HONG KONG’S EXPANSIVE NATIONAL SECURITY LAW SWALLOWS ACTIVISTS, BAIL REQUESTS, AND M&MS

Hong Kong authorities’ implementation of the National Security Law has been expanding in scope and strictness, with broader language used to describe alleged violations and harsh interpretations of individual cases. As civil society crumbles under its weight, the law is increasingly revealing itself to be a tool for crushing dissent rather than protecting security. Iain Marlow at Bloomberg traced the quiet evolution of the language used in National Security Law cases: 

City authorities have begun using the phrase “contrary to the interests of national security” in recent weeks to define new red lines in the entertainment industry and the tax code. Previously, officials had warned more specifically against anything that might “endanger national security.” The latter term appears 31 times in the full text of the security law, while the “contrary to” phrasing is absent.

[…] “This shift in rhetoric suggests a move to embrace an even broader formulation of national security, and of national security crimes,” said Tom Kellogg, the executive director at Georgetown University’s Center for Asian Law. “We’ve seen a strong push to inject national security concepts into so many areas of Hong Kong life. It only makes sense that the government would use new rhetoric to deal with that broadening approach.” 

[…] The ambiguity of the newer phrasing gives Lam and other officials the ability to “arbitrarily” expand the definition of potential violations, said Jerome Cohen, founder of the U.S.-Asia Law Institute at the New York University School of Law and one of America’s foremost experts on Chinese law.

“I would not underestimate the importance of ‘guidance’ in determining the meaning to be legally attached to ambiguous terms,” he said, noting that courts and legislators often defer to administrators’ interpretations of vague statutory terms. [Source]

The new language is already taking root in official guidelines. The Hong Kong government introduced a Film Censorship Bill in late August containing three amendments that use the new phrase “contrary to the interests of national security.” In early September, the government updated tax guidelines for charities, stating that any charitable organization supporting or promoting activities “contrary to the interests of national security” will be punished. 

HK’s Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Chris Hui announced in his official blog that IRD has updated tax guidelines for charitable groups, adding national security requirements. The changes, which take effect today, will apply to both existing and future groups. pic.twitter.com/GDYTKcOMWG

— Xinqi Su 蘇昕琪 (@XinqiSu) September 13, 2021

One activist told me it could be partly aimed at pressuring NGOs and other professional organizations into abandoning criticism of the government, lest they lose tax exempt status and then get hit with a reputational stain that could dry up donations.

— Iain Marlow (@iainmarlow) September 23, 2021

Prosecutions under the National Security Law have continued. This week, Hong Kong national security officers arrested four members of a student activist group, Student Politicism, and charged them with conspiracy to incite subversion of state power. If convicted, they could face seven years in jail. The students, aged 18 to 20, were alleged to have dissuaded people from using the government Covid-19 tracking app and to have provided supplies for people in prison. Candice Chau from the Hong Kong Free Press described how the government interpreted this latter activity as a threat

Police also searched the group’s storage space at a warehouse in Kwai Chung and confiscated items including dried fish snacks, M&M candies, bottles of body lotion, towels, postcards and flags.

Li accused the group of “systematically providing resources to like-minded people who are jailed,” and cited the Secretary for Security and the head of the correctional services as saying that those resources were useful in “recruiting followers in prisons.”

[…] Smuggling such items inside to recruit followers and build influence would “create hatred towards the government and endanger national security,” Tang said. [Source]

During the arrest of Student Politicism group members, Hong Kong national security police took away around 40 boxes of evidence, many of which are snacks and sanitary items – as visitors can give remanded people snacks, and jailed people sanitary items listed under prison rules pic.twitter.com/dcdEYV45XD

— Kris Cheng (@krislc) September 20, 2021

“Helping prisoners is not a problem but it depends on the intention, Steve Li said. “If the intention is to help prisoners with the same beliefs and to recruit followers … to continue to violate national security, it is a problem for sure.” https://t.co/eJMn1doJIa

— Jessie Pang (@JessiePang0125) September 20, 2021

HKPF raided the group’s community space “不二 Bat¹ Ji⁶”, took away postcards and an iPad but left the t-shirts and books. Is it more of a political grandstanding to punish them for raising awareness of prisoners’ rights? Their slogan: “In times we are lost, let’s read together.” pic.twitter.com/rJRz3PBFGc

— K Tse (@ktse852) September 20, 2021

Hong Kong authorities have also been unusually strict in determining whether defendants should receive bail while awaiting prosecution. All four students arrested in the Student Politicism case were denied bail on Tuesday, after the magistrate sided with prosecutors in a hearing overseen by jurists hand-picked by Chief Executive Carrie Lam. The day before, a justice of the High Court denied bail to another opposition activist, Roy Tam Hoi-pong, who was tried for subversion after taking part in an unofficial primary election last year. In total, 47 opposition activists and politicians connected to this case have been arrested for conspiracy to commit subversion; most of them have been held in custody for over six months, and only 14 have been granted bail. The Principal Magistrate continues to extend their time in custody, stating that more time is needed for pre-trial legal proceedings, on which the media has been prohibited from reporting.

