The Hong Kongers are again on the street. Pro-democracy protesters denounce the proposed security law, which aims to ban "treason, secession, sedition [and] subversion". It was tabled on Friday, May 22, at the opening of the annual session of the National People's Congress (ANP), the Chinese Parliament.

This text comes after repeated warnings from the Chinese communist power against any dissent in Hong Kong, shaken last year by seven months of monster demonstrations in favor of democracy.

Hong Kong people "face a choice about their future"

Very quickly, on the discussion forums and on the messaging used by the pro-democracy movement, the calls to demonstrate multiplied. "The people of Hong Kong will have to face a choice concerning their future," said a message calling on the Telegram app, the Hong Kong people to come together on Sunday.

For activist Joshua Wong, a figure in the Umbrella Movement in 2014, the message sent by China to pro-democracy protesters leaves no room for doubt. "Beijing is trying to silence the voices of critical Hong Kongers with force and fear," Wong said on Twitter.  

For activists, if this bill is passed, it would be one of the most serious violations of Hong Kong's freedoms since the 1997 handover.

"It's the end of Hong Kong"

"This is the end of Hong Kong, the end [of the principle] 'One country, two systems', make no mistake about it," pro-democracy deputy Dennis Kwok told reporters.

Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 under an agreement which guaranteed the territory for fifty years an autonomy and freedoms unknown in the rest of the country, according to the principle "One country, two systems".

The Beijing announcement could rekindle Hong Kong anger after months of calm, partly because of measures taken to stem the coronavirus epidemic.

According to Hong Kong pro-democracy MP Tanya Chan, Beijing "shows no respect for the people of Hong Kong". "Many Hong Kongers must be as angry as we are now, but we must remember not to give up," she said.

Few details on the bill

When the bill was announced on Thursday evening, few details were released, only the fact that it would strengthen "enforcement mechanisms" for "protecting national security".

Article 23 of the "Basic Law", which has served as a constitution for the semi-autonomous territory for two decades, provides that the region adopts a law prohibiting "treason, secession, sedition [and] subversion" .

However, it has never been applied, a large part of the Hong Kong population seeing it as a threat to their freedoms.

The attempt to pass an anti-subversion law at the local level, in 2003, had failed after monster demonstrations in the streets of this territory of nearly 7.5 million inhabitants.

According to Joshua Wong and other activists, Beijing's decision to have the text passed by the Chinese parliament is a way to bypass the Hong Kong parliament.

Risk of "destabilization"

American diplomacy spokesman Morgan Ortagus warned of the risk of "destabilization" that this text could generate. US President Donald Trump has promised to react if necessary "very strongly".

On Thursday, American senators introduced a bill to impose sanctions on any entity that would limit the autonomy of the territory.

Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong before its 1997 handover, said the proposal was "a huge attack on the city's autonomy [...] extremely damaging".

With AFP

The summary of the France 24 week invites you to come back to the news that marked the week

I subscribe

Take international news everywhere with you! Download the France 24 app