Taking the activism abroad . . .
In the immediate aftermath of the National Security Law, some Hong Kong youth-based pro-democracy parties have disbanded for fear of being targets of the new law. One of the most notable examples is the dissolving of the youth group Demosisto, which also saw one of its protest leaders, Nathan Law, flee Hong Kong. With pro-democracy activism in Hong Kong under the scrutiny of the National Security Law, digital activism from Hong Kong activists abroad may become a new norm. In a video statement to a U.S. Congressional committee, Nathan Law uttered the now illegal phrase “liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times.” Law has not yet been charged for making the statement. Still, observers will be watching how the authorities interpret the borderless reach of Article 38, and how Hong Kong protest culture may try to find new ways to take their battle for democracy outside the city.
Battle at the ballots . . .
As tensions in Hong Kong continue to escalate, many Hong Kongers will be in a full electoral fighting mode as the 2020 Legislative Council elections are set for this September. The election for 70 seats in Hong Kong’s legislature will likely become a political litmus test to evaluate the government’s performance over COVID-19 and the issue of democratic reform. Last year, as the Anti-Extradition Bill protests caught the world’s attention, pro-democracy candidates used the momentum of the movement to win a landslide number of seats in the November 2019 District Council elections. However, with the new National Security Law in place and increasing fears over limited freedom of speech, we may see more pro-democracy candidates disqualified and a further weakening of their election campaigns.
Hong Kong’s future as a global financial hub . . .
The reverberating effects of international responses could cause investors to lose confidence in Hong Kong, triggering an exodus of emigration from the city, similar to the mass migration before the 1997 handover of Hong Kong. Despite the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ model and the Basic Law guaranteeing Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy and its “way of life shall remain unchanged for 50 years,” the rapid changes to Hong Kong over the past decade have begun to erode Hong Kong’s distinctive identity and place as an interlocutor between China and the world. As China celebrated the 23rd anniversary of the Hong Kong handover this past July 1, the world continues to observe how rapidly Hong Kong society may change.
- CBC: Pro-democracy leader Nathan Law leaves Hong Kong
- China Briefing: The US position on Hong Kong’s special status
- Financial Times: Security law jeopardises HK democrats’ hopes of election victory