China clears national security law for Hong Kong


Beijing pulls straight into the grip on Hong Kong autonomy. Today the National People’s Assembly, the Chinese version of a Parliament, approved the resolution that mandates the Assembly itself, through its standing committee, to draft a national security law for the former British colony. The resolution was passed with 2,878 votes in favor, one against and six abstentions. It is a frequent plebiscite within the Chinese parliament, whose function often boils down to endorsing the decisions of the communist leadership. But it is still a message of strength from Beijing towards the Hong Kong protest, the international community and the United States.Yesterday the US secretary of state Mike Pompeo he certified before the American Congress that the high degree of autonomy in Hong Kong no longer exists, a statement that opens the way for sanctions against China. But Beijing proceeds without second thoughts, in an issue that it considers entirely internal. Meanwhile, the regime newspapers such as the Global Times they write that the era when Washington could scare China is over.
The resolution approved today starts the process of the standard, but already defines its framework. In fact, it mandates the Assembly’s Standing Committee to pass one or more laws to “prevent, stop and punish any act or activity that endangers national security, such as separatism, subversion of state power, terrorism (…) or foreign forces interfering in Hong Kong affairs. “



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The laws will be applied directly to the city “by promulgation”, that is, by bypassing the local parliament. Not only that, the resolution also provides that the deputy bodies, probably the Beijing Ministry of Security, will create “institutions” in Hong Kong to protect national security.As said, it will now be up to the Assembly’s permanent committee to write the text of the law. Its first meeting is scheduled for June and everything suggests that the rule will be put on a preferential lane: in a couple of months the process could be complete and at that point to the Hong Kong government, chosen by Beijing and faithful to the communist authorities , all that remains is to accept it.

The fear of many observers is that the law will be used by Beijing to reset the pro-democracy movement of the city, which represents the end of the formula of autonomy, “a country with two systems”, granted to Hong Kong and the independence of its courts. . Only the final text will be able to say to what extent this is true from a strictly legal point of view, the Chinese leadership in recent days has given reassurances, which however reassure very little. Today the premier Li Keqiang, during the traditional press conference at the end of the Two Sessions, explained that Beijing remains faithful to “one country two systems” and that the law will help Hong Kong’s stability, a reassurance that does not reassure much.

In any case, the political message is already clear, a response to the protests for universal suffrage and, at least in part, against China, which inflamed the city last year. Beijing does not grant anything to the rebel city, indeed it reaffirms control over its autonomous province. To reinforce the message, the protests of the past few days have been defused by local police with a massive wave of arrests, 360 only yesterday.

The price of this move is potentially high for Beijing. On the one hand, it risks compromising the status of financial capital of Hong Kong, on the other hand, it triggers a series of retaliations, especially American ones. After Pompeo’s declaration, Washington could decide to cancel the privileged commercial status granted to the former British colony, a move that would also harm US companies, or to sanction officials or companies involved in the city squeeze. The Chinese authorities, however, continue to send messages of strength, about a game they perceive as decisive for the regime’s consensus and internal stability. Xi Jinping is convinced that in the end the price will not be excessive, or in any case he is ready to pay it.

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