Chinese lawmakers on Thursday voted to impose a national security law in Hong Kong they say is necessary to end separatism, subversion, terrorism, and foreign interference.
(In reality, the move is designed to stop a pro-democracy movement that threatens the sovereignty of Chinese President Xi Jinping.)
The law, reached without consulting HK’s leadership, authorizes China to craft national security legislation for HK and allows mainland China’s state security agencies to operate in the city. (I expect Beijing will set up its own police and surveillance inside HK and use them to silence dissent the way it does inside its own borders.)
Critics view the law as a breach of China’s 1997 promise to maintain HK’s capitalist way of life and worry that citizens will be punished simply for disagreeing with Chinese leadership.
“They’ve practically taken away our soul,” writes HK pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo. “Our soul we’ve been treasuring all these years, the rule of law, human rights, they’re taking away all the core values we’ve come to know…from now on, Hong Kong is nothing but just another mainland Chinese city.”
Hours before the vote in Beijing, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared Hong Kong ‘no longer autonomous’ from the mainland. “This decision gives me no pleasure. But sound policy-making requires a recognition of reality,” said Pompeo. “It is now clear that China is modeling HK after itself.”
The announcement threatens to end HK’s special trade and economic status with the US and paves the way for sanctions.
Possible moves include the freezing of assets belonging to senior HK and Chinese officials, visa restrictions, increased scrutiny of HK companies’ investments involving the US, new controls on advanced technology and other US exports to HK, and sanctions on individuals involved in human-rights violations.
As expected, Beijing denounced Washington’s response and has promised retaliation. “The legislation on upholding national security in HK is purely China’s internal affair that allows no foreign interference,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. “In response to the erroneous practices of external intervention, we will take necessary countermeasures.”
Congress has already introduced measures to sanction officials and entities involved in the execution of the new national security laws in HK and to penalize the banks with whom they do business.
A bill that blocks Chinese firms from US stock exchanges unless they undergo scrutiny by US regulators has already been approved by the Senate. And a bill to sanction officials involved in the suppression of Muslim minority groups in China has passed both chambers and is on its way to the president’s desk.
Author’s Note: This law is the beginning of a Chinese takeover from which Hong Kong will not recover. As we predicted, nobody can stop China from doing this and nobody will interfere with the exception of sanctions that will end up having no effect.
China has not the willingness nor the ability to back down. Its treaty with the British from 1997 is in the toilet. Hong Kong is the second country to fall to socialism/communism in recent years. We can expect HK’s economy to begin to decline; differently than Venezuela’s, but it will happen and with as much devastation.