Fears Mount Over New Law in Hong Kong

By Jane Werrell

Lawmakers are voicing fears as Beijing moves to impose a repressive law on Hong Kong that could be approved as soon as this month.

The UK government has repeatedly urged China to not follow through with the law.

“This isn’t a foregone conclusion, China can step back from the brink and we urge them to do so,” UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said at a daily press briefing this week.

The looming legislation would criminalize what Beijing considers as secession, subversion, and foreign interference, and many fear it will bring communist censorship to Hong Kong.

‘No One Country Can Deal With This Alone’

As Beijing flexes its muscles, there’s growing pressure on governments around the world to act.

This month, senior lawmakers formed a new cross-party international alliance to push for a tougher stance on the Chinese communist regime.

It has grown from 18 legislators in eight countries when it launched on June 5, to more than 100 in 13 countries in less than a week. Members range from republicans in the U.S. Congress to the Green Party in the European Parliament.

“We are legislators first and foremost in democracies that believe in the concept of human rights and the rule of law. We have come together and there are more countries joining us all the time,” UK co-chair of the alliance, former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith, told NTD.

“Everybody feels somewhat threatened by the nature of this Chinese government, both in commercial terms and also of course in strategic terms. So they are coming together and trying to say to governments, it’s actually for you to come together, in the free world. No one country can deal with this alone,” he said.

An installation art piece
An installation art piece is placed at a one-year anniversary memorial vigil to commemorate Marco Ling-kit Leung, who fell to his death after hanging a banner on a scaffolding outside a shopping mall during a rally against a controversial extradition bill proposal last year, in Hong Kong on June 15, 2020. (Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

Lawmakers across the political sphere share worries over Hongkongers’ freedoms.

“The light will shine a bit more on Hong Kong and within the Labour Party more people are taking an interest in this and getting engaged,” UK Labour lawmaker Geraint Davies told NTD.

“There is the emergence now of an Inter-Parliamentary alliance and various sorts of cooperation,” he said.

Some politicians say they can relate to what Hongkongers are facing on a personal level.

“I know what communism is, what it feels like,” said Polish-born UK Conservative lawmaker Daniel Kawczynski. “I think we have all too often set aside the brutal human rights abuses of this regime. Whether it’s suppressing people in Tibet, whether it’s suppressing the democratic wishes of the Chinese people.”

‘The Front Line’

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has offered a path to citizenship to around 2.9 million Hongkongers should Beijing proceed with the new law.

Writing in The Times of London, Johnson said: “If China proceeds, this would be in direct conflict with its obligations under the joint declaration, a legally binding treaty registered with the United Nations. Britain would then have no choice but to uphold our profound ties of history and friendship with the people of Hong Kong.”

Former foreign secretaries earlier this month called for a contact group focused on Hong Kong, similar that created in the early 1990s for the former Yugoslavia.

“Hong Kong is not just an important international financial center, I think it really is the front line in the struggle between freedom, and authoritarianism and tyranny,” said Benedict Rogers, co-founder and chair of Hong Kong Watch.

“We, the free world, need to decide which side we are on in that struggle. And assuming we are on the side of freedom, then we need to wake up to the very grave threat the Chinese communist regime poses to Hong Kong,” Rogers said.

“If it succeeds at what it’s doing in Hong Kong it then becomes an even greater threat to our own freedoms and way of life. So it’s in everybody’s interests I think to stand up to Beijing and do whatever we can to try and prevent them from going down this path,” he said.