China’s red curtain has descended on Hong Kong

Beijing turns the ‘past’ into the ‘future’ by using the national security law to repress the city

A red bamboo curtain has descended on Hong Kong. 

As China’s ruling Communist Party continues to crack down on human rights in the city, pro-democracy activists and groups face further harassment and arrest. Many are even being targeted “for acts that pre-date” the National Security Law, media reports revealed.

More than 150 people have been detained under the draconian legislation since it was imposed on Hong Kong last year by Beijing. Independent media has been muzzled while the popular tabloid-style Apple Daily was forced to close down.

“The past is the future. We are starting to see a fuller evolution of the National Security Law, and the way it allows the authorities to look at older laws and past events through a new lens,” Simon Young, of the faculty of law at the University of Hong Kong, said.

“We can see it gives them new powers and confidence to use laws that were perhaps overlooked, or seen as previously unenforceable,” he told the Reuters news agency.

Legal loopholes:

  • Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing government is using the National Security Law to activate cobwebbed colonial-era legislation, Reuters reported.
  • That would violate the spirit of the “One Country Two Systems” model.
  • The blueprint was designed to guarantee a high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong after the United Kingdom handed over the city to China in 1997.
  • Wide-ranging civil rights would be protected for at least 50 years, according to the Joint Declaration.
  • Since then, those “freedoms” have gradually been eroded by President Xi Jinping’s regime, culminating in mass pro-democracy protests.
  • During the summer of discontent in 2019, millions took to the streets of Hong Kong.

In one year, the National Security Law has put Hong Kong on a rapid path to becoming a police state.

Yamini Mishra, the Asia-Pacific regional director at Amnesty International

Red terror: “In one year, the National Security Law has put Hong Kong on a rapid path to becoming a police state and created a human rights emergency for the people living there,” Yamini Mishra, the Asia-Pacific regional director at Amnesty International, said.

Delve deeper: Hong Kong’s judiciary is now at risk of being breached after the city’s media was silenced following the closure of pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily in June.

Separatists, damn separatists: “We are not another Singapore. In Hong Kong, by pushing on the democracy envelope too far, and by attempting to chip away the authority of Beijing, many of the so-called democrats have become separatists,” former Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying told the National People’s Congress earlier this year.

Rule of law: “Terrorism and sedition charges are being improperly used to stifle the exercise of fundamental rights, which are protected under international law,” United Nations’ Special Rapporteurs stressed last week.

Gagging freedom: “[They include] freedom of expression and opinion, freedom of peaceful assembly and the right to participate in public affairs,” the UN said.

China Factor comment: Beijing is sweeping away the last vestiges of Hong Kong’s “autonomy.” In 2019, China’s state-run media described the massive pro-democracy protests in the city as a “Color Revolution.” Now, life for its resident is seen through a prism of red.