(Beijing) China adopted on Tuesday its controversial national security law in Hong Kong, condemned by the EU and Washington, and accused by its detractors of wanting to muzzle the opposition in the autonomous territory .
Ludovic EHRET with Jerome TAYLOR and ZHAO Yan in Hong Kong
France Media Agency
Ignoring calls from Western countries, the national parliament voted for this historic text which comes a year after the start of monster protests in the former British colony against the influence of the central government.
Scalded by these events, Beijing will have imposed in just a few weeks this law which bypasses the local legislative council and makes the Hong Kong opposition fear an unprecedented decline in freedoms since the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997.
The Standing Committee of Parliament, a body submitted to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), “adopted the national security law” and the head of state Xi Jinping “promulgated it” in the process, announced the official new China news agency. It will take effect on Tuesday, said pro-Beijing Hong Kong executive chief Carrie Lam.
For the central government, this text is about ensuring stability, putting an end to the vandalism that has marked the demonstrations of 2019 in the city of 7.5 million inhabitants, as well as suppressing the pro-independence current there.
For the Hong Kong opposition and for several Western countries, this law constitutes on the other hand an attack against the autonomy and the liberties of the territory.
“This marks the end of Hong Kong as the world knew it,” said Joshua Wong, one of the figures in the pro-democracy movement, on Twitter. “The city will transform into a #decreetpolicestate. “
The Demosisto party, which it founded with other activists in 2014, immediately announced its dissolution. This formation called in particular for the self-determination of the territory – a position which could potentially fall under the blow of the new text.
“For members of the small minority who threaten national security, this law will be a sword hanging over their heads,” warned the Chinese government shortly after the enactment.
Difficult for the moment to know the real consequences of the text voted on Tuesday: its final content has not yet been published.
“The fact that the people of Hong Kong will not know until after the fact what this new law really contains is truly absurd,” denounced Claudia Mo, a local opposition parliamentarian.
New China had however given the outline of the text in June: it intends to repress “separatism”, “terrorism”, “subversion” and “collusion with external and foreign forces”.
Beijing has repeatedly accused Western countries of fueling the territory with fire by supporting the demonstrators.
A “national security organ”, directly under the Communist regime, should also be established in Hong Kong, according to New China. He would be responsible for collecting information and prosecuting attacks on national security.
The idea of entrusting a body of Chinese power with prerogatives in the autonomous territory greatly worries the local opposition. Because the separation of powers does not exist in mainland China, led by the CCP.
Since its handover, Hong Kong has enjoyed a large measure of autonomy, based on the “One country, two systems” principle. Hong Kong people thus enjoy freedom of expression, freedom of the press and independent justice.
The opposite EU
With this new law, Western governments say they are worried about the international status of the city, one of the main financial centers in the world.
The European Union (EU) “deplored” the adoption of the text.
“This law risks seriously undermining Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy and having a detrimental effect on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law,” said the President. European, Charles Michel.
The G7 foreign ministers (Germany, Canada, the United States, France, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom) also called in June to come back to this project.
Anticipating the vote, Washington announced Monday the end of sales of sensitive defense equipment to Hong Kong to avoid “falling into the hands” of the Chinese army. Beijing on Tuesday promised “reprisals”.
The United States has already imposed visa restrictions on Chinese officials accused of “questioning” the autonomy of the territory. China responded with a similar measure targeting “misbehaving” Americans by criticizing the law.
Carrie Lam castigated Western pressure in a video message broadcast during the session of the UN Human Rights Council: “I urge the international community to respect the right of our country to guarantee the national security and the aspirations for stability and harmony of the people of Hong Kong ”.