Critics Claim that Hong Kong’s new Law is the Last Nail in the Coffin

Many prominent figures from around the world have expressed their strong disapproval of Hong Kong’s recently implemented security law, describing it as a significant setback for the principles of freedom.

Hong Kong’s parliament, which is aligned with Beijing, passed Article 23 after an extensive session on Tuesday.

Officials emphasize the importance of the law in maintaining stability, as it focuses on addressing a variety of actions considered treasonous.

However, activists in exile who support democracy expressed their belief that this development is a significant setback.

“The new legislation on national security will further tighten restrictions on freedoms in Hong Kong, imposing longer sentences and expanding the scope of national security,” stated Frances Hui, an activist currently residing in the US.

A joint statement was issued on Tuesday by a group of 81 lawmakers and public figures from various countries, including the UK, US, Canada, and South Korea. The statement expressed “grave concerns” regarding Article 23.

The legislation is seen as a threat to due process and fair trial rights, potentially compromising Hong Kong’s position as a global city committed to upholding international human rights standards, according to the statement.

The US expressed deep concern over the broad and ambiguously worded provisions in the legislation, a sentiment shared by the EU. The UK’s Foreign Secretary David Cameron expressed concerns about the potential impact of the law on rights and freedoms, as well as the culture of self-censorship in the former British colony.

The Chinese Embassy in the UK strongly disagreed with his comments, stating that they were a misrepresentation of the truth.

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“Hong Kong-related affairs are part of China’s international affairs, and the UK side has no authority to make unsolicited comments.” The embassy expressed its strong disagreement with the UK’s accusations regarding the legislation of Article 23.

Expressing her concern, Ms Hui highlighted the potential for the law to be utilized against HongKongers residing abroad, as well as their loved ones residing in Hong Kong. In the past, the city has provided rewards for individuals who provide information on activists who have left the country, and has taken into custody four individuals in Hong Kong for their involvement in supporting individuals abroad who pose a threat to national security.

Ms Hui departed Hong Kong in 2020 following the implementation of a national security law (NSL), which has resulted in the arrest of over 260 individuals. It was implemented as a response to widespread pro-democracy demonstrations that swept through the city in 2019.

According to Ms Hui, civil liberties in Hong Kong have significantly diminished over the past four years since the NSL was implemented. Article 23 delves deeper into the controversial legislation, focusing on additional offenses such as external interference and insurrection. Severe consequences await, with life sentences being among the possible penalties.

One of the signatories to the joint international statement is Chris Patten, Hong Kong’s last British governor. Patten expressed his concern over the legislation, stating that it further undermines human rights and the rule of law in Hong Kong, which is a disappointing violation of the Joint Declaration.

In 1997, Hong Kong was returned to China, operating under the principle of “one country, two systems”. This arrangement ensured the city’s autonomy to a certain extent. Despite assertions from Beijing and Hong Kong that the situation remains unchanged, there are concerns among critics and international rights groups that China’s control over the city has grown stronger over time.

On Tuesday, s memes started circulating online that drew comparisons between Article 23 and the process of Xi Jinping being unanimously voted in as China’s leader for a third term last year by close to 3,000 members of the rubber-stamp parliament.

Hong Kong’s leader John Lee expressed his support for the law on Tuesday, emphasizing that it will enable the city to protect itself against movements promoting Hong Kong independence and potential color revolutions.

“From now on, the people of Hong Kong will never have to endure the suffering we have endured in the past,” he remarked.

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