When HK's National Security Legislation (NSL) was unveiled on 30 June 2020 by Beijing by way of an annexure to the Basic Law (Hongkong's mini Constitution), Chief Executive Carrie Lam assured HongKongers that it would only be used in rare and extreme cases where there were real threats to the security of Hong Kong.
Yet in the first year alone Hong Kong authorities have arrested 117 people under NSL, charging more than 60, mostly democratic politicians, activists, journalists and students. Since then international arrest warrants have also been issued for a number of activists residing outside of HongKong, Apple Daily has been shut down and the police have set up a line encouraging anonymous reporting by citizens instilling a climate of fear.
On 14 March 2022 pro-democracy advocacy group Hong Kong Watch based in the UK was accused by the HK police's Security Bureau of violating Article 29 of NSL by "collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security". The bureau also accused Hong Kong Watch of lobbying foreign countries to impose sanctions or engage in hostile activity against mainland China and Hong Kong.
Though we/CLDs have long warned about the long arm of Article 38 which gives NSL extra-territoriality, this is as far as we are aware the first overseas group and a white Briton, Benedict Rogers, the founder of Hong Kong Watch, that have been targeted.
Cllr Marguerita Morton, former Secretariat Officer at the UN and current Deputy Chair of UNA Tunbridge Wells & Wealden said:
"We thought that the end of the Cold War and the creation of new states after 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall was a game changer. That values of Western democracy and social and economic systems remained the best. Since then, we can see that other global powers outside of the G7 are questioning the legitimacy of the status quo with its rules based institutions since WW2, like the United Nations, the IMF, and the World Bank.
"We see pro-democracy demonstrators being detained, tortured and imprisoned everywhere from Russia to China, Iran to Saudi Arabia.
"There will be no end to wars such as the one we are witnessing in Ukraine today if we do not confront authoritarian governments wherever they are or however powerful politically or economically. Therefore, we should stand up to the National Security Laws enacted by Hong Kong (SAR) in 2020 against freedom of expression, freedom of association, and freedom from oppression. Citizens of Hong Kong should be protected no matter where they reside. There should be no extra-territoriality to the NSL empowered under Article 38. Hongkongers are entitled to a peaceful life if they have chosen to live outside of their home city. There should be no fear of arbitrary arrest, charge without trial or detention. Regimes who want extra-territorial power or control over their former citizens are not acting within the universal value systems we have adopted since WW2."