NEWS INSIGHT

Hong Kong’s New Security Law

by Enes OVALI

Hong Kong is in a crisis that is changing its fate over the last six years. There were signs that the bound with China is about to change. The Umbrella Movement was a series of protests in 2014 that called for more transparent elections for the city’s chief executive and it is clearly a movement against the Chinese government. In early 2016, Hong Kong booksellers disappeared and later showed up in police custody in China. The promises at The Handover of Hong Kong between China and UK in 1997 and the significant differences and their consequences throughout a hundred and a half century between the capitalist colonial government and communist China have started to be forgotten by the side of mainland China and this sparked the protests which hundreds of thousands of people joined.

 In June 2019, China passed the extradition bill and it causes fierce controversy among the people of Hong Kong. The bill would allow suspected criminals to be sent to mainland China for trial. Another mainly peaceful wave of public protest had sparked at that time, the primary reason for these was the growing public concern about China’s extending rule over Hong Kong.

And lately, the new security law has passed in Beijing, lawyers and legal experts have said that China’s national security law will radically change Hong Kong’s legal system. "Its criminal provisions are worded in such a broad manner as to encompass a swath of what has so far been considered protected speech," said a posting on a website from a team of legal experts called NPC Observer. Another article states that anyone who conspires with foreigners to provoke "hatred" of the Chinese government, or the authorities in Hong Kong, could have committed a criminal offense. It is unknown whether any criticism can be said or not about China’s Communist Party under this new legislation. Article 55 also contains vague terms. It gives Chinese mainland security operatives the right to investigate some national security cases that are "complex", "serious" or "difficult". Trials can be held in secret (Article 41) and without a jury (Article 46). Judges can be handpicked (Article 44) by Hong Kong's chief executive, who is answerable directly to Beijing. The law also reverses a presumption that suspects will be granted bail (Article 42). That same provision also appears to suggest there is no time limit on how long suspects can be held. It says only that cases should be handled in a "timely manner". Probably because of all these developments, Hong Kong residents think that one country-two system is no longer in effect. They stated that they didn’t even know its provisions when it was enacted and they don’t know exactly what acts are punishable or not. They also think that the civil rights coming from the territory’s cultural and historical background and enshrined by The Basic Law are in danger now. Most of the residents agree that the new security law doesn’t represent them.

 

Hong Kong still has freedoms not seen in mainland China, but it is changing. Therefore, its special status in its relations with other countries is changing. Having its own legal system and having rights including freedom of assembly and free speech are two of the core elements of what makes Hong Kong so special in the economy of Asia but now they face the danger of losing them. (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15)

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