Principal Magistrate Don So denied bail for all three members of Student Politicism as soon as prosecution and defense completed submissions. It’s So’s first sitting in an #NSL hearing. So said, for D1 Wong Yat-chin defense counsel did not submit sufficient materials to convince

— Xinqi Su 蘇昕琪 (@XinqiSu) September 21, 2021

With their bail denied, the three students charged with incitement to subversion will likely face months to years of pre-trial detention, all because they gathered supplies for prisoners, urged people not to use the gov’s Covid tracking app and ran street booths and mini sales. https://t.co/IfgZoeuQWT

— Hong Kong Global Connect (@HKGlobalConnect) September 21, 2021

For those entangled in the web of national security prosecution, bail may no longer be a common legal endowment. Stand News described “society’s new normal” of endless proceedings and ordinary citizens targeted

The provisions of the Hong Kong National Security Law stipulate that bail will not be granted unless the appointed judge “has sufficient reason to believe that the defendant will not continue to commit acts endangering national security.” The people of Hong Kong have discovered that being “remanded in custody pending trial” is society’s new normal; after the freezing of Apple Daily’s accounts and the successive arrests of several of the publication’s high-ranking executives, everyone discovered that even a major media organization could be reduced to bankruptcy in a single week.

[…] When the National Security Law (NSL) first emerged, Hong Kong officials repeatedly emphasized that NSL was only aimed at “a small group of people.” One year later, the list of individuals arrested under the NSL includes politicians, media tycoons, journalists, the hosts of online shows, and even many ordinary citizens.

According to law enforcement data, as of the twenty-first of this month, a total of 153 people aged between 15 and 79 have been arrested for engaging in acts and activities that endanger national security. There are four crimes that fall under the National Security Law: secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activity, and collusion with foreign countries or foreign forces to endanger national security. There have been formal prosecutions of all of these crimes; if the defendants are found guilty, they face the maximum sentence of life imprisonment. [Chinese]

72 are now imprisoned without trial under the NSL, including 7 from Hong Kong Alliance, and the Student Politicism trio denied bail in court today. Along with Tong Ying-kit, who was sentenced to 9 years in prison, 73 people have lost their freedom this Mid-Autumn due to the NSL. pic.twitter.com/sBUSPyGIHC

— K Tse (@ktse852) September 21, 2021

The pattern is clear in #HongKong now, with judges routinely denying defendants bail in high-profile cases, especially those under the #NSL. The principle of presumption of innocence under conventional wisdom is no longer there. https://t.co/NEKQtJl9mz

— William Yang (@WilliamYang120) September 15, 2021

At Vice this week, Holmes Chan reported that one anonymous judge had privately expressed concern over the National Security Law’s distortion of legal norms, condemning the sentencing of Tong Ying-kit, the first person charged under it, who was convicted of secession and terrorism for driving his motorbike into police while holding a protest flag. 

“Privately, I felt this case was unfair. This is not how the law should work,” the judge said during an exclusive interview.

[…] The judge, who spoke to VICE World News anonymously due to the sensitivity of the matter, said that the court relied on a “questionable” understanding of criminal law concepts and sentenced Tong too harshly. That assessment was based on the judge’s prior experience, though they had no involvement in Tong’s trial.

“[Tong] didn’t do much of anything—he didn’t commit murder or arson,” the judge said wryly. “He is the most benevolent terrorist in the world.” [Source]

Translation by Cindy Carter.

【网络民议】天安门广场惊现黑天鹅,习主席两年前早有预见?

