New 'National Security' Law Threatens Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Protesters With Life In Prison

from the so-secret-it-couldn't-be-published-until-after-it-was-enacted dept

Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 with the understanding the Chinese government would not strip away the rights granted to Hong Kong residents prior to the handover. The Chinese government has no intention of honoring that agreement, which has prompted months of protests.

The Hong Kong government has consummated its acquiescence to the Chinese government with the adoption of a harsh law that directly targets dissent and protest under the guise of securing the nation. Hong Kong residents weren't informed about the contents of the new law until after it was passed and adopted. The BBC runs down the key aspects of the new law -- none of which appear to respect the rights supposedly granted to Hong Kong residents.

Crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces are punishable by a minimum sentence of three years, with the maximum being life

Inciting hatred of China's central government and Hong Kong's regional government are now offences under Article 29

Damaging public transport facilities can be considered terrorism

These are all things the Chinese government claims must be implemented to secure the nation. And these are all things that conveniently allow the government to imprison Hong Kong residents. It also allows them to target dissidents and opponents abroad, thanks to the government granting itself extraterritorial reach.

This Law shall apply to offences under this Law committed against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region from outside the Region by a person who is not a permanent resident of the Region.

The law also says residents found guilty of these crimes cannot run for public office. This seems unnecessary, especially as many vocal anti-government activists have either chosen to go silent or leave the country completely.

The court process for adjudicating these cases has been streamlined to allow the Chinese government to imprison as many protesters and activists as possible. The chief executive of Hong Kong -- who has already gone on record as supportive of the "long overdue" law -- can appoint judges to oversee these trials. The Chinese government retains the option to take over prosecutions in cases where it feels local prosecutors just aren't trying hard enough. And decisions made by the newly-formed "national security commission" cannot be challenged in court.

Reactions have been immediate. Pro-democracy books have been pulled from libraries by the Hong Kong government in order to review them for violations of the new law. And protesters are now carrying blank signs, since the law makes the existence of any anti-Chinese government words a potential violation of the new law, possibly putting protesters in line for life in prison.

No one seems to be immune from the new law. The Hong Kong police apparently visited a restaurant to warn it of a violation of the new law. It responded by covering its menu and windows with blank Post It notes.

But even blank notes can carry a message:

After months of battling a rebellious region, the Chinese government has placed Hong Kong firmly under its control. There will be no more "one country, two systems." The only system the Chinese government is willing to back is its own. With countries like Australia and the UK opening their doors to Hong Kong citizens wishing to flee, the government may not have nearly as many people to place under its jackboot. But those who choose to stay run the risk of being jailed for years for complaining about a government willing to jail people for complaining.

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Filed Under: china, civil rights, free speech, hong kong, national security, rights


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 6 Jul 2020 @ 1:51pm

    “Now why can’t we do that?” — Donald Trump to his aides, probably

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2020 @ 1:53pm

    We know the leaders of the CCP are evil child murdering paedophilic bastards that happily have people murdered to steal their internal organs for party members.

    This comes as no shock. I hope the UK CAN offer sanctuary to the 3 million who are legally british citizens.

    For China to either harm or hold these people hostage would be an open declaration of war, holding people with british passports as POWs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2020 @ 2:03pm

      Re:

      We know the leaders of the CCP
      -Do you mean the ZeRG?

      are evil child murdering paedophilic bastards that happily have people murdered to steal their internal organs for party members.

      We do?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 6 Jul 2020 @ 2:25pm

      Re:

      Nonsense, everyone knows that passing laws to make it illegal to criticize or protests against a government is the best way to know that said government is doing absolutely nothing wrong and has nothing whatsoever to hide, and they're merely meant to get people to stop saying mean and completely untrue things.

      I mean why else would they put laws like that into place?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 6 Jul 2020 @ 2:19pm

    '1984 eh? Well that's handy, a guide to governance in one book.'

    Since they can't say it I suppose I'll point it out in their stead: Making talking bad about your government a criminal offense, and protests a potential life sentence make crystal clear that despite what those running the government might claim their system is it is in fact nothing more or less than a brutal dictatorship run by petulant children who cannot face people saying mean things about them and the dictatorship that they are running, and I can only hope that it blows up in their faces at some point and they all get to experience what it's like on the other end of the stick they currently beat people into submission with, as they have more than earned it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Upstream (profile), 6 Jul 2020 @ 4:07pm

      Re: '1984 eh? Well that's handy, a guide to governance in one bo

      I often wish karma was real, too.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Valis (profile), 7 Jul 2020 @ 6:36am

      Re: '1984 eh? Well that's handy, a guide to governance in one bo

      Everything you say in your screed applies exactly to the US government and your President Trump. Talk about a petulant child lashing out at anyone who dares to criticize him! As for "beating people into submission" that's exactly the tactics used by the USA against the rest of the world. Also, protesters in the USA get brutally attacked and beaten by police and even summarily executed if they happen to be black. Get your own house in order before pointing a finger at others!

