Hong Kong’s Missing Basic Law.. What China’s Been Up To During The Pandemic

Under all our noses Beijing has been stealing the last vestiges of democracy in Hong Kong


Here are a couple of articles for those who might still care..

Hong Kong’s new ‘Basic Law’ is that whatever China says, goes

Judges alone cannot protect territory from Beijing’s heavy-handed interventions

Ben Bland is a Research Fellow at the Lowy Institute in Sydney. He is the author of “Generation HK: Seeking Identity in China’s Shadow.”

On July 1 last year, pro-democracy protesters broke into Hong Kong’s Legislative Council and symbolically defiled the chamber, tearing up a copy of the Chinese territory’s vaunted Basic Law. It was more than an expression of anger and defiance. They were sending a message that the promise of democracy, autonomy and freedom contained in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, as the Basic Law is often called, was empty.

Nearly a year later, lawyers and government officials are still debating the finer points of the Basic Law after the latest roundup of democracy activists and a spate of threats from Beijing about the need for more central government supervision in Hong Kong.

However, the legal dispute overlooks the much more important political dynamics. The future of this global financial center will not be determined by splitting hairs over the wording of the city’s mini-constitution. It will be determined by how far the Chinese Communist Party is willing and able to exert its growing power. The real Basic Law will become: what Beijing says, goes.

Fitch Ratings, the credit rating agency, acknowledged this in April when it downgraded Hong Kong on the basis of its accelerating integration into China’s political and economic system, as well as the city’s “deep-rooted sociopolitical cleavages.”

The CCP has always seen the One Country, Two Systems arrangement, underpinned by the Basic Law, as an uneasy compromise necessary to smooth the handover from British rule in 1997 and prepare the city for eventual integration into mainland China. Despite the hopes of the democracy movement, and the wording of the Basic Law itself, One Country, Two Systems was never intended as a long-term basis for political freedoms and real autonomy for Hong Kong.

Under Xi Jinping’s watch, the CCP has intensified its squeeze on Hong Kong, prompting a spiraling counter-reaction that has united the democracy movement despite the violence of last year’s rolling protests.

The crackdown has progressed in part through “lawfare,” with the Hong Kong government using vague colonial laws and administrative measures to prosecute peaceful protesters and block activists from running for elections. It has been predicated on impunity for illegal actions in pro-mainland causes, from the abductions of booksellers and a businessman by Beijing’s agents to well-documented abuses by police suppressing the street demonstrations of the last year.

The clampdown was reinforced by the appointment in January of a hard-line CCP enforcer to head Beijing’s office in Hong Kong. In just a few months, Luo Huining has shown a sharper edge than his predecessors, who acted more as messengers and ambassadors for the Party. He has warned Hong Kong to urgently implement a long-delayed national security law to destroy the “anthill” of activists and thwart the CCP’s perennial boogeyman of foreign interference.

More at https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/Hong-Kong-s-new-Basic-Law-is-that-whatever-China-says-goes

We always knew that the Law Society had gone to the dark side many moons ago ..but if proof is needed here it is


Hong Kong Law Society chief defends controversial decision to back certain candidates in polarised governing council election

  • Melissa Kaye Pang insists she was only expressing her views in a personal capacity when she rallied support for five candidates
  • Results of election at the end of the month could determine whether the body becomes more outspoken on city’s autonomy and rule of law
  • The head of the Hong Kong Law Society has defended her contentious decision to back certain candidates in one of the body’s most polarised elections in recent years, saying she was merely exercising her freedom of expression.

    Melissa Kaye Pang’s remarks on Thursday came against a backdrop of heated competition for spots on the governing council of the professional body for solicitors.

    The results of the election at the end of the month could determine whether the society becomes more outspoken in defending Hong Kong’s autonomy and rule of law in a city split into a “blue” pro-government bloc and “yellow” opposition camp following months of

    social unrest

    It was earlier revealed that society president Pang had privately rallied support – a move critics said deviated from tradition – for five candidates running on one ticket as she called on fellow lawyers to help the body remain “apolitical”.

    In a rare press conference, Pang, flanked by her three deputies and two other council members, insisted she was only expressing her views in a personal capacity.

    (From left) Law Society officials Pierre Chan, Brian Gilchrist, Amirali Nasir, Melissa Kaye Pang, Chan Chak-Ming and Roden Tong meet the press. Photo: Jonathan Wong
    (From left) Law Society officials Pierre Chan, Brian Gilchrist, Amirali Nasir, Melissa Kaye Pang, Chan Chak-Ming and Roden Tong meet the press. Photo: Jonathan Wong

    “I personally am very concerned about the election, just like each of my council members … I absolutely should have my freedom of expression ” she said, without giving her reasons for supporting the five. “If we deprive people of such rights, this is most regrettable and disheartening.”

    Pang also rejected claims there was a conflict of interest in backing candidates, who if elected would have a vote on choosing the next president from among those on the governing council.



    Hong Kong Government Will Prioritize Bill to Make Booing China’s National Anthem Punishable by Prison

    (HONG KONG) — Hong Kong’s government will give “priority” to a contentious bill that seeks to criminalize abuse of the Chinese national anthem, the city’s leader said Tuesday, days after a pro-Beijing lawmaker wrested control over a key committee that vets bills.

    The proposed law is aimed at ensuring that residents of Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory, respect China’s national anthem. Under the bill, those who use the anthem for commercial purposes, or publicly and intentionally insult the anthem, such as booing it during soccer games, could face fines of up to 50,000 Hong Kong dollars ($6,450) and up to three years in prison.

    More at  https://time.com/5835516/hong-kong-national-anthem-bill/


    Quartz: While the world wasn’t looking, Beijing re-wrote the rules in Hong Kong at startling speed

    Compared to last year, the streets of Hong Kong over the past few months have been largely quiet. Gone are the massive protests, as people stayed home to stave off the pandemic. But away from the global spotlight, drastic changes have unfurled at remarkable speed in the city.

    Just 10 days after authorities lifted the weeks-long lockdown of Wuhan, the city at the center of the outbreak, China turned its attention to Hong Kong and dialled up the pressure while the rest of the world was preoccupied with the pandemic.

    Beijing fired its opening salvo on April 17, when its liaison office in Hong Kong effectively dismantled over two decades of legal precedence by declaring that it has full authority to interfere in Hong Kong’s affairsleaving legal scholars and experts on the city’s mini constitution appalled. The next day, 15 veteran leaders of the city’s democracy movement were arrested over their roles in last year’s protests. A few days later, the central government’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office issued a string of statements, voicing support for the liaison office while condemning opposition figures and politicians. In the span of five days, the rules of engagement between Beijing and Hong Kong—ostensibly a city with a high degree of autonomy over its own affairs—were completely rewritten.

    Meanwhile, as Hong Kong appears to have contained local transmission of Covid-19 cases, protesters are again itching to vent their long list of grievances. Across the city, small crowds gathered at shopping malls to sing and chant slogans—though police have been quick to break them up with pepper-spray and batons, charging protesters with breaking social distancing rules even while bar-goers and pro-government demonstrators were largely left to their own devices. To many, the double standards were stark: the police were using public health rules to clamp down on anti-government protesters.

    More:  https://qz.com/1857362/china-re-wrote-the-rules-in-hong-kong-amid-coronavirus-pandemic/