Article 23 bill zips through committee stage

The Article 23 bill overcomes legislative ‘hurdles’ without much trouble. 

Samuel Bickett on the amendments…

In a true demonstration of what it means to be a “rubber stamp legislature,” the Hong Kong LegCo-requested amendments to the Article 23 national security legislation do nothing to allay concerns, and in some cases make the bill even more repressive

For the “incitement of disaffection” offence, the Chief Executive can now designate private organization officials as public officers—effectively nationalizing private orgs for the purposes of this crime.

For the “espionage” crime of working with foreigners to publish a “false or misleading” statement, the new draft removes all elaboration on what “misleading” means—because apparently what this bill needed was *more* ambiguity about what speech is prohibited.

When a magistrate is considering allowing a detention extension (for up to 16 days), the earlier draft allowed bail or remand. Now the suspect *must* go to police custody. As someone who was tortured by police while detained myself, the reason for this change is obvious.

Whereas before a person had been given 6 months to report from abroad in response to an arrest warrant, under the revised draft the security secretary can impose bank account freezes and other measures from day 1…which can make it impossible to fly back to report. Brilliant.

Thus, the “legislative” process ends as expected, with the Security Bureau getting zero real pushback from legislators who will now pass the bill as requested. And while I’m sure the gov’t enjoyed this process, they’ve also slipped in a provision empowering the Chief Executive to legislate national security in the future without having to bother with pesky LegCo questions. So I wouldn’t expect the next round of national security measures to even have this minimal element of consultation.

So if I understand it correctly (amendments shown here), the government could in theory declare Cathay Pacific’s pilots’ union ‘public officials’, and then charge them with ‘incitement of disaffection’ for their incessant we-know-better-than-management whining

The tightening of ‘absconder’ measures is also interesting…

The amendments propose scrapping a six-month wait until authorities can designate a wanted individual as an absconder – a status which allows authorities to levy sanctions including cancelling their passports and banning anybody from providing them with funding.

It’s hard to believe the government amended its draft in response to spontaneous feedback from a legislature full of patriots who say what they’re told to say. Almost as if the authorities wanted all along to declare fleeing dissidents criminals the second they leave town. (Senior officials’ exhortations that such people come back and turn themselves in haven’t found many takers.) 

The US Congress China Commission on Article 23…

Given the zealous implementation of the HKNSL by the Hong Kong government and the further human rights abuses that will likely occur with the passage of Article 23 legislation, the best course of action for the Hong Kong government would be to withdraw the draft law completely and repeal the HKNSL – as eighteen U.N Members states have called on the PRC to do at the PRC’s January 2024 Universal Periodic Review at the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Unfortunately, we know that such a repeal is unlikely to happen. Since current members of the Hong Kong Legislative Council were vetted for political alignment with the PRC before assuming office,4 whatever law the Hong Kong government proposes will simply be rubber-stamped. It will likewise be vigorously enforced by the national security arms of the Hong Kong police force and the public prosecution office, as they try to justify their continued bureaucratic relevance, even after all political opposition has been snuffed out. 

An Asia Times op-ed on the Jimmy Lai trial…

Lai is accused of “conspiring to collude with foreign forces” under China’s national security law for the HKSAR and conspiring to “print, publish, sell, offer for sale, distribute, display and/or reproduce seditious publications” under the HKSAR’s sedition law. If convicted, Lai could be sentenced to life in prison.

On January 2, 2024, Lai pleaded not guilty to all charges. However, given how Hong Kong’s once-independent judicial system has operated since China promulgated the national security law in June 2020, Lai’s conviction is almost a foregone conclusion. The only real outstanding question about the show trial is the length of Lai’s prison sentence.

The author ‘taught at Hong Kong Baptist University from 1991-1992, served as the Hong Kong Trade Development Council’s assistant chief economist from 1994-1998…’

The Security Secretary blasts Ming Pao for…

…a “misleading” and “vicious” article subheading on an amendment that authorities introduced to the city’s domestic national security bill.

Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-keung took aim at Ming Pao as he spoke before the Legislative Council’s bills committee on Thursday, as a marathon review process for the Safeguarding National Security Bill went into its seventh day.

