According to reports in the media under the control of the Communist Party, the law is expected to punish crimes such as separation, demolition against the central Chinese government, terrorism and blending with foreign powers. But hours after the reported episode, the details remain uncertain and include a particularly opaque process that leaves analysts and activists to guess.
Speaking at the weekly press conference on Tuesday morning, city leader Carrie Lam refused to answer questions about the law, saying “it is not appropriate for me to comment” about the law. Hours later, he defended Hong Kong in his video speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, saying he would regain stability and prosperity.
Its administration seems to have been almost entirely eliminated – but it did not stop the law from guessing that individuals in the city would only affect a small minority and would not harm political freedoms and judicial autonomy.
In a statement last week, Lam said the legislation will be “in accordance with the rule of law” and “rights and freedoms applicable in Hong Kong”.
Such a speech could be illegal under the new law if it follows a similar legislative model as expected in China. Wong, Law and Chow also played an intense role in lobbying the international community to pressure Beijing on Hong Kong, which expects many to be classified as “hiding with foreign forces.”
The other two political parties, the Hong Kong National Front and Studentlocalism, said they have stopped operations in the city, but both groups – pro-independence parties – will continue to work abroad.
Some pro-independence figures are known to have escaped from Hong Kong in recent months because they feared being arrested in connection with violent anti-government protests in the past months or upcoming law. On Sunday, Hong Kong Independence Union member Wayne Chan confirmed that he had missed bail and left the city. He was facing charges related to the protest.
Pro-government groups and politicians welcome the adoption of the law, while former leader C.Y. Leung offered blessing for future prosecutions – there was a huge disappointment among many Hong Kongers, the continuing lack of detail and the feeling of being almost in limbo, knowing that the law had passed, but knowing what it meant.
In a letter to the city’s government Monday, the president of the Hong Kong Bar Philip Dykes said the law’s privacy was “really extraordinary” and urged the government to clarify how the citizens’ minimum rights will be guaranteed.
This uncertainty will continue beyond the Tuesday night, which is expected to be announced to the public and sent to the newspaper. Regardless of how crimes are identified or punished, many will monitor them to see how tiring police and prosecutors have applied them.
An important test will be held on Wednesday, when the city celebrates the 23rd anniversary of the city’s transition to Chinese rule. The day traditionally saw an anti-government march in the city, but the protest was banned this year.
The organizers say they will continue anyway. Still, how many people join them and if so – what crimes are they accepted?