By Muhammad Ali
Mississauga – For the past few years there has been mass protests in Hong Kong, hitting mainstream news across the world. Riots has erupted yet again in the major financial hub. Protestors, see the law as a threat to their rights, laws and overall autonomy. Just recently the security plan was approved in Beijing, allowing China to tighten its grasp over Hong Kong, a region with just around 7.5 million people. In 1984, the British agreed to give China, Hong Kong, which was seized from China in 1841.
However, it was agreed that Hong Kong would be given political and social autonomy from the mainland, by a “one country, two systems policy”. This policy ensured various protections for the people such as: the right to freedom of assembly and speech. Also, it gave Hong Kong its own independent judiciary system and some democratic rights and freedoms, which keep in mind, no other region in China has. Likely, Beijing has enacted such tough laws in order to prevent the violence, anti-china and pro-democracy sentiment created throughout Hong Kong after citizens in Hong Kong protested the extradition law. This sentiment, also threatens stability throughout China.
In 1997, after 156 years of British rule, the culturally, politically and economically different societies of Hong Kong, and China unified. Under the British, Hong Kong was a democratic country, which guaranteed various freedoms to the people. This also explains why there is rift between the two cultures, as Hong’s social and political structures is inspired by the Western democratic structure which antagonizes China’s communist structure.
Another law which prohibits the mockery of the Chinese National Anthem, just shows how widely different these two states are, is set to pass in Hong Kong. In 2003, Hong Kong had tried to legislate its own national security law, but that failed due to wide protest. Now, this passed law will most probably result in more widespread arrests of the protesting citizens in Hong Kong as it allows Hong Kong’s security agencies as well as Chinese agencies such as: The Ministry of State Security and the People’s Armed Police, to take action within Hong Kong.
The following shown is what is currently known about the law:
- No breaking away from the country
- No undermining the power or authority of the central government
- No using violence or intimidation against people
- No activities by foreign forces that interfere in Hong Kong
Although what is known is quite vague, pro-democratic groups in Hong Kong worry about the law inflicting upon their freedoms. For instance, criticizing Beijing, or asking for help from foreign governments may be deemed illegal in the future. In mainland China, a trial regarding about national security, will occur behind closed doors, which may be the change that happens to Hong Kong’s judicial system. Currently, the situation is very complicated, and become more so with the passage of time. Hong Kong is also a major trading and financial hub, and market indexes and stock exchanges around the globe have dropped as they anticipate for the U.S and its allies to respond. At this point of time, people in Hong Kong are worried about their freedoms and are taking out to the streets to express their voices, just as they did last year, and in 2003. As it seems right now, future protests may become more violent, deadly, and costly, more so than last year’s protest, despite the COVID-19 restrictions.