Hong Kong leaders backed by Red China’s communist party (CCP) are planning to accelerate their crackdown on basic freedoms throughout the city, government officials announced on Tuesday.
Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee revealed that the city would be expanding upon a national security law passed by Beijing in 2020 that effectively stripped Hong Kong of its status as a semi-autonomous region. The law criminalized many basic protest activities, such as classifying “groups speaking of potential independence” as guilty of “subversion.” Activities deemed to involve “secession,” “terrorism,” and “collusion with foreign forces” were also outlawed, all of which “carry a range of sentences up to life imprisonment.”
According to Kyodo News, Lee’s proposed legislation would build upon China’s overreaching edict by criminalizing so-called “treason and theft of state secrets.” It would also institute a prohibition on orchestrating so-called “political activities” and bar local groups from “establishing ties with them, a move designed to further crack down on dissent in Hong Kong.”
Public comment on the proposal is open until Feb. 28, when the city’s Legislative Council — which is filled with CCP loyalists — seeks to finalize it before the body’s session ends in July.
Tuesday’s announcement represents the latest attempt by Hong Kong officials to further suppress basic freedoms across the city. In 2019, the Beijing-backed government’s introduction of a controversial extradition law led to citywide protests and the CCP’s subsequent passage of the aforementioned national security law the following year. To further squash dissent, Hong Kong authorities employed the new dictate to arrest pro-democracy journalists and force several media outlets to cease operations, effectively destroying the city’s free press.
Government officials also overhauled the region’s election systems, wherein only “patriots” who have demonstrated their loyalty to the Chinese government are permitted to run for public office. Authorities also used the outbreak of Covid as an excuse to implement a CCP-style tracking system to further diminish what few freedoms residents possessed.