The minister’s remarks focused on a subheading in the article which said: “[The amendment] covers strengthening media management, four types of crimes [that can see offenders] sent to the mainland.”

Some other things…

The Hong Kong government launches a new body to promote patriotism…

Raistlin Lau, under secretary for culture, sports and tourism, said the Chinese Culture Promotion Office would enhance Hongkongers’ national identity and “cultural confidence.”

“[The Chinese Communist Party] General Secretary Xi Jinping provided us with a clear direction of work in the 19th Party Congress report,” Lau said in Cantonese, adding that Xi had urged everyone to “uphold cultural and historical confidence” and “ensure the creative transformation and innovative development of great Chinese traditional culture.”

…Lau said the office would introduce a training programme for teachers on Chinese history, heritage, art and technology developments.

It would also design “teaching and learning” activities for teachers and students, including a project entitled “Comprehensive History of China” – an exhibition series and corresponding activities showcasing the nation’s history from the Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties to contemporary times.

(The Xia dynasty – supposedly founded in 2100 BC – is essentially mythological, on a par with Atlantis or King Arthur.)

Lame Compromise of the Week Award goes to the bureaucrats who planned to keep the Hong Kong stock exchange open during bad weather, but semi-backtracked in the face of opposition from small brokerages (the same outfits who insist on a midday break in trading so they can have lunch). The market will now stay open during a number 8 signal, but close for number 9 or 10.

Interesting map showing countries that have territorial disputes with China. (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Vietnam, India and Bhutan – plus possibly Nepal. Maybe Russia and Mongolia some day.)

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Article 23 bill zips through committee stage

  1. boopaah says:

    Perhaps the US government psyop has worked brilliantly. Confuse and frustrate central party authorities to the point of paranoia and panic and get them to turn their only free entrepot into a locked down gulag and scare away all international finance.

  2. Knownot says:

    lawmaker Joephy Chan Wing-yan accused former
    Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing
    of being a “traitor” with his critical comments
    on the enactment of Basic Law Article 23
    – The Standard 22 February 2024

    The Old Patriot

    When he was young he chose
    To join his life with those
    Who thought the East was Red,
    And accept the discipline
    Of the Party he was in
    Through all the years ahead.

    Living free and hearing
    The things that were occurring
    So close, over the border:
    Red Guards in a craze,
    Torturous, murderous days,
    Collapse of law and order,

    What questions did he hide
    Somewhere deep inside
    His bright-and-shadowed mind?
    If it could be lit
    And he was searching it,
    What scruples would he find?

    Loyal since he was young,
    He duly held his tongue;
    But many decades later,
    In the present crisis
    An eager upstart rises
    And says he is a traitor.

    I wonder yet again
    How he would explain
    The two sides of his mind:
    Free and freely led;
    Bloodstained and well-read;
    Callous and refined.

  3. wmjp says:

    …cancelling their passports…

    Thus making doubly sure absconders cannot de-abscond.

    Isn’t the lack of ability to think beyond step zero a wonder!

  4. Mark Bradley says:

    Knownot does it again. As always an excellent poem. These should be all collected and published somewhere @Knownot

  5. Chinese Netizen says:

    “Cultural confidence”.

    Now there’s something very easy to pin down, teach and hammer into the heads of babes.

  6. Siu Jiu says:

    @Knownot Thank you. Haunting.

  7. True Patriot says:

    So, what does it all mean?



    AND ABOVE ALL: **** S H U T **** U P *** !

  8. Knownot says:

    I am very grateful to those who have suggested that I collect my poems somewhere. I have thought of putting them on some kind of website but I’m not sure.

    I happened to re-read a poem I posted here nine years ago, about the cooperation between the British and the HK Chinese which enabled HK to be so successful. There are a couple of lines that still amuse me:
    “British men who were shy or gauche or reserved
    Married prettier girls than they deserved.”

    But elsewhere in the poem, writing about the Chief Executive at the time, I wrote:
    “He sounds like the leader of a third-world nation.”
    But this is now a different HK. If I re-posted recent poems with squibs like that, would it be safe?

    Excuse me … National Security clerk who’s reading this … Excuse me, I’m calling you … Would it be safe?

  9. National Security clerk says:

    .. click ..

  10. Justsayin says:

    Raistlin Lau that evil magician

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *