So what does this drama over Hong Kong tell us about? Seriously, I don't have any clear idea of the situation that is unfolding in HK, because I belong neither to China nor to the UK. But one thing is pretty clear by all the news stories going around, i.e. Hong Kong is not stable currently.
I have been to Hong Kong just before the protest begun in June-July, 2019. It's a great city to spend a vacation. With soaring skyline, scenic beaches, and tax-free shopping, Hong Kong has something that caters to the tastes of people from every walk of life. But that doesn't explain the controversy surrounding the city, right?
Well, you have to rewind a few decades to understand this whole scenario. Hong Kong was initially ceded to the UK after they won a war against China. The duration of this lease was 99 years, which the British thought to be as good as forever. This lease ended in 1997 and Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories went back to China. Since then Hong Kong has enjoyed a special status of One Country - Two Systems. HK is a Special Administrative Region of China just like Macau. The validity of this special status was deemed to exist until 2047.
Under this special status, HK enjoys some exclusive freedoms which are not given to the people residing in Mainland China. Freedoms such as Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Assembly are some of the vital rights, which the people of HK currently have.
The new Security Law for Hong Kong does exactly the opposite of what this special status is meant to do. The United Kingdom's Prime Minister Boris Johnson says that the new law violates Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy. The law has given the power to the officials to pronounce maximum life sentences in four categories of criminal offense such as secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities, and collusion with foreign and external forces to endanger national security. Damaging public transport and public facilities would also be deemed as terrorism under the law. Also, the accused in any of such offenses can be requested to be taken for a trial in Mainland China. Trials under this law will be held in secret, behind closed doors under the absence of a jury, and the judges will be appointed by Carrie Lam, the Cheif Executive of the City.
The law also applies to Non-Permanent members of Hong Kong, and they will be treated accordingly, even if they are not in Hong Kong at the time of committing the offense.
The new law will seriously affect the freedom enjoyed by the citizens of HK. The city has to date enjoyed the status of a place that gives trade, media, and tax freedoms. People of HK are also afraid that this also affects the image of the city as a global economic powerhouse.
Critics say that this law is clearly in violation of the One Country - Two Systems rule enjoyed by Hong Kong, but clearly, Beijing is in a position to do this as it has the power to bypass Hong Kong Parliament by listing such laws under Annex III after passing a decree.
Only the future will tell us what the new law has in the store for Hong Kong.