      Disclaimer: I am not Chinese or affiliated with China in any way, I just really despise hypocrisy and hypocrites.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 7 Jul 2020 @ 8:14am

        Re: Re: '1984 eh? Well that's handy, a guide to governance in on

        "Everything you say in your screed applies exactly to the US government and your President Trump. Talk about a petulant child lashing out at anyone who dares to criticize him!"

        You're barking up the wrong tree there. The poster you are railing against is very consistently at the front of the line when it comes to criticizing Trump.

        In fact, most of the regular posters around here with visible accounts and profiles have been VERY persistently vocal about their views of the orange man-child in the white house and the systemic racism displayed by the brutal execution of Floyd.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2020 @ 2:38pm

    The chief executive of Hong Kong -- who has already gone on record as supportive of the "long overdue" law -- can appoint judges to oversee these trials.

    Is this the one who was "elected" in a "unanimous" parliamentary vote where Chinese security forces detained every member who was not a Chinese puppet a few hours before the vote took place?

    In any other context, they call that a coup...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2020 @ 3:02pm

    And just like that, everything the HK protesters said and feared would happen did.

    Gotta imagine the UK is feeling pretty steamed about the Chinese being all "takesies-backsies" over what they agreed to in 1997.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 7 Jul 2020 @ 5:15am

      Re:

      "Gotta imagine the UK is feeling pretty steamed about the Chinese being all "takesies-backsies" over what they agreed to in 1997."

      Not really. Everyone who knew anything about the situation back then and was free to speak was...sceptical...about China's "Two systems, One Country" compromise. The concensus view was that China would abide by this agreement for exactly the time it took them to put their own people in all the places required to assume full control.

      Briefly put, the UK sold Hong Kong down the river because they were afraid they either caved to China or watched China pour their army across the Hong Kong border.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Valis (profile), 7 Jul 2020 @ 7:01am

        Re: Re:

        Fact: Hong Kong belongs to China! It has always belonged to China. The British were merely tenants and had no right to demand any conditions from China when their lease ran out. Imagine trying to tell your previous landlord what they're allowed to do with their own property years after you've moved out! Such self-entitlement.

        Also, Hong Kong is a collection of 260 separate islands, so not sure what "border" you are referring to in your comment.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 7 Jul 2020 @ 8:27am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Fact: Hong Kong belongs to China! It has always belonged to China. The British were merely tenants and had no right to demand any conditions from China when their lease ran out."

          None of which has been disputed nor gainsaid.

          I'd argue that Hong Kong was acquired at gunpoint by 18th-century british drug cartels and that in itself puts the validity of british claims of ownership on shaky ground.

          What I said was nothing more and nothing less than that no one who knew anything about China believed their promise about two systems, one country - least of all the UK. The honest approach by the UK would have been to simply tell the HK residents that "OK we're all leaving and you'll be part of mainland china, under the same rules they have in Beijing. Either leave with us or stay and take your chances".

          But they didn't. They played out a farce, letting the HK residents believe they were going to remain a democracy.

          Sure, you could argue the HK residents were naíve as all hell about that but it's hard to argue they'd offhand think their british cousins would lie to their faces about their likely future.

          "Imagine trying to tell your previous landlord what they're allowed to do with their own property years after you've moved out!"

          Yes, imagine telling said landlord they ought to abide by the legal contract they signed to. I don't know where you live but it's obviously in a part of the world where you don't realize that contracts should have some weight. China broke that treaty, no two ways about that. What's more interesting by far is that just about everyone knew China was going to break that treaty - except apparently HK residents.

          "...so not sure what "border" you are referring to in your comment."

          Find an old map of HK. See that dotted line between it and mainland China? That's what we call a "border", also defined as the end of one national territory and the beginning of the next.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      icon
      Valis (profile), 7 Jul 2020 @ 6:50am

      Re:

      Here are some facts for you; Hong Kong belongs to China! It has belonged to China for thousands of years! For the racist British to now try and pretend that Hong Kong was somehow British territory that they "handed back" as some kind of favour to China is disingenuous at best. The British were no more than tenants who had a 99 year lease that ran out in 1997. You racist Westerners have no right to tell a sovereign government what they can do with their own territory. The West needs to stop its patronising and bullying of the rest of the world and start minding its own damn business!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        teka, 7 Jul 2020 @ 8:29am

        Re: Re:

        Always a treat to have a Party RightThink monitor come around to straighten things out.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Aug 2020 @ 8:27am

        Re: Re:

        The CCP has no right to trample on the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong.

