On Thursday, China announced it was preparing to enact a controversial national security law for Hong Kong, bypassing the territory’s own legislative process. The announcement was made ahead of the country’s annual National People's Congress meeting, which is set to start on Friday.
Allen Carlson, professor of government and an expert on Chinese politics, says the move is consistent with the Chinese government’s approach to areas it considers restive. He adds that the legislation will bring a definitive end to the recent period of relative détente with Hong Kong.
“It is not particularly surprising that China’s upcoming session of the National People’s Congress appears poised to enact new, restrictive legislation regarding Hong Kong.
“Such a move is entirely consistent with Xi Jinping’s approach towards other restive regions within the People’s Republic. For example, soon after becoming China’s leader in 2013 he stated, with reference to Tibet, ‘to govern the nation, we must govern our borders’ (治国必治边).
“Under such a banner his government enacted a wave of restrictive measures across the rooftop of the world. This stance was then extended to Xinjiang, as evident in the wide-scale detention centers that were erected there. In comparison, Xi’s approach to Hong Kong has been relatively restrained. Since the protests slowed in November of last year. Beijing has largely refrained from escalating the confrontation with the city-state. The reported legislation will bring a definitive end to this period of relative détente.
“The underlying emphasis upon securing Hong Kong clearly reveals that for Xi, Hong Kong is no different than Tibet or Xinjiang.
“All three regions are for him not only parts of China, but also core facets of the country’s national security, and to be governed with an iron fist. Such an approach will likely cement Chinese control over each of these contested areas, but also solidify opposition to such rule in a manner that will then generate further instability, and, cast a dark shadow over all of China in the years to come.”