Opinion: Hong Kong Security Law is a Threat to Democracy

Riot police detain a protester during a demonstration against Beijing's national security legislation in Causeway Bay in Hong Kong, Sunday, May 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

By Paul Shek, Acting Representative, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Thailand

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China unanimously passed the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on June 30, 2020. The law took effect that evening.

This move effectively terminated the CCP’s “one country, two systems” framework and commitment made in Hong Kong. The criminalization of certain actions under this law applies not only to Hong Kong its scope extends to the entire world, seriously undermining the widely held values of democracy, human rights, and freedom.

Taiwan urges the international community to safeguard this system of freedom and democracy.


The offenses targeted in this law are designed to suppress democratic forces in Hong Kong through shock and awe.

The four main offenses targeted in this law are secession, subversion, the organization and perpetration of terrorist activities, and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security.

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Protesters against the new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020. Associated Press/Photo by Vincent Yu

Contents of the law are vacuous, vague, and open to arbitrary interpretation by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Through this targeted legislation, the CCP is seeking to legitimize its intervention in Hong Kong’s autonomy and control of related personnel affairs, and thus effectively deter and suppress democratic forces in Hong Kong.

The law applies to the entire world, severing Hong Kong’s links with the international community and strengthening the CCP’s authoritarian rule.

Article 38 of the law stipulates that “this Law shall apply to offenses under this Law committed against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region from outside the region by a person who is not a permanent resident of the Region.”

This is equivalent to asserting extraterritorial jurisdiction in every corner of the world, and will isolate Hong Kong from global concern and support, and create a chilling effect by which the CCP may consolidate its authoritarian system.

The CCP national security authorities are now the puppetmasters over the Hong Kong government, and Taiwan may be China’s next target.

The law defines the offense of secession as separating Hong Kong or “any other part” of the PRC from the PRC.

This demonstrates its intention to deliberately suppress collaboration between what the CCP commonly refers to as the Hong Kong and Taiwan independence movements, and to use this national security law to impose restrictions on cross-strait relations.

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Police display a public announcement banner showing the warning to protesters in Causeway Bay before the annual handover march in Hong Kong, Wednesday, July 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

In addition, the implementation rules for Article 43 of the national security law require foreign and Taiwan political organizations and agents to provide information on activities concerning Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong police are empowered to conduct random searches and secret wiretaps, demand information, and freeze or confiscate property if the national security authority of Hong Kong finds a suspect in violation of regulations or involved with actions that threaten national security. Failure to cooperate with the police can lead to fines or detention.

This is in severe violation of people’s rights to their persons, property, privacy, correspondence, and trade secrets.

Totalitarian China’s renunciation of its international commitments exposes its ambition to impose its will and reshape the international order.

By imposing this national security law, the CCP has seriously violated “one country, two systems” framework and high degree of autonomy, renounced its commitment in the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

The law’s criminalization of speech removes any limits to what could constitute a national security offense, and the law is also applicable to any person in the world, and to offenses committed on board a vessel or aircraft registered in Hong Kong, seriously contravening the basic principles of international law and truly exposing China’s ambition to extend its domestic law to the rest of the world.

China’s use of authoritarian rule to trample on democracy and human rights proves that autocracy and democracy are incompatible.

The CCP’s imposition of the Hong Kong national security law marks an attempt to trample on democracy and human rights, and exposes totalitarian and autocratic China’s inevitable ideological clash with the free world.

Taiwan urges the international community to recognize the true nature of the CCP’s autocratic regime, and calls on like-minded countries to engage in concerted opposition.

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In this Sept. 11, 2019, file photo, local residents sing a theme song written by protesters “Glory be to thee” at a shopping mall in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)

If the international community fails to take any countermeasures, the CCP will spread its autocratic system even farther, and take a leading role in shaping the international political and economic order.

China is leveraging its rapidly growing political and economic sharp power to infiltrate the international community and disseminate its ideology. Exploiting the rapid spread of COVID-19 this year, it has used assistance in containing the pandemic to trumpet the advantages of its political system.

The CCP is gradually eroding the widely held values of democracy, freedom, and human rights around the world. If the international community continues to appease the CCP, the CCP ideology will ultimately take a dominating role in the international political and economic order.

Taiwan occupies a key position in safeguarding democracy in Asia, and hopes the international community will jointly support the people of Hong Kong and protect Taiwan.

The global community must take seriously the expansion of the CCP’s authoritarian system and ideology throughout the international arena.


Taiwan stands on the global democratic community’s first line of defense, and the survival and development of democratic Taiwan are key to regional peace and stability.

We urge the international community to work collectively to safeguard Taiwan’s democratic system and protect it from destruction at the hands of totalitarian China.

About the author
Paul Shek is currently the acting Representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Thailand.