No Room to Back Into: Over Its Constitution’s Dead Body, Hong Kong Gets Ready for a Mortal Combat

Photo by Pop & Zebra on Unsplash

Beijing’s claim to impose its National Security legislation onto Hong Kong practically shook the geopolitical ground last night. International observers, foreign officials, those who’ve been following the Hong Kong situation closely, and Hongkongers themselves despaired at the announcement. The death knell of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ framework has rung — officially, definitively, once and for all. This decree and its introduction are worse than how Article 23 could have been. It has completely bypassed the Hong Kong legislative process; this precedent unlocks a means for Beijing to foist any laws on Hong Kong, including Article 23, as they please.

Consulting Macau’s example, their former chief executive Mr Edmund Ho Hau Wah, in a gig to display his loyalty to Beijing, forced Article 23 upon the city without any previous warning and despite continuous public dissent. Its enforcement allows the police to raid private premises without a search warrant from the court, based on national security grounds. Although the legislation has never been invoked thus far, its mere existence has had a chilling effect on Macau’s civil life and killed the vibrancy of Macau’s society. Exactly because of the ingenuity of the Hong Kong protesters in their resistance movement, the unprecedented power that they have harnessed, and the noise they have made on the international stage, the CCP now truly fears about the loss of the integrity of its territory, and the stability of its rule. Over the past decades, the CCP has repressed its people, their rights to live freely, their free will, and their civil liberties at the cost of human lives, precisely following the fashion of other power-thirsty tyrants throughout history. The universal values that Hongkongers have fought for with their own bodies stand in the way of the CCP’s plan to actualise a modern monarchical regime. Hong Kong, unlike Macau, came into sharp international focus for its international relevance, all the stakes it holds as a global financial centre, and the pivotal role it has in the trade war between China and the United States. The CCP itself is under a fair amount of attack from the global community for its responsibility for the development of the pandemic, as well as from internally as the country itself also suffers gravely from it — this makes it ever more imperative that it stabilise its sovereignty over its territory by starting to take down all that threatens its existence with an iron wrist, despite impending international sanctions and despite its potential fall alongside those it tries to bring down.

The ‘high degree of autonomy’ promise by Beijing is also now dead, as Hong Kong would be but a piece of scorched earth under this National Security decree. When the news broke yesterday at the NPC press conference yesterday, the Hong Kong currency dropped by 50 cents; the Hang Seng Index also plummeted 700 points — this reflects how the news brought a panic attack on the financial market. Hong Kong got its foothold in the international scene by adopting a Common Law system, by being different from China. Once this crumbles, the trust foreign investors place in Hong Kong will crumble. Once they leave, Hong Kong will lose its competitiveness as a free and open economy. Universal values such as freedom and democracy are dying for air in the little space that they’ve been squashed into by the CCP. The CCP is destroying everything Hong Kong was built upon and all that builds it, including the qualities the people embody and their ethnic solidarity. Who exactly does a flattened Hong Kong benefit? We would never know.

This move of Beijing was crude and untimely. The CCP circumvented the LegCo whilst pretending that Hong Kong citizens didn’t exist, and took *strides* to assert its dictatorial hold on Hong Kong. They’ve acted like they have nothing to lose and nothing to hide. They no longer have any consideration for optics or morals, but expansionism and the engulfment of the rules based international order. Their lack of shame has made them unstoppable — but are they absolutely invulnerable?

For months, Hong Kong protesters have stood by the philosophy to ‘let Hong Kong burn to the ground along with the CCP, and then build it back up from its ruins without the CCP’. Now that Hong Kong has started burning, the international community will need to take the chance to do the necessary blow to the CCP. The United State Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation on Wednesday that could lead to Chinese state-owned or directed corporates to be banned from listing on US stock exchanges. The mood has changed so much over the past weeks between the world’s two largest economies that if Beijing confirms the National Security laws for Hong Kong, Hong Kong might lose its special status with the US — this can turn everything into nothing financially for China, at a time when they need the Hong Kong market for their initial public offerings more than ever before. This would be the application of the ‘if we burn, you burn with us’ sentiment that Hong Kong protesters have so anticipated. Over in the West, Wall Streeters and the business world must understand how the National Security decree plunges the free market into the deep, that they would also fall victim to the CCP regime, and that this would hurt them more than losing trade links with China.

Living in a time when the CCP progressively infringes upon their freedom, no one can pretend that it’s business-as-usual out there, thinking that one can linger around and live under the CCP’s inhumane authority. ‘One Country, One System’ is already upon Hongkongers. This is the environment in which they will continue their resistance from now on, for which they must be prepared. Even if Hong Kong became fully swallowed by Communist China and they were all forced to flee, the free world must be just as prepared to accommodate and defend these brave freedom fighters, for they belong with freedom, and they will plant the seed of freedom wherever they roam, in whichever future that transpires.

While our fear of the National Security laws is justified, one must remember that democracy never comes for free. We have seen how the Taiwanese did it on their long and enduring path in martial law-era Taiwan; we have seen the sacrifices made by the South Koreans in the countless blood spills during the Gwangju Democratisation Movement. No one can make history on their own. ‘Liberate Hong Kong, the Revolution of Our Time’ is more than a slogan — it encapsulates within it a collective vision of how each and every Hongkonger may finally live free without fear in Hong Kong — and this idea is bulletproof. The light of the flame they start will propagate through time and space. Hongkongers will keep fighting until the last man/woman standing, and the free world must stand with them.

This piece is modified from the English translation of the Citizens’ Press Conference script read out at their press conference on 22 May 2020 themed ‘Point of No Return: Mortal Combat over 1C2S’s Dead Body’, which I had volunteered to produce for them. I would like to thank my co-author Johannes for his input.