Is 2047 already for Hong Kong?
Updated: Jun 30, 2020
-BY AISHNA MISHRA
The United States on Friday imposed Visa restrictions on Chinese leaders who are reportedly responsible for threatening Hong Kong’s autonomy. This comes days before China’s Standing Committee’s meet which will enact the contentious national security legislation for Hong Kong. Many democratic leader fear that this law will supposedly give China the power to deal with anyone it sees as a political dissent to Beijing.
China-Hong Kong Historical Background
Hong Kong is a part of China but it is considered as a ‘Semi-Autonomous region’.It was a colony of Britain until 1997, after which it was decided that Hong Kong would be administered under ‘One Country, Two System”.
Under the agreement, Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy and has various democratic rights like Right to Vote, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the procession, and demonstration. Unlike Hong Kong, the citizens of China do not enjoy such special rights due to the authoritarian rule. However in 2047, Hong Kong is set to be a part of mainland China.
So why are Hong Kongers protesting?
In February 2018, A Hong Kongese Woman was murdered by her boyfriend in Taiwan. Since the murder was committed in Taiwan, Hong Kong could not charge him as there was no existing extradition treaty between Hong Kong and Taiwan. In 2019, Hong Kong’s Government proposed an agreement for extradition to Taiwan and Mainland China. The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019, which was later scrapped, gave China more power over Hong Kong.
National People’s Congress Standing Committee and the Security law
The standing committee of the NPC is set to discuss national security law for Hong Kong on Sunday. But the Hong Kongers haven’t yet seen the full text of the security law. With the security law in place, it will violate the basic laws of Hong Kong . According to Article 18 of Hong Kong’s basic law, China shall not enforce any of its laws over Hong Kong, except defense and foreign affairs.
It is believed that Xi Jinping will unilaterally impose the security law, bypassing the Legislative Council of Hong Kong. The council has a majority of pro-Beijing leaders despite pro-democratic leaders winning more popular votes in every election. This is because Hong Kong only votes for 40 seats out of 70. The remaining 30 seats are given to various sectors like the Finance industry, Medical Industry, etc. These seats are dominated by Pro Chinese members who are likely to be benefited by the Chinese trade. Therefore, the LegCo is ruled by the Pro Beijing Leader even if they do not have more than 50% of the popular vote.
What’s in the Law?
The Security law will set a new security agency in Hong Kong that will enforce the new security restrictions as passed by the NPC. This law will allow Beijing to set up its security arm in Hong Kong to investigate special cases and collect intelligence. The law would criminalize and punish succession, subversion, and terrorism.
According to the New York Times, “The legislation also gives the territory’s chief official, who must answer to Beijing, the power to decide which judges are empowered to hear trials for state security charges, limiting the autonomy of the city’s judiciary.”
Protests against the Law
Even though Hong Kong is set to become a part of China by 2047, people fear that the security law will allow China to curb HKSAR before 2047. According to the Reuters, Dave Lee, one of the founders of HK Protect says “They can interpret the law themselves, they can arrest whoever they want, and we are afraid that we will be arrested too. If things go that far, we will either close down or leave.”
Many believe that China is not just aiming at political grip but also to have a deeper influence over the Financial hub. Recently, more and more Chinese have set up their offices in Hong Kong. A recent study by Bloomberg shows how desperately China wants to curb Hong Kong’s economy as it generated just 3% of China’s GDP as compared to 18% in 1997.
Although China wouldn’t withstand any foreign power jeopardizing its ambitions, the G7 nations have asked China to rethink its Security law. The United States believes that if Hong Kong comes under Beijing completely, Washington will relinquish financial advantages given to Hong Kong as the US-China trade war continues to remain tense amidst the pandemic. The US has passed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, imposing sanctions on pro-Beijing companies and people who support China’s security law. The United Nations have also set up a mechanism for Hong Kong because of the imminent new law.
The national security law is likely to pass and will put everybody in Hong Kong at a risk of arbitrary abduction. It would not give them a fair chance of trial. Serious tensions loom over the territory as its youth fights for a democratic Hong Kong.