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Beijing Passed a Far-reaching Hong Kong National Security Law

On June 30, China passed the Hong Kong national security law, which went into effect immediately. The official Xinhua News Agency published the full text of the law. Four crimes now all carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The law is more far-reaching than most people expected.

A foreigner who exercises freedom of speech in a foreign country and advocates Hong Kong independence may be arrested in Hong Kong. As long as any of the “criminal acts or results” occur in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), it will be deemed to be a crime in Hong Kong. The law also applies to any Hong Kong permanent resident or a Hong Kong based company that commits a relevant crime outside of Hong Kong. For non-Hong Kong permanent residents outside Hong Kong, they are also punishable even if they commit the relevant crimes outside Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong national security law stipulates four crimes.

Separatism. The chief offenders are subject to life imprisonment or imprisonment of more than ten years. Active participants imprisonment may be between three and ten years, while others imprisonment will be less than three years.

Subversion. Any act of subversion shall be punishable by imprisonment of from less than three years up to life imprisonment.

Anyone who incites, assists, abets, or sponsors with money or other property the commission of the above two crimes can be sentenced to from less than five years to more than ten years in jail.

Terrorism. Those that cause significant losses can be sentenced to life imprisonment or imprisonment for more than 10 years. Lessor offenders may receive between three and ten years imprisonment. Propagating terrorism and inciting terrorist activities are also crimes and can be subject to imprisonment of less than five years or less than ten years.

Collusion with foreign countries or external forces endangering national security. Offenses include stealing, purchasing, and illegally providing state secrets or intelligence to foreign or overseas organizations and personnel. Offenses also include requesting relevant organizations or individuals to implement or conspire to implement, directly or indirectly accepting their instructions, control, and funding to support the implementation of five actions.

The five actions include conducting sanctions, blockades or other hostile actions against the HKSAR or China; manipulation and sabotaging of the elections, causing possible serious consequences; various illegal methods that trigger the hatred of the Hong Kong residents towards the central government or the HKSAR government that may cause serious consequences.

The HKSAR government will establish a new Committee for Safeguarding National Security (CSNSC), and Beijing will set up a corresponding Commission for Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong (CSNSHK), headed by a vice minister of Public Security. For the first time, the national security law clearly stipulates that the CSNSHK, instead of the HKSAR, will exercise direct jurisdiction over the case under three circumstances: First, the case involves the intervention of foreign or external forces, making it difficult for the HKSAR to exercise jurisdiction; second, it involves a serious situation in which the HKSAR government cannot effectively implement the national security law; third, a situation where national security faces a major and real threat.

There are also other controversial stipulations in the national security law.

The work of the CSNSC is free from interference from any other agencies, organizations and individuals in the HKSAR government. The information is not disclosed and decisions made are not subject to judicial review.

The law emphasizes that neither the suspect nor the defendant shall be released on bail unless the judge has sufficient reason to believe that the suspect or the defendant will not continue to endanger national security.

The law stipulates that the Chief Executive of the HKSAR shall appoint a number of judges to handle crimes against national security. Anyone who has expressed words or committed deeds that endanger national security shall not be designated as a judge to hear national security criminal cases. During the appointment, if the judge has words or deeds that endanger national security, the qualification of the appointed judge will be terminated.

If there is any inconsistency between the local laws of HKSAR and the national security law, the provisions of the latter shall apply. The right to interpret the Hong Kong national security law belongs to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.

Source: Central News Agency, July 1, 2020
https://www.cna.com.tw/news/acn/202007010006.aspx
https://www.cna.com.tw/news/acn/202007010005.aspx

Leadership – Are the CCP’s Top Leaders Hiding?

Since June 11, when Beijing reported on its coronavirus cases, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) top leaders have rarely appeared in public settings, making people wonder where they are. As a result, the country lacks leadership direction on several hot issues such as Beijing’s coronavirus outbreak, the flood threat in many provinces, and the border clash with India.

#1: Apple Daily reported on June 23 that though ten provinces in China suffered heavy rain and flooding since the beginning of June, no national-level leader went to any disaster area to check on the situation and on the rescue work.

Xi Jinping had only four publicly reported activities in the month of June:

  • Public Appearance – June 2: Participated in a panel discussion with experts and scholars in Beijing
  • Public Appearance – June 8 to 10: Visited the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region
  • Video Appearance – June 17: Participated in the China-Africa Video Summit
  • Video Appearance – June 22: Participated in the China-Europe Video Summit

Li Keqiang had two activities in the month of June:

  • Public Appearance – June 1 to 2: Visited Shandong Province
  • Public Appearance – June 15: Attended the “Cloud” Opening Ceremony of the Canton Fair (China’s largest trade fair)

#2: Epoch Times listed the reported activities of the seven CCP Politburo Standing Committee’s Members one by one, in the month of June (till June 22 when the article was written), and pointed out:

  • Xi Jinping had two public appearances before June 11 and two video appearances after.
  • Li Keqiang had one public appearance before June 11 and one after.
  • Li Zhanshu, Chairman of the National People’s Congress, hosted a Standing Committee’s meeting of the National People’s Congress in Beijing after June 11.
  • Wan Yang, Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), visited Xinjiang and hosted two CPPCC meetings in Beijing after June 11.
  • Wang Hu’ning, in charge of communist ideology and propaganda, participated in one video conference after June 11.
  • Han Zheng, Vice Premier, hosted a meeting of the Winter Olympics in Beijing after June 11.
  • Zhao Leji, head of the CCP’s Central Commission of Disciplinary Inspection, had no activity in the month of June.

