by WorldTribune Staff, February 28, 2021
It has been eight months since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) imposed a national security law aimed at crushing the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. In that time, the former freewheeling British colony “has all but been brought to heel” by the brutal crackdown, a report said.
“Moving with a scope and speed few here anticipated, authorities have used the law to stamp out street protests, ban activists from lobbying foreign governments, gut the city’s legislature and arrest most of the opposition,” Wenxin Fan wrote in a Feb. 25 analysis for the Wall Street Journal.
The CCP’s national security law categorizes four crimes — secession, subversion, terrorism and colluding with foreign forces. The crimes are punishable by up to life imprisonment.
The law also requires Hong Kong authorities to supervise and regulate schools, social organizations, media and the Internet. It allows suspects to be sent to the mainland for trial, and enables mainland state security agencies to operate from offices in Hong Kong.
When the law went into effect, many Hong Kong dissidents fled overseas, while others went underground, the report noted. More are in jail or await trial.
“A national security hotline, set up in November for people to leave anonymous tips about potential violators of the law, has received 40,000 reports, expanding mainland China-style surveillance on the ground,” the report noted.
But the regime of supreme leader Xi Jinping is just getting started. The CCP has “outlined more institutional changes to ensure complete control over the city’s governance and eject opponents,” the report said.
China’s leaders are planning to revamp election rules that select Hong Kong’s top officials as well as grass-roots legislators. The proposals are expected to be formalized at the CCP’s annual legislation meeting in early March.
Hong Kong can be governed only by “patriots” who aren’t opposed to the Communist Party’s leadership, Xia Baolong, the chief of Beijing’s office on Hong Kong affairs, said in a policy speech this week in Beijing. “Those who violate Hong Kong’s national security law aren’t patriots.”
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The CCP also intends to use the security law’s broad provisions to “tame critical media, revamp education and tighten Internet controls,” the report noted. “Pressure is mounting to change Hong Kong’s vaunted judicial system — for instance, Chinese officials are annoyed that judges often let activists go free on bail after they’re charged — even though any erosion of international legal standards may alarm foreign businesses in the city.”
Luo Huining, the director of the Chinese government’s main representative office in Hong Kong, said in December: “The law is starting to demonstrate its power. Its many rules still need to be converted to a code of conduct for the citizens in Hong Kong.”
Political satirist Sam Ng, whose show was taken off air by a government broadcaster last year, told his 250,000 YouTube followers in January: “Everything that’s happening in Hong Kong today was unimaginable a year ago.”