Our Vanishing Hong Kong: The Bleak Future Under NSL and Article 23

On this chilly Toronto morning, as I craft this February commentary, my mind is drawn irresistibly to the political landscape of Hong Kong. The implications of recent events send a shiver down my spine, particularly as the seemingly brief one-month “consultation period” for Article 23 of the Hong Kong Basic Law nears its conclusion, coinciding with the publication of this article.Reflecting on my departure from Hong Kong on June 28, 2021, nearly three years after the implementation of the National Security Law (NSL), I am reminded of two pivotal events that occurred just four days prior: the closure of Apple Daily, a pro-democracy newspaper, on June 24, 2021, and the arrest of my English editor, who oversaw the same publication.As both a columnist for the newspaper and a vocal advocate for the principles of genuine “one country, two systems,” I harbor profound concerns regarding the rapid erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy, first under the NSL, and now under Article 23.The chilling impact of the national security law and Article 23 in Hong Kong is unmistakable. Earlier this month, during a recent roadside survey conducted by the city’s primary TV broadcaster, TVB, Hongkongers now refrain from answering questions or expressing their views on the impending legislation of Article 23—the implementation of local security law—outlined in the Basic Law.Article 23 represents Beijing’s latest endeavor to transform Hong Kong from a free society into an oppressed one where fear permeates. Indeed, the passage of this law will entail the further deprivation of basic rights from the people of Hong Kong, as evidenced by the more than 300 NSL detainees from all spectrums of society. Opposition voices are no longer tolerated.As of this writing, Xia Baolong (夏寶龍), the CCP’s top official overseeing Hong Kong and Macao affairs, is wrapping up his 7-day “fact-finding visit” to Hong Kong. This marks the city’s second attempt to enact Article 23 following an unsuccessful endeavor in 2003.Related Stories12/29/2023The proposed legislation introduces five new types of offenses: treason, insurrection, sabotage, foreign interference, theft of state secrets, and espionage. According to the Chinese propaganda outlet Global Times, Xia’s visit “demonstrates the central government’s stance on the legislation, refuting criticism from hostile forces.”Allow me to delve into my inner reflections regarding the National Security Law (NSL) and Article 23, and express my profound frustration with these drastic transformations.As I mentioned earlier, I departed Hong Kong on June 28, 2021, via Air Canada to Vancouver. Originally, I had intended to leave in mid-July of the same year, but the widespread arrests and the volatile political climate compelled me to depart earlier.Upon my arrival in Vancouver, amidst stringent COVID precautions, I was graciously gifted hundreds of copies of the final edition of Apple Daily, dated June 24th, 2021, by a Hong Kong newspaper stand owner-operator. These copies were shipped to my address in Vancouver. Subsequently, in April 2022, I relocated to Toronto, Canada. I continued my activism by spearheading initiatives such as the Global Prayer Movement for Hong Kong and the World Hong Kong Forum.Furthermore, I actively participated in the public consultation for Article 23 by submitting my arguments to the Hong Kong Government. In my correspondence with the Security Bureau, I underscored the vagueness of the proposed offenses outlined in Article 23. I emphasized their potential further to erode Hong Kong’s autonomy and individual freedoms.I also advocated for amnesty to be granted to all Hong Kong political prisoners, acknowledging that such a decision lies within the purview of Chief Executive John Lee, subject to Beijing’s approval. The failure of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to uphold the Joint Declaration signed with Britain in 1984 sets a troubling precedent, casting doubt on the preservation of Hong Kong’s unique identity.The imposition of Article 23 and the NSL has transformed Hong Kong into an unrecognizable entity, fostering an environment of fear where government officials wield unchecked power. Stephen Roach’s recent assertion that Hong Kong is now “game over” resonates deeply with the stark reality that has unfolded over the past four years since the implementation of the NSL.As a man of faith, I empathize with individuals like Jimmy Lai, who chose to remain in Hong Kong despite facing persecution, symbolizing resilience and unwavering determination.Figures such as young activist Joshua Wong, legal scholar Benny Tai, and barrister Han Tung Chow exemplify the spirit of Hongkongers who persevere in the face of adversity, offering hope amidst the erosion of freedoms. However, the convergence of the NSL and Article 23, coupled with the assertive leadership of Xi Jinping, paints a bleak picture for Hong Kong’s future. The imposition of life sentences for NSL violations underscores the urgency and the need for

Our Vanishing Hong Kong: The Bleak Future Under NSL and Article 23

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On this chilly Toronto morning, as I craft this February commentary, my mind is drawn irresistibly to the political landscape of Hong Kong. The implications of recent events send a shiver down my spine, particularly as the seemingly brief one-month “consultation period” for Article 23 of the Hong Kong Basic Law nears its conclusion, coinciding with the publication of this article.

Reflecting on my departure from Hong Kong on June 28, 2021, nearly three years after the implementation of the National Security Law (NSL), I am reminded of two pivotal events that occurred just four days prior: the closure of Apple Daily, a pro-democracy newspaper, on June 24, 2021, and the arrest of my English editor, who oversaw the same publication.

