[WSMDiscuss] Hong Kong police make first arrests under new security law, amid fears of ‘white terror' (Nathan VanderKlippe) / ‘It Could Be Anyone’ : Hong Kong Security Law Sends Chill Over the City (Vivian Wang and Alexandra Stevenson)
jai.sen at cacim.net
Wed Jul 1 15:57:30 CEST 2020
Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Hong Kong in movement…, China in movement…, Freedoms in movement…, Resistance in movement…
[Other things being equal, a change is taking place in Hong Kong, in a way starting from today, that is perhaps nothing like what has happened anywhere else in the world, and one that is difficult, I think, for any of us who are not there to fully grasp - and also difficult to come to a definitive judgement on, as outsiders. (The change has of course not literally started from today; it has been under intense construction, and struggle, for over a year now, and in a generic way dates back to 1997, when Hong Kong was ‘handed back’ by colonial Britain to China, and when it was agreed – by the rulers on both sides, anyway – that Chinese rule would come to bear on the city over the coming decades.) On the one hand, the lid is coming down on one of the most culturally rich and expressive ‘cities’ – almost a city-state – in the contemporary world, which perhaps as a result also gave birth to one of the most vigorous resistance movements anywhere, that has periodically irrupted over the past many years now and most intensely over this past year; on the other hand, the historical truth is that Hong Kong was occupied and stolen from China by Britain, and in a larger anti-colonial picture, it is only right that it should ‘return’ to China…. The only problem being what China itself, once predated on, has now become….
[Here, one more of a news report, and one almost an essay, on the cultural undersides of what is happening in Hong Kong today, as the change comes into force… And where those who read this post, and who have perhaps read earlier posts of mine on the Hong Kong movements, should know that (again, other things being equal…) the photographs that come with these articles and the earlier ones are perhaps among the last that you will see, of this nature, from Hong Kong… A moment in history is passing. But where this in turn should also make us reflect on the condition of the world as it is becoming as a whole, for it is not only in China that authoritarian states have emerged in our times. In its own way, this is therefore also a snapshot of the history of the contemporary world as it is unfolding :
· Hong Kong police make first arrests under new security law, amid fears of ‘white terror' (Nathan VanderKlippe <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/authors/nathan-vanderklippe/>, The Globe and Mail)
· ‘It Could Be Anyone’ : Hong Kong Security Law Sends Chill Over the City (Vivian Wang <https://www.nytimes.com/by/vivian-wang> and Alexandra Stevenson <https://www.nytimes.com/by/alexandra-stevenson>, New York Times)
Hong Kong police make first arrests under new security law, amid fears of ‘white terror'
Nathan VanderKlippe <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/authors/nathan-vanderklippe/>, The Globe and Mail
Riot police fire tear gas into the crowds to disperse anti-national security law protesters during a march at the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)
Police in Hong Kong treated hand-lettered signs and protest chants as signs of secession, as they made their first arrests Wednesday under a new national security law drafted by Beijing that can send people found guilty to jail for life.
By 8 p.m., officers in riot gear had arrested more than 300 people, including nine under the national security law. Their offences: carrying banners and signs that proclaimed “Hong Kong Independence,” along with printed cartoons depicting Chinese president Xi Jinping as a dictator with a scalp that resembles a spherical coronavirus.
The swift application of the new law by police underscored how rapidly change has descended upon Hong Kong, a city that long enjoyed western-style freedoms but which is now subject to a legal regime that can impose severe punishment according to sweeping Chinese definitions of conduct that constitutes subversion, secession, terrorism or foreign interference.
Any flag advocating independence or separatism from China is banned, Hong Kong police said. In a statement, the police said the chant “Hong Kong independence, the only way out,” is “a slogan suspected to be inciting or abetting others to commit secession.” The Canadian government warned that travellers to the city face “increased risk of arbitrary detention on national security grounds and possible extradition to mainland China.”
The new law applies to anyone anywhere, raising the new possibility that the city’s authorities can arrest travellers passing through the city’s airport, a key hub for global travel, for transgressions against Beijing.
The first arrest under the law was made less than 15 hours after Chinese authorities published its full text, on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover to Chinese control.
By mid-day on July 1, police in the city had raised pink signs warning that displaying flags, chanting slogans “or conducting yourselves with an intent such as secession or subversion” could result in arrest under the new law, which threatens life in prison for a broad range of conduct. Police said one officer was stabbed in the arm and another three rammed by a motorcycle during the protests Wednesday, which were much smaller than in previous years but showed the willingness of some in the city to speak out, even if it now risks far greater consequences.
National security “is such a pervasive concept that it affects all areas of life,” and even if only small numbers of people are arrested, “it is the deterrent or chilling effect that is intended,” said Bing Ling, professor of Chinese Law at the University of Sydney Law School.