中国数字空间词条:总加速师境外势力辱华恶政隐习近平敏感词库

9月5日,北京天安门广场中央意外出现一只黑天鹅,吸引了民众围观,不惧旁人的黑天鹅最终被动保人员捉走。这只黑天鹅的出现引起网民热评,有人称之为“祥瑞”有人称之为“灾劫”,有人讽刺为“恶政隐”(恶毒的政治隐喻),还有人联系起此前网络上经常出现的财经名词——“黑天鹅事件”。

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@自由亚洲电台:9月5日早上北京天安门升旗仪式结束后,一只黑天鹅出现在广场中央。大陆网民热议焦点,黑天鹅究竟是 “吉祥物” 还是财经界眼中的 “灾劫”。黑天鹅没有惧怕围观人群和到来维持秩序的公安。约一个多小时后被北京野生动物保护中心接走。

https://youtube.com/watch?v=aIIncnjookg%3Ffeature%3Doembed%26wmode%3Dopaque

北京作为中国首都,一些突发的“异常事件”往往会引起特别的关注,而被人为加入一些特别解读。例如2020年两会召开当天,北京天气骤变出现“白昼如夜”的情况,不少网友调侃老天“恶政隐”。当然,也有网民批评这种寄托于迷信意象的虚无。

网友讽刺作品:

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以下评论由中国数字时代编辑收集自网络:

BeifuJack:北京证券吉祥物不能这么对待呀。

ZhangDong_SCH:此黑天鹅涉嫌寻滋,已被拘捕,最终判决待定。

shiyoutang:灰犀牛正在赶往此处的路上。

Sophia36982957:那就是一只迷路的黑天鹅,nothing more。无法改变国家未来、无法把握自己命运的人,只能寄托一些意外的迹象。有迷信的时间,不如……韭菜还能做什么?

TDead20200108:预兆,后面的天安门会有一只黑天鹅出现。

Niuwa7:乱离怪神的东西爱传的人很多。

Chen Dr.:该黑天鹅已被我公安部门控制,黑天鹅的家属目前情绪稳定,当事黑天鹅正被送往我公安部食堂作进一步调查。

黃啟育:這個比看到烏鴉還不吉利….+_+

Shannon Hgau:这黑天鹅一定是欧美别有用心的人放飞到天安门广场的,是对CCP恶毒的攻击。

小卒:黑天鹅听了党的教育后说Hi 教子无方

yj liu:总加速师:这是天降祥瑞呀,看来有圣人出。

温粥暖:野鳥入廟,舊指國家敗亡征兆。《漢書•五行志》:“野木生朝,野鳥入廟,則亡之異也。”

Benny Lau:关键词:天安门,黑天鹅,九五…..不知这是啥兆头!

做中華兒女不做馬列子孫:習包子一直在防範“灰犀牛”和“黑天鵝”。這回包子習終於如願以償啦!

Cottontail Snowball:黑天鹅意思是让某人明年连任不了的事件。

ygzhntxmo:新闻联播: 天降祥瑞 预示习主席百年未有之大变局即将到来

alphazhu2:北交所,黑天鹅,这是有人故意跟大大作对啊……

NoGreatFirewall:现在自媒体不能唱衰经济,只能委屈黑天鹅亲自飞过来露脸了。

Amberrwei:嚯,不会是拜登放的吧? 有点隐喻的样子。

Youguang8:这天鹅,就像是专门飞来给人们报信的,从容的给你们拍照,直到慷慨被捕。

evicteenomad:吉祥物,抓走干嘛? 抓走吉祥物还吉祥吗?

fhcu2013:天安门是处于高度维稳的环境,恰恰出现预示小概率事件的黑天鹅。自己飞去天安门,还是有人故意放在哪里的,想达到什么政治、经济的隐喻。

Allergyic:現在連黑天鵝都要走在乳滑大道上了嗎?

@c05iNa3GnqKFc4b:野流赤血望潮信,鳥著烏衣哀國殤,入劫過淮尋故宇,廟堂不再作墳場。藏頭格 野鳥入廟:舊指國家敗亡征兆,典出《漢書•五行志》:“野木生朝,野鳥入廟,則亡之異也。”

Jerry00107966:今天下午,我公安干警拘捕反动黑天鹅一只,经讯问,该鹅已交代了受拜登指使,从澳洲“悉尼闲人”家公园潜入我国,企图引发黑天鹅事件,散布恐慌的犯罪事实。望广大群众不信谣不传谣,一切以政府官方消息为准。

wong_xiaojun:原产地好像是澳大利亚,正宗境外势力啊。

JoeyAu14:好啊,中共领导层担心的黑天鹅事件正在发生?!

XvPmPGG9kLAFBDa:等同于古代的“某某地挖出石雕凤凰,xx斩白蛇”之类。说到底中国人还是吃这一套封建迷信。

Lgmg96S3bPID0YQ:最大的不确定性来到天安门广场。

tianyakanyunke:习近平早预见到了。

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