A year later, how the National Security Law restored order


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Editor’s Note: Tom Fowdy is a British political and international relations analyst and graduated from Durham and Oxford universities. He writes on topics relating to China, the DPRK, Britain and the United States. The article reflects the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of CGTN.

This week marked a year since the National Security Act (NSL) was imposed in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). The law was passed by the Chinese National People’s Congress.
Unpredictably, a number of US politicians on Twitter, including Mike Pompeo and Nikki Haley, berated him, accusing mainland China of “crushing democracy” in the city.

The law effectively criminalized subversion, treason, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces, initiated in response to the extremely violent riots of 2019 which had been openly encouraged and supported by a number of prominent American figures who met with the ringleaders. This made the status quo untenable.

The purpose of the law was not a simple matter of “democracy versus authoritarianism”, the autonomous status of the city, or for that matter even the ruling party in China. On the contrary, the National Security Law was primarily aimed at maintaining the sovereignty and order of Hong Kong as a part of China. This is a bill that has always been mandated by the Basic Law. Now, a year later, it is quite evident that its imposition was a necessary response to the events that destabilized the city, and subsequently restored order, stability and prosperity.

In 1997, the territory of Hong Kong was returned to China from British colonialism and turned into a special administrative region of the country. It was clear in the Sino-British statement that the city would retain a “high degree of autonomy” in its own affairs.

Critics have accused the NSL of violating this, but the question is whether the proposition that Hong Kong should be “self-sufficient” meant that China had no sovereign rights over the territory in the dynamics of national security? Or indeed nothing to say about its governance? This hypothesis carries Western thinking on the issue, which sees the treaty as a means of “restraining” and “protecting” China from interference in what is its own sovereign territory.

Violent protesters attack a police vehicle (not pictured) in North Point, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China, August 5, 2019. / Xinhua

Violent protesters attack a police vehicle (not pictured) in North Point, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China, August 5, 2019. / Xinhua

Hong Kong, of course, still remains autonomous. It has its own administrative, social and economic system which remains very different from that of mainland China. The Basic Law, however, stipulates that mainland China has exclusive jurisdiction over matters of national security, foreign policy and defense relating to the region, and also provides for the implementation of such a national security law, as this was the case in Macao in 2009, which also remains autonomous.

The Sino-British statement did not imply that the city was to be a national security loophole against China whereby foreign forces could use it as a “Trojan horse” platform to undermine the country in its own right. together. Yet, that is indeed what he has become.

And that’s what the National Security Act was supposed to put an end to. Its existence was necessary to restore order and normality to the city which had previously become dysfunctional during the riots and the protesters themselves had made the status quo untenable due to the scale of destruction and violence that had taken place. ‘they continued.

A resident signs during a street campaign in support of the National Security Law for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China, May 23, 2020. / Xinhua

A resident signs during a street campaign in support of the National Security Law for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China, May 23, 2020. / Xinhua

Much has been said about the shutdown of the Apple Daily newspaper. However, little attention is paid to the fact that Jimmy Lai openly met with senior U.S. government officials, including Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, and Mike Pence, and engaged in acts of collusion. Would the owner of any major newspaper in the United States be allowed to meet with an adversary’s management and conspire on a common political program? Absolutely not. Likewise, many prominent figures in the riots and protests also engaged in such behavior, including Joshua Wong.

Now that the chaos in the city is over, Hong Kong has quickly reestablished itself as a global financial center. Many in the West have argued that the legislation would “undermine the rule of law” within the city and diminish its status, but these were narrative and ideological vows that overlooked the fact that the key premise for the functioning of any center financial is stability and certainty, and that is what it guarantees.

In this sense, the NSL did not “end” Hong Kong as often decried by the Western mainstream media, but harmonized the place and attacked the long-standing colonial legacy that it did. didn’t really belong to China.

“One country, two systems” is a phrase that appreciates the difference between the city and the Chinese mainland, but it has never been a code word for China having no sovereign rights over it.

(If you would like to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at [email protected])

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