The crackdown on individual freedoms in Hong Kong is set to get much worse this year, as government authorities are slated to impose new laws against a host of so-called “national security crimes.”
According to the Hong Kong Free Press, “[O]n Wednesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam confirmed that her government will create new ‘local legislation’ that meets Article 23 of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, which calls for the city to pass its own national security laws.”
While Lam neglected to specify what the new crimes would be, Article 23 of the constitution lists offenses related to “treason, secession, sedition, subversion and theft of state secrets.” The section also includes the prohibition of “any foreign political organisations from conducting political activities in Hong Kong or local political organisations establishing ties with overseas political bodies.”
“Article 23 legislative work is part of Hong Kong’s constitutional duty and cannot be further delayed,” Lam said, while adding that the government is aiming to publish a draft of the legislation by June.
The announcement came during the convening of the city’s legislature, marking the first time the body has met since Hong Kong’s illegitimate election last month that resulted in Beijing-backed candidates winning nearly every race. Following a complete overhaul of election laws by the Chinese government last year, only individuals deemed “patriots” who had proven their loyalty to Beijing were permitted to run for office. Under the new edicts, only 20 of the 90 legislators are to be chosen by the general public, with the rest being chosen by Beijing-backed electors.
The continued crackdown on basic freedoms throughout the city has escalated since China passed a sweeping so-called national security law in June 2020. Since its implementation, multiple independent news outlets have been forced to close down, with their respective journalists facing arrests and charges from government authorities. Pro-democracy groups have also faced enormous pressure, with the organization behind Hong Kong’s infamous 2019 protests disbanding as a result of the city’s crackdown on anti-government rhetoric.