HK protesters warned against new marches

Andrew Cummings
May 23, 2020

VPN downloads in Hong Kong have soared following the news that China will propose a new national security law that will give it even greater control over the city.

"The United States strongly urges Beijing to reconsider its disastrous proposal, abide by its global obligations, and respect Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy, democratic institutions, and civil liberties", Mr Pompeo said in a statement on Friday.

It comes after months of pro-democracy demonstrations past year that at times descended into violence between police and protesters.

The Hong Kong government tried to introduce national security legislation in 2003, prompting massive protests and the withdrawal of the bill.

"The values underlying the criminal justice system in two jurisdictions are so different that any criminal law should only be enacted by HK and not by the Mainland", he says.

The proposal, which was unveiled late Thursday, would ban "treason, secession, sedition and subversion".

Boris Johnson's spokesman said on Friday that the prime minister and his government were monitoring the situation, and that as a party to the joint declaration the United Kingdom was committed to the upholding Hong Kong's autonomy and respecting the one country, two systems model.

They are supposed to protect certain freedoms for Hong Kong: freedom of assembly and independent judiciary and some democratic rights - freedoms that no other part of mainland China has.

The Chinese government conceptualizes "national security" in such a broad manner that people exercising their basic human rights and defending them peacefully, including activists, human rights lawyers, scholars, ethnic minorities, and netizens, are detained and imprisoned for years - sometimes for life - for crimes such as "subversion", "inciting subversion", "splittism", and "leaking state secrets". Following the harsh police crackdown on protests against a planned extradition law, Hong Kong democracy activists view the new plans as renewed repression. This time, Beijing is making its intentions clear: Should Hong Kong, stuck in a political stalemate, fail to pass the laws backed by leaders in Beijing, then the People's Congress will use its absolute power to pass national laws that apply exclusively to Hong Kong.

In 2015, China passed a sweeping new National Security Law covering a much wider array of areas, including, but not limited to defense, politics, the economy, the environment, technology, cyberspace, outer space, culture, ideology and religion. Privacy advocates are concerned that the law could lead to increased surveillance and censorship in Hong Kong, hence the rush by residents to download VPNs.

Chinese Communist Party leaders submitted a bill Friday to the National People's Congress (NPC), the national legislature.

Former pro-democracy lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan added, "Xi Jinping has torn away the whole pretense of 'one country, two systems.'" Others denounced the plans as "the end of Hong Kong". "He said the proposed law would start "...either a massive peaceful and orderly demonstration or more vocal and aggressive protests or, indeed, most probably, a combination of both".

The Hong Kong government will then promulgate the law and make it effective in Hong Kong.

"We saw an incredible surge of user growth in Hong Kong directly after the official statement was made public".

China could essentially place the draft law into Annex III of the Basic Law, which covers national laws that must be implemented in Hong Kong - either by legislation, or decree.

If these special agents are allowed to operate in Hong Kong according to the law, more and more cases of covert abduction or punishment outside the law can be expected.

Beijing has repeatedly alleged that the pro-democracy camp was receiving support from the Central Intelligence Agency in the United States, as well as other foreign governments.

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"What we are seeing is a new Chinese dictatorship", said Patten, a former chair of the Conservative party and cabinet member under Thatcher and her successor, John Major.

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