Despite international pressure, Beijing tightens its grip on Hong Kong

Police deployed to Hong Kong on July 1, 2020. – Shiomi Kadoya/AP/SIPA;

A tough guy to frame Hong Kong. Despite mounting international pressure, Beijing on Friday appointed a senior official to take care of national security in the former British colony, under controversial law. The newly created “National Security Bureau”, which reports directly to the central government, has the task of collecting intelligence and prosecuting attacks on state security in Hong Kong. It is one of the provisions of the controversial law that Beijing forcefully passed on Tuesday.

Zheng Yanxiong, 56, heads the organization, state media reported on Friday. “He’s a badass, a man of law and order,” assures AFP political scientist Willy Lam, a Chinese specialist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The man made his career in Guangdong, the province which borders Hong Kong. He is best known for quelling Wukan’s challenge in 2011.

Internet cleaning

The communist regime on Tuesday imposed on the former British colony a very controversial text in that it violates, according to its detractors, the principle “One country – two systems” supposed to guarantee Hong Kong freedoms unknown elsewhere in China. Until the last moment, Beijing has kept secret the content of this law aimed at suppressing subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, in response to the protest movement launched last year against the central government.

Many jurists have warned against the very vague wording of a text which, while open to all interpretations, encourages self-censorship.

The new law is blowing panic among some Hong Kongers, who since Tuesday have erased all traces of their pro-democracy commitment on social networks. “I changed my profile name and adopted a private account so that my employer could not see my publications which he could deem anti-Chinese or in violation of the law on national security”, explains on condition of anonymity AFP an employee of a large company, whose management is “Pro-Beijing”.

Officials and banks in the viewfinder

In Hong Kong, the authorities seem to want to drive the point home. For the first time since the law was promulgated, a man in his twenties was indicted on Friday for “inciting secession” and “terrorism”. And fearing for his safety, Nathan Law, one of the most prominent young activists in last year’s protest, announced Thursday that he had fled abroad.

“Given the risks, I will not reveal too much about where I am and my personal situation,” he said in a short message.

Canada announced Friday that it is suspending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and its exports of “sensitive” military equipment. “Canada firmly believes in the principle of one country, two systems” which is supposed to guarantee Hong Kong unknown freedoms elsewhere in China, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a press briefing. “We are very concerned about the situation in Hong Kong,” he added.

Conviction of 27 countries

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights also expressed concern. “We are alarmed by the fact that arrests are already being made under the law, when there is no complete information on the scope and definition of the crimes” covered by this law, said the porter. – word of the OHCHR, Rupert Colville.

Twenty-seven countries of the UN Human Rights Council, including France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan, have condemned the new law. In Washington, Congress passed a law on Thursday that plans to sanction Chinese officials who apply the new rules and target the banks that finance them.