Lawyers, activists and artists in Hong Kong have deleted social media accounts and online chat conversations in fear. Workers at human rights-related groups have begun formulating plans to leave the city, worried that to stay could be dangerous.
The new law can be used to criminalize the use of legislative filibusters, to jail people for petitioning foreign countries to impose sanctions on Hong Kong and to impose lengthy sentences on those who accuse police of brutality, if those accusations cause public anger and are deemed by authorities to be rumours.
The law also specifies that some cases, including those that involve “external elements,” can be handled by Chinese authorities. That means “mainland national security agents can directly arrest people and transfer them to the mainland,” said Prof. Ling. There, “mainland prosecutors will bring the indictment, and a mainland court will rule.”
Hong Kong now faces a period of “white terror,” warned Albert Ho, a former legislator with the city’s Democratic Party who is one of the 15 recently-arrested people that Chinese state media have called “riot leaders.” The law specifically exempts security police from local rules, while granting them sweeping powers to search people and places, freeze assets and conduct surveillance — with no clear requirement for a prior court-ordered warrant — while the law makes it difficult for judges to allow bail.
The “enforcement institutions are so powerful, that one would be totally shattered even before he could appear in court — totally shattered, mentally and physically,” said Mr. Ho. And, he said, the new legal “net is very, very wide, aimed at catching a lot of people — even non-violent protesters.”
Authorities in Hong Kong and China, however, pointed to language in the law that says it will protect rights to speech and assembly.
“It is constitutional, lawful, reasonable and rational for the central government to introduce the national security law in Hong Kong,” Carrie Lam, the city’s chief executive, said Wednesday. “The law will neither undermine the high degree of autonomy, the judicial independence and the rule of law in Hong Kong, nor will it affect the legitimate rights and interests of Hong Kong people.”
“This law is the ‘patron saint’ of Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity,” said Zhang Xiaoming, executive deputy director of Beijing’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office. He described it as an effort to “improve” upon the one-country two-systems formulation that has governed Hong Kong since its handover to China from British control.
“How can the central government turn a blind eye to all kinds of anti-China and anti-Hong Kong forces and let them wantonly engage in acts and activities that split the country and endanger national security in Hong Kong?” he asked.
The law gives Chinese authorities new power to constrain speech in the city, a response to the “subversive and hostile remarks against police” that proliferated over the past year, said Tian Feilong, a law professor at Beihang University who specializes in Hong Kong law.
“The effect it will have in Hong Kong is that it will draw a legal boundary for free speech and political freedom,” he said.
It is also universal in scope, making Hong Kong, a key centre for global finance and international travel, into a place where police can arrest anyone — foreign citizens included — if their conduct abroad is deemed a threat to Chinese national security. That can include actions considered a provocation of hatred against Beijing and local authorities.
“If a foreigner commits a crime that violates the regulations under the Hong Kong national security law, there’s no doubt that he is very likely to be arrested once he’s in Hong Kong — even if he’s just transferring flights,” said Prof. Tian.
But he dismissed concerns about those measures, saying “the protection this law will bring to ordinary people will outweigh its impact.”
“People in Hong Kong will gradually go back to a peaceful and stable life, and the authority of Hong Kong’s legal system will be restored,” he said. “The outside world will have more confidence in Hong Kong, too.”
With reporting by Alexandra Li.
‘It Could Be Anyone’: Hong Kong Security Law Sends Chill Over the City
Protesters are deleting their accounts on Twitter and Telegram. Booksellers, professors and nonprofits are questioning their future
Vivian Wang <https://www.nytimes.com/by/vivian-wang> and Alexandra Stevenson <https://www.nytimes.com/by/alexandra-stevenson>, New York Times
Hong Kong police officers carried a purple sign on Wednesday warning about acts that violate the new security law. (Credit...Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times)
HONG KONG — A museum that commemorates the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre is rushing to digitize its archives, afraid its artifacts could be seized. Booksellers are nervously eyeing customers, worried they could be government spies. Writers have asked a news site to delete more than 100 articles, anxious that old posts could be used against them.
And on Wednesday, the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese control — a day usually observed by huge pro-democracy marches — a scattered crowd of protesters tried to rekindle that energy, only to be corralled by the police and arrested over offenses that did not exist a day earlier.
The Chinese government’s new security law for Hong Kong <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/30/world/asia/china-critics-security-law-hong-kong.html> is less than a day old, and already the city is feeling its chilling effect. The law was designed to stamp out the anti-government demonstrations <https://www.nytimes.com/news-event/hong-kong-protests?action=click&pgtype=Article&state=default&module=styln-hong-kong&variant=show®ion=TOP_BANNER&context=storylines_menu> that have wracked the semiautonomous territory for more than a year. But it also threatens the fabric of life that has made Hong Kong, with its freewheeling cultural scene and civil society, distinct from the rest of China.
