[WSMDiscuss] Hong Kong protests erupt as Chinese security laws looms; Taiwan offers help to Hong Kong activists as China tightens grip

Jai Sen jai.sen at cacim.net
Mon May 25 17:46:09 CEST 2020

Monday, May 25, 2020

Viruses in movement…, Hong Kong in movement…, China in movement…, Freedoms in movement…, Repression in movement…

[This, especially for those who have not seen this important news, in the extremely disrupted world that we today live in – and as things are seeming, some of us anyway are perhaps going to be increasingly living in…

[But also because the situation is now opening up, and is no longer about Hong Kong alone – as if that was not big enough - with Taiwan again rejecting the ‘one-nation, two systems’ formula and openly offering refuge to Hong Kong activists, and so openly challenging China precisely as it is attempting to use the opportunity of the corona virus global crisis to move more assertively into the ascendancy :

·      Hong Kong protests erupt as Chinese security laws looms (Nathan VanderKlippe, The Globe and Mail)

·      In Pictures : Thousands protest in Hong Kong against new law (al-Jazeera)

·      Taiwan offers help to Hong Kong activists as China tightens grip (al-Jazeera)

Hong Kong protests erupt as Chinese security laws looms

China racing to impose new law criminalizing Hong Kong protests

Nathan VanderKlippe

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-china-racing-to-impose-new-law-criminalizing-hong-kong-protests-as/ <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-china-racing-to-impose-new-law-criminalizing-hong-kong-protests-as/>

A pro-democracy supporter is detained by riot police during an anti-government rally on May 24, 2020 in Hong Kong, China.  (Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

Police in Hong Kong cracked down on protesters Sunday, arresting at least 180, in the wake of Beijing’s pledge to move quickly on a new law that will extend China’s concept of justice to those who challenge Communist Party leadership in the territory.

They were the first protests since Chinese authorities announced their plans to impose the new law, which will criminalize conduct according to Beijing’s definitions of what constitutes separatism, terrorism, subversion and illegal foreign meddling.

The draft decision on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for Hong Kong on national security also gives mainland China the right to place its own enforcers on Hong Kong soil. The law is expected to be finalized this week by the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp parliament, and enacted soon after.

It “has become a pressing priority. We must get it done without the slightest delay,” China’s foreign minister Wang Yi said.

For nearly a year, the Asian financial centre has been a city of both peaceful demonstration and violent protest. With the law looming on the horizon, protests erupted as the city streets were drenched in tear gas and blocked by makeshift barricades.

On Sunday, police descended swiftly on protesters with a show of force that bloodied the streets. At least four officers were injured in clashes, according to a spokesperson for the Hong Kong government, who issued a lengthy statement late Sunday calling the protesters’ conduct an “outrageous” and ”serious threat to public safety.”

Those who waved “Hong Kong Independence” flags on Sunday undermined “the overall and long-term interests of Hong Kong society,” the spokesperson said, adding: “rioters remain rampant, reinforcing the need and urgency of the legislation on national security.”

But in a city where most people self-identify as “Hongkonger” rather than Chinese, the space to oppose the move is already diminishing.

Local police have refused to authorize peaceful protest, making street assemblies illegal. Epidemic health rules bar gatherings of more than eight people. And Beijing’s enthusiastic backing has further empowered Hong Kong’s police, already accused by human-rights groups of brutality in their handling of violent protests, to clear the streets.

”Protesters now face graver potential danger and legal consequences,” said Bonnie Leung, a pro-democracy campaigner in the city.

“Given the severity and urgency of the national-security law, people will certainly want to return to the street,” said Avery Ng, a pro-democracy activist who is among a group of 15 recently arrested people that Chinese state media call “riot leaders.” But, he said, “I worry that many people cannot return to the street to protest without risking their personal safety.”

A schedule of coming protests suggested some remain willing to risk the consequences of flouting orders to stay home. Weekly demonstrations are planned until July, including calls to “besiege” the city’s legislative council and hold rallies to “reignite” the fury that brought millions onto the streets last year in opposition to a controversial extradition treaty proposal that has now been cancelled.

But Chinese state media already began to name some of the Hong Kong figures they expect to be silenced when Beijing imposes the new national-security rules.

On Sunday, the Communist Party-backed Global Times called Hong Kong publishing tycoon Jimmy Lai a “traitor.” The paper cited Chinese experts who believe Mr. Lai, an outspoken democracy advocate, “cannot escape from the punishment of the national-security law.”

