China and Inner Asia
Since going into effect on June 30, 2020, Hong Kong’s National Security Law has had an almost incalculable impact on virtually all aspects of public life in Hong Kong. The arrest and exile of dozens of pro-democratic politicians casts doubt on the survival of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy opposition, and even peaceful public protest has ground to a halt for fear of severe criminal penalties. Hong Kong’s long-vaunted legal system has come under extreme pressure, as authorities publicly press the courts to deliver convictions in a growing number of NSL and so-called public order cases.
The NSL was Beijing’s response to the massive 2019 pro-democracy movement, which saw millions take to the streets to call for democratic reforms, and to protest against a government seen as insufficiently protective of Hong Kong’s autonomy. In response, Beijing quickly drafted and implemented the NSL, which – despite its repeated rhetorical nods to public safety and security – is primarily concerned with increasing the central government’s control over the city, with very real implications for the political firewall separating Hong Kong from Beijing.
This roundtable panel will embrace an innovative format: presentations will be kept very short (5-8 minutes) to encourage discussion. Thomas Kellogg will moderate, and will also discuss the NSL’s implications for Hong Kong’s Basic Law constitutional structure. Alison Sile Chen will discuss the use of the online platform LIHKG by pro-democracy protesters during the 2019 protest movement, and the ways in which that platform allowed protesters to maintain both constant communication and a decentralized structure. Eric Yan-ho Lai will discuss the impact of the new national security regime on reforms to Hong Kong’s electoral structure, which in turn has led to a deepening convergence between the two different political systems. David Law will discuss the ways in which national security concepts are turned on their head by the NSL, which focuses not on protecting the public, but on protecting the regime from the public. Sharon Shui-yim Yam will talk about the criminalization of collective mourning under the NSL, and its impact on the public performance of grief in Hong Kong.