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Hong Kong’s Freedom Dims Further with Passage of Article 23 Security Legislation


Hong Kong’s “patriots-only” Legislative Council (Legco) unanimously passed Article 23 national security legislation in record time following a brief public consultation a rushed series of Legco sessions. Following a vote of 89-0, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee signed the law, which will come into effect tomorrow (March 23rd) and marks a pivotal moment for the region's freedoms and autonomy. 

The Article 23 bill criminalises dissent, worsening the repression that began with the 2020 National Security Law. The new legislation provides new laws against treason, sabotage, sedition, the theft of state secrets and espionage. The vague and ambiguous definitions of the Article 23 law (named after the clause in the Basic Law requiring the legislation) mean that any Hong Konger who voices dissent is at risk of imprisonment. The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong (CFHK) Foundation condemned the legislation and calls for immediate and decisive action from the UK and U.S. governments. 

Jimmy Lai's Trial Update

The trial of Jimmy Lai resumed on March 18th, with Andy Li, a pro-democracy activist arrested and apparently tortured in China, testifying against Lai. Li provided lots of smoke in the form of details on crowdfunding for international campaigns about Hong Kong’s deteriorating political situation in 2019 and a call for sanctions on officials responsible for the crackdown, but no evidence of anything other than legitimate political activism.   

Detailed Trial Updates Available at: Support Jimmy Lai

Hong Kong

The Hong Kong government condemned a news report by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) covering the sentencing of 12 Hongkongers involved in the 2019 protests, who received jail terms ranging from 54 to 82 months for rioting. Their statement accused the BBC of "smearing the city’s national security laws with false accusations" and creating a "negative impression" of the law. 

The Hong Kong government released a statement strongly condemning the remarks regarding Article 23 made by the "U.S. and some Western countries, anti-China organizations, anti-China politicians, foreign media, and individuals wanted for absconding overseas." 

U.S.- China Relations

The U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China and the U.S. House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party submitted a letter to the Secretary of State calling for additional steps to be taken in response to Article 23 including the possible imposition of sanctions against Hong Kong officials responsible for undermining the rule of law and human rights, and the revocation of the diplomatic privileges and immunities of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices (HKETOs) in the U.S.   

The U.S. State Department reiterated the United States' commitment to “call out those responsible for the erosion of Hong Kong’s promised autonomy” and to employ not only verbal condemnation but also other measures within the United States' capabilities, should the situation demand it. 

UK - China Relations

Foreign Secretary David Cameron strongly condemned the rushed passing of Hong Kong's Article 23 national security legislation, highlighting its detrimental impact on the city's rule of law, autonomy, and fundamental rights. He further urged Hong Kong authorities to uphold their international obligations and respect the freedoms enshrined in the Basic Law, the mini-constitution that underpins the city’s government. 

The UK Government has secretly softened its policy against Chinese businesses implicated in human rights abuses, as indicated by an internal Whitehall assessment conducted by the Foreign Office and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in November last year, advising a pause on considering sanctions against Chinese firms "indefinitely". 

United Nations

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk issued a statement condemning the "rushed adoption of the national security bill", warning that its vague wording could criminalise actions protected by international human rights law and further labelling Article 23 legislation as “a regressive step for human rights in Hong Kong”. 


March 10, 1959: Echoes of Pain, Resilience, and Unity - A Letter to Fellow Freedom Fighters

This blog is authored by Tseyang, President of Students for a Free Tibet Boston, Co-Director of the Coalition of Students Resisting China 

I recall returning home restless and unable to sleep the following days from nightmares, inheriting the pain felt by 1959 Tibetans, the pain of losing loved ones, losing a homeland, losing freedom. 65 years later, March 10 and stories of resilience and resistance in the face of catastrophic loss continue to fuel our movement. 

Read More Here

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