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Democracy party dissolves
"After a lot of internal consultations, we decided to break up and, under the given circumstances, cease all activities as a group," Demosisto announced on Twitter on Tuesday. Existing Demosisto members would continue to look for ways to break through “totalitarian oppression”. The party also included the well-known democracy activist Joshua Wong.
Wong, general secretary of the party founded in 2016, had announced his departure shortly before. Besides Wong, the most famous personalities of the protest movement, Nathan Law and Agnes Chow, also announced their resignation. With the security law on the doorstep, it is “no nonsense” for supporters of the democracy movement to worry about life and security, Wong wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.
Wong: "Secret Police State"
World-famous activist Wong went on to say that he did not believe that the new law or other "draconian laws" would change the persistence of Hong Kong people. He wants to stay in Hong Kong "until they silence and wipe me out".
Wong said the law marks "the end of Hong Kong as the world has known it so far." On Twitter, Wong accused the Beijing leadership of wanting to turn the city into a "secret police state". There had been repeated demonstrations in Hong Kong for months, protesting Beijing's influence and police brutality. The demonstrators are also calling for free elections, as was promised when they were returned to China in 1997.
"Subversive, separatist or terrorist"
Despite global criticism, China passed the controversial law to protect national security in Hong Kong on Tuesday. The Standing Committee of the People's Congress in Beijing unanimously passed the law, according to several Hong Kong media outlets. China's head of state Xi Jinping signed the law in the afternoon (local time). It is directed against activities that Beijing sees as subversive, separatist or terrorist. It is also supposed to punish “secret agreements” with forces abroad. The democratic opposition fears that it will become the target of the law.
The passing of the law was marked by great secrecy, which only increased the distrust. The only Hong Kong MP on the committee, Tam Yiu-chung, later confirmed fears that suspects could be extradited to mainland China "in rare situations" in the future. The controversial extradition law, which the Hong Kong government had to abandon after mass protests last year, would have aimed at nothing else. Critics point to the lack of independence of the courts in China, which have a conviction rate of 99 percent.
Opposition could face life imprisonment
During the course of the day, the first details about the proposed sentence became known. According to the official media, the law provides for life imprisonment as the maximum sentence for numerous offenses. As the state news agency Xinhua reported, separation, subversion and terrorism are to be punished at most with imprisonment for life. The same applies to "cooperation with foreign forces". Companies or groups that violate the law would also be punished. Your work will be banned.
Lam defends law before UN
There is also sharp criticism of Beijing's plan to set up a security office in the metropolis to “monitor” the implementation of the law. The new law also provides for a separate court for national security proceedings, whose judges are chosen by the Hong Kong head of government, Carrie Lam, who is loyal to Beijing.
Lam also defended the law. It will not undermine Hong Kong's high level of autonomy, Lam said in a video message to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday. Essential rights such as freedom of speech, the press and the freedom to demonstrate would continue to be guaranteed.
Lam accused all foreign states that criticized China's actions with double standards. "Anyone who points a finger at China has their own national security legislation," she said. There is no reason why China should not have the right to protect every corner of its state.
Hong Kong Parliament bypassed
The security law has met with sharp criticism in Hong Kong and internationally. It is the most extensive encroachment on the autonomy of the Chinese Special Administrative Region to date. Critics fear an end to the principle of "one country, two systems", according to which the former British crown colony has been ruled under Chinese sovereignty since it was returned in 1997. With the law, which is included as an appendix to the Basic Law of the Autonomous Territory, the communist leadership bypasses the Hong Kong parliament.
USA responded immediately
In response, the US stopped exporting armaments to Hong Kong. In addition, the export of technology that could be of use to the military will in future be subject to the same restrictions as exports to China. "We can no longer differentiate between the export of controlled goods to Hong Kong and mainland China," said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday.
The US could not run the risk of such goods falling into the hands of China's military, whose main task was to maintain “the dictatorship” of the Communist Party. This is another point of contention in the already bad relationship between the two nations as a result of the trade war.
China announced retaliation. "In response to the US illegal actions, China will take the necessary countermeasures," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Tuesday. "Attempts by the US to use so-called sanctions to prevent China from advancing national security legislation in Hong Kong will never prevail," Zhao said.
International sanctions called for
With the security law, China is on a course of confrontation with the European Union, the USA, Great Britain and other countries. These insist on the far-reaching autonomy that Hong Kong was granted when it was handed over to China until at least 2047. At that time, the principle of “one country, two systems” was anchored, but it is being undermined by increasing interference by the leadership in Beijing.
From the point of view of the group of major industrial nations (G-7), the new security law is not in line with Hong Kong's Basic Law and Beijing's obligations under the Sino-British agreement. In response, activists and human rights politicians are calling for international sanctions. The EU-China summit, postponed due to the coronavirus crisis, but still planned, should be canceled under the German EU Council Presidency.
Von der Leyen: The consequences for China are very negative
The European Union sharply criticized the law. "We regret the decision," said Council President Charles Michel in Brussels on Tuesday. The EU has told China that it is very concerned about the law. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also criticized the law: "This new legislation is neither in line with Hong Kong's Basic Law nor with China's international obligations."
China must reckon with "very negative consequences," said von der Leyen. For example, corporate confidence and China's reputation are likely to decline. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made a similar statement. "It is obvious that China does not share our values." That applies to democracy, freedom and the rule of law. The new security law undermines the autonomy and freedom of citizens.
Amnesty: weapon of oppression
The human rights organization Amnesty International also criticized the security law. "The passage of the national security law is a painful moment for the people of Hong Kong and represents the greatest human rights threat in the city's recent history," said Joshua Rosenzweig, head of Amnesty's China team, on Tuesday, according to a statement .
It is to be feared that with the law Beijing created “a weapon of repression against government critics” who only wanted to express their views or protest peacefully. Beijing's goal is to "rule Hong Kong through fear from this point on".
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