Hong Kong National Security Law: Death of One Country Two Systems Freedom is at stake

The National People's Congress of China formally passed the “Decision on Establishing and Improving the Legal System and Enforcement Mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region” on May 28, which includes preventing foreign interference in Hong Kong affairs, proscribing secessionist and subversive activity and targeting terrorist acts. It was also decided to authorize the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress to force Hong Kong to enact the law by bypassing the Hong Kong Legislative Council.

The unilateral imposition of such a controversial legislation by the Chinese government, bypassing all legislative and administrative procedures under Hong Kong law, will certainly undermine Hong Kong’s freedoms and the rule of law and destroy the already damaged “One country, two systems” and “High degree of autonomy”. The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions strongly opposes this action and urgently appeals to the local and international communities for their attention to the most serious political crisis since Hong Kong’s handover.

The following is the position taken by the “Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions” on the Chinese government's enforcement of the “Hong Kong National Security Law”:

1. The rights of trade union organizations are menaced:

As we all know, the Chinese government has always prohibited workers in China from organizing independent trade unions. In the past, those who attempted to organize unions, express their political views, initiate strikes and human rights activism will be accused of “incitement to subvert state power”. In Hong Kong, independent trade union organizations are facing increasing political pressure and the situation will only be aggravated by the introduction of the Hong Kong National Security Law. Chief Executive Carrie Lam once submitted a report to the central government. The report describes the strike of the medical staff that demanded a full border closure to fight the virus as ‘black sheep’ and called the medical frontline on strike “opportunist anti-extradition radicals”. It is worrying that once the National Security Law is implemented in Hong Kong, it will be used to interrupt industrial actions and trade union organizations that attempt to raise political demands.

2. Barrier between civil society and international relations:

The draft adopted at the NPC conference mentioned that the state will “stop overseas forces, in any fashion, use of Hong Kong for separatist, subversive or destructive activities”. The phrase “in any fashion” is broad and vague, and can be interpreted by those in power. In the past, the Chinese government has always coined the Hong Kong democracy movement as a "colour revolution" and "conspiracy to subvert the Chinese government" controlled by foreign governments. Once the Hong Kong National Security Law is implemented, international community's support for Hong Kong will most likely be blocked and cut off. As far as the impact is concerned, the contact, exchange and cooperation between Hong Kong's independent trade union organizations and international trade unions will also be considered foreign forces’ interference, hence suppressed by the National Security Law.

3. Not bound to International human rights law:

The Basic Law has promised that Hong Kong citizens can enjoy freedom of speech, of assembly, of procession and demonstration. Even after the handover, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights will continue to apply to Hong Kong. Any SAR government action must be subject to the human rights law and international covenant to protect basic human rights. However, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress has a transcendent status that enables itself to override the Hong Kong Legco and judicial courts, and the formulated national laws are not necessarily bound by human rights laws. Judging from the past cases of “incitement to subvert state power” in Chinese courts, many of the cases could have involved arbitrary convictions and political persecution. It is worrying that the National Security Law, once implemented, will become an authoritarian crackdown tool against the dissidents in Hong Kong.

4. Violation of the Basic Law:

Article 23 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong stipulates that HKSAR shall enact its own national security laws as part of Hong Kong’s autonomous affairs. The national laws applicable to Hong Kong in Annex III of the Basic Law do not include Hong Kong’s autonomous affairs. The Chinese government now imposes the National Security Law on Hong Kong people through an annex, completely violating provisions of the Basic Law.

5. Bypassing the legislative process:

Article 23 of the Basic Law has been controversial and received city-wide opposition in Hong Kong because the public generally lacks confidence in the undemocratic government and fears that the authorities will establish dictatorship in the name of national security. The Chinese government, aware of the rising opposition in Hong Kong, simply takes over the role of the Hong Kong Legco with the NPC Standing Committee. It is foreseeable that the entire legislative process will be conducted under the table, away from any public consultation in Hong Kong.

6. Sabotaging a high degree of autonomy:

According to the Chinese government’s draft, the Hong Kong National Security Law will allow the Chinese government’s law enforcement to set up agencies in Hong Kong. That means the Central Government can directly order Chinese police or secret police to carry out investigation, arrests and press charges and even extradite the arrested to Chinese courts for trial. The Chinese government used the National Security Law to disintegrate the firewall between Hong Kong and China, allowing the Chinese government to directly intervene Hong Kong affairs with totalitarian social control.

Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions