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City on the Rocks: Three years of Hong Kong’s National Security Law

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Today the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation (CFHK Foundation) laments the third anniversary of the imposition of the National Security Law (NSL) by China in Hong Kong. Mark Clifford, President of the CFHK Foundation, said, “The democratic world must not forget about the Chinese Communist Party’s ongoing violation of international law in Hong Kong as the press is silenced, human rights activists are jailed, and the rule of law is dismantled.”

The CFHK Foundation attended a British Parliament debate led by Iain Duncan Smith MP, ‘Hong Kong National Security Law Anniversary’, where former British foreign secretary Dominic Raab MP and members of Parliament called for the British government to urge Hong Kong to immediately repeal the NSL, release British citizen Jimmy Lai and warn British businesses of the risks they face by investing in Hong Kong.

The CFHK Foundation hosted a panel discussion led by Baroness Helena Kennedy and attended by other members of the House of Lords looking at the UK’s foreign policy towards China. Mark Sabah, UK and EU Director for the CFHK Foundation, said, “This lively discussion in the House of Lords between Peers and policy experts in these fields comes exactly at the right time. From Hong Kong to Taiwan to cyberspace, the British government must make clear their policy and posture towards China.”

Saturday marked two years since Apple Daily, Jimmy Lai’s pro-democracy newspaper, was forced to close after the authorities arrested its staff and froze its assets under the NSL in Hong Kong. Mark Clifford spoke to Ed Chin about how the Hong Kong authorities crushed Apple Daily.

Mark Sabah shared how Ireland has become a “financial Euro Disney for Chinese millionaires with its golden visa scheme”. Despite Ireland being a small country that needs investment, money, especially from Chinese millionaires who may have political motives, should not be prioritised over Irish national security.

Dr Jane Richards, Law Lecturer at the University of Leeds, wrote in the CFHK Foundation blog about how the NSL continues to erode free speech in Hong Kong and abroad. “The erosion of freedom of speech, in line with China’s own interests should be cause for alarm. Britain must take holistic, concrete action,” wrote Dr Richards.

Jimmy Lai

At a United Nations Human Rights Council session, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, US and UK government officials raised concerns regarding Hong Kong and British citizen Jimmy Lai. Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC, who leads the international legal team for Jimmy Lai and Sebastien Lai, said, “Yesterday in Geneva the US and UK governments stood up for Jimmy Lai at the United Nations Human Rights Council. China and Hong Kong must heed the international community’s clear message: it is time to repeal the National Security Law, respect international law and free Jimmy Lai.”

Sebastien Lai spoke to Radio France, calling for the British government to prioritise pressuring Hong Kong to release his father and to urge Western businesses to not invest in Hong Kong, which is now run by the Chinese Communist Party.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee announced that he wants Article 23 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law to be enacted by next year. Article 23 would fill any “gaps” in the National Security Law, outlawing secession, sedition, subversion, theft of state secrets, treason, local bodies working with foreign bodies and foreign bodies participating in political activities.

John Lee confirmed that Hong Kong will comply with China’s patriotic education law, which would require pupils to learn national security mandates to promote Chinese unity.

The Justice Minister of Hong Kong claimed the National Security Law does not negatively affect the freedom of assembly in response to Hong Kong receiving a 3.2 out of 10 in Empowerment from the Human Rights Measurement Initiative.

Censorship laws that make it illegal to show films that “endanger national security” are scaring off film investors and actors in Hong Kong while Hong Kong government film screenings have been deemed exempt from the standard film vetting process.

UK-China Relations

The British Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities awarded organisations that help Hong Kongers integrate into the UK after fleeing from the oppressive hand of the Chinese Communist Party £2.6 million.

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