hong Kong’s 7.5 million residents would see their lives upended even further.

However, Hong Kong freedom activist Joshua Wong welcomed Pompeo’s words.

The United States also joined with Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom in a joint statement condemning China’s proposal to impose the national security law.

Plus, Taiwan is offering sanctuary for HK residents who want to flee China’s crackdown. President Tsai Ing-wen announced that the little country will draw up a humanitarian aid plan to help Hongkongers who wish to escape tyranny.

Not only that, but while Taiwan does not accept refugees, the nation will adopt looser measures for Hongkongers to live there with work visas. In fact, last year over 5000 people from HK moved to Taiwan, representing a 41 percent increase from the previous year. You can imagine how much that number will jump in 2020.

Poor little Hong Kong. Will she lose her freedoms once and for all, swallowed up by the voracious Chinese dragon?


Featured image: lafayette1/flickr/cropped/CC BY 2.0.

Written by

Kim is a pint-sized patriot who packs some big contradictions. She is a Baby Boomer who never became a hippie, an active Republican who first registered as a Democrat (okay, it was to help a sorority sister's father in his run for sheriff), and a devout Lutheran who practices yoga. Growing up in small-town Indiana, now living in the Kansas City metro, Kim is a conservative Midwestern gal whose heart is also in the Seattle area, where her eldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live. Kim is a working speech pathologist who left school system employment behind to subcontract to an agency, and has never looked back. She describes her conservatism as falling in the mold of Russell Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles. Don't know what they are? Google them!

  • Scott says:

    “Poor little Hong Kong. Will she lose her freedoms once and for all, swallowed up by the voracious Chinese dragon?”.. Sadly, that outcome has been a certainty since the British turned them over to the Chicoms in 1997. The only question has been how quickly it would happen.. (and NO_ONE that thinks rationally believed it would be the 50 years promised in the agreement..

    And I’ll just leave this here.. NSFW…

    • Kim Hirsch says:

      I hope the guy who made that accurate assessment of Communist China doesn’t get swept up by the security law for, you know, releasing a state secret on social media.

  • Cameron says:

    “The proposal passed with a vote of 2878 to one.”

    And that person has already been sold for spare parts.

    • GWB says:

      Or, he might be living high, if he is the Designated Dissenter for this action. After all, unanimous votes is one of the elements we always mocked with the Communists. So, you have a Designated Dissenter to vote the other way, and Voila! you’re TOTALLY legit now!

      (With the added benefit of being able to proclaim, “See? We don’t throw our dissenters into the gulag! We’re totally not totalitarians! See?!”)

      • Could be neither – note that they are “modern” and vote by pushing a button.

        I’m rather confident that, among 2,879 “representatives of the People,” there is at least ONE counterpart to Joe Biden.

  • GWB says:

    The Hong Kong protests have been going on long enough many have forgotten why they began in the firs place:
    Because Peking was going to impose on them … a security law just like this one.

    This isn’t really a new thing. It’s just the end game finally arrived. Without a real revolution backed by world superpowers, this day was inevitable.

    One thing where I’ll be the fly in the soup….
    Tempered by their agreement with Great Britain (a wholly different country than when their lease hold on Hong Kong expired under Maggie Thatcher), this IS a matter for the Chinese government. While I think they should be meddled with, it IS their country, and we’re hypocrites if we decry the rest of the world yelling about our decisions while trying to insert ourselves into Peking’s politics. Just keep that in mind when pondering solutions.

    • Kim Hirsch says:

      . . it IS their country. . .
      Where they broke their promise to maintain an autonomous system for HK, and broke that promise. Where the kids protesting their oppression were either too young or not even born when their city was handed to China.

      . . . it IS their country. . .
      So it’s also their right to place their Uighur population in concentration camps. Just like North Korea has the right to put dissenters in prison camps.
      Because the US may have made foreign policy mistakes in the past. Gotcha.
      There should be no excuse for Communist oppression. Period.

      • GWB says:

        1) I said “Tempered by their agreement with Great Britain

        2) We can condemn them with our opinions. But remember that the next time other countries criticize us for things we consider outside their purview. I’m just pointing out what we’re doing when we jump all over this.
        (And, yes, I have no love for the idea of going about and policing the world. Which is not what you are talking about.)

    • Define, please, what constitutes “meddling with” their INTERNAL affairs. Feel free to make it an operational one, if you must.

      • GWB says:

        I admit I don’t have any good answers.

        One answer might be to abrogate every treaty and agreement with mainland China, given that they evidently see no problem with breaking them on their end. Then be prepared to actually have to push them out of the South China Sea (that’s another treaty they’ve simply torn up).

        Another might be to push a flotilla into Hong Kong and simply take out everyone who desires freedom. Heck, maybe we could drop them on islands in the South China Sea, with some gear to set themselves up as fisheries? Or to plant itty-bitty farms. (OK, SCS doesn’t sound practical, but it certainly would be karma if we could do it.)

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