At 11 p.m. on 30 June, the Chinese Communist Party imposed on Hong Kong what it calls a ‘national security law’. The edict effectively marks the end of the ‘one country, two systems’ period, which was to last from 1997 to 2047 and the cornerstone of which was a strict separation between the governing systems of China and Hong Kong.
Article 23 of the Basic Law, the city’s mini- constitution, obliges the HK government to enact national security legislation. It had always been understood by all concerned, no matter where they were on the political spectrum, that this was how
such laws would eventually come about. The pro- democracy movement argued that if such legislation were to be passed, it had to arrive ideally after or at least simultaneously with passage of genuine universal suffrage, for only under such an arrangement would sufficient democratic safeguards be in place to prevent potential abuses. The first mass march of half a million people in post-handover HK in 2003 was against
a previous CCP attempt to ram through national security legislation before allowing democracy. Both through street demonstrations and representation in the Legislative Council, the pro-democracy movement has always had the power to block Article 23 national security legislation until its concerns were addressed. Continue
Published in the Mekong Review, october 2020