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In a resolution adopted on 19 June by 565 votes to 34, with 62 abstentions , the European Parliament voted in favour of bringing China before the International Court of Justice over its decision to unilaterally introduce a controversial national security law. Calling this ‘a comprehensive assault’ on Hong Kong’s autonomy, rule of law, and fundamental freedoms, the EU Parliament warns that Beijing’s introduction of the national security law seriously threatens the integrity of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ and indicates China’s breach of its commitments and obligations under international law, in particular the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
The fear of Hong Kong losing its autonomy is strongly felt in the education sector and media well before the law is enacted. Concrete measures have been introduced in the past weeks by the Hong Kong SAR government to tighten ideological control in schools and the city’s publicly-funded but independent broadcaster (Radio Television Hong Kong).
In the public higher education sector, which is supposedly autonomous from government control, institutional leaders, including the presidents and Council members, have been pressured to profess public support for the national security law with joint statements. By excluding critical voices and exhorting companies (e.g. HSBC) to publicly support the proposed law, Beijing claims ‘unanimous support’ for the controversial legislation.
The law, expected to be passed by China’s rubber-stamp parliament on June 30, will prohibit ‘acts of subversion, succession, terrorism and involvement with foreign interference in Hong Kong’. It would also allow China’s security intelligence agencies to operate in Hong Kong and introduce national education in Hong Kong schools. The full draft of the law will, however, only be made public after the law is passed.
Dubbed the second handover of Hong Kong, a new wave of emigration is intensified after the sudden announcement of the law directly from Beijing in times of COVID. Taiwan, Japan , the UK and its 5 EYES allies (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States) are reportedly preparing to provide refuge to ‘qualified’ Hong Kongers. The thousands of young protesters arrested and pending potentially unfair trials are, however, excluded from such welcoming measures for financial workers or holders of British National (Overseas) passports born before Hong Kong’s handover in 1997. As usual, China opposes all these gestures of foreign governments as interference of its internal affairs and threatens countermeasures.