“You can say this law is just targeting protesters and anti-Chinese politicians, but it could be anyone,” said Isabella Ng, a professor at the Education University of Hong Kong who founded a charity <https://www.facebook.com/HKSASR/?ref=page_internal> that helps refugees in the city.
Protesters marched in the Causeway Bay neighborhood on Wednesday, the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese control. (Credit...Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times)
“Where is the line to draw?” said Professor Ng, who worries that her charity could one day come under scrutiny. “Everything becomes very uncertain.”
The law <http://www.xinhuanet.com/2020-06/30/c_1126179649.htm>, which went into effect as soon as it was released Tuesday night, confirmed many residents’ fears that a range of actions that they had previously engaged in had become hazardous. Though the law specifically bans subversion, sedition, terrorism and collusion, its definition of those crimes could be interpreted broadly to include various forms of speech or organizing.
Lobbying foreign governments or publishing anti-Beijing viewpoints could be punished by life imprisonment in serious cases. So could saying anything seen as undermining the ruling Communist Party’s authority. As a few thousand people gathered in a major Hong Kong commercial district on Wednesday, the police forced them off the streets and arrested more than 300 people, including at least nine over new offenses created by the security law. One of the nine was a 15-year-old girl waving a Hong Kong independence flag, the police said.
Officials insist that the law will affect only a small group of offenders, but many fear the government could use the law’s expansive definitions to target a wide array of people and organizations. In the mainland, the party has virtually eliminated <https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/12/world/asia/china-journalists-crackdown.html> independent journalism and imposed onerous restrictions <https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/29/world/asia/china-foreign-ngo-law.html> on nongovernmental organizations.
Even before the law was passed, activists, journalists, bookshop owners and professors said they had begun second-guessing any speech that could be labeled political. The human rights group Amnesty International said it had drawn up a contingency plan.
Many Hong Kongers have expressed interest in emigration, a task that Britain has promised to make easier <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/03/world/europe/boris-johnson-uk-hong-kong-china.html>. The British foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said on Wednesday that some Hong Kong residents would be allowed to live in Britain for five years — up from six months previously — and then apply for citizenship.
A former British colony, Hong Kong was promised a high degree of autonomy when it returned to Chinese control in 1997. It found success as a bridge between the mainland and the rest of the world, serving as a haven <https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/18/world/asia/hong-kong-extradition-bill-china.html> for Chinese dissidents and a base for academics, journalists and researchers to chronicle, unfettered, the country’s modernization.
But reminders of Chinese control were never far. The abductions of five Hong Kong booksellers <https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/03/magazine/the-case-of-hong-kongs-missing-booksellers.html> in 2015 by the mainland authorities rattled others who had openly marketed salacious Chinese political thrillers or modern historical volumes. Though Hong Kong was long a sanctuary for books banned in the mainland, tighter border checks have recently choked the flow of books between Hong Kong and the mainland.
Now the security push has accelerated panic and a sense of foreboding.
“If you haven’t tasted what tyranny is, be prepared, because tyranny is not comfortable,” said Bao Pu, the founder of New Century Press, one of the city’s few surviving independent publishers <https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/04/books/hong-kong-publishing-tiananmen.html>.
Bao Pu founded New Century Press, a Hong Kong publisher that has resisted censorship efforts by Beijing. (Credit...Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times)
Albert Wan, the co-owner of Bleak House Books, an independent bookstore, said that he closely tracked all his book shipments, regardless of whether they could be considered political, watching for any sign of delay.
He said that he had also grown wary of unfamiliar customers, and tries to decide if they are browsing for books or seemingly “building a profile” of him and his employees.
“We are being paranoid,” Mr. Wan said. “I don’t know how else to put it.”
For those who built their lives and livelihoods around Hong Kong’s unique freedoms, the security law has forced them to balance two seemingly irreconcilable goals: preserving their own safety, without giving in to fear.
The June 4 Museum, which chronicles Beijing’s bloody military crackdown <https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/03/world/asia/tiananmen-massacre-anniversary-archive.html> on student protesters in 1989, has not made plans to move its artifacts overseas for safekeeping. The Chinese government has tried to quash any memory of the massacre, so to hide the archives would be to admit premature defeat, said Lee Cheuk-yan, of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, which runs the museum.
But reality has also forced the alliance to start an online fund-raiser <https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/64museum/june-4th-museum-of-memory-and-human-rights?ref=discovery&term=%E5%85%AD%E5%9B%9B> in support of digitizing the museum’s archives, which include video footage of the protests and letters that protesters wrote to their families.
