Beijing releases some more hazy semi-details of the draft Hong Kong National Security law in the form of a Xinhua report outlining some of the explanatory introduction and framework. It omits any definitions of criminal offenses, like ‘colluding with external forces’.
This vague piecemeal approach is probably the closest we will get to a public consultation. Maybe Beijing is trying to manage expectations, or redraft scarier-sounding clauses following the negative international reaction to the law (the Xinhua report includes lots of reassurances about legal protections). More likely, Mainland officials are doing their usual making-it-up-as-they-go-along thing.
NPC Observer has a good summary. Among other things:
– the Chief Executive (ie Beijing) will choose judges to sit on NatSec cases;
– Beijing will establish a local office headed by a NatSec Commissioner;
– this body will ‘supervise and instruct’ a Hong Kong government Commission for Safeguarding National Security comprising top ministers plus a Beijing-appointed (Mainland?) advisor – among its roles is to somehow ‘cooperate’ with the judiciary;
– Justice and Police functions will have their own dedicated NatSec units;
– this law will override all others; and
– in undefined ‘special cases’, Beijing will handle things even more directly.
…the NPCSC [ie Beijing] will have the sole power to interpret this Law … it is unclear how the Hong Kong courts could hear and decide cases arising from this Law without interpreting it.
A lot of this framework stuff is window-dressing to make a Mainland-managed system look like it’s being run in and by Hong Kong.
One distinctly ‘Mainland’ feature of this framework is the clear conflict of interest involved in having the Chief Executive (ie the prosecution, ie Beijing) choose which judges hear national security cases. Some pro-Beijing voices are spinning this as a concession – a more liberal alternative to barring foreign judges from such trials. This is garbage: rather than screen out a few non-ethnic Chinese, this system will weed out all judges except a few who are guaranteed to deliver the CCP’s required decisions. The Bar Association are naturally alarmed. But would you seriously expect a Leninist regime to accommodate an independent judiciary?
There are no details of what actions will actually be offenses, nor, as Jerome Cohen points out, about extradition, jury trials, the privilege against self-incrimination, etc.
And anyway, as we all know, the law will mean whatever they want it to mean.
NPC Observer has an update on the likely next steps of various rubber-stamp committees – it all points to the law taking effect on July 1.
That’s a very important date: it will be the first day of the Company Gwailo’s retirement (and quite rightly a public holiday). While I get on with clearing out my orifice, some recommended links…
An interview with one of the best commentators on China – Anne Stevenson-Yang…
It’s very sad about Hong Kong because it’s so small and vulnerable, and the same really is true of Taiwan. I wouldn’t be surprised if the mainland government had figured: “Well, we’ve only got six months left of Trump and we know he won’t do anything, so why don’t we move now.” Xi clearly has very poor political instincts, at least internationally…
Alibaba and Tencent are the two biggest private banks in China. That’s principally what they do: They aggregate and deploy capital. It’s essentially pyramid schemes.
China Media Project on how the British Embassy in Beijing has fallen victim to the CCP’s censorship system.
Refusing to acknowledge or understand that sense of separateness has led Beijing into a crisis that now threatens to ruin Hong Kong as a global financial center and further upend China’s relations with the United States and other democracies.
…To many in Hong Kong, the return to China is not the “homecoming” envisioned by the Communists, since China was never home. A survey … found that more than three-fourths of respondents identified themselves as ‘Hong Kongers’ compared to less than a quarter who considered themselves ‘Chinese’.
…In Hong Kong, mainland officials are trying to integrate what is essentially a foreign society with its own history and sense of self. And their heavy-handed tactics are only reinforcing Hong Kongers’ perception of their separateness.