Hong Kong Activists Already Targeted by New National Security Law  

Top protest figures in the crosshairs

Hong Kong Activists Already Targeted by New National Security Law  

Beijing apparently is wasting no time using the national security law it intends to foist onto Hong Kong to target local activists for potential punishment, including tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, former lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and student activist Alex Chow Yong-kang, said a well-informed risk consultant who studied the Hong Kong protests.

The activists will be punished if they remain in Hong Kong and continue their dissenting activities after this law takes effect, said the risk consultant who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation.

The Chinese government discussed the new law at the “Two Sessions” meetings of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in Beijing on May 22.  The law, which has already sparked protests in Hong Kong and criticism abroad, is scheduled to be approved by the NPC, China’s rubber stamp parliament, on May 28.

In the months after that, the Chinese government is expected to work with the Hong Kong government to implement the law, with ominous implications for Lai and others who have been arrested for leading demonstrations in the city. In reaction, protesters estimated in the thousands took to the streets against the proposed legislation on May 24, with police arresting more than 190 people.

“The behavior of the violent protestors fully shows they were ‘singing the same song’ with foreign forces, creating terror and fomenting Hong Kong independence,” said a Hong Kong Liaison Office spokesman on May 25. “The iron-clad facts again prove (this law) is very necessary, very urgent.”

Various signs indicate “extremists” are planning a “violent, illegal” demonstration larger than the one on May 24, the spokesman warned. “If some people act unilaterally, awaiting them is necessary punishment according to the law.”

On May 27, thousands of police are expected to be deployed in anticipation of demonstrations in front of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council building, to protest a proposed law to criminalize insulting the Chinese national anthem, according to media reports.

Jimmy Lai branded a traitor

On May 22, Jimmy Lai, the proprietor of the hugely popular anti-Beijing newspaper Apple Daily, launched an English-language Twitter account. His first tweet said, “China clampdowns on HK’s rule of law and freedom by a new National Security Act is now good time to start a Twitter a/c. to show the world CCP’s (Chinese Communist Party’s) disrespect of law and the fact that CCP is not to be trusted.”

On May 24, the Global Times, a Chinese nationalistic newspaper, citing “experts”, alleged that Lai, “who has been dubbed ‘a modern-day traitor,’ opened the account to seek public attention, but instead provided evidence for national security agencies for actions of subversion.”

On May 25, Lai tweeted, “Beijing’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi insisted (the national security law) would not damage Hong Kong’s autonomy nor freedom. Is Wang the reincarnation of Hitler’s propaganda chief Goebbels, but speaking fluent Mandarin? Repeating a lie a thousand times does not make it the truth.”

The Global Times also mentioned Joshua Wong Chi-fung, a 23-year old leader of the Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong in 2014, who has tweeted asking US legislators to vote for the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, which would sanction Chinese officials for interfering in Hong Kong affairs.

Quoting unnamed observers, the Global Times said this could provide “solid evidence” that Wong colluded with Western politicians, which would be punishable under the security law.

 “It’s not implausible that criticism against Beijing or (the Hong Kong government) or even support for protests will soon be construed as a subversive act, punishable by law,” Wong tweeted on May 25. “Chilling effect will eventually snowball: starts with self-censorship & spills over its borders into the rest of the world.”

Asked if the security law would stifle free speech, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor told a press conference on May 25: “So for the time being, people have the freedom to say whatever they want to say.”

Hong Kong’s judicial independence and freedoms will remain under this law, she added.

But many Hong Kong residents think otherwise. On May 21, when the national security law was announced, the number of organic virtual private network (VPN) installations in Hong Kong jumped by 520 percent from the previous day, according to Atlas VPN, a VPN service provider. The number of VPN installations in Hong Kong surged 210 percent day-to-day on May 22, 133 percent day-to-day on May 23 and 265 percent day-to-day on May 24.

A statement on May 25 by the Hong Kong Bar Association noted the upcoming law required Hong Kong judicial organs to “punish acts endangering national security.” The reference to “judicial organs” gives rise to perceptions that the judiciary of Hong Kong will be instructed “to act in a particular way” said the association. “Independence of the judiciary…. should not be undermined in any way.”

