Security law a new weapon to rip out all democratic aspirations in Hong Kong: Joshua Wong

By Vishu Adhana

Hong Kong, June 20 (ANI): Turning a deaf ear to concerns raised by foreign governments, China is moving swiftly to enact the 'draconian' national security law to bring Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous city, under its direct control.

Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong said that the national security law is a new weapon of the Chinese government "to rip out" all democratic aspirations in Hong Kong.

In an e-mail interview to ANI, Wong, who was 17 when he became the face of the 2014 student-led Umbrella Movement, said that the security law will "kill" all future democratic movements since all protests and other calls for democracy in the city will be classified as attempts of subversions of China's authority.

Critics believe that the new law is aimed at muzzling voices of dissent in the city which last year saw widespread protests against the contentious extradition bill.

"To enforce the security law, Beijing will unprecedentedly set up a new national security body in the city. This new secret police body will probably supersede the Hong Kong government and police forces and launch secret arrests of all dissents in the city, just like what they did to human rights defenders and dissidents in China, such as imprisoning human rights activist Liu Xiaobo and bookseller Gui Minhai. In other words, the new law serves as a new weapon to rip out all democratic aspirations in Hong Kong," he said.

The Chinese authorities on Saturday announced the details of the Hong Kong security law after the three-day meeting of the National People's Congress Standing Committee.

The controversial legislature comprises six chapters and 66 articles, according to Sputnik.

Chinese state agency Xinhua has reported that the Chinese government will establish a special bureau in Hong Kong to investigate and prosecute crimes considered threatening to national security. All Hong Kong government departments, from finance to immigration, will be directly answerable to the central government in Beijing, according to the report.

The draft document lists the main responsibilities of the Chinese authorities regarding national security, as well as Hong Kong's constitutional responsibility to maintain it. The legislation sets out rules for the prevention, suppression and punishment of secessionist activities, attempts to undermine the state authority, terrorist activities, and colluding with foreign states or forces to jeopardise national security.

"This is the critical moment of the beginning of the end for every single citizen in Hong Kong. In the face of this draconian law, Hongkongers will not be scared off from telling truths and fighting for justice. This is not a question whether our choices are easy or not, but right or wrong," Wong, the secretary-general of pro-democracy party Demosisto, said.

Notably, Hong Kong, a former British colony, has so far retained its own legal system after returning to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. In 2003, similar efforts were made to bring in the national security law. But Beijing and Hong Kong's leaders had to back off after nearly 50,000 people hit the streets to protest against it.

Wong said that the new law is even worse than that of 2003 which puts the city's liberties further in peril. He said that the new law will completely change the human rights standards and business environment of the global financial centre, which affects European business interests in the city and leads to democratic backlashes in the region.

"The new law is even worse, which puts the city's liberties further in peril. In fact, Hongkongers have once carried out a large-scale demonstration in 2003 to stop the national security legislation. Now Beijing's move is actually ramming the most controversial and unpopular law down Hongkonger's throat without any legislative scrutiny. It is foreseeable that Hongkongers are prepared to fight to protect our vanishing freedoms. I call upon the world to stand with Hong Kong once again this time," he stated.

Following the failure of the Hong Kong administration in containing the last year's protests, the Chinese leadership is frustrated and wants to enact the law faster to have control over law and order of the city.

Leaders of the Chinese Communist Party have demanded steps to strengthen mainland China's control over Hong Kong, since the months-long protests last year in the city over the proposed extradition bill, that would have allowed people to be extradited to mainland China for trial.

On June 9 last year, more than one million people held demonstrations against the government's attempt to legalise extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China. In September that year, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the withdrawal of the extradition bill.

In May this year, the annual session of China's National People's Congress nearly unanimously passed a resolution that allows the Congress Standing Committee to impose the national security law.

The United States has said that if the law is passed, it would revoke some of the special privileges it grants to the former British colony. The United Kingdom has said it will offer passports and a path to citizenship to as many as three million Hong Kong residents.

On Wednesday, the G7 leading economies expressed its "grave concern" about the legislation stressing that it would breach Beijing's international commitments as well as the territory's constitution. Beijing has, however, denounced the criticism as interference in its internal affairs.

Wong has also urged the world to stand with Hong Kong and oppose the law.

"To uphold autonomy and freedoms of the city, I call upon the world to stand with Hong Kong once again and oppose this draconian law, and urge China to honour its commitment under the 'one country, two systems' framework," he said. (ANI)