Hong Kong

The national security law that China passed last week is scary for many reasons: It severely limits free speech in Hong Kong, which had been a fixture of life for decades; it allows the authorities to take suspects from Hong Kong and try them in mainland China, where people such as the recently detained writer and law professor Xu Zhangrun are prosecuted for simply expressing their opinions; it establishes a secret police structure in Hong Kong that will operate outside of the law. And in threatening to arrest anyone who advocates Hong Kong’s independence, the law seems to assert jurisdiction over every person on the planet.…  Seguir leyendo »

On the 23rd anniversary of their handover to China on Wednesday, supporters of democracy and independence in Hong Kong could be forgiven for feeling they’ve just awoken to their worst nightmare.

Overnight, and with no consultation, Hong Kong essentially became a legal and security jurisdiction of China, denying its citizens the 27 more years of semi-autonomy Beijing had promised under the «one country, two systems» model that was to have been in effect until 2047.

A new national security law — dubbed the «anti-protest law» — was rubber stamped by the National People’s Congress in May and signed by Chinese President Xi Jinping this week.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hongkongers raise blank papers after slogans were banned. Photograph: Tyrone Siu/Reuters

Writing about the protest movement in Hong Kong, I began to notice the absences everywhere I went. A moving patchwork of white, black and grey squares decorated walls and pavements, as more and more protest slogans were erased from the public gaze. Now, with Beijing’s enactment of national security legislation in Hong Kong, that void has suddenly gaped wider, swallowing words, ideas, open discussion, and even people from public view.

The legislation bans secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The first sight of it for Hongkongers was the moment that it came into effect on Tuesday at 11pm, ahead of the annual 1 July protest march, which itself had been declared illegal.…  Seguir leyendo »

Police detain a protester after spraying pepper spray during a protest in Causeway Bay before the annual handover march in Hong Kong on Wednesday, as Hong Kong marked the 23rd anniversary of its handover to China in 1997 — and just one day after China enacted a national security law that cracks down on protests in the territory. (Vincent Yu/AP)

Now that it has arrived, Beijing’s much-feared national security law for Hong Kong heralds nothing less than imperialism with Chinese characteristics.

Imperialism need not always follow the classic British model of colonizing distant lands and peoples. No less typical in recent times is rule over groups with distinctive claims closer to home. But as China’s officials used to point out to the British, imperialism goes hand in fist with repression. With the new national security law, Beijing ironically doubles down on a disastrous model pioneered by Britain itself.

The key to this approach is the law’s adoption of a separate and draconian judicial system.…  Seguir leyendo »

Riot police walk past a fire set by people protesting the new national security law on Wednesday in Hong Kong. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

The French revolutionaries’ instrument for administering the 1793-1794 Reign of Terror was the Committee of Public Safety. Today, China’s totalitarians, displaying either ignorance of this unsavory history, or arrogance in flaunting their emulation of it, call their new instrument for suffocating Hong Kong the Commission for Safeguarding National Security. Yet again, actual tyranny is imposed in the supposed service of safety.

Acting as communists do, the leaders of China’s Communist Party, which is the bone and sinew of that nation’s Leninist party-state, have, less than halfway through their commitment, shredded the agreement to respect Hong Kong’s autonomy until 2047. The new law mocks the rule of law, which requires sufficient specificity to give those subject to the law due notice of what is proscribed or prohibited.…  Seguir leyendo »

A police officer in Hong Kong on Tuesday standing guard near protesters opposing Beijing’s new national security legislation for the city. The law criminalizes, among other things, threats to China’s national unity, including calls for Hong Kong to become independent from the mainland. Credit Vincent Yu/Associated Press

After many years of rejecting the people of Hong Kong’s persistent demands for genuine universal suffrage and other rights, China made its position clear again on Tuesday with the legislative equivalent of a cracking head bash.

It chose the eve of July 1, a triple anniversary — of the birth of the Chinese Communist Party (1921), the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China (1997) and a break-in of the city’s legislature by pro-democracy activists (2019) — to pass a draconian national security law that will forever harm Hong Kong’s political freedoms and hobble its economic relations with the rest of the world.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hong Kong está sobre el filo de la navaja. Alguna vez fue una de las ciudades más libres y más abiertas de Asia, pero hoy enfrenta el espectro de una nueva ley de seguridad impuesta por China que cercenaría las libertades de su pueblo y crearía un clima de miedo. La ley está en flagrante incumplimiento de la Declaración Conjunta Sino-Británica, que se registró en las Naciones Unidas, y abriría el camino a violaciones generalizadas de los derechos humanos. Las Naciones Unidas no pueden permitir que esto suceda.