David Ogilvie, a Hong Kong-based financial professional, said, “Any threat to Hong Kong’s liberties will undoubtedly affect its attractiveness as an international business hub, especially if there is any hint that Hong Kong’s independent judicial system could be forced to become more like the mainland’s.”

Hairy fate for “Long hair”?

On May 23, shortly after the security bill was discussed in the “Two Sessions” on May 22, the Global Times’ Chinese-language website published an article with one photograph of a mainland Chinese businessman who is a Belize citizen, Henley Lee Hu Xiang, meeting “Long hair” and one photograph of Lee meeting Chow.

The newspaper didn’t disclose the timing or location of the meetings. But, it said, from these two photographs, “it can be seen that the connections between Henley Lee and the forces of Hong Kong independence are deep.”  

Lee, the paper alleged, raised funds to finance these two people who “foment disorder in Hong Kong.”  Chow and “Long hair” denied having close ties with Henley Lee, reported the Standard, a Hong Kong daily newspaper.

Lee is in jail awaiting trial in mainland China. He testified in Chinese court documents to helping to transfer money for the purchase of a villa in the French Riviera for Gu Kailai, the wife of former Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai, Asia Sentinel reported on May 1.

Bo, a political rival of Chinese President Xi Jinping, is serving a life sentence in a Chinese prison for corruption. Lee’s links to Bo suggest the Hong Kong protests may be a sideshow of a power struggle between Xi and his domestic enemies.

The Global Times article said many Hong Kong independence advocates including Nathan Law Kwun-Chung, a former student leader, and Joshua Wong met US diplomats in Hong Kong last year. The article was accompanied by a photograph of Law and Wong meeting a woman in what looked like a hotel lobby.

The article also mentioned a Taiwanese man, Lee Meng-chu, who is now under detention in mainland China. The Global Times alleged Lee is an advocate of Taiwan independence who visited Hong Kong last August to support the protests there, then went to mainland China to conduct espionage activities.

The cases of Henley Lee and Lee Meng-chu show the national security law must be established and “can no longer be delayed,” said the Global Times.

On May 24, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen wrote on her Facebook expressing support and offering unspecified help for the Hong Kong people. She alleged the security law will erode Hong Kong’s freedom and judicial independence.

Asia Sentinel no longer names its correspondents writing from Hong Kong out of concerns for retribution.

Source : Asia Sentinel More   

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China Plans to Send Teachers to Hong Kong to Give Guidance, Instruction in Schools

The teachers will have a 'strong political stance' and offer tips on history according to the Chinese government and patriotic education.

China Plans to Send Teachers to Hong Kong to Give Guidance, Instruction in Schools

The ruling Chinese Communist Party is planning to send primary, secondary, and kindergarten teachers from schools in Hunan, Anhui and other provinces to Hong Kong to conduct "teaching instruction," RFA has learned.

The ministry of education in Beijing plans to send some 60 "teaching instructors" from Hunan, Hainan, Anhui,and Liaoning provinces to schools in Hong Kong and the former Portuguese enclave of Macau, mainly in the subject areas of history and language.

The plan is detailed in directives posted to official websites by provincial education bureaus in Hunan, Hainan, and Shanxi.

The teachers are being sent to teach patriotic education to schoolchildren in the two cities, according to online recruitment notices.

The program has been under way for some time, but is attracting renewed concerns as Beijing gears up to impose draconian national security legislation on Hong Kong following months of mass anti-government and pro-democracy protests, according to the pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper.

The Hunan directive was issued to education authorities in Changsha, Hengyang, Zhuzhou, and Chenzhou cities of April 4, ordering them to recruit teachers to spend a year in Hong Kong and Macau over the next three years.

Their duties will include "preparing lessons, observing classes, evaluating courses and conducting teaching demonstrations ...evaluating teaching materials and teacher training," the notice said.

