According to reports in the Communist Party-controlled media, the law is expected to criminalize crimes such as secession, subversion against the Chinese central government, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. But hours after its approval, details remain vague, limiting a particularly opaque process that has left analysts and activists guessing.
Speaking at a weekly press conference Tuesday morning, city leader Carrie Lam initially declined to answer questions about the law, saying it was “inappropriate for me to comment.” Hours later, she defended him in a video speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, saying it will restore stability and prosperity to Hong Kong.
His administration appears to have been almost entirely removed from the process; However, it has not prevented them from predicting that the law will only affect a small minority of people in the city and will not harm political liberties and judicial autonomy.
In a statement last week, Lam said the legislation would be “in line with the rule of law” and the “rights and freedoms that are applicable in Hong Kong.”
Such a conversation could be illegal under the new law, if it follows the pattern of similar legislation in China as expected. Wong, Law and Chow have also been heavily involved in lobbying the international community to put pressure on Beijing over Hong Kong, which many hope will be classified as “collusion with foreign forces.”
Two other political parties, the Hong Kong National Front and Studentlocalism, also said they would suspend operations in the city, although both groups, marginal pro-independence parties, said they would continue to work abroad.
Some pro-independence figures are known to have fled Hong Kong in recent months, for fear of being arrested in connection with last year’s violent anti-government protests or the upcoming law. On Sunday, Wayne Chan, coordinator of the Hong Kong Independence Union, confirmed that he had missed bail and left town. He had faced charges related to protests.
While pro-government groups and politicians welcomed the passage of the law (former leader CY Leung offered rewards for future prosecutions) there was great frustration among many Hong Kong people over the continued lack of detail and the feeling of being almost in limbo, knowing that the law has been passed but not what that means.
In a letter to the city government on Monday, Hong Kong Bar Association President Philip Dykes said the secrecy of the law was “truly extraordinary” and asked the government to clarify how minimum rights will be guaranteed. of the citizen.
Such uncertainty will likely persist beyond Tuesday night, when the bill is finally expected to go public and be published. Regardless of how crimes are described or punishments are established, many will be watching to see how vigorously they are enforced by police and prosecutors.
A key test will be held on Wednesday, when Hong Kong marks the 23rd anniversary of the city’s move to Chinese rule. The day has traditionally seen an anti-government march through the city, but the protest has been banned this year.
Organizers say they will go ahead anyway. However, it remains to be seen how many people join them and what crimes, if any, those people are considered to be committing if they do.