As both a columnist for the newspaper and a vocal advocate for the principles of genuine “one country, two systems,” I harbor profound concerns regarding the rapid erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy, first under the NSL, and now under Article 23.

The chilling impact of the national security law and Article 23 in Hong Kong is unmistakable. Earlier this month, during a recent roadside survey conducted by the city’s primary TV broadcaster, TVB, Hongkongers now refrain from answering questions or expressing their views on the impending legislation of Article 23—the implementation of local security law—outlined in the Basic Law.

Article 23 represents Beijing’s latest endeavor to transform Hong Kong from a free society into an oppressed one where fear permeates. Indeed, the passage of this law will entail the further deprivation of basic rights from the people of Hong Kong, as evidenced by the more than 300 NSL detainees from all spectrums of society. Opposition voices are no longer tolerated.

As of this writing, Xia Baolong (夏寶龍), the CCP’s top official overseeing Hong Kong and Macao affairs, is wrapping up his 7-day “fact-finding visit” to Hong Kong. This marks the city’s second attempt to enact Article 23 following an unsuccessful endeavor in 2003.

The proposed legislation introduces five new types of offenses: treason, insurrection, sabotage, foreign interference, theft of state secrets, and espionage. According to the Chinese propaganda outlet Global Times, Xia’s visit “demonstrates the central government’s stance on the legislation, refuting criticism from hostile forces.”

Allow me to delve into my inner reflections regarding the National Security Law (NSL) and Article 23, and express my profound frustration with these drastic transformations.

As I mentioned earlier, I departed Hong Kong on June 28, 2021, via Air Canada to Vancouver. Originally, I had intended to leave in mid-July of the same year, but the widespread arrests and the volatile political climate compelled me to depart earlier.

Upon my arrival in Vancouver, amidst stringent COVID precautions, I was graciously gifted hundreds of copies of the final edition of Apple Daily, dated June 24th, 2021, by a Hong Kong newspaper stand owner-operator. These copies were shipped to my address in Vancouver. Subsequently, in April 2022, I relocated to Toronto, Canada. I continued my activism by spearheading initiatives such as the Global Prayer Movement for Hong Kong and the World Hong Kong Forum.

Furthermore, I actively participated in the public consultation for Article 23 by submitting my arguments to the Hong Kong Government. In my correspondence with the Security Bureau, I underscored the vagueness of the proposed offenses outlined in Article 23. I emphasized their potential further to erode Hong Kong’s autonomy and individual freedoms.

I also advocated for amnesty to be granted to all Hong Kong political prisoners, acknowledging that such a decision lies within the purview of Chief Executive John Lee, subject to Beijing’s approval. The failure of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to uphold the Joint Declaration signed with Britain in 1984 sets a troubling precedent, casting doubt on the preservation of Hong Kong’s unique identity.

The imposition of Article 23 and the NSL has transformed Hong Kong into an unrecognizable entity, fostering an environment of fear where government officials wield unchecked power. Stephen Roach’s recent assertion that Hong Kong is now “game over” resonates deeply with the stark reality that has unfolded over the past four years since the implementation of the NSL.

As a man of faith, I empathize with individuals like Jimmy Lai, who chose to remain in Hong Kong despite facing persecution, symbolizing resilience and unwavering determination.

Figures such as young activist Joshua Wong, legal scholar Benny Tai, and barrister Han Tung Chow exemplify the spirit of Hongkongers who persevere in the face of adversity, offering hope amidst the erosion of freedoms. However, the convergence of the NSL and Article 23, coupled with the assertive leadership of Xi Jinping, paints a bleak picture for Hong Kong’s future. The imposition of life sentences for NSL violations underscores the urgency and the need for miraculous interventions.

In conclusion, the confluence of Article 23 and the National Security Law leaves Hongkongers devoid of breathing space. The Hong Kong government’s assertion that these measures serve to safeguard against terrorism, treason, insurrection, and foreign interference appears feeble, masking the erosion of fundamental rights.

The CCP’s revisionist narrative regarding Hong Kong’s colonial history further underscores the disconcerting trajectory toward authoritarianism. With escalating restrictions on internet usage, press freedom, and the looming threat of asset seizure, coupled with the plight of NSL political prisoners, the prospect of Hong Kong reclaiming its former glory appears increasingly remote. Our collective endeavor as global citizens must be to advocate for the release of unjustly detained Hong Kong political prisoners such as Jimmy Lai, Joshua Wong, Benny Tai, and countless others, striving to restore their freedom.

Edward Chin (錢志健) runs a family office. Chin was formerly the country head of a UK publicly listed hedge fund, the largest of its kind measured by assets under management. Outside the hedge funds space, Chin is the Convenor of the 2047 Hong Kong Monitor and a Senior Advisor of Reporters Without Borders (RSF, HK & Macau). Chin studied speech communication at the University of Minnesota and received his MBA from the University of Toronto.

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