“We of course are racing with time,” Mr. Lee said.
Lee Cheuk-yan at the June 4 Museum in May. He said hiding its archives would amount to admitting premature defeat. (Credit...Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times)
The chill is not limited to local groups. Large international organizations are also evaluating their future in the city. The new law specifically said that the government would “strengthen the management” of foreign nongovernmental organizations and news agencies.
Amnesty International, the human rights group, has drafted plans for leaving Hong Kong, though it does not currently intend to move any employees, said Nicholas Bequelin, the director for Amnesty’s East and Southeast Asia operations. “The rule of law is going to come under very severe stress in Hong Kong,” he said.
Concerns about the security law’s reach have also forced many writers and protesters to scrutinize their digital footprint for anything that might now be deemed subversive. Activists deleted their accounts on Twitter and on Telegram, a messaging app popular with protesters.
In recent weeks, around a dozen writers asked the editors of InMedia HK, a site that posts articles supporting democracy, to take down some or all of their archives, said Betty Lau, the site’s editor. Editors deleted more than 100 articles, Ms. Lau said.
Hong Kong’s reputation for press freedom has long stood in contrast with the mainland’s censorship regime and routine harassment of journalists. But the new security law has thrown the future of the city’s lively news media into question.
The Hong Kong News Executives Association, a group representing the top editors of the city’s major news outlets, expressed concern <https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-and-crime/article/3090787/hong-kong-national-security-law-citys-media-bosses> about the far-reaching impact of the security law ahead of its release. The Foreign Correspondents’ Club urged the government last week to guarantee that the authorities would not seek to interfere with the work of reporters. The government has not responded, but officials have sought to reassure the public that the city’s civil liberties will be protected.
During a recent end-of-semester meeting at Hong Kong University’s Journalism and Media Studies Center, staff members wondered aloud where the red line would be and whether certain topics would be off limits, said the center’s director, Keith Richburg.
“I’d be lying if I said I don’t think twice about posting something on Twitter before pushing the button,” said Mr. Richburg, a former foreign correspondent with The Washington Post.
One of the starkest indicators that the national security law was already having its intended effect came on Tuesday, directly after lawmakers in Beijing unanimously approved it.
Joshua Wong <https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/02/world/asia/hong-kong-china-democracy-protests-students.html>, the 23-year-old who is perhaps Hong Kong’s best-known activist, announced on social media that he would withdraw from Demosisto, the youth political group that he founded in 2016, citing fears for his safety. Demosisto, which has called for greater autonomy for Hong Kong, was for many the face of the protest movement’s future.
Soon after, three other leading members of Demosisto also resigned. A few hours later, the group announced it was disbanding altogether.
In a note explaining his decision, Mr. Wong wrote, “Nobody can be sure of their tomorrow.”
“Lady Liberty Hong Kong,” a statue modeled on a woman who was hit in the eye at a protest, on display at an exhibition in May. (Credit...Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times)
Austin Ramzy, Elaine Yu and Tiffany May contributed reporting. Bella Huang contributed research.
Independent researcher, editor; Senior Fellow at the School of International Development and Globalisation Studies at the University of Ottawa
jai.sen at cacim.net <mailto:jai.sen at cacim.net>
Now based in New Delhi, India (+91-98189 11325) and in Ottawa, Canada, on unceded and unsurrendered Anishinaabe territory (+1-613-282 2900)
CURRENT / RECENT publications :
Jai Sen, ed, 2018a – The Movements of Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance. Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
Jai Sen, ed, 2018b – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ? (Indian edition). New Delhi : AuthorsUpfront, in collaboration with OpenWord and PM Press. Hard copy available at MOM1AmazonIN <https://www.amazon.in/dp/9387280101/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1522884070&sr=8-2&keywords=movements+of+movements+jai+sen>, MOM1Flipkart <https://www.flipkart.com/the-movements-of-movements/p/itmf3zg7h79ecpgj?pid=9789387280106&lid=LSTBOK9789387280106NBA1CH&marketplace=FLIPKART&srno=s_1_1&otracker=search&fm=SEARCH&iid=ff35b702-e6a8-4423-b014-16c84f6f0092.9789387280106.SEARCH&ppt=Search%20Page>, and MOM1AUpFront <http://www.authorsupfront.com/movements.htm>
Jai Sen, ed, 2017 – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?. New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press. Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
SUBSCRIBE TO World Social Movement Discuss, an open, unmoderated, and self-organising forum on social and political movement at any level (local, national, regional, and global). To subscribe, simply send an empty email to wsm-discuss-subscribe at lists.openspaceforum.net <mailto:wsm-discuss-subscribe at lists.openspaceforum.net>
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the WSM-Discuss