Beijing’s New Year resolution for Hong Kong

Just kidding – they mean you’re on your own against Covid.

Beijing’s ‘interpretation’ gives Hong Kong’s government the power to bar foreign lawyers from NatSec trials, specifically that of Jimmy Lai. NPC Observer’s analysis of the ‘interpretation’ goes over the details, concluding…

Beyond the confines of Lai’s case and the specific issue it raised, the [NatSec] Committee’s seemingly broad and unreviewable power to “make [enforceable] judgments and decisions” on whether an issue of national security is involved, regardless of setting, could be cause for concern. It awaits to be seen whether and to what extent it would invoke this newly declared authority to deal with other situations in the future.

An optimistic/guileless SCMP op-ed hopes the powers will be used ‘with sensitivity and restraint’…

There is clearly an intention that the new mechanism, involving the chief executive and security committee, will be deployed to resolve other disputes over the national security law. This, presumably, means Hong Kong will not have to run to Beijing for an interpretation every time it can’t get its way in court.

Samuel Bickett puts it more plainly in this thread

Beijing’s own body in the city, the Committee for Safeguarding National Security, can declare any matter – in court or in society – to “involve national security” and thus be subject to the Committee’s final and unchallengeable regulation and restriction.

Read his full analysis here

Yesterday’s interpretation expands the already broad power of the Chief Executive to control court proceedings in national security cases. Under Article 44 of the NSL, the Chief Executive appoints national security judges. Under Article 18, the Chief Executive appoints the head of the DOJ’s national security prosecutions office. Under Article 46, the Chief Executive-appointed Secretary for Justice can bar a jury from hearing a case. And now, under the Article 47 interpretation, the Chief Executive can declare a defendant’s choice of counsel barred from participation in the case. Thus, the Chief Executive comprehensively holds power over both parties’ counsel, the judge, and the jury – an impossible prospect for national security defendants, and a death knell for judicial independence and due process…

Beijing’s interpretation did not stop there, however. Never one to miss an opportunity for a power grab, Beijing decided to use the occasion of the interpretation to vastly expand its own power in Hong Kong by creating a mechanism for its representatives in the city to overrule virtually any court, governmental, or political decision.

…as a result of Beijing’s interpretation this week, the [NatSec] Committee can declare any case, brought under any charges, to implicate national security, forcing the court to then strip away these rights from the defendant and transfer the case to a national security judge.

For ‘Chief Executive’ in the first sentence, read ‘Beijing’.

Thread by Eric Lai…

…the NSL interpretation today creates a de facto Political-Legal Committee for Hong Kong: judicial independence vanishes when the executive authorities can override court decision without being challenged by judicial review.

One from Kevin Yam

…both the Hong Kong CE and the NatSec [Committee] can now intervene and override the HK court at any time, and their decisions and acts would not be subject to any judicial review or any other form of legal challenge or oversight.

…But it gets worse. Given that Hong Kong NatSec [Committee] has plenary, unchecked powers to decide what is or isn’t NatSec, and make decisions in relation to the same, such powers can go beyond NatSec litigation or any litigation. It can touch on any policy area.

And Dennis Kwok.

In a Leninist system, courts cannot overrule the government. No-one can.

Some worthwhile links for the next few days’ hibernation…

This week’s must-read: Reuters on the neutering of Hong Kong’s legal profession and the departures of such figures as Michael Vidler, Paul Harris and (as it happens) Eric Lai, Kevin Yam and Dennis Kwok…

The intimidation is having a broad chilling effect, as less prominent lawyers also flee the city…

One Hong Kong solicitor who has relocated to England told Reuters that she knew of at least 80 Hong Kong lawyers who had moved to Britain since the security law was imposed in June 2020. Another lawyer, now living in Australia, estimated that several dozen Hong Kong lawyers had moved there.

An official hurt-feelings department pre-emptively gets a statement into the article…

“There is no truth in the alleged harassment or intimidation of ‘human rights’ lawyers” by the government, the Hong Kong Chief Executive’s Office said in response to questions from Reuters. “We dispute and strongly object to your highly suggestive questions and biased, baseless and false accusations against the Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL) and law enforcement actions taken by law enforcement agencies.”

HK Democracy Council adds up the political prisoners in Hong Kong for 2022. (Hong Kong residents may need to use a proxy server). Summary in thread.

HKFP op-ed on the proposed crowdfunding-permit regime.

Dr David Owens’ wrap-up of 2022 and Covid.

FT piece doubts the peg could survive a US-China clash over Taiwan

The system has just one weakness, but it is existential. To function as a financial centre, Hong Kong must have access to US dollar clearing. If the city’s banks ever lost access to the American financial system, then a dollar in Hong Kong would not be worth the same as a dollar in New York. Under such circumstances, the peg could not hold for long — and the US imposed exactly these sanctions on Russia after it invaded Ukraine this year.

Critique of a Foreign Affairs piece suggesting that the US can postpone conflict over Taiwan…

[CCP] leadership was not can-kicking when it set in motion its scheme to swallow the Taiwanese economy whole. We might have been deferring the Taiwan issue to an unknown future; they were deferring nothing. They were using economic, cultural, and political means to produce a settlement in their favor. There was a moment in the [Taiwan President Ma Ying Jeou 2008-16] administration where this looked like a winning strategy. That moment is passed; it will not return. The trajectory of Taiwanese politics from the Sunflower movement to the present day has delivered engagers in Beijing one resounding defeat after another. What is more: the Chinese know it.

