China’s latest power move with regards to Hong Kong’s autonomy has prompted the White House to warn that the US might respond by placing heavy economic sanctions on China. On Friday China introduced draft legislation at the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) that will tighten Beijing’s control of Hong Kong, while simultaneously draining away a large portion of the city-state’s sovereignty. The legislation will introduce national security law in Hong Kong aimed at rooting out secession, subversion, terrorism, and foreign interference. In part this will be achieved by granting Beijing power to set up institutions in the city responsible for ‘defending national security.’ In other words, national law enforcement, and intelligence agencies will operate inside of Hong Kong along with the city’s own law enforcement apparatus.
Voting on the bill is set to take place on 28 May.
Details of the legislation are light for the moment, but many activists, and Hong Kong residents fear the end of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle, and a coming crackdown on the civil liberties of all Hong Kongers. The White House has taken the position that the draft legislation violates the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and will trigger sanctions. US officials have already started coming out against the legislation, and its likely President Trump will address the matter following the holiday weekend.
Thousands of Hong Kong residents took to the streets on Sunday protesting the planned law. The protests became violent at times and Hong Kong police used tear gas, and water cannons against the protesters. The demonstration was unauthorized by city officials, and went ahead in violation of the city’s social distancing regulations. As the vote date draws nearer these protests will almost certainly grow in size, and determination. With the future now cast in doubt, many young Hong Kong residents will have nothing to lose by letting the world know their feelings about what Beijing is attempting to do.