China Approves Plan To Rein in Hong Hong
Protests have resurfaced in Hong Kong as China’s parliament passed a security resolution calling for a new law to be written to extend most of Mainland China’s security practices to Hong Kong. The new law is expected to be in effect from September. It is likely that this new law will end Hong Kong’s autonomy promised by China during the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China. The Sino-British Joint Declaration promised Hong Kong’s autonomy until 2047. However, It seems that Beijing is not keeping its promise. As per the agreement, Hong Kong was allowed to continue its capitalist society along with freedom of speech, of the press and of publication, and the right to peaceful assembly.
Due to this high degree of autonomy, Washington has maintained a special relationship with Hong Kong. The U.S. treated Hong Kong as a unique customs territory that spared it from the U.S.-China trade war. Hong Kong is also a key global financial center and is critical for investment flows in and out of China. The new law would forbid any acts or activities that endanger China’s national security, including separatism and terrorism. These are the same charges that Beijing uses to silence its dissidents and political opponents in Mainland China. It is likely that the same will happen to Hong Kong as well.
Activists groups could be banned. Courts could impose long jail sentences in the name of national security violations. China’s most feared security agencies could operate freely in the city. Even, Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive hinted that civil liberties might not be an enduring feature of Hong Kong anymore. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notified the U.S. Congress that Hong Kong no longer maintains a high degree of autonomy from China. This would probably end the special relationship with Hong Kong that the U.S. has.
I feel that China’s unilateral decision without consulting Hong Kongers to impose national security laws is a violation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. It is likely that the U.S. and its allies will retaliate by imposing sanctions. The Chinese economy is already in deep trouble due to the coronavirus crisis, this will only worsen its economic woes. China should consider its international obligations and its economic interests before proceeding further.