The article suggested that all seven top CCP officials may be hiding outside of Beijing. Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, and Han Zheng might have come back to Beijing for a few days to host their meetings. (Epoch Times)

#3: A recent Epoch Times report mentioned that top leaders held only a few activities before June 29:

  • (Maybe a video conference?) – June 29: Xi Jinping hosted a CCP Politburo meeting. Xinhua provided a report with only text but no images. China Central Television (CCTV) didn’t cover it, so this may have been a “cloud” meeting.
  • Public Appearance – June 28: Li Keqiang hosted a State Council meeting on stabilizing the export business. Han Zheng also attended the meeting.
  • Public Appearance – June 28 to 30: Li Zhanshu passed the Hong Security Act at the National People’s Congress Standing Committee meeting.
  • Public Appearance – June 24: Wang Yang participated in a CPPCC Standing Committee meeting.

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World Journal: Fitch Lowered Hong Kong’s Rating Twice

Well-known U.S. Chinese language newspaper, World Journal , recently reported that global ratings company, Fitch Ratings, has lowered Hong Kong’s sovereign rating twice since last September. The rating factored in the impact of the Hong Kong National Security Law that the central government imposed. Also aspects that were included in and influenced the rating were the risks in Hong Kong’s legislative system and the position that the United States has taken. If, in the future, local and international investors lose confidence in Hong Kong’s environment and its way of doing business, it is possible the rating could go down further. It is too early to draw a conclusion and the situation remains to be examined in the near future. Currently Hong Kong’s sovereign rating is only one step higher than Mainland China. It appears the Hong Kong society is steadily merging into Mainland China’s administrative system. However, the Chinese government said Hong Kong’s status remains very stable.

Source: World Journal, June 23, 2020
https://bit.ly/2A81KmS

Lianhe Zaobao: The Canton Fair Ended with Signs of Risks

Singapore’s primary Chinese language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao recently reported on China’s largest trade show. The China Import Export Fair (also known as The Canton Fair), just concluded on June 24. This Canton Fair was held online as a virtual fair. According to the official report, the Fair attracted buyers from 217 countries or regions. Around 26,000 domestic and foreign companies participated as suppliers. However, no official numbers on sales were announced, which is very unusual. Traditionally the Canton Fair host always announces the total turnover on the last day of the Fair. According to the spokesperson for the Fair, the outcome of this Fair demonstrated China’s export future is facing increased uncertainty, with “extremely complex and serious” risks and challenges. The Chinese suppliers are focusing on innovations in the areas of smart manufacturing, distribution channels, business models, and service systems. The spokesperson emphasized that the overall long-term trend of the Chinese exports remains positive and unchanged.

Source: Lianhe Zaobao, June 26, 2020
https://www.zaobao.com.sg/realtime/china/story20200626-1064203

UDN: Poll Showed 56 Percent of HK Locals Oppose the National Security Law

United Daily News (UDN), one of the primary Taiwanese news groups, recently reported that the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (PORI) just released the results of a poll that Reuters commissioned on the National Security Law that the Mainland communists imposed on Hong Kong. Around 56 percent of the people polled were against the new law. Among them, 49 percent were “strongly against” it. Around 34 percent of the sample supported the new law. The last 10 percent were undecided or had no opinion. The survey was conducted a few days before the Mainland revealed the content of the new law, which allows the City Chief Executive to appoint judges for national security cases. The Poll also showed that there is a steady support of 21 percent for an independent Hong Kong. On September 6, Hong Kong will hold the next election of the members of the Legislative Council. Neither the Office of the Hong Kong Chief Executive nor the Mainland Hong Kong and Macau Office responded to an inquiry for comment on the poll results. The poll was based on a sample size of 1,002 local residents.

Source: UDN, June 26, 2020
https://udn.com/news/story/121127/4660973

Heavy Flooding Affected Tens of Millions of People in 26 Provinces in China

On June 23, the National Flood Control and Drought Relief Department hosted a video conference and disclosed that, as of June 23, flooding was reported in 26 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) including Guangxi, Guizhou, Guangdong, Hunan, Jiangxi, and Chongqing. There were 11.22 million people affected. Among them, 571,000 people were relocated; 213,000 people needed emergency assistance; more than 9,300 houses collapsed; 171,000 houses were damaged to varying degrees; 861,000 hectares of crops were affected; and direct economic losses were estimated to be 24.1 billion yuan (US$3.4 billion).

In a news article, The Epoch Times reported that there was different video footage that showed the flooding in many regions where streets were flooded, cars trapped, railroads suspend their service, and schools were closed.

