The controversial Chinese security law for Hong Kong has been passed. The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress passed the law, according to the Beijing-loyal Hong Kong party DAB. According to media from the Special Administrative Region, the law was passed unanimously by the committee, which is the highest legislative body in the People’s Republic.
The leadership of the Communist Party wants to use the law to stop political unrest in Hong Kong. Last year there were months-long and sometimes violent protests by the democracy movement in the financial metropolis, which defends Beijing’s growing influence in the semi-autonomous special administrative zone.
Internationally known democracy activist Joshua Wong said the law “marks the end of Hong Kong as the world has known it”. On Twitter, Wong accused the Beijing leadership of wanting to transform the city into a “secret police state”. With the security law on the doorstep, it was “no nonsense” for supporters of the democracy movement to worry about life and security, Wong wrote on Facebook and announced his resignation as general secretary of the Demosisto party founded in 2016.
The activist went on to say that he did not believe that the persistence of Hong Kong would change as a result of the new law or other “draconian laws”. He said he would continue to stay in Hong Kong “until they silence and wipe me out.” Leading protest faces Nathan Law and Agnes Chow also announced their resignation.
Tensions between China and the USA intensify
The details of the law are not yet known. At the beginning of June, the state news agency Xinhua reported that China would set up a “national security agency” in Hong Kong; the security law could override existing laws in the special administrative zone in the event of a conflict.
The National People’s Congress launched the law in May. Critics accuse the Chinese leadership of abolishing the “one country, two systems” principle and trying to suppress democratic civil rights in Hong Kong. The former British Crown Colony was granted special rights for 50 years when it was handed over to China in 1997, including freedom of expression and assembly.
The security law has also exacerbated tensions between China and the United States. The US government imposed entry restrictions on Communist Party officials last week because of the law. On Monday, China announced restrictions on US officials entering the country.
Washington also said on Monday that it no longer wants to deliver armaments to Hong Kong. In principle, the same restrictions would apply to Hong Kong for military material and so-called dual-use goods, which can be used for both civil and military purposes, as for China.
EU expresses “serious concerns”
“We can no longer differentiate between exporting controlled goods to Hong Kong or mainland China,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The US could not take the “risk” that deliveries destined for Hong Kong would “fall into the hands” of the Chinese army, whose primary goal was to maintain the “dictatorship” of the Communist Party.
The EU has also shown concern about the security law. “We have expressed serious concerns about Hong Kong’s national security law,” said EU Council President Charles Michel last week following video conferences with China’s President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang. The Chinese government rejected EU criticism and described Hong Kong policy as “an internal issue” in China.