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Hong Kong: The End of Freedom

On May 28, 2020, China's National People's Congress (NPC) passed a new national security law specifically targeting Hong Kong, with 2,878 votes affirming, one against, and six abstentions. The legislation, affectionately known by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as the Draft Decision, now moves on to the Standing Committee of the Communist Party. There, greater detail will be added and the finalized version of the law will be released.

While the final wording and structure of the law remains unknown, it will undoubtedly outlaw secession, subversion, terrorism, and foreign interference in city affairs. It will also empower the central government to exercise greater control over Hong Kong's judiciary. In the view of the CCP and Chinese government, this tighter control over Hong Kong is necessary to preserve domestic order and to protect the state from hostile external forces.

Furthermore, the Draft Decision is expected to legalize the use of the central government's law enforcement agencies in Hong Kong, something that up to this point was forbidden. Undoubtedly, this will lead to the prosecution of pro-democracy leaders in Hong Kong, the punishment of people criticizing Beijing, and the loss of free speech rights.

It is expected that protests will break out in Hong Kong today, as the city's residents have thus far been unwilling to accept Beijing's interference in their affairs. Mass protests in Hong Kong against Beijing began in June 2019, when activists called attention to the central governments increasing interference in city affairs. Yesterday's protests saw 350 Hong Kongers arrested, with riot police adopting a zero tolerance approach that utilized kettling tactics, rubber bullets, random searches, militarized checkpoints, tear gas, and pepper spray. The number under arrest will grow if challenges to government authority continue.

The international response to the passing of the law has been swift. Hours after the passage of the resolution by the NPC, the United States of America, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom released a joint statement condemning the PRC's power grab, "China’s decision to impose a new national security law on Hong Kong lies in direct conflict with its international obligations under the principles of the legally-binding, UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration."

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a scathing statement targeting the US Department of State, writing American statements were, "utterly imperious, unreasonable and shameless." They further claimed that the United States was simply harboring colonial ambitions, and didn't truly care about the people of Hong Kong, "a frontier for secession, subversion, infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland.”

The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Army, Department of Defense, or the United States Government.


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