        No country has the right to trample on the basic freedoms of it's citizens.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    WarioBarker (profile), 6 Jul 2020 @ 3:39pm

    So by saying that Xi Jinping and his cronies should die in a fire, I've broken the laws of a country I was never going to go anywhere near to begin with due to said fire-deserving douchenozzles thinking George Orwell's "1984" is an instruction manual?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 7 Jul 2020 @ 5:21am

      Re:

      "So by saying that Xi Jinping and his cronies should die in a fire, I've broken the laws of a country I was never going to go anywhere near to begin with..."

      Yes, but the chinese won't care about what you say. You're a foreign barbarian after all, and know no better. They'll graciously forgive you for not realizing the importance of strong government and having doubts because of course if a westerner tries to implement strong government that westerner will invariably end up with tyranny and a big mess.

      If a chinese citizen said the same then of course it's more serious. A chinese is well-educated, competent and highly motivated to make things better so when a misguided chinese citizen shows they've gone down the wrong path naturally they'll need to be isolated and re-educated before their illness spreads.

      /s in case you didn't notice, but unfortunately sarcasm which cuts very close to the truth of how China sees things.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Upstream (profile), 6 Jul 2020 @ 4:18pm

    granting itself extraterritorial reach

    China is not unique in this. All the big governments do it. It is almost like a rite of passage, indicating that you have "arrived" on the world stage. Geographical boundaries are for silly little developing nations.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Strawb (profile), 6 Jul 2020 @ 11:29pm

      Re: granting itself extraterritorial reach

      All the big governments do it.

      Except that most of them have laws in place that don't punish people simply for speaking ill of them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 7 Jul 2020 @ 7:01am

      Re: granting itself extraterritorial reach

      "China is not unique in this. All the big governments do it."

      Well, no. Hong Kong is a bit weird though, in that it was publicly stolen at gunpoint by 18th century british drug cartels. It's understandable that China wants it back rather than having to look across the border and keep thinking about the "century of humiliation" when they had to give the foreign Capo a plot of land to sell opium from.

      It was always understood that China would be getting Hong Kong back...and to anyone who knew anything about China the concept of "One country, two systems" sounds like utter bullshit meant as a sop from China to let the UK save some face when they sold HK down the river rather than have the chinese annex it at gunpoint.

      But if I can understand this as a westerner guilty of education at least, then how can it be that HK residents themselves didn't realize that from the day the commonwealth struck their flag from the place their option was to either move out or start being mainland chinese?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Norahc (profile), 6 Jul 2020 @ 5:15pm

    This Law shall apply to offences under this Law committed against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region from outside the Region by a person who is not a permanent resident of the Region.

    We now have Darth Cheeto, Gollum and Winnie the Pooh in charge of national governments with each trying to be king of the manure pile.

    To the Chinese government and the HKSAR:
    来找我哥
    Lái zhǎo wǒ gē

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 7 Jul 2020 @ 7:04am

      Re:

      "We now have Darth Cheeto, Gollum and Winnie the Pooh in charge of national governments..."

      More like Jar Jar Orange and Palpatine. Putin scares me quite a bit more than Trump does. Arguably to a US citizen Trump would be more frightening...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2020 @ 7:43am

        Re: Re:

        Putin scares me quite a bit more than Trump does.

        Trump is much scarier, because unlike Putin, he acts on a whim, and lashes out at those he is annoyed with at the moment..

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 8 Jul 2020 @ 2:36am

          Re: Re: Re:

          As I said if I lived in the US...well, I'd be looking at ways to get the hell out, I think...but if I had to stay then Trump would be more scary than Putin, yes. Putin is a competent statesman who made a career of playing inept western politicians like fiddles in his time at the KGB.

          And he's had one hell of a good run with GWB and Trump being two US presidents he could run circles around. Even Obama failed to put up any meaningful resistance against him, meaning that Putin took back, in less than ten years, international influence which russia had lost completely when the soviet union fell.

          It's at the point now where all that's left is for Putin and Xi Jin Ping to hold their own Molotov-Ribbentrop pact about how to divide the world between them, because the US is no longer a player worth considering - with the final coup de grace being administered by Trump becoming the first US president ever to openly scorn and dismiss NATO.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2020 @ 5:32pm

    This Law shall apply to offences under this Law committed against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region from outside the Region by a person who is not a permanent resident of the Region.

    Hmm... I'm not a permanent resident of the Region, I'm a US citizen, resident in the US. Sounds like this law would still apply to me.

    Free Hong Kong!

    Come and get me, China, I dare ya.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    tom (profile), 7 Jul 2020 @ 9:05am

    The UK probably got the best deal they could at the time. The earlier Falklands War with Argentina had shown the UK just how far they had fallen as a military power. They won but not by that much against a small country also fighting a remote war. China is neither small nor remote from Hong Kong.

    Anyone in HK that doesn't have a go bag packed and an escape plan prepared wasn't paying attention.