On Sunday, Mr. Lai answered on Twitter: “Even before enacting the #nationalsecuritylaw the state propaganda machine denounce me for an offence that does not exist. It reveals the ugly truth that the law intends to frighten, silence and suppress people who question the dictator.”

Hong Kong democracy advocate Joshua Wong, who was also named by the Global Times, offered his own response on Twitter: “the new law will kill future democratic movements, and murder any slight chance to seeking justice in the city.”

He warned that Hong Kong’s large expatriate community also has reason for fear. He held up as an example what he called Chinese “hostage diplomacy” in its detention of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor after the arrest in Vancouver of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

Canada, Australia and Britain on Friday issued a joint statement saying they are “deeply concerned” about the national-security law. “Making such a law on Hong Kong’s behalf without the direct participation of its people, legislature or judiciary would clearly undermine the ‘one country, two systems’ principle under which Hong Kong is guaranteed a high degree of autonomy,” the statement said.

More than 200 international parliamentarians have also signed a statement that decries a “comprehensive assault on the city’s autonomy, rule of law and fundamental freedoms” and calls for sympathetic governments to “unite to say that this flagrant breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration cannot be tolerated.”

Among the signatories are Conservative Party leadership candidates Peter MacKay and Erin O’Toole, as well as prominent Liberal figures, including Senator Jim Munson and former interim party leader Bob Rae.

Beijing dismissed such concerns.

“Instead of becoming unnecessarily worried, people should have more confidence in Hong Kong’s future,” Mr. Wang, the foreign minister, said Sunday. Violence and “terrorist activities” in the city have “posed a grave threat to Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability,” he said.

The security law drafted by Beijing, he said, “will improve Hong Kong’s legal system and bring more stability, stronger rule of law and a better business environment to Hong Kong.”

“Every country has a right, and indeed a duty, to protect national security and sovereignty. To suggest that our sovereign, China, does not have the right to legislate to protect national security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) smacks of double standards and hypocrisy,” said a Hong Kong government spokesman in a statement, in response to criticism of the new law by foreign politicians.

In Pictures : Thousands protest in Hong Kong against new law

At least 180 people were arrested on Sunday, mostly on charges of unlawful assembly


https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/pictures-thousands-protest-hong-kong-law-200524143855170.html <https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/pictures-thousands-protest-hong-kong-law-200524143855170.html>

Riot police use pepper spray on protesters during a demonstration against Beijing's national security legislation in Causeway Bay in Hong Kong. Vincent Yu/AP Photo

Hong Kong police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse thousands of people who rallied on Sunday to protest against Beijing's plan to impose a new national security law on the semi-autonomous city.

In a return of the unrest that roiled Hong Kong last year, crowds thronged the Causeway Bay shopping area in defiance of curbs imposed to contain the coronavirus. Chants of "Hong Kong independence, the only way out" echoed through the streets.


China plans new national security law for Hong Kong <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/china-plans-national-security-laws-hong-kong-200521135932850.html?utm_source=website&utm_medium=article_page&utm_campaign=read_more_links>
Few expect China to abandon the US as a listing venue for stocks <https://www.aljazeera.com/ajimpact/expect-china-abandon-listing-venue-stocks-200521140533903.html?utm_source=website&utm_medium=article_page&utm_campaign=read_more_links>
China's parliament: What it is likely to say about the economy <https://www.aljazeera.com/ajimpact/china-parliament-economy-200521025241237.html?utm_source=website&utm_medium=article_page&utm_campaign=read_more_links>
To Communist Party leaders, calls for independence for the city are anathema and the proposed new security framework stresses Beijing's intent "to prevent, stop and punish" such acts.

As dusk fell, police and demonstrators faced off in the nightlife district of Wan Chai.

The day's events pose a new challenge to Beijing's authority as it struggles to tame public opposition to its tightening grip over Hong Kong, a trade and business gateway for mainland China.

The security law has also worried financial markets and drawn a rebuke from foreign governments, human rights groups and some business lobbies.

"I am worried that after the implementation of the national security law, they will go after those being charged before and the police will be further out of control," said Twinnie, 16, a secondary school student who declined to give her last name.

"I am afraid of being arrested but I still need to come out and protest for the future of Hong Kong."

The demonstrations come amid concerns over the fate of the "one country, two systems" formula that has governed Hong Kong since the former British colony's return to Chinese rule in 1997. The arrangement guarantees the city broad freedoms not seen on the mainland, including a free press and independent judiciary.

