“China needs to revise its national security law in Hong Kong,” said 27 states, including Switzerland, in a statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. Coming into force shortly before midnight in the former British colony, the text has already led to around thirty arrests.
Hong Kong wakes up thus struck by a blow from the club from which the pro-democratic movement may not recover. Drafted in an ambiguous manner, the law criminalizes acts of separatism, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign states as announced.
Those accused of these four types of crimes risk life imprisonment, as do those who “incite hatred against the governments of Beijing or Hong Kong”. Extraditions to mainland China may be ordered in certain cases. Finally, it should be noted that this law supersedes Hong Kong law and institutions.
Flags and slogans prohibited
For example, paralyzing infrastructure or vandalizing public transport will be considered acts of subversion or terrorism, while calling for support from a third state or international sanctions against China and Hong Kong will be considered collusion. Written or sung slogans calling for independence, revolution or questioning the unity of China are therefore now illegal.
Beyond these details aimed at preventing new mass demonstrations, the law targets any attempt to question the fundamental system of the People’s Republic of China, based on a single party. Local government enjoys the same protection.
A wind of panic is blowing over the territory. Many pro-democracy parties were disbanded on Tuesday for fear of reprisals, and many businesses that so far ostentatiously displayed their solidarity with the protests have started to clear posters and signs of support. Many Hong Kong people on social media delete their accounts or clean up their posts.
A man found in possession of a Hong Kong independence flag was arrested Wednesday morning under the new law, police said on Twitter on Wednesday. It was the first arrest since the text came into force.
The police later used a water cannon to disperse demonstrators. Thirty people were arrested for violation of this new legislation, illegal assembly, refusal to comply and possession of weapons, according to the police.
After months of contestation and a plebiscite in the local elections last fall, where 90% of the seats were won by the opposition, the adventure of the pro-democratic movement ends in fishtail. By its brutal intervention, the Communist Party recalls that it does not tolerate any challenge.
The legislation “is a tipping point between chaos and good governance,” Hong Kong executive chief Carrie Lam said Wednesday at a ceremony to mark the 23rd anniversary of the return of the former to China. British colony.
International reactions immediately flocked. In a press release to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, 27 states, including Switzerland but also France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan, lambasted the new legislation on Tuesday and have invited China to reconsider this law which they say “threatens” the freedoms in Hong Kong.
Amnesty International for its part condemned a coup intended to “spread fear in the territory”.
“Logic of bandits”
For his part, the head of the American diplomacy threatened Beijing with further reprisals. “Today is a sad day for Hong Kong and for all freedom lovers in China,” said Mike Pompeo in a statement. “The United States will not sit idly by,” he thundered, “we will eliminate the political exemptions that give Hong Kong different and special treatment, with a few exceptions.”
By the end of May, Washington had already hit hard by revoking Hong Kong’s preferential trade status.
In response, Beijing on Wednesday castigated “a logic of bandits” of “countries which have declared that they will impose heavy sanctions on certain Chinese officials”. “We didn’t provoke you. By what right are you aggressive with us?” Deputy director of the Communist regime’s Hong Kong and Macao affairs office Zhang Xiaoming told reporters on Wednesday. law imposed Tuesday did not “look” at foreign countries.
Michael Peuker / agencies / jop