Beijing, Hong Kong governments propose changes to legislative branches . . .
Hong Kong’s Secretary for Mainland and Constitutional Affairs, Erick Tsang, today revealed a proposed bill that would require all elected officeholders to swear an oath of loyalty to the national and Hong Kong governments or face disqualification and a five-year ban on standing in any elections. Tsang said the government considers “respect(ing) that it’s the Chinese Communist Party which leads the country” as a prerequisite for being a “patriot.” This follows comments by a top Beijing official yesterday that only “patriots” can serve as elected officials in Hong Kong. The Wall Street Journal also reported that Beijing is planning constitutional changes shifting voting rights in the electoral college, from electing Hong Kong’s Chief Executive from District Councillors (dominated by pan-democrats) to Hong Kong representatives on the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (dominated by pro-Beijing politicians).
National Security Law touches down in courts and schools . . .
Meanwhile, the first trial involving Hong Kong’s new National Security Law (NSL) will soon be proceeding without a jury (subject to a challenge from the defendant) under a provision that allows Hong Kong’s Secretary for Justice to replace a jury with a three-judge panel. The landmark trial will be closely watched by legal experts to see how the NSL will be implemented in Hong Kong’s common law system and how future NSL trials – including media mogul Jimmy Lai – will be conducted. In another development, the Education Bureau came under fire this month for a new national security curriculum targeted at schoolchildren starting from age six. It includes video explainers and guidelines for developing students’ appreciation of Chinese national identity, the importance of being law-abiding, and national symbols.
More Hong Kongers shun vaccine and flee the city . . .
As the Hong Kong government begins to roll out its vaccination campaign, more than half of Hong Kong residents surveyed have indicated they do not intend to receive the shot. The government also suffered a backlash from its ambush-style lockdowns targeted at poor and ethnic minority neighbourhoods and measures explicitly directed at migrant domestic workers. Following polling late last year showing that more than 40 per cent of residents would emigrate if possible, new pathways for migration to the U.K. and Canada have been met with increasing demand, with the U.K. forecast to attract over a million migrants. These trends will likely continue as political restrictions increase and the effects of the NSL multiply.
- The Diplomat: A trust deficit is hindering Hong Kong’s COVID-19 response
- South China Morning Post: Hong Kong national security law: officials defend education guidelines against ‘malicious’ accusations of ‘brainwashing’
- South China Morning Post: Hong Kong patriots: here's what we know, and don't know on how far Beijing will go in reforming city's politics