On Tuesday, China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee unanimously passed a controversial national security law for Hong Kong. The law, which criminalises acts of secession, subversion, foreign interference and terrorism, was promulgated and gazetted on the same day with immediate effect. Details were only revealed late at night as it was directly inserted into the Annex III of the semi-autonomous region’s mini-constitution, bypassing the local legislature.

The unprecedented legislation attracted criticism for allegedly infringing upon human rights and Hong Kong’s autonomy. HKFP rounds up local and international reactions to the new legislation.

july 1 2020 flag flags handover day (2)
Photo: GovHK.

27 countries joint-statement – delivered by UK Ambassador Joshua Braithwaite at the United Nation Human Rights Council

We urge the Chinese and Hong Kong governments to reconsider the imposition of this legislation and to engage Hong Kong’s people, institutions and judiciary to prevent further erosion of the rights and freedoms that the people of Hong Kong have enjoyed for many years.

A number of the signatories to this statement submitted a letter last year to express concern about arbitrary detention, widespread surveillance and restrictions, particularly targeting Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang…These deep concerns have been reinforced by additional information now in the public domain.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg

It is clear that China does not share our values – democracy, freedom, and the rule of law. We see this in Hong Kong, where the new security law undermines its autonomy.

UK Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Dominic Raab

The imposition of national security legislation on Hong Kong rather than through Hong Kong’s own institutions lies in direct conflict with China’s international obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration… We’ve been working very closely with our international partners, with the EU, and the G7 and indeed we are raising the issue with likeminded partners in the United Nations Human Rights Council shortly.

US White House National Security Council Spokesperson John Ullyot

As Beijing now treats Hong Kong as ‘One Country, One System,’ so must the United States, we urge Beijing to immediately reverse course.

Beijing’s passage of the National Security Law is a violation of its commitments under the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The United States will continue to take strong actions against those who smothered Hong Kong’s freedom and autonomy.

US House of Representative Nancy Pelosi

The purpose of this brutal, sweeping law is to frighten, intimidate and suppress Hong Kongers who are peacefully demanding the freedoms that were promised.  All freedom-loving people must come together to condemn this law, which accelerates Beijing’s years-long assault on Hong Kong’s political and economic freedoms.  We must work together in a multilateral way to monitor the implementation of this excessive law and hold Beijing accountable for its violation of the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen

China once promised Hong Kong [its way of life] shall remain unchanged for 50 years. With the forceful passage of the Hong Kong national security law, it reflects not only a neglect of Hongkongers’ popular opinion and a breach of the promise, but also proves that the One Country, Two Systems principle is unfeasible.

We wish that Hong Kong people would persevere in cherishing their liberty and human rights. Taiwan has already launched a humanitarian assistance programme to provide aid for Hongkongers which include basic care and services.

Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China

We, members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, condemn the imposition of so-called National Security legislation on Hong Kong by the Chinese National People’s Congress. This new law is a comprehensive assault on the city’s fundamental freedoms, rule of law, and autonomy…

These actions cannot go unanswered. No country should be able to violate international norms and agreements with impunity.

Parliaments, governments, the G7, international institutions, and countless others have spoken out against the unilateral imposition of the National Security Law. The leadership of the People’s Republic of China has not heeded their warnings. The time has now come for consequences to be made clear.

Incumbent chairperson of the NPCSC Li Zhanshu

The legislation and decision passed unanimously [and] fully demonstrates the collective will of all people in the country including Hongkongers… The standing committee has concretely drafted the Law on Safeguarding National Security with legalised, standardised and clarified arrangements.

China’s Liaison Office Director Luo Huining

The law is a sword hung above. To the vast majority of Hong Kong citizens including foreigners residing in Hong Kong, the law is a patron saint that protects their rights, freedom and peace. As time goes by, we will see more clearly that the promulgation of the national security law marks the turning point of chaos to order in Hong Kong. It is the milestone of the implementation of One Country, Two Systems principle.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo

When they say day is night and dark is light, you just can’t argue ‘because they are the law.’ But this is not the rule of law. This is not even rule by law. This is rule by decree ’cause everything is up to their interpretation. Free press could just be announced dead in Hong Kong because anyone giving or disseminating any material or information privately to a journalist and this journalist would publish information, obtained in such a manner, could be in dire trouble – both of them. Because they could it as saying you are harming China’s national security and this would tell you that they want not just to get us, but [want] to intimidate us into inaction, into a catatonic state.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam

 I express my heartfelt thanks to the NPCSC for gauging the views of the HKSAR Government and various sectors of the community in Hong Kong as well as taking on board Hong Kong’s practical situation during the law drafting process. I am also encouraged by the overwhelming support of the members of the public. I am confident that after the implementation of the National Security Law, the social unrest which has troubled Hong Kong people for nearly a year will be eased and stability will be restored, thereby enabling Hong Kong to start anew, focus on economic development and improve people’s livelihood.

Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng

Welcoming the passage of the National Security Law and its inclusion in Annex III to the Basic Law to be promulgated and implemented in the HKSAR, Ms Cheng would continue to lead the Department of Justice (DoJ) to provide full support for and discharge the responsibility of safeguarding national security in the HKSAR.

As one of the members of the Committee for Safeguarding National Security to be chaired by the Chief Executive, Ms Cheng is committed to assisting in formulating policies and implementing the relevant legal system.

Hong Kong Police Force

 In response to the various criminal acts that endanger national security, the Hong Kong Police Force will conduct arrests and take other law enforcement actions in accordance with the National Security Law and the Laws of Hong Kong to protect the life and property of Hong Kong citizens and the basic rights and freedoms they enjoy under the law.

The HKSAR is an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China, and the Hong Kong Police Force is fully responsible for safeguarding the security of Hong Kong as well as our Country. The Hong Kong Police Force will fully perform its duties and strictly enforce the law to restore social order and ensure the effective implementation of the National Security Law in the HKSAR to safeguard national security.

The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce

The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce (HKGCC) considers the passage of the National Security Law (NSL) as instrumental in helping to restore stability and certainty to Hong Kong, which has been severely impacted by the social unrest since last year.

Violent protests have damaged the reputation of Hong Kong as a safe, international city, resulting in reduced tourism and business interests. Subsequently, Hong Kong has suffered further from the Covid-19 pandemic. As the economy gradually returns to normality, we need a stable environment which the NSL aims to provide.

US Senator Tom Cotton

Xi Jinping and his Communist thugs must face severe consequences for crushing Hong Kong’s freedoms. The House of Representatives should pass the Hong Kong Autonomy Act to impose punishing sanctions on Chinese Communist Party officials. The administration should consider all options at its disposal to deny Beijing the benefits of Hong Kong’s special financial and economic status. We cannot ignore China’s draconian actions.

Pro-democracy district councillors

Local councillors from 18 districts issued a joint-statement titled: “Let go of the fantasies and continue to resist.”

The evil security law has already been promulgated with state entities surveillance around us. Now that autocracy hovers over Hong Kong. Hongkongers’ road to democracy and freedom will be rough…

We cannot beg for others’ pity in fighting for freedom and democracy. Our future will be gloomy and we stand with one another until the dawn of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Legislative Council President Andrew Leung

The enactment of the National Security Law in the HKSAR can safeguard Hong Kong’s long-term stability and prosperity, and protect according to law the rights and freedoms long enjoyed by the vast majority of law-abiding citizens. I hope the international community can understand that the legislative work will help ensure the social stability of Hong Kong and further strengthen the city’s status as an international financial centre.

Hong Kong Bar Association Chair Philip Dykes in a letter to Sec. for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang

You will know that decanting of a Mainland law affecting individual rights and obligations into the Laws of Hong Kong without it passing through the Legislative Council is a constitutional novelty. That no one in the HKSAR has yet seen a draft of the NSL is genuinely extraordinary.

Notwithstanding this limited understanding of the content of the NSL, the Administration is confident that the new law will be entirely beneficial. It is said to go a long way to solving the social and other problems that have plagued the HKSAR for the last twelve months.

Joshua Rosenzweig, Amnesty International

The speed and secrecy with which China has pushed through this legislation intensifies the fear that Beijing has calculatingly created a weapon of repression to be used against government critics, including people who are merely expressing their views or protesting peacefully.

The fact that the Chinese authorities have now passed this law without the people of Hong Kong being able to see it tells you a lot about their intentions. Their aim is to govern Hong Kong through fear from this point forward.

China’s eagerness to pass this law quickly is also an ominous signal for the legislative elections coming up in Hong Kong in September, with a threat that the security law could be used against pro-democracy candidates.

Christophe Deloire, Reporters Without Borders

Hong Kong is more than just a symbol that must be preserved. It is a region and a population whose freedom counts for the future of human rights all over the world. Regardless of the short-term cost, the world’s democracies must ensure respect of the principles of international law regarding freedom of opinion and expression. One never wins by yielding, by allowing others to trample over international promises and laws. History is rich with cases of weakness in upholding principles that have turned into tragedy. Let’s not allow history to repeat itself. Let’s not allow Beijing to stifle press freedom in Hong Kong.

Pro-democracy activist in exile Simon Cheng speaks to HKFP

I condemn the national security law, the Hong Kong government and [the] Chinese government. One Country, Two Systems and the liberty of Hongkongers are severely eroded. Many Hongkongers felt their safety threatened and were forced to leave.

Rachel Wong previously worked as a documentary producer and academic researcher. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and European Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She has contributed to A City Made by People and The Funambulist, and has an interest in cultural journalism and gender issues.