"Please select excellent teachers with strong political stances, rich teaching experience, outstanding business skills, and good coordination and cooperative skills," the directive said.

Hunan -- the birthplace of late supreme leader Mao Zedong -- has been selected as one of a number of revolutionary and patriotic education hubs in a pilot scheme under President Xi Jinping, the Apple Daily said.

Following the party line

Sources told RFA that the plan makes sense if Beijing intends to "re-educate" the people of Hong Kong to toe the party line from an early age.

"They are staking out territory in the realm of education, which means they are catching them young, and instilling ideas into them that the Chinese authorities find acceptable," a teacher from the central city of Henan told RFA on Tuesday.

The recruitment drive comes amid a public outcry at Beijing's plans to impose a draconian sedition and subversion law on Hong Kong, bypassing the city's legislature, claiming that anti-government protesters had engaged in "terrorist activities" in recent months.

Beijing revealed plans on May 21 to send its feared state security agents into Hong Kong to pursue people suspected of "sedition," "subversion," or of doing the work of 'foreign forces' during the city's months-long protest movement.

In a move that many say signals the end of Hong Kong's promised autonomy and traditional freedoms of speech and association, state security police from mainland China will be allowed to set up shop in Hong Kong to fulfill their duties under the new law, according to a precis of the decision supplied by state-run Xinhua news agency.

A statement from 253 parliamentarians and policymakers from 29 countries on Tuesday issued a statement condemning the plan.

"This is a comprehensive assault on the city's autonomy, rule of law, and fundamental freedoms," the statement, led by former UK foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind and former Hong Kong government Chris Patten, now Lord Patten of Barnes, said.

"It is the genuine grievances of ordinary Hong Kongers that are driving protests," the statement said. "Draconian laws will only escalate the situation further, jeopardising Hong Kong’s future as an open Chinese international city."

Rifkind said the national security law was "the most serious threat to the people of Hong Kong ... since 1997," when the former British colony was handed back to China.

Lam rejects criticism

But chief executive Carrie Lam dismissed international criticisms on Tuesday.

"No country would allow an important matter like national security to be flawed in any way," Lam said. "Hong Kong has not been able to legislate locally in 23 years and, as I have mentioned before, in the foreseeable future it would be difficult for us to go for local legislation. That is why the NPC is taking responsible action [to legislate]," Lam said.

National security legislation has been shelved in the city since 2003 after mass protests on the streets shocked visiting Chinese officials.

But China's People's Liberation Army (PLA), which is entirely under the control of the ruling party, now says it stands ready to enforce the legislation.

Hong Kong garrison commander Chen Daoxiang said, in comments reported by the South China Morning Post on Tuesday, that “[The garrison] will implement, according to law, various tasks delegated by the party and the people, and has the determination, confidence and ability to safeguard national security and development interest as well as Hong Kong’s continuing prosperity."

Pro-democracy lawmaker Alvin Yeung said Chen was promising to enforce a law that should be an internal matter for Hong Kong.

"This is in breach of the spirit of the Garrison Law," Yeung said. "The troops stationed in Hong Kong should stick to the principle of non-interference in Hong Kong's affairs."

Hebei scholar Zhang Fengshu said that, far from wielding "a high degree of autonomy," Lam's administration is now effectively a puppet government under the direct control of Beijing.

"Actually, the [state security police] have been operating in Hong Kong for a long time, but this hasn't been made public," Zhang said. "Now they are looking to go public and legalize [these operations]."

Proposed law widely condemned

The proposed national security law has been widely condemned by foreign governments and rights groups as a breach of China's obligations under the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, a U.N.-registered treaty governing the handover.

Rights groups said the law will mean Beijing can ensure that only voices and activities that toe the party line will be allowed in Hong Kong, which was promised a continuation of its traditional freedoms of the person, publication, and association under the handover agreement.

The proposed legal move comes at a time when the U.S. is reviewing, under the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, whether to continue to treat Hong Kong as a separate jurisdiction from China, given Beijing's growing insistence on wielding direct political power in the city.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Wong Lok-to for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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