Canadians should be worried: What the National Security Law in Hong Kong Means for Us.
By Davin Wong, Director of Youth Engagement and Policy Initiatives of Alliance Canada Hong Kong
Canada should be worried that the National People’s Congress of China (NPC) has introduced the national security law in Hong Kong.
While the Hong Kong national security law officially breaches Hong Kong’s one-country-two-systems and effectively tramples freedom of thought and expression, Hong Kongers are not the only victim. Under this law, any dissenting voice and anyone critical of the Chinese Communist Party stepping into Hong Kong can be questioned as aiding “foreign forces” and need to be arrested.No one knows the exact meaning of “foreign forces,” for this term has been used as a bogeyman by the Communist Party of China (CCP) and its mouthpieces whether they want to place blame on others for domestic problems. Hence, “foreign forces” could be any foreign individual, business and even a foreign state. Chinese media blamed “hostile foreign force” for the bursting of the stock market bubble in 2015. The United States was also accused of being the “hostile foreign force” behind the massive anti-extradition laws protests in Hong Kong last year.
And you think the United States is the CCP’s only target? The CCP regards every country that treasures values such as “democracy,” “human rights,” “freedom of the press,” as an enemy on the ideological ground, and Canada is undeniably one of them. The CCP sees these “western values” as threats to their party leadership, as seen in the leaked internal document “Document Number 9.” While some challenged its authenticity, the position stated in “Document Number 9” is coherent with and realized in China’s new national security law enacted in 2015 and the Hong Kong national security law.
The problem is not only that Canada will be regarded as an imaginary ideological enemy to the CCP, but the introduction of national security law puts Canadians in Hong Kong at risk, no matter they are residing or not. Richard Lee, B.C. MLA for Burnaby from 2001 to 2017, was arbitrarily detained by Chinese officials in 2015. Officials confiscated and searched his government phone and accused him of “endangering national security” before cancelling his visa and ordering him to fly back to Canada. Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were falsely detained, on the accusation that they were gathering state secrets and intelligence for “foreign forces.” We do not know, and probably will never know, what were the “foreign forces,” but what we can be sure is that there is a possibility that, with the introduction of national security law to Hong Kong, there will be the next “Michaels” falling into the CCP’s grasp in Hong Kong.
Canada should not be a sitting duck, for both Hong Kong and Canada are victims of the CCP’s bullying. The Canada-Hong Kong community has been urging Ottawa to invoke the Magnisky sanction on the responsible CCP, and Hong Kong officials since the anti-extradition laws protests broke out last year, but what else can Ottawa do before invoking sanctions?
Canada should end its bilateral relationship with Hong Kong, in other words, revoke the “special status” Hong Kong enjoys today. In precise wordings, Hong Kong does not possess a “special status” prescribed by the law as she does under the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act, Hong Kong has been treated as a separate entity from China in the eyes of Ottawa when it comes to taxation, trade, commerce, etc. Hong Kong enjoys a “special status” in Ottawa’s policies by practice. It is now the time to end this practice for both theoretical and practical reasons.
The whole “special status” practice enjoyed by Hong Kong is based on the principle of “One Country Two Systems,” which in essence underlies Beijing’s duty to guarantee Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy and allow Hongkongers to rule Hong Kong before 2047. The national security law is an end to Hong Kong as we know it — it is a solid proof of the death of the “One Country Two Systems.” I appreciate Minister Champagne for issuing a joint statement with Australia and the United Kingdom expressing their concerns about the Hong Kong national security law. Still, the principle of “One Country Two Systems” has become nothing more than a myth without the autonomy that Hong Kong was guaranteed to enjoy. When the foundation of the “special status” practice is gone, why keep it?
On a practical level, should Ottawa consider sanctioning Chinese and Hong Kong officials for the human rights violations and the humanitarian crises that have happened since summer last year, such sanctions would not have been useful if Ottawa has not revoked the special privileged status enjoying by Hong Kong. Hong Kong has been a backdoor when China was against any trade or capital sanctions because these sanctions against China did not apply to Hong Kong. Only when Hong Kong’s “special status” is revoked, Ottawa can impose truly effective sanctions on China for its violations of human rights.
However, it is doubtful whether Ottawa will take a proactive attitude in responding to the humanitarian crisis happening in Hong Kong and Asia. It is nonetheless a good time to remind and ask Prime Minister Trudeau and his caucus to fulfil their promise made in the general election last year, where they stated in their platform that they will lead the world “with a principled approach that puts democracy, human rights, international law, and environmental protection at the heart of foreign policy.”