Carrie Lam knows little about Hong Kong’s National Security Law – Quartz

Lately, the Hong Kong government has been supporting the full weight behind a national security law that Beijing is expected to impose on the city by fiat as early as next week, just in time for the anniversary of the city’s handover to China. He has taken front page samples in local newspapers and covered giant billboards and even put up a streetcar with advertisements extolling the virtues of the legislation.

There is only one problem: the local government knows essentially nothing about the details of the law, which will criminalize acts including treason, separatism and collusion with foreign forces. It is expected to severely curtail civil liberties in Hong Kong, and could allow mainland law enforcement to operate in the territory under the auspices of an office representing Beijing in implementing the law.

China’s top legislative body announced last month that it would directly exercise control over Hong Kong by circumventing the city’s legislative process and unilaterally imposing general law. The move came nearly a year after major protests erupted in the city against an extradition bill and, more generally, the ongoing dismantling of city liberties by China.

When asked at a press conference today about whether she has seen a complete draft of the law, Executive Director Carrie Lam admitted that she knows little about the bill her administration has been defending. “We have not seen the full details of the proposed legislation,” he said, explaining that his team’s optimistic comments on the law are based only “on what we have seen,” that is, what has been reported in state media. . The only Hong Kong representative to the legislative committee in mainland China that is drafting the law said it had to return the revised draft at a meeting last weekend, according to the South China Morning Post.

That Beijing is drafting and moving forward to impose a law in Hong Kong that the city government has not even seen a draft is unprecedented, said Hong Kong lawyer and writer Antony Dapiran. “This is the behavior of a colonial power.”

Despite having little knowledge of the law, Lam said last week that opponents of the bill are an “enemy of the people.” Public officials have been warned not to question the law, and the education minister has demanded that schools punish students and teachers who protest against the law. Time and time again, the government has urged Hong Kong people to endorse the law because it will bring “stability” and “prosperity” to the city, but has not explained exactly what the case is like.

Rather than having a full draft to examine, it now appears that the text of the legislation will only be made public after its passage, according to the South China Morning Post. Instead, people rely on a fragmented drip of details released by sources close to the Chinese authorities – for example, that Hong Kong can detain suspects indefinitely in special facilities, or that certain cases will be tried in China.

The opaque legislative exercise is a clear reminder of a fundamental reality about the Hong Kong government: it is not highly autonomous, but a vassal state restricted to the implementation of Beijing’s orders. Hong Kong may apparently have its own mini-constitution in the form of the Basic Law, giving it ample scope for self-government, but that is ultimately a sham because the Basic Law is whatever Beijing decides it to be. Similarly, when rumors arose last year about the impending deployment of Chinese soldiers in Hong Kong to quell the protests, many in the city realized that it would not be necessary, because local police were already serving as the military arm of Beijing. .

Perhaps it makes little difference if Carrie Lam knows the details of the law. A Hong Kong lawyer put it this way: “Do not analyze Hong Kong’s national security law. There is nothing to analyze. It’s just whatever [Beijing says] it is.”