China passed a law this week on national security for Hong Kong, which is expected to further limit the city’s autonomy and could be used to crack down on those engaging in “secession, subversion against the central Chinese government, terrorism, and colluding with foreign forces.”
Allen Carlson, professor of government and director of Cornell University’s China and Asia Pacific Program, is an expert on Chinese politics and international relations. He says that the law serves as a final nail in the coffin of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle that has governed interaction between Hong Kong and China.
“The national security legislation that China’s National People’s Congress just passed for Hong Kong is deeply alarming. It largely confirms the fears of those who were predicting it would eviscerate the Basic Law that has served as the legal framework for the city-state ever since the resumption of Chinese sovereignty over it on July 1, 1997.
“More specifically, by placing national security above all else it sharply curtails Hong Kong’s autonomy. It has also rendered largely meaningless the legal protections there over human rights and democracy. The expectation that it would serve as a final nail in the coffin of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle has then been confirmed.
“Perhaps of even greater concern, the law is a shot across the bow from China toward Asia and the rest of the international system. It is a warning to the rest of the world that Xi Jinping’s China is not afraid of international consternation and criticism. The Chinese leader will not be easily deterred from challenging the existing status quo when he sees it as antithetical to his, and his country’s, perceived interests.”