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Under article 38 any person, anywhere in the world, who disagrees with the Chinese regime could find themselves to have broken the law. The ruling carries harsh punishments, such as life imprisonment, for those found guilty of actively supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, which it labels as a terrorist activity. Speaking to Express.co.uk Professor Steve Tsang of SOAS University China Institue explained how reporting on the Hong Kong crisis from the UK, and even posting a comment in this article, could be interpreted as breaking the new security law.
Professor Tsang said: “What it means is that if you post something that expresses support for the independence movement in Hong Kong you will have broken the law and may be subject to the consequences of doing so.
“If someone comments on a journalistic article saying that they support Hong Kong’s independence they will have technically broken the law, strictly speaking, the law applies to anyone wherever they are in the world.”
Although the director of the SOAS China Institute said that in reality the law may only be applied to high profile commentators who speak out against Beijing and the Hong Kong government.
He added: “The risk is not high for the vast majority of people, but if China really wants to catch you, they can catch you.”
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The new law could pose a risk to travellers who wish to visit mainland China or Hong Kong, or even have a stop over flight in these regions before venturing on to other jurisdictions.
Another possibility is that countries that have extradition arrangements with Beijing may be leveraged to hand over those who break the law to Chinese authorities.
Professor Tsang used the example of the Hong Kong bookseller who was apprehended by Chinese officials whilst in Thailand and taken to China.
In 2015 Gui Minhai was taken by Chinese security officers while vacationing in Thailand and forcibly brought to China.
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He was given a 10-year prison sentence for publishing books that criticised leaders of the communist regime.
The new security law has been drafted to be vague and generalistic in detail.
There is considerable confusion as to what could be construed as being an infringement.
Legal experts state that the vagueness of the wording is intentional.
Ultimately it is only Beijing that can decide what acts may constitute a transgression.
The uncertainty surrounding the details will create an Orwellian situation where citizens have to constantly second guess their actions for fear of committing a criminal act.
Speaking today to Express.co.uk Chris Whitehouse, whose agency The Whitehouse Consultancy advises the protest movement Fight for Freedom: Stand with Hong Kong and supports the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hong Kong, said: “This draconian new law is truly shocking in its scope and in its implications for our freedoms here in Britain.
“Academics in our universities will be muzzled in what they say about China.
“Students will be censored in the views they can express about the communist puppets running Hong Kong.
“Bankers will have to be wary about their analysis of the Hong Kong economy and the rule of law and even British judges, some of whom serve in Hong Kong’s courts, will have to be careful of what they say.
“Journalists will have to watch their backs and even our Members of Parliament will have to avoid criticising China’s repression in Hong Kong.
“If we don’t all kowtow to China and its repressive new law, we risk being arrested if we ever visit China or Hong Kong.
Mr Whitehouse added: “What’s clear is that we must also review, as a matter of urgency, all extradition arrangements with Hong Kong and China so that British citizens cannot be dragged there on trumped-up charges of sedition, which carry a potential life sentence under this dreadful new law.”
The Chinese Communist Party, CCP, can use the law as a mechanism to coerce the wider public into following the party line and the generalistic wording has the scope to silence even moderate criticism of the Chinese regime.
The implementation of the oppressive ruling that was dictated directly from Beijing has been widely recognised as the death knell for freedom of expression in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong has now lost the political autonomy that made it a vibrant and distinctive world city.
The news comes as the US reports seizing 13 tons of human hair from Xinjiang concentration camps, were an estimated three million Uighur people are incarcerated by the Chinese government.
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