[Here below is a selection of just a few of the photographs in this article.  Go to the link for the full set – js :

Hong Kong police fire volleys of tear gas in a popular shopping district as hundreds took to the streets to march against China's tough national security legislation for the city. Kin Cheung/AP Photo

Medical volunteers help a man to move away as police fire tear gas during a protest against Beijing's security legislation. Vincent Yu/AP Photo

Anti-government protesters run from tear gas during a march against Beijing’s plans to impose national security legislation in Hong Kong. Tyrone Siu/Reuters

Taiwan offers help to Hong Kong activists as China tightens grip

Taiwan's laws already provide help to Hong Kong citizens whose safety and liberty are threatened for political reasons


https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/taiwan-offers-hong-kong-activists-china-tightens-grip-200525005810521.html <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/taiwan-offers-hong-kong-activists-china-tightens-grip-200525005810521.html>
Taiwan will provide the people of Hong Kong with "necessary assistance", President Tsai Ing-wen said, after a resurgence in protests in the Chinese ruled territory against newly proposed national security legislation from Beijing.

Writing on her Facebook page late on Sunday, Tsai said the proposed legislation was a serious threat to Hong Kong's freedoms and judicial independence - a statement that is likely to rile up China, which considers Taiwan part of its territory.


Protests, alarm greet China plans for new Hong Kong security law <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/protests-anger-greet-china-plan-hong-kong-security-law-200522032218244.html?utm_source=website&utm_medium=article_page&utm_campaign=read_more_links>
Hong Kong dissidents a further test for Taiwan-China ties <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/04/hong-kong-dissidents-test-taiwan-china-ties-200427034547596.html?utm_source=website&utm_medium=article_page&utm_campaign=read_more_links>
In shadow of coronavirus, China steps up manoeuvres near Taiwan <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/04/shadow-coronavirus-china-steps-manoeuvres-taiwan-200422011542456.html?utm_source=website&utm_medium=article_page&utm_campaign=read_more_links>
Taiwan has become a refuge for a small but growing number of pro-democracy protesters fleeing Hong Kong <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/04/hong-kong-dissidents-test-taiwan-china-ties-200427034547596.html>, which has been roiled by protests since last year.

Hong Kong police on Sunday fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse thousands of people who rallied on to protest against Beijing's plan to impose national security laws on the territory.

Bullets and repression are not the way to deal with the aspirations of Hong Kong's people for freedom and democracy, Taiwan's president said.




Beijing warns against foreign interference over Hong Kong (5:28) <https://youtu.be/vpzR7eWNKx8>
"In face of the changing situation, the international community has proactively stretched out a helping hand to Hong Kong's people," Tsai wrote.

Taiwan will "even more proactively perfect and forge ahead with relevant support work, and provide Hong Kong's people with necessary assistance", she wrote.

Taiwan has no law on refugees that could be applied to Hong Kong protesters, who seek asylum on the island. Its laws do promise, however, to help Hong Kong citizens whose safety and liberty are threatened for political reasons.

Anger in Beijing

The Hong Kong protests have won widespread sympathy in Taiwan, and the support for the protesters by Tsai and her administration has worsened already poor ties between Taipei and Beijing.

China, which claims Taiwan as its own, has accused supporters of Taiwan's independence of colluding with the protesters.

China believes Tsai to be a "separatist" bent on declaring the island's formal independence.




Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen says no to 'one country, two systems' (1:29) <https://youtu.be/2Oo1WIGwWqY>
Tsai says Taiwan is already an independent country called the Republic of China, its official name.

Tsai's latest statement on Hong Kong could also further complicate its delicate relationship with Beijing, as she begins her second term in office.

In her inauguration speech last week, Tsai pledged to seek stability in relations with China, saying that "peace, parity, democracy, and dialogue" should form the basis for contacts between the sides as a means to prevent intensifying antagonisms and differences.

But Tsai also rejected China's "one country, two systems" framework saying it would "downgrade Taiwan and undermine the cross-strait status quo".

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the proposed law for Hong Kong should be imposed "without the slightest delay".

The proposal is expected to ban treason, subversion and sedition, and comes after Hong Kong was shaken by months of enormous and sometimes violent anti-government protests.

Wang Yi told a news conference that the law was "imperative" after protests in the semi-autonomous hub last year "seriously endangered China's national security".

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


Jai Sen

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 :

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