A National Security Law Report is Released: Freedom Fighters Needed to Help Hong Kong

By Danny Tang
Danny Tang
Danny Tang
and Summer Lawson
Summer Lawson
Summer Lawson
July 15, 2023Updated: July 15, 2023

A National Security Law Research Report was released in Taiwan on June 30, a day before the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China. The report was conducted by an anonymous Hong Kong research team. Three review mechanisms were used as an analytical framework to study five areas in Hong Kong which have been impacted upon.

The team also hopes to improve existing awareness and support mechanisms which are already present in Hong Kong’s civil society. And while it initially foresees a decline in the ability for Hongkongers to access their local online and offline platforms, the team has plans to develop an internationally-based support platform. This long-term aspiration will hopefully enable Hongkongers and those who care about Hong Kong to freely discuss all areas of activity.

The results of the National Security Law Research Report were released by the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, the Hong Kong Outlanders, the Taiwan Hong Kong Association, and the Judicial Reform Foundation.

The three review mechanisms employed to compile the report contain the legal means from authorities, the non-legal means from the government, and the non-legal means from the non-government sectors.

The five impacted areas in Hong Kong are “News and Media,” “Culture, Art and Publishing,” “Society’s Overall Political Expression,” “Society’s Overall Information Flow,” and “Society’s Overall Capital Flow.”

The Hong Kong authorities’ large-scale attack on two Hong Kong news outlets is the most notable example in the “News and Media” category. The initial police raids on Stand News and Apple Daily eventually led to the forced shutdown and closure of both organizations. It left a chilling impact on Hong Kong’s changing journalistic freedoms. Since 2021, the government has also introduced administrative measures to overhaul public broadcasting. Within its authority, it frequently criticizes media organizations for their news-gathering practices. This has imposed a self-regulated level of censorship on media content creation.

In the “Culture, Art, and Publishing category,” the report states that the Hong Kong government will amend the Film Censorship ordinance and strictly enforce existing laws to suppress publishing freedom.

For instance, The Office for Film, Newspaper, and Article Administration, OFNAA, requested that the now-defunct Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions provide a permit to authorize the screening of “Inside the Red Brick Wall,” a film documenting the police siege of Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University during the 2019 protests.

The Food and Hygiene Environment Department) FEHD) used the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance to interfere with its June 4 Tiananmen Square Massacre Exhibition activities by the now-defunct Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (HKAlliance).

The “Culture, Art, and Publishing” crackdown also includes the removal of selected books from public libraries for review within the National Security Law, the revoking of many publishing houses’ participation in the 2022 Book Fair by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the rejecting of bookings for performances deemed to be “politically sensitive,” which were intended to be held at private premises and venues.”

“Overall Political Expression” sees the Taiwanese released report criticizing Hong Kong police for rejecting public demonstration applications. The Public Order Ordinance was used to threaten intending protesters with the possibility of being charged with incitement or of inciting others to commit a crime. Police also carried out unnecessary interviews, engaged in harassment, and carried out stalking strategies.

To intimidate the Leagues of the Social Democrats party, the National Security Bureau deliberately scheduled interview dates with demonstration organizers on “special days.”

Commenting on “Information Flow,” the report points out that by amending the Personal Data Privacy Ordinance and tightening up the Company Ordinance search arrangements, the Hong Kong government will prevent public access to some selected information previously made available. The authority also demanded that network service providers block public access to specified websites in Hong Kong.

To regulate crowdfunding, the Hong Kong government plans to legislate laws relating to “Capital Flow.” After the measures take effect, authorities will require approval in advance for all fundraising activities.

Government statutory bodies responsible for funding local groups, such as the Hong Kong Arts Development Council and Environmental Protection Funds, often conduct political reviews when approving projects.

Non-government organizations in Hong Kong have also stopped providing their services to “politically sensitive” organizations. PayPal, the American multinational financial technology company, ceased its service to the League of Social Democrats due to the pro-democracy group presenting “excessive risks.”

Mr. Sang Pu, Chairperson of the Taiwan Hong Kong Association, stated that Hong Kong has lost many of its freedoms due to the large-scale introduction of censorship. Public discussion has become more controlled, leading to a more cautious civil society that refrains from voicing its concerns and accepting support. Others may mistakenly assume that Hong Kong’s culture is dying out. But Mr. Pu reiterated that the research team sincerely hopes international eyes will continue focusing on Hong Kong after establishing a backup database and securing an international discussion platform to connect and communicate with Hong Kong’s civil society successfully. Additionally, Mr. Pu stated that the international community can always support Hongkongers still fighting for a civil society.

Mr. Fung Siu-tin, secretary-general of Hong Kong Outlanders, stated, “Although the Hong Kong anti-extradition movement has ended, it does not mean the end of Hongkongers’ fighting for democracy. Many local Hongkongers are still connected and fighting hard for freedom and democracy with minimal access to the overseas diaspora.”