    China picked a good time. The rest of the world is dealing with Covid19 and other political issues.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2020 @ 9:11am

    China has threatened the world if anyone interferes with what it's doing, using the phrase of 'illegal'. funny how what it has done, 30 years earlier than the agreement with the UK when HK was vacated, has been totally ignored! i guess it's the old stories, one rule for me, one for the rest!! dont do what i do, do what i tell you!
    i cant help wondering whether this really is a push by China to try to get some sort of World Domination?? i hope it's prepared for the consequences, if it is!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 8 Jul 2020 @ 2:48am

      Re:

      "i cant help wondering whether this really is a push by China to try to get some sort of World Domination??"

      Hardly. China is just being China, the same way China has been China for 2500 years.

      Meaning that any land which was within the boundaries of the Empire of Qin China will retrieve at any and every cost eventually.

      With Hong Kong being a bit of China which 18th century british drug cartels extorted China to "lease" to them at gunpoint so they could keep up the profitable opium against silver and tea trade it's not hard to understand why China is in a hurry to get back what they lost during what the chinese still call the "century of humiliation".

      Bluntly put HK residents - most of which are themselves of chinese descent - should have realized, instantly, that the very second China raised their flag over Hong Kong their democracy was taken out back and shot, leaving a make-believe farce that Beijing would keep running just long enough for their own people to assume full control.

      It's why China insists on being such a dipshit in Tibet and Xinjiang and why they keep seeing Taiwan as just another People's Republic province.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Tanner Andrews (profile), 8 Jul 2020 @ 5:28am

        Re: Re:

        should have realized, instantly, that the very second China raised their flag over Hong Kong their democracy was taken out back and shot

        In fairness, it should be observed that for most of the time the Brits controlled HK, there was no democracy in any meaningful sense. It was ruled remotely with lime-eating bureaucrats in place to deliver the instruction.

        Shortly before the hand-over, the Brits tried to graft some semblence of democracy onto HK. Perhaps it was not a great fit, and certainly the roots did not go deep. Red China paid some lip service for a few years, but there was never any intent to have HK be other than a collection of islands of slaves.

        Now, according to Red China, it is a violation of their new law for me to say mean things about their puppet government in HK, even though I do not live there. Well, they may considered themselves insulted. But not as badly insulted as they ought to be, considering their rather poor competency and character.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 10 Jul 2020 @ 1:08am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "In fairness, it should be observed that for most of the time the Brits controlled HK, there was no democracy in any meaningful sense. It was ruled remotely with lime-eating bureaucrats in place to deliver the instruction."

          I take offense at that, sir. The House of Lords and the parliament stand as good examples of british democracy...
          ...pfft, I really can't keep that up much longer. Yea, the brits weren't exactly shining examples of democracy in action. Neither under their empire nor the clown act we've seen them pulling off since.

          "Red China paid some lip service for a few years, but there was never any intent to have HK be other than a collection of islands of slaves."

          Profitable slaves, mind. For all the propaganda and hype about the "people's republic" in effect China is more a corporatist approach to governance and economy which makes the US look like a socialist utopia than they are a communist regime.

          "Well, they may considered themselves insulted. But not as badly insulted as they ought to be, considering their rather poor competency and character."

          Oh, there's plenty to be said about chinese officials, particularly in HK which may end up becoming the next Tibet as they become redefined as a "problem province". Sadly their competency is not that much in question. They're the sort of villains who tend to win even if it IS by following templates of brute-force social engineering they developed during thousands of years of imperial rule.

          They're not like the soviets who set up imaginary ideals and free fantasies then relied on wishful thinking and chanting Marx to produce a worker's paradise out of nothing.

          The standard template China appears to be going for is that as long as 8 or 9 out of 10 citizens are happy they can just use the 10th as a warning example unto others. On mainland China that method seems to work just fine which is why so very many chinese just accept the status quo as not just normal but desirable.

          HK residents not having grown up with ultra-authoritarianist imperialism as their model of life take a bit more offense at this but frankly speaking they'll be made to accept it no matter the price China has to pay in international forums over it. If China has to put half of HK in re-education camps to get it done that is what they'll do.

          What still bugs me, however, is the way the brits decided to drop HK in the cacky without a single hint that any HK resident unhappy with the idea of becoming a model citizen of the Empire of Qin had better skedaddle in good time. They've had about a generation's worth of warning and the timetable was fixed on when they'd go from being (relatively) free people to (relatively) enslaved ones.
          The brits above all knew no matter what China promised on paper HK was going to end up with the exact same rights (or lack of them) as the rest of China. The granted privileges outside of that would last up until anyone actually tried to make use of them whereupon - as we've seen - the crackdown comes.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2020 @ 10:38am

    What's next ... illegal to leave the place?
    The only people left will be those who are least able to.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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