The Chinese Communist Party yesterday admitted, albeit indirectly, that it has lost the battle to win the hearts and minds of Taiwanese and Hong Kongers, and that it is willing to break any international treaty to get its way.
The death knell was rung by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) in his “state of the nation” report at the opening of the National People’s Congress (NPC), through the omission of three words.
For the first time in at least 40 years, the word “peaceful” was omitted from the stock line about promoting the “reunification” of China and Taiwan, as Li talked about protecting “the well-being of Taiwan’s people,” encouraging cross-strait exchanges and cooperation, and encouraging Taiwanese to “join us in opposing Taiwan’s independence and promoting China’s reunification.”
Turning to Hong Kong and Macau, Li left out the words “Basic Law” when he said the government would “comprehensively and accurately implement ‘one country, two systems,’” a crucial omission because last year, as he had done since becoming premier in 2013, he spoke of acting “in strict compliance with China’s constitution and the Basic Laws” of the two special administrative regions (SARs).
Li added that Beijing would “establish sound legal systems and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security in the two SARs, and see that the governments of the two regions fulfill their constitutional responsibilities.”
One of those constitutional responsibilities for the Hong Kong government is to enact its own national security law under Article 23 of its Basic Law to ban any act of secession, sedition, subversion or treason against the government in Beijing — something it has been unable to do since 2003, when a legislative proposal triggered a protest on July 1 that drew half a million people. The “Umbrella movement” in 2014, followed by months of protests that began last year, made it abundantly clear that many Hong Kongers strongly oppose such legislation.
NPC Standing Committee Vice Chairman Wang Chen (王晨) yesterday announced a draft proposal for the “Establishment and Improvement of the Legal System and Implementation Mechanism for the Safeguarding of National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region,” saying the “defenseless” territory needs a state-level law to “prevent, stop and punish” threats to Chinese sovereignty.
This means Beijing has taken it upon itself to set up the legal framework and implementation mechanisms that the territory’s government would have to adhere to in passing its own national security law — a clear violation of the treaty that it signed with the UK on the administrative arrangements for Hong Kong after its handover in 1997.
Part of the proposed legislation submitted to the NPC is that “when needed” Chinese national security organs can establish agencies in Hong Kong to safeguard national security.
There is no doubt the proposal would pass the faux parliament before the NPC session closes next week, and then it would be sent to the NPC Standing Committee to finalize the details and enact the law, which it is expected to do by the end of next month.
However, no one needs to wait for the committee’s decision, the reality is already clear: 2047 is here.
Hong Kong’s government yesterday said it would cooperate with Beijing to enact the law, but that the legislation would not affect the territory’s freedoms.
That is completely unbelievable. The world has seen how crudely Beijing has wielded its legal cudgels against critics whom it has accused of sedition or subversion, even those who support the CCP’s rule.
The rule of law is a farce in China, and there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that passage of the proposed legislation in Beijing and Hong Kong would lead to pro-democracy advocates in the territory being jailed for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” — Beijing’s catch-all phrase for those who criticize the CCP regime — or worse.
Beijing must be roundly condemned — and sanctioned — for this travesty, not just by Taiwan, but by other democratic nations worldwide.
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