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Opinion | Hong Kong's National Security Law: The Details Are the Key

Protesters block roads in the Causeway Bay district of Hong Kong on May 24, 2020. (AFP / Isaac Laurence)

By Thomas Hon Wing Polin

During the twilight of Hong Kong's colonial era, the territory had a famously "executive-led" government. It meant that power lay preponderantly in the hands of the top official, the governor.

The arrangement delivered results, as Hong Kong enjoyed its Golden Age of stability and prosperity -- unaffected even by two decades of UK-China squabbles leading up to reunification in 1997.

That's a big reason both the Sino-British Joint Declaration and Beijing's Basic Law for Hong Kong sought to maintain the principle of executive-led governance for the territory.

Yet from virtually day one of his governorship, Chris Patten sought to weaken the position he held (not unlike Taiwan's Lee Teng-hui, godfather of the independence movement there). He boosted "pro-democracy" politicians, planted neocolonials throughout the governance system, and introduced "checks & balances" on executive power the Brits themselves never tolerated during their long rule. Patten's subtle subversion of the setup was a major reason for his fights with Beijing.

So when C.H. Tung became the HKSAR's first chief executive in 1997, he found himself substantially emasculated. He and his successors were unable to wield anything like the authority the British governors enjoyed. The pan-subversives' obsessive push for "democracy" meant even less power for the chief executive.

The just-released draft of Beijing's national security law for Hong Kong vests a new and an important power in the CE: to appoint judges trying national security cases. A suitably patriotic Hong Kong leader could thenceforth avoid choosing local judges with records of "pro-democracy" bias. Such political preferences on the part of the Wigs have long been a major concern.

And that's why"pro-democracy" forces have quickly come out swinging against the provision. Their de facto control of the judicial process is one of their most effective tools of subversion. For Hong Kong's sake and China's, they must be ignored.

The draft security law already makes concessions to the "democrats" and to "the international community" (translation: the Anglo-American Empire). Most notably, the bulk of cases would be handled by Hong Kong's own system, with Beijing directly taking only "special" cases. What that means won't be clear until real-life examples occur.

Central authorities would set up a new national security office in Hong Kong and appoint an adviser to the SAR government on related matters. The details of such a relationship have not been spelled out.

Besides the authority to choose judges for national security cases, the CE would also head a new SAR government commission to handle related issues. Even so, the arrangement may not be fully functional for a while. Incumbent Carrie Lam has two more years to go, and she has proven tragically inept against the forces of darkness. She and her top officials continue to appease the "democrats," pursuing "dialogue" with them even as they show absolutely no interest.

The National People's Congress Standing Committee will meet again June 28-30, when it is expected to pass the final version of the law.

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