70 countries, traders back HK security law
By Herman Tiu Laurel
On June 30, 2020, the day China announced the approval of the new Hong Kong National Security Law, the Hang Seng Index (Hong Kong’s stock market) rose 1.18 percent and debunked the fear-mongering of the opponents of the that it would sound the death knell for the business entrepot. As one headline declared, “Hong Kong stocks, undeterred by new security law, rise with Asia.”
US sanctions were subsequently announced, targeting Chinese and Hong Kong officials involved in the enactment of the National Security Law, as well as imposing a ban on exports of U.S. dual-use civilian-military technology to Hong Kong. Neither measure has or is seen to affect trade and the normal functioning of Hong Kong as a business entrepot.
Contrary to critics’ claims, the Hong Kong security law does not reflect any measure to suppress of democracy or freedom of speech. The law only targets secession, subversion, terrorist activities, and collusion with foreign forces that endanger national security. These are very specific and distinct and consistent with international law’s respect for territorial integrity and the independence of states.
US, British, and other Western critics of the HK security law should take a look at their own country’s laws on secession, sedition, subversion, treason, and collaboration with foreign governments in undermining their own country and they will find even harsher stipulations there. I did a short review and found the following:
The US Supreme Court has ruled “unilateral secession” (without consent of the Union and other states) unconstitutional, and treason punishable by death. The Confederate states tried to secede in 1861 that led to a most brutal civil war. The U.S. Sedition Act of 1798 punished anyone deemed a threat or publishing “false, scandalous, or malicious writing” against the government by deportation, fine or imprisonment.
Like HK, the West has pilloried the Philippines on the Anti-terrorism bill. UNCHR’s Michelle Bachelet uses biased information and irrationally conflates anti-terrorism with the terms democracy, free speech, freedom, human rights, to blur the distinctions and gaslight through constant repetition the English-speaking audiences of international mainstream media to caricature President Duterte and our country as bogeymen.
However, the West’s sound and fury amount to little. US threats of a storm of sanctions on China if it imposes the new national security law for HK have been no more like tied up canines – all bark and no bite. The only danger is, can the West’s propaganda get them so carried away causing them to bite themselves if they lose the $30-billion trade surplus with HK? The West’s barking has led the Philippines to leave the ICC.
Commenting on the announced US sanctions, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said, “The special status of Hong Kong comes from the Basic Law, including the independent tariff zone, free port and global financial center. And the US sanctions, such as revoking its special treatment of Hong Kong that gives the city favorable trade, won't have any impact on the HKSAR."
Hong Kong opposition leaders were taken aback by China’s passage of the National Security Law. Three top youth leaders of the leading group Demosisto -- Nathan Law, Jeffrey Ngo, Agnes Chow and Nathan Wong (Time magazine’s June 2020 cover as “The Face of Protest)—withdrew from their organization two hours after the Law was passed.
The Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) quoted Joshua Wong expressing his “fears that ‘it was no longer “nonsense” for pro-democracy figures to worry... and cited concerns over a 10-year ‘political imprisonment’ as well as being extradited to China.” The new security law removes the protection of foreign political and residual domestic judicial coddlers, calling for secession, sedition, and collaborating with foreign powers are now “real.”
The protest actions on the day of the announcement of the new law raised about five to ten thousand scattered demonstrations, a far cry from the hundreds of thousands of 2019. The reason for the massive protest sizes in HK is in the educational system and in the sense of impunity. The HK authorities under the new law are now taking steps to correct the residual colonial influences in the HK education and bureaucracy.
HK citizens, particularly those born after the handover to China in 1997, are grossly mis-educated by an educational system heavily loaded with colonial and anti-China values and concepts. In April this year, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) exposed a HK instructor who was teaching that the First Opium War was Britain’s effort to ban opium in China – a ridiculous reversal of historical reality.
In May of this year the SCMP again reported a Hong Kong exam that asked whether the 1930s Japanese invasion of China did “more good than harm” to China – a preposterous question given that the Japanese invasion caused 20-million Chinese deaths and created 100 million suffering refugees. These two examples show how the impact of the educational time bomb that the HK educational system is.
With the National Security Law Hong Kong can continue peacefully to be the safe harbor for global trade. For Filipinos, it will be one less worry in the midst of the countless debacles we are facing. 10 million local jobs and hundreds of thousands of OFW Middle East jobs are being lost to the virus crisis. At least now our 230,000 OFWs in HK and Philippine annual exports to HK of almost US$10-billion will be secure.
Contrary to the Western media’s boast that the “international community” condemns the new HK law - 53 countries signed to support China’s new security law of Hong Kong. Cuba read the joint statement at the UN Human Rights Council session, stating that “We believe that every country has the right to safeguard its national security through legislation, and commend relevant steps taken for this purpose...” No more than two dozen signed the statement criticizing the HK security law.
However, the 53 has now grown to 70 countries to include those who voice support for China’s HK national security law at the UNHCR after Cuba read out the signed statement. Russia, Laos, Afghanistan, Burundi, North Korea, Venezuela and Cameroon added their support. Serbia, Armenia and Chad reiterated their adherence to the one-China principle, Nepal and Kyrgyzstan stressed HK’s affairs are internal matters of China. Indonesia, Vietnam, Bahrain, Sudan Algeria and Morocco called for non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs.
On our home front, while the UNCHR chair Michelle Bachelet has been criticizing the Philippines for the recently enacted anti-terrorism law, China took up the cudgels for the Philippines openly supporting the country’s new anti-terrorism law in the UNCHR declaring that “... the OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights) “should attach importance to the authoritative information provided by member state’s government ... and engage in constructive dialogue and cooperation with the member state’s government...”
Herman Tiu Laurel is with the PHL-BRICS Strategic Studies.
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