It reportedly came into force on June 30, potentially rewriting the city’s legal system – despite the fact the overwhelming majority of residents have no idea of what precisely it will entail.
According to reports in Communist Party-controlled media, the law is expected to criminalise offenses such as secession, subversion against the central Chinese government, terrorism, and colluding with foreign forces.
But hours after its reported passage, details remain vague, capping a particularly opaque process that has left analysts and activists guessing.
Speaking at a weekly press conference this morning, the city’s leader Carrie Lam initially refused to answer questions about the law, saying it was “inappropriate for me to comment.”
Hours later she defended it in a video speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, saying it will restore stability and prosperity to Hong Kong.
Her administration appears to have been cut almost completely out of the process – yet it has not stopped them predicting the law will only impact a tiny minority of individuals in the city, and won’t harm political freedoms and judicial autonomy.
In a statement last week, Lam said the legislation would be “in line with the rule of law” and the “rights and freedoms which are applicable in Hong Kong.”
Some aren’t taking any chances, however.
Multiple opposition political parties had already disbanded by this afternoon, with members fearing prosecution under the new offenses of subversion or secession, which are applied broadly in China to crush anti-government dissent.
Chilling effect of mysterious new law
Prominent activist Joshua Wong announced soon after the bill’s reported passage that he was leaving Demosisto, the political party he co-founded in 2016, but would continue to campaign independently.
Other leading figures in the party, including former lawmaker Nathan Law and activist Agnes Chow, soon followed suit, and what was left of the party leadership eventually decided to cease operations.
Chow was barred from standing for election in 2018 over her membership in Demosisto, which had previously called for Hong Kongers to be allowed to decide their own future, including voting on a potential break from China.
Such talk could be illegal under the new law, if it follows the model of similar legislation in China as expected.
Wong, Law and Chow have also been heavily involved in lobbying the international community to pressure Beijing over Hong Kong, which many expect to be classed as “colluding with foreign forces.”
Two other political parties, the Hong Kong National Front and Studentlocalism, also said they were ceasing operations in the city, though both groups – fringe pro-independence parties – said they would continue to work overseas.
Some pro-independence figures are known to have fled Hong Kong in recent months, fearing arrest in connection with last year’s often violent anti-government protests, or the upcoming law.
On Sunday, Wayne Chan, convenor of the Hong Kong Independence Union, confirmed he had jumped bail and left the city. He had been facing protest-related charges.
“After the national security law is passed, we can anticipate that a large group of political figures will be arrested, and may be imprisoned immediately without bail,” Chan wrote on Facebook.
More subtle signs of a chilling effect were also in evidence today, as shops and businesses which had previously been highly visible supporters of the city’s protest movement began removing slogans and imagery that could be deemed illegal.
Hong Kong in legal limbo
While pro-government groups and politicians welcomed the passage of the law – former leader C.Y. Leung offered bounties for future prosecutions – there was great frustration among many Hong Kongers over the continued lack of detail, and a feeling of almost being in limbo, knowing the law has been passed but not what that means.
In a letter to the city’s government yesterday, Hong Kong Bar Association chairman Philip Dykes said the secrecy of the law was “genuinely extraordinary” and called on the government to make clear how citizens’ minimum rights will be guaranteed.
The Global Times, a nationalist Chinese state-backed tabloid, said the law was already having its effect, pointing to the resignation of Wong and others.
Stanley Ng, a Hong Kong delegate to China’s National People’s Congress, appeared to endorse this view, saying in a Facebook video that part of the reason for the secrecy around the law was to enable “intimidation and deterrence.”
Such uncertainty will likely persist beyond today, when the bill is finally expected to be made public and gazetted.
Regardless of how the offences are described or the punishments laid down, many will be watching to see how strenuously police and prosecutors enforce them.
A key test will come tomorrow, when Hong Kong marks the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover to Chinese rule. The day has traditionally seen an anti-government march through the city, but the protest has been banned this year.
Organisers say they will go ahead anyway. Yet how many people join them, and what offences – if any – those people are deemed to be committing if they do, remains to be seen.
TikTok, WeChat, UC Browser and Shein are among 59 Chinese apps banned in India in response to serious concerns about data security.
“The Ministry of Information Technology has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorised manner to servers which have locations outside India,” the Indian government said in a statement.
“The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures.”
The ban comes after a border clash left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead.
Both India and China said the other country had intruded on their territory in the Himalayas.
Troops have building up on both sides of the India-China border in the wake of the fighting.
“Unlike India’s border with Pakistan, It’s not very well defined. So occasional clashes can easily occur, for instance when a soldier wanders too far and sets up camp on the other side,” Australian National University foreign affairs expert Clive Williams told Nine.com.au last week.
“You may have a local army commander who is a bit more aggressive than others. And then it is easier for tensions to rise.”
I am an attorney in the Washington DC area, with a Doctor of Law in the US, attended the master program at the National School of Administration of Việt Nam, and graduated from Sài Gòn University Law School. I aso studied philosophy at the School of Letters in Sài Gòn.
I have worked as an anti-trust attorney for Federal Trade Commission and a litigator for a fortune-100 telecom company in Washington DC. I have taught law courses for legal professionals in Việt Nam and still counsel VN government agencies on legal matters. I have founded and managed businesses for me and my family, both law and non-law.
I have published many articles on national newspapers and radio stations in Việt Nam.
In 1989 I was one of the founding members of US-VN Trade Council, working to re-establish US-VN relationship.
Since the early 90's, I have established and managed VNFORUM and VNBIZ forum on VN-related matters; these forums are the subject of a PhD thesis by Dr. Caroline Valverde at UC-Berkeley and her book Transnationalizing Viet Nam.
I translate poetry and my translation of "A Request at Đồng Lộc Cemetery" is now engraved on a stone memorial at Đồng Lộc National Shrine in VN.
I study and teach the Bible and Buddhism. In 2009 I founded and still manage dotchuoinon.com on positive thinking and two other blogs on Buddhism. In 2015 a group of friends and I founded website CVD - Conversations on Vietnam Development (cvdvn.net).
I study the art of leadership with many friends who are religious, business and government leaders from many countries.
In October 2011 Phu Nu Publishing House in Hanoi published my book "Positive Thinking to Change Your Life", in Vietnamese (TƯ DUY TÍCH CỰC Thay Đổi Cuộc Sống).
In December 2013 Phu Nu Publishing House published my book "10 Core Values for Success".
I practice Jiu Jitsu and Tai Chi for health, and play guitar as a hobby, usually accompanying my wife Trần Lê Túy Phượng, aka singer Linh Phượng.
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