By Sam Gelber, age 12
China imposed a new security law on Hong Kong on June 30. It is designed to erode Hong Kong’s autonomy and criminalizes acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion.
Hong Kong was responsible for setting up its own security law, but did not succeed due to its unpopularity. Last year in Hong Kong, protests over an extradition bill became violent and turned into a larger anti-China pro-democracy movement. China wants to prevent further anti-China protests and rhetoric, and the new law will ensure this. “It is clear that the law will have a severe impact on freedom of expression, if not personal security, on the people of Hong Kong,” professor Johannes Chan at the University of Hong Kong said in an interview with the BBC before the passage of the law.
Last year, citizens of Hong Kong protested an extradition bill which they believed would threaten their democracy. Hong Kong, a former British colony, was given back to China in 1997. To make this transition easier, Hong Kong was labeled a “special administrative region,” giving them more rights to freedom of speech, assembly and press. The 2019 extradition bill limited these special rights, and now the new security law is further limiting those rights.
Under these new laws, teachers and educators can call the police if someone insults the Chinese national anthem on school grounds. Children will be taught about the new national security law, which gives the authorities power to stop opposition to Beijing by using long prison sentences. According to the New York Times, China is attempting to raise a generation of radical pro-Beijing Hong Kongers. This means that young students could be arrested for saying something that upsets China.
Reuters interviewed a student protester known only as Ernest, age 16, in December 2019. He emphasized the importance of students speaking out to protect their freedom of speech. “If we don’t stand out front today, we won’t have any chance to speak anymore,” said Ernest during the protests last year. “We will become real China and will not have any chance to protest.” With this new security law, the fears of the protesters are now being realized.
Autonomy: Being self-governing or independent
Subversion: the undermining of the power and authority of an established system or institution
Secession: The action of withdrawing formally from membership of a federation or body, especially a political state
Collusion: Secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, especially in order to cheat or deceive others
Extradition: To hand over (a person accused or convicted of a crime) to the jurisdiction of the foreign state in which the crime was committed