Government acts against ‘barbaric and gross’ things ‘still lurking in society’

Article 23 is here. A four-week public consultation, versus three months last time. HKFP’s report. The Guardian’s. The whole paper

Freaky stuff. The phrase ‘soft resistance’ appears once (page 17)…

(d) Promoting messages endangering national security: The forces seeking to endanger the security of our country and the HKSAR have continued to make use of so-called artistic creations released through 16 media like publications, music, films, arts and culture, and online games, etc. as a disguise to disseminate messages that promote resistance against the Central Authorities and the HKSAR Government, advocating “Hong Kong independence” or subvert the State power using a “soft resistance” approach. Given the popular use of the Internet and social messaging applications, such messages can be covertly disseminated in a fast and extensive manner.

While ‘colour revolution’ appears 12 times, eg on pages 18-19…

(g)   Barbaric and gross interference from foreign governments and politicians in China’s internal affairs: Currently, there are unstable factors in the global situation coupled with increasingly complex geopolitics and rising unilateralism. Sovereign equality and non-interference in internal affairs are basic norms of international relations and fundamental principles of international law, which are also entrenched under the Charter of the United Nations7 . However, some external forces have continuously interfered with China’s affairs…

(h)   Grooming of agents by external forces: External forces have groomed agents through long-term infiltration in the HKSAR on all fronts. With significant influence and mobilisation capability, they have been, through their agents, instructing local organisations or individuals to engage in activities endangering national security, improperly influencing the implementation of policies by the HKSAR Government, or collecting intelligence or engaging in other activities endangering national security. Under guises such as so-called “fighting for rights” and “monitoring of human rights”, some external forces have carried out such projects in the HKSAR for a long time and subsidised local organisations to launch various kinds of so-called resistance activities, offering support to the Hong Kong version of “colour revolution”. 

If you have a Twitter account, read the long thread by Galileo Cheung. ‘State secrets officially include economic, social and technological developments’, etc. And a comparison with the 2003 version from Eliot Chen.

From Samuel Bickett

…the worst case scenario for A23 is [that] it adopts China’s “state secrets” definition, which is the foundation of China’s repressive, secretive regime. Yet that’s exactly what this doc proposes–syncing the definition and scope of state secrets with China’s.

The proposed “state secrets” definition would apply to any documents or information related to “major policy decisions,” “economic and social development,” “technological development or scientific technology,” among others. It is explicitly designed to apply expansively.

What’s more, the state secrets provisions explicitly would require departments to proactively hide information that might be a state secret. We can say goodbye to the open-door policies gov’t bureaucrats have traditionally maintained under the Code on Access to Information.

Just as worrisome, the doc proposes revising the definition of “espionage” to make it apply to colluding with an external force (i.e., any foreigner or, say, a foreign NGO) to “publish a statement of fact that is false or misleading.” Espionage charges–for mere speech.

Separately, the doc also proposes a new offense of “external interference,” which would criminalize “collaborating” with foreigners  to “influence” the government. It’s an extraordinarily broad crime as written, which seemingly prohibits criticizing any government act.

This doc was released as a “consultation,” but other than some possible minor tweaks, it will not change…

HK Rule of Law Monitor fears procedural changes…

They include: extending the period of police detention – this can rule out the availability of bail completely, without any review.

Blocking arrestees from consulting with particular lawyers – given the dwindling no. of lawyers willing to take on the gov, arrestees could be left completely isolated in the jaws of the state.

“Eliminating certain procedures” to ensure “timely trials” – we have seen in #Appledaily and #NSL47 how this is code for pressuring the defence into giving up their rights, while allowing the prosecution every indulgence.

Eliminating remission for ppl convicted of national security offences – meaning they will end up serving a sentence which is one-third LONGER than the same sentence for a non-national security matter.

Act 1 (2020-07 to 2021-10): quash civil society with the #NSL. Act 2 (2021-10 to 2024-01): maintain status quo with the sedition law. Act 3 (2024-01 to -): kill off any semblance of normalcy.

