American Consequences - March 2021

Pull quote. Pull quote. Pull quote. Pull quote. Pull quote. Pull quote. Pull quote. Pull quote. Other actions and arrests have been equally chilling... The first person arrested under the law last year was a 23-year-old accused of running his motorcycle into a police line during a protest while carrying a flag that said, “Liberate Hong Kong.” He has been charged with inciting secession and engaging in terrorism, and he remains in jail. Last December, eight Chinese University students were arrested – three of them under the national security crime of “inciting secession” – after donning black graduation robes, hoisting black balloons, and chanting some of the prohibited slogans from the 2019 protests. Another handful of Chinese University students were arrested earlier this year for throwing white powder on security guards. Candidates running for seats in the Chinese University student union blasted the new Hong Kong, it’s subversion, punishable by life imprisonment, if convicted. In early March, only four of the activists were allowed out on bail. The rest could remain in prison for months or years while the police say they continue to investigate the case. China’s version of the law, imposed on Hong Kong with no local input or debate, defines four broad categories of offenses: terrorism, secession, subversion, and collusion with foreign forces.

on how they intend to teach national security on their campuses. Hong Kong government officials, and pro- China supporters in the population, defend the sweeping new law as necessary to restore calm and a sense of order after months of protests. In this, they say the law has largely succeeded and the protests have been quelled. But critics – or those who still dare to speak out openly – say the law has been used to muzzle legitimate dissent, stifle individual liberties, and transform Hong Kong into a “typical mainland city,” devoid of any political life or freedom of thought. The power of the new NSL has been felt here quickly and dramatically, both formally in the rising tally of arrests and informally in people’s voluntary changes of behavior. As of this writing, around 100 people have been arrested under national security violations. A large part of that number comes from when 47 of the city’s most prominent pro- democracy politicians and activists were taken to court in handcuffs and charged with subversion. The 47 were picked up in a mass arrest in January and hauled back to court in March. Their crime? They participated in an unofficial primary election last July to select the strongest candidates to run in legislative council elections planned for last September, which have since been postponed indefinitely. Prosecutors say the pro-democracy candidates were conspiring to win a majority of seats in the legislature which would have allowed them to block the government’s initiatives. In other places, trying to win a majority on the legislature might be called “democracy.” In the

American Consequences


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