From Hollywood Reporter – why China’s Born to Fly movie (supposedly a Top Gun) was mysteriously grounded

…word within the Beijing film industry is that Born to Fly‘s producers were made to realize that their movie’s stunts and visual effects were far inferior to Top Gun: Maverick’s and that the Chinese version risked ridicule in comparison… 

From The Atlantic, how China is using Putin

As 2022 has unfolded and the true nature of the Russia-China relationship has become more apparent, the danger it poses seems less acute. What has emerged is nothing like an axis of autocrats, but a lopsided partnership in which the terms are defined by its alpha member, Xi Jinping, primarily to serve China’s interests. This tells us a lot about the foreign-policy principles of China’s leaders and how those ideas may hamper Beijing’s quest to reshape the world order.

The Intercept on Russian-Chinese propaganda cooperation.

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16 Responses to Beijing’s New Year resolution for Hong Kong

  1. Chinese Netizen says:

    Why is there even any discussion/debate/hand wringing/hope any more over NSL??

    HK is under a guy that won the game, moved the goal posts and winner takes all in this one.

    Pretending HK has an iota of freedom or rule of law is just pointless, wishful thinking. Anyone that makes his/her living over anything that could be arrestable and subject to NSL courts and judges had better rethink where they want to live and make a living or just self censor until the pain in the tongue is too great to bear.

    Perhaps biglychee should just start talking about footie scores.

  2. so says:

    Testing air traffic controls in Manila pending Taiwan invasion

  3. HK-Cynic says:

    IOW – Beijing has implemented Calvinball into Hong Kong.

  4. Joe Blow says:

    “Honey, where did you put those passports?”

  5. Kwun Tong Bypass says:

    On the tragicomedy about John Lee’s new power to ban foreign (OMG!) lawyers:

    The Hong Kong courts say three times yes, the commies, probably in the LO don’t like it. John goes begging for a resolution to the standingcommitteeofsoandso and BJ passes the buck right back to John.


    So, the shitty decisions, which will make Hong Kong look stoopid in the world, are seemingly left to the Hongkies – as ‘instructed’ by the LO, of course.

    Hong Kong People ruling Hong Kong. Right?

    And the cowards in BJ can wash their hands should the siht hit the fan…

  6. MeKnowNothing says:

    5000 years, they say.

    No wonder why they are the way they are.

  7. F. Bacon says:

    5,000 years and not much Enlightenment.

  8. Northern Menace says:


    Calvinball! Freaking genius.

  9. A smoking pile of rubble says:

    @Kwun Tong Bypass: “Passed the buck” back to John Lee? More like they handed him a bazooka and told him to go play in traffic.

  10. Mark Bradley says:

    “ On the tragicomedy about John Lee’s new power to ban foreign (OMG!) lawyers:

    The Hong Kong courts say three times yes, the commies, probably in the LO don’t like it. John goes begging for a resolution to the standingcommitteeofsoandso and BJ passes the buck right back to John.


    So, the shitty decisions, which will make Hong Kong look stoopid in the world, are seemingly left to the Hongkies – as ‘instructed’ by the LO, of course.

    Hong Kong People ruling Hong Kong. Right?

    And the cowards in BJ can wash their hands should the siht hit the fan…”

    @Kwun Tong Bypass

    That’s basically the main purpose of a puppet state with fake autonomy

  11. Load Toad says:

    Johnny Fart Face can ‘interpret’ the NSL and bar foreign lawyers (for example) just once – as soon as he does that he can never ever say HKG has ‘Rule of Law’ ever again. Beijing has given LEGCO the gun and pointed it at their head – its now up to them if they pull the trigger.

    If we burn – you burn with us.

  12. reductio says:


    NSL, Taiwan… Stop worrying about things that don’t matter. The next cataclysm is already unfolding:

  13. I.P. Daily says:

    Sooo HKSARG’s whole “Hong Kong will be Asia’s Intellectual Property hub” campaign looks like it’s all set to go gangbusters.

    “To strengthen IP rights protection, the Hong Kong SAR government will work to implement the international trademark registration system. We will also update our copyright regime to boost digital copyright protection,” says Pikachu on Dec 1 2022.

    And 29 days later, he formerly scraps judicial independence and rule of law, because who would need an impartial, reliable legal system to be an international IP hub? It’s not like anyone’s IP could suddenly be declared a matter of National Security and stolen without any recourse to… oh, wait… right.

    I guess it’s lucky for HKSARG there’s no island state nearby which might serve as an alternative IP hub… oh, wait… right.

  14. Probably says:

    I think you will find that the SCuMP headline was unfortunately foreshortened or sub-edited and should have read: “Time to hand power over to the peopleS REPUBLIC OF CHINA”.

  15. Knownot says:

    MeKnowN0thing says: “5,000 years, they say.”

    I was in Thailand, with some Thai companions. We came across a wall of portraits of the king (at the time, Bhumibol) and his predecessors. Each one was praised for his accomplishments; for example, one was said to be the father of Thai astronomy.

    One of the Thais, laughing, said, “If our ancestors were so great, why are we like this today?”

  16. Joe Blow says:

    @L.P.Daily: stealing IP rights and spying on anything scientific has been one of China’s biggest industries for years. It’s the only way they can get ahead.

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