What does the national security law provide?
In reality, that approved today by the People’s Assembly is not yet a real law. The congress instructed the pro-Chinese standing committee, a smaller body than the authorities, to develop laws that ban secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference and Hong Kong. Not a new goal in Beijing. Already in 2003 the then chief officer of Hong Kong, the shipowner Tung, had tried to introduce a similar rule with article 23 of the Basic Law of the semi-autonomous territory but had been forced to resign after the protests that had brought to the street half a million people. The new version has two particularly delicate points: on the one hand the extension of Beijing’s national security rules to Hong Kong and on the other the exclusion of Hong Kong’s legislative power through the drafting and approval of Beijing. Two points that, according to the leaders of the Umbrella Movement, which opposes Beijing, effectively eliminate Hong Kong’s autonomy. Article 4 of the proposal states that “if necessary, the competent national security organs of the central people’s government will set up agencies in Hong Kong to fulfill the relevant duties to safeguard national security.” This could open the doors to Beijing police arrests and searches directly on Hong Kong territory, something citizens would not accept. But it all depends on its application and for now there are no details on this point. Protests and arrests
The frictions between Hong Kong and Beijing became evident when thousands of people took to the streets to protest not only against the new national security law but also against a new norm, which is being discussed in parliament, which wants to turn into a crime – with prison terms of up to 3 years and fines of up to $ 6,540 – insult or misuse of the Chinese national anthem. A rule that pro democracy representatives see as another attempt by Beijing to put pressure on Hong Kong. Police arrested 600 protesters on Wednesday, but this did not stop the protest. And in Parliament two pro-democracy representatives were expelled from the courtroom for their criticisms during the discussion of the law.
The clash with the United States starts
Just the new national security law led to a new open clash between the United States and China after frictions over the coronavirus issue. Washington has asked the UN Security Council to discuss the new law stating that this new measure is likely to undermine international peace and security. Beijing replied, however, that this is an internal issue and that it is not among the prerogatives of the Security Council to discuss the internal laws of a country. The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has announced the possibility that the US withdraw the special status granted to Hong Kong in terms of trade and for the issuance of visas given the loss of autonomy of the territory with respect to China. It would be a heavy economic backlash for the territory considering that about 1,300 American companies today have their headquarters in Hong Kong employing something like 100,000 employees. After the go-ahead of the national security law, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy leaders asked the US secretary of state and European leaders to follow up on their announcements in order to put pressure on China and Hong Kong.