Safety in Hong Kong
On Jan. 29, Hong Kong authorities said that they would engage with local and foreign groups in a one-month consultation process regarding Article 23 of the Basic Law.
Under the law, crimes such as treason, insurrection, espionage, destructive activities endangering national security and external interference would be punished. In particular, when it comes to national security, any act endangering Hong Kong’s economic and social development and collusion with foreign forces would be considered a crime.
In other words, if the Hong Kong authorities believed that someone has spread information unfavorable to Hong Kong’s economic development, the person would be punished according to the Basic Law. Information about China’s youth unemployment data would be considered to fall under that category. Starting from Aug. 15 last year, the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics said that it would stop releasing unemployment data specific to different age groups.
Obviously, Beijing knows that once the actual numbers are revealed, its economy would definitely be jeopardized and worsen.
Once Article 23 is implemented, any information supposedly endangering Hong Kong’s economy would be banned. The investment environment would become highly opaque for international businesses. Entrepreneurs would be unable to access a range of information and hence could not make accurate decisions.
Moreover, they would constantly be at risk of breaking the law for no apparent reason, given that Article 23 of the Basic Law is vague and ambiguously defined. The trial of pro-democracy tycoon Jimmy Lai (黎智英) has proved that Hong Kong’s judicial system is not functioning at all. Recently, a great number of foreign investors have left. It is widely acknowledged that Hong Kong is no longer Asia’s top financial center.
As for the crime of collusion with foreign forces, overseas political commentators are targeted by Hong Kong authorities. A British political commentator based in Germany, Martin Oei (黃世澤), on his own YouTube channel called on Hong Kongers to “lie down,” urging them not to cast their ballots in the district council elections. The court then issued an arrest warrant for him. Oei’s post was shared on Facebook by a Hong Konger, who was then accused of inciting people not to vote.
Clearly, Hong Kong authorities have put Article 23 into practice. Oei and the person who shared his post became examples to intimidate and silence overseas Hong Kongers.
With Article 23, the enforcement authorities in Hong Kong would be able to carry out their actions abroad. Officials also confirmed that special teams would be established to promote the law. The target is obviously international political commentators who care about Hong Kong. The law would allow China to interfere in other countries’ domestic affairs.
When Beijing can no longer silence others, it is likely that Hong Kong authorities would build an online firewall just as China did. Then, even a virtual private network could not be used.
It is advised that Taiwanese living in Hong Kong return to Taiwan or go elsewhere. Nobody can make a fortune in Hong Kong anymore. Now, the risk of Internet censorship is in sight.
Moreover, there are no Taiwanese officials in the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Hong Kong. If a Taiwanese is in danger, they might not be properly assisted and protected.
Taiwanese should avoid going to Hong Kong because they might end up like Morrison Lee (李孟居), who served a 22-month prison sentence in China on espionage charges.
a Hong Kong national
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