The Standing Committee of China’s 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) will convene its 20th session today in Beijing. While not
The Standing Committee of China’s 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) will convene its 20th session today in Beijing.
While not included on the official agenda, it is speculated that the controversial Hong Kong national security bill will be passed before the session ends on Tuesday. The legislation would strengthen mainland China’s jurisdiction over crimes committed by Hong Kongers that endanger “national security”, such as subversion against Beijing and collusion with foreign forces.
Despite approval from Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, international leaders and media have strongly criticised the bill for undermining Hong Kong’s judicial independence and allowing Beijing to further target pro-democracy activists. While many fear a widespread surge in arrests, Beijing is more likely to use a handful of high-profile arrests to induce media self-censorship and intimidate protesters, a tactic similar to those employed in Russia to silence dissidents.
Facing condemnation from the UK, EU and recent unanimous sanctions from the US Senate, expect China to be careful not to immediately trigger international outrage, walking the line between intimidation and heavy retaliatory sanctions. However, the bill’s intentionally vague details and China’s history of secrecy likely signify that Beijing will play a larger role in Hong Kong’s judiciary than will meet the public eye. Expect Beijing’s increasing encroachment into Hong Kong’s legal system to complicate any push for greater autonomy when the current “one country, two systems” agreement ends in 2047.
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