The New National Security Law Explained in Under 500 Words
“My reign has just begun.”
– Daenerys Targaryen
Yesterday, a man was arrested in Hong Kong for violating the National Security Law after he rolled out a "Hong Kong Independence" flag during protests, thereby advocating for freedom from China. In the protests that followed the enforcement of this law, 370 people were arrested and ten were charged with violating the new National Security Law. The four main offences under this law are separatism ( demanding freedom from a country), subversion ( attempting to damage the government), terrorism and collusion ( conspiring to deceive or cheat the authorities) with a foreign country or an external organisation. During the 2019 Hong Kong protests, there were many instances of protesters damaging public transport facilities. But, to do so now would be considered terrorism. In fact, the maximum penalties for all four offences is life imprisonment, whereas minor offences hold a sentence of less than 3 years of imprisonment. Article 55 of the law gives the security office of Mainland China the power to take over “complex” or “serious” cases. The accused in “serious" cases would be taken to a court in Mainland China, where convictions ( declaring that the accused is guilty of a crime) and penalties are severe. Put simply, the Central government of China has the final say in terms of which cases come under their control. Moreover, under Article 29, spreading hatred against China's central government and Hong Kong's regional government is now considered a criminal offence. And, the major concern regarding this law is that it is vague and hence, can be used to target anyone who opposes the government or the Communist Party of China. Zhang Xiaoming, a deputy director of the central Chinese government office for Hong Kong, said that the law is meant to punish those who seriously endanger national security. But, law experts say otherwise. The National Security Law also applies to foreigners who don’t live in Hong Kong or China. Article 38 says that foreigners who support the independence of Hong Kong or call for imposing sanctions or penalties on the government of China can be taken to court once they enter Mainland China or Hong Kong. In addition, Article 60 says that vehicles belonging to officers from Mainland China are not subject to checks by local law enforcement officers. This gives them the freedom to possibly carry almost any weapon into the Hong Kong Protests. It's a matter of concern because Hongkongers have long been subjected to tear gas, petrol bombs, pellets and pepper spray by the police during protests. The Central Government has time and again proven that they aren’t backing down, and so have the protesters. The Communist Party of China just made it highly difficult for Hongkongers to take back the strings of their free will that lie entangled in the hands of the government.