El Reino Unido le devolvió Hong Kong a China hace 23 años con la promesa de que el territorio gozaría de un “alto grado de autonomía” bajo el principio de “un país, dos sistemas” durante por lo menos 50 años.…  Seguir leyendo »

La hora de la verdad de Hong Kong

Siempre hubo algo ilusorio en la Declaración Conjunta Sino-Británica de 1984 que garantizaba la continuación del sistema capitalista y las libertades básicas de Hong Kong durante 50 años después del retorno de la ciudad a la soberanía china en 1997. La Declaración Conjunta había sido posible gracias a la fórmula inteligente de “un país, dos sistemas” del líder chino Deng Xiaoping, que le permitió al Reino Unido retirarse, salvando las apariencias, de una posición colonial que ya no podía defender.

La ilusión radicaba en la noción de que un segundo sistema basado en la libertad económica y el estado de derecho se podía mantener durante 50 años dentro de una dictadura comunista.…  Seguir leyendo »

Desde que la dinastía Qin incorporó la región de Hong Kong a China en el año 214 antes de Cristo, la ciudad ha sido una posesión imperial. Durante la mayor parte de su historia, fue una mancha remota e insignificante en el mapa de sucesivos imperios chinos. Hasta que, en 1842, el imperio británico se la arrebató al emperador manchú Qing. Luego, en 1997, el territorio se convirtió en Región Autónoma Especial del imperio informal chino gobernado por el Partido Comunista.

Taiwán también tiene una larga historia imperial; perteneció en distintas épocas a varios emperadores chinos, a Holanda y España en el siglo XVII, a Japón entre 1895 y 1945 y, desde ese año, a los nacionalistas chinos exiliados que afirmaban ser los gobernantes legítimos de China.…  Seguir leyendo »

Alda Tsang/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images A participant displaying images on a tablet device at a vigil in Victoria Park linking pro-democracy protests with the 1989 Tiananmen Square in China, Hong Kong, June 4, 2020

Hong Kong has long been haunted by the thought of its future. Many of its citizens worry that it will become just another mainland Chinese city. This fear is often voiced as though to ward it off. But it is also spoken of as if it is already a reality.

That future, for many, was brought closer on Thursday May 21. The sky was clear, VPNs were jammed. China’s political elite entered the Great Hall of the People for the Two Sessions, the country’s most important annual political event. The fifth item on the agenda was a document, known in China as a “decision,” that stated the official intent to draw up a National Security Law for Hong Kong.…  Seguir leyendo »

People hold candles as they gather to commemorate the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, in Hong Kong on Thursday, defying a unprecedented ban on congregating. (Roy Liu/Bloomberg News)

Thirty-one years ago, the Chinese government massacred thousands of pro-democracy protesters in Beijing, but the international community moved on in relatively short order. Today, this same regime is killing the freedom of 8 million people in Hong Kong. The survivors of the Tiananmen Square massacre are warning the world not to repeat the mistakes it made in 1989.

On June 4, 1989, Chinese troops imported from outside the Beijing region slaughtered protesters petitioning for reforms as the world watched in horror. The following day, then-British Ambassador Sir Alan Donald penned a secret cable back to London estimating 10,000 innocent civilians had been murdered and detailing gross atrocities, including crowds of people run over by tanks and their “remains incinerated and then hosed down drains.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Tourists take photos of the Potala Palace beneath a security camera in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, on Sept. 19, 2015. (Aritz Parra/AP)

Last week, China’s National People’s Congress set in motion new, restrictive legislation for Hong Kong. Activists in Hong Kong have already dubbed this move as the final nail in the coffin of the Basic Law, which guaranteed the people of Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy to govern their own affairs.

Beijing has previously made promises of autonomy in other restive regions — like Tibet. Grasping how Chinese leaders have repeatedly offered Tibetan autonomy, only to rescind it, reveals what the future might hold for Hong Kong.

China annexed Tibet in 1951

Following a brief military campaign in Tibet, in 1951 Mao Zedong promised the rooftop of the world the right to self-governance — if Tibet in return accepted it would become a part of the newly founded People’s Republic of China.…  Seguir leyendo »

En mi discurso final como gobernador de Hong Kong el 30 de junio de 1997, pocas horas antes de abandonar la ciudad en el yate real de Gran Bretaña, dije que “Ahora, el pueblo de Hong Kong tiene que gobernar Hong Kong. Ésta es la promesa. Y éste es el destino irreversible”.

Esa promesa figuraba en la Declaración Conjunta de 1984, un tratado firmado por China y el Reino Unido ante las Naciones Unidas. El acuerdo era claro, y la garantía para los ciudadanos de Hong Kong era absoluta: el retorno de la ciudad de una soberanía británica a una soberanía china estaría gobernado por el principio de “un país, dos sistemas”.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Xi Jinping of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday. Credit Roman Pilipey/EPA, via Shutterstock

Great struggles between great powers tend to have a tipping point. It’s the moment when the irreconcilability of differences becomes obvious to nearly everyone.