From the FT

“International business has run into trouble on the mainland, with [businesspeople] detained for suspected state secrets violations,” said John Burns, emeritus professor of politics and public administration at the University of Hong Kong. “Will the same illiberal interpretation of national security characterise Article 23’s implementation?”

“There is a risk that companies’ stakeholders abroad will see this as bringing Hong Kong more closely in line with the mainland at a time when we feel it is important to stress the differences rather than the perceived similarities,” said a foreign chamber of commerce representative in Hong Kong who asked to remain anonymous.

The government’s view comes courtesy of Paul Lam and the Four Necessaries. Ronnie also supports it, though once he didn’t.  Legco is already on board (though no draft bill is yet available).

The government says it welcomes comments (fax 2868 5074). Bear in mind Sam Bickett’s point…

Perversely, even criticizing [the proposed Article 23 law] as part of the “consultation” may violate the existing NSL or sedition law.

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14 Responses to Government acts against ‘barbaric and gross’ things ‘still lurking in society’

  1. Reactor #4 says:

    Well if people hadn’t been so bolshy back in the day, and a lot less bolshy subsequently, the imposed NSL would have been a lot more user friendly. There was a chance to stick on 20, but a small minority of people chose to go for 21 with a five-card trick. I am not 4rsed with what we are about to get as I can put with pretty much anything and I just get on with enjoying life. However, some clearly can’t. I find this rather amusing.

  2. wmjp says:

    Yet to be announced – the specially selected panel of Article 23 judges.

  3. wmjp says:

    I’m surprised that the offence, beloved of schoolmasters (especially when it’s mute) and the military, of insubordination has not been included. It really is a great catch-all…

  4. Chinese Netizen says:

    Master class in national insecurity and self awareness that you’re running a feeble, sand-foundation system designed to keep people cowed and down in order to assure compliance.

  5. MC says:

    The arseholes guide to national security:

    1 – You brought it on yourselves! If everyone did as they were told without question there’d be no need for laws forcing everyone to obey without question.
    2 – I’m all right, Jack! There’s definitely no danger these loosely-worded laws could be used to ensnare even the most servile lickspittle.
    3 – Just get on with life! Point and laugh at those fools demanding ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’ and ‘a functioning economy’.

  6. James says:

    Marching into a bear’s cave to poke it with a stick to see if it’s really as grumpy as you’d heard is foolhardy. While they’ll certainly take the lack of response as silence representing assent, for god’s sake use your common sense and do not respond to that consultation with your genuine identity.

  7. Paul says:

    The HK Rule of Law Monitor observation reflects a distressing, but not unexpected, lack of numeracy. If you fail to get the normal one year remission on a three year sentence then your detention will be 50% longer than those getting such remission, not one third longer.

  8. Goatboy says:

    “Given the popular use of the Internet and social messaging applications”. These guys have their fingers on the pulse….

  9. Load Toad says:

    @James,

    What does it say about your situation when you can’t use your real name to question the government?

    Yes I know I’m having to use an alias. That’s my point.

  10. Mjrelje says:

    @Load Toad — it ain’t no government.

  11. Low Profile says:

    A few weeks ago, someone here said that the first comment of the day is always crap. I think today proves the point.

  12. FOARP says:

    As always nowadays, the same system as already reigns on the mainland will be brought in in Hong Kong because to do otherwise would be to imply there was something wrong with the way things are run on the mainland. In the Xi era, that cannot be tolerated.

    This was always going to happen, and opposing it is not what caused it, nor were those who opposed it in a minority, as the last semi-free elections held in Hong Kong indicated, even if the subsequent non-free ones did not. The millions who marched in the streets of Hong Kong, by any measure more than has ever voted for the pro-Beijing DAB, were also not a minority of opinion.

    By 2047, there won’t be much left of Hong Kong’s autonomy to give up.

  13. justsayin says:

    I think I need to rewatch that Wong Kar-Wai ‘2046’ movie in light of recent events. I remember it flew right over my head when I saw it back in 2004

  14. justsayin says:

    Also, my thoughts immediately turned to Broom Head when reading this headline

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