In 1911 Germany sparked an international crisis when it sent a gunboat into the Moroccan port of Agadir and, as Winston Churchill wrote in his history of the First World War, “all the alarm bells throughout Europe began immediately to quiver.” In 1936 Germany provoked another crisis when it marched troops into the Rhineland, in flagrant breach of its treaty obligations. In 1946, the Soviet Union made it obvious it had no intention of honoring democratic principles in Central Europe, and Churchill was left to warn that “an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.”…  Seguir leyendo »

En el mar de represión que es la República Popular China, Hong Kong se alza como una isla de libertad que amenaza el monopolio ideológico, político y económico del Partido Comunista Chino. Tras varios intentos frustrados en la última década, Pekín cree haber encontrado en la crisis de la Covid-19 la ocasión perfecta para terminar de someter al pueblo hongkonés.

Tras 150 años bajo dominio colonial británico, Londres y Pekín acordaron la vuelta en 1997 de este territorio autónomo al control chino. Conforme al compromiso “Un país, dos sistemas”, China asumió las competencias en materia de exteriores y defensa de Hong Kong, pero comprometiéndose a respetar las particularidades de la isla: un modelo de economía capitalista, su propio sistema jurídico, una forma de gobierno cuasidemocrática y libertades civiles de expresión y reunión garantizadas en la Basic Law, una suerte de miniconstitución.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Xi Jinping of China reaching to vote in favor of new national security laws for Hong Kong during the National People’s Congress in Beijing on Thursday. Credit Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press

I am the chairman and majority owner of Apple Daily, one of Hong Kong’s largest newspapers, and since the city’s return to China in 1997, I have feared that one day the Chinese Communist Party would grow tired not only of Hong Kong’s free press but also of its free people. That day has come.

Hong Kong is moving from the rule of law to rule by law, with the Chinese Communist Party determining all the new rules of this game.

Apologists for China, led by the Hong Kong chief executive, Carrie Lam, claim that the new legislation will only cover subversion, calls for secession, terrorism and other acts that truly threaten China’s national security.…  Seguir leyendo »

Riot police in front of a luxury goods store in Hong Kong on the day Chinese lawmakers approve a proposal for sweeping new national security legislation in the city. Photo by Roy Liu/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

The decision by China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) to create new national security legislation for Hong Kong has seen criticism erupt in parts of the Hong Kong community and internationally. The US has raised the stakes in response, saying it will no longer treat Hong Kong as ‘autonomous’.

Many critics have attacked the process set out by Beijing, arguing that any national security legislation should be considered by Hong Kong’s legislature. That was indeed the original intention when the Basic Law was promulgated in 1990 but, since an aborted attempt to introduce legislation in 2003 and consistent lobbying against reviving it, Beijing seems to have concluded an alternative approach is needed.…  Seguir leyendo »

For years, even as China has applied increasing pressure on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, the framework of «One Country, Two Systems»—the dividing line that keeps Hong Kong relatively autonomous from the authoritarian mainland—has been respected by the Chinese Communist Party in theory.

The illusion of autonomy has now officially been shattered.

Shock waves reverberated around the world as a representative of China’s National People’s Congress, the largest gathering of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) each year, announced that delegates at Friday’s session would consider a move to enact controversial national-security legislation in Hong Kong.

Should the Chinese government successfully impose its own national-security regulations on Hong Kong, it would open the door to any other law or regulation the Chinese government wishes to impose on Hong Kong in the future.…  Seguir leyendo »

A scuffle broke out between pro-democracy and pro-Beijing members of Hong Kong’s Legislature on May 18. Credit Anthony Wallace/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Beijing says it wants to safeguard “one country, two systems,” the principle that supposedly guarantees Hong Kong’s semiautonomy from the mainland. In reality it is weaponizing the policy to crush the city’s freedoms.

On Thursday, the Chinese government announced a plan to pass national security laws for Hong Kong. It has long been after something like this, though previously it expected the local authorities to do the job. Not this time. This law would be ratified in Beijing — at worst, as soon as next week.

This sinister move caps several weeks of mounting acts of repression in Hong Kong, in almost all spheres of public life — politics, law, education, the media.…  Seguir leyendo »

While the world is busy trying to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus, Chinese authorities last week pulled credentials from journalists at three major media outlets: the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and The Post. What is particularly shocking about this retaliatory move, after the Trump administration took action against several Chinese Communist Party-controlled outlets, is that for the first time, those foreign correspondents are also barred from reporting from Hong Kong and Macau.

This is an unprecedented decision. For decades, Hong Kong has long been known as a bastion of press freedom in the region. With protections by independent courts and civil liberties enshrined in Hong Kong’s Basic Law (equivalent to its Constitution), foreign media have been able to operate free from intervention from autocratic China.…  Seguir leyendo »