Yichang City, 20 kilometers (12 miles) away from the Three Gorges Dam is the first city downstream of the Three Gorges Dam. Local residents told The Epoch Times that it had been decades since they had seen flooding that was over 3 feet deep. They suspected that there had been an emergency flood discharge from the Three Gorges Dam but they didn’t receive any advanced warning from the government.

It has been over one month since the flooding was first reported in China. However, the heavy rainy season in the middle and lower stream of the Yangtze River has yet to come.

Source: The Epoch Times, June 27 & 28, 2020
https://www.epochtimes.com/gb/20/6/27/n12216263.htm?utm_source=dable
https://www.epochtimes.com/gb/20/6/28/n12217383.htm

Xinhua Reporter Blocked Australian Reporter’s Camera and Did Not Want to Be Videotaped

The Daily Telegraph of Australia reported that, during a news conference in Australian that Prime Minister (PM) Morrison held in Canberra, a news reporter from Xinhua was photographed as she was stepping forward to block the camera of a reporter from SBS News and asked the photographer to stop videotaping her. After she realized that her move caught the attention of other reporters and the federal police officers, the Xinhua reporter immediately left the conference. According to the report, a female photographer was accompanying the reporter from Xinhua at the moment. She was seen to have videotaped other reporters at the news conference. She was carrying an “escorted pass” not a formal “press pass” and also refused to answer which media she worked for. John Lyons, Executive Editor of ABC News, tweeted the following: “A Chinese official, or journalist, told SBS that they couldn’t film her. Whoever she was, she needs to understand that in Australia, if you turn up at the PM’s news conference, you can film & be filmed. This (sort of problem) happens regularly in China. It should not happen here.”

Source: SBS News, June 27, 2020
https://www.sbs.com.au/language/cantonese/zh-hans/chinese-state-owned-media-xinhua-sparks-a-scuffle-at-australian-prime-minister-s-press-conference

SIPRI: China Added at Least 30 Nuclear Warheads in 2019

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a Swedish think tank, recently released reports, showing a total of 13,400 nuclear warheads worldwide as of January 2020, distributed among the USA, Russia, UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea. China currently has a stockpile of 320 warheads in its arsenal, compared to 5,800 in the United States and 6,370 in Russia. However, “in 2019 China and India were, respectively, the second- and third-largest military spenders in the world. China’s military expenditures reached $261 billion in 2019, a 5.1 per cent increase compared with 2018, while India’s grew by 6.8 per cent to $71.1 billion.”

SIPRI pointed out that “China is in the middle of a significant modernization of its nuclear arsenal. It is developing a so-called nuclear triad for the first time, made up of new land- and sea-based missiles and nuclear-capable aircraft.” According to sources from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), China added at least 30 nuclear warheads in 2019, some of which are already ready for deployment. As it is difficult to tell China’s intentions, its unrestricted arsenal has become a threat to many countries. The latest advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have also contributed to nuclear risks.

The specifics of the nuclear tactics of the PLA, including its weapons manufacturing and the capability of its buildup and deployment, have always been the focus of foreign observers, who believe that the Chinese military has hidden nuclear warheads in many inland provinces, especially Xinjiang. China is believed to have conducted test explosions in the enclosed areas of Xinjiang, Sichuan, Qinghai, and Inner Mongolia.

“SIPRI’s estimates suggest that China is the second-largest arms producer in the world, behind the United States and ahead of Russia. All four of the profiled companies would have been ranked among the 20 largest arms-producing and military services companies globally in 2017, with three—AVIC, NORINCO, and CETC—in the top 10.”

SIPRI’s database shows that China was the fifth largest exporter in 2015–19, following the United States, Russia, France, and Germany. The large buyers of Chinese weapons include Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Algeria. According to SIPRI, “Most of these countries are considered friendly or are allies of China.”

So far, China has not signed the 2013 United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) or any relevant international agreement. The United States insists that China should join the nuclear arms reduction talks, but China has repeatedly refused. The U.S. has insisted that China join future nuclear arms reduction talks—something that China has categorically ruled out.

Sources:
1. Radio Free Asia, June 26, 2020.
https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/junshiwaijiao/cl-06262020125541.html
2. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, June 15, 2020
https://sipri.org/media/press-release/2020/nuclear-weapon-modernization-continues-outlook-arms-control-bleak-new-sipri-yearbook-out-now

People’s Liberation Army’s Website Information Raises Suspicion about Plan for Nuclear-powered Aircraft Carrier

On June 23, the website of the “Military Weapon and Equipment Procurement Information Network” (http://www.weain.mil.cn/), headed by the Equipment Development Department of the Central Military Commission, released “nine new procurement needs and 53 procurement announcements.” One of the procurement announcements was for a “ship with a nuclear power system analysis model development project.” The announcement that was circulated among mainland military fans was that the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) nuclear-powered aircraft carrier has entered into the evaluation stage.

The PLA already owns two non-nuclear-powered aircraft carriers: the Liaoning and the Shandong. A third larger and more modern aircraft carrier is being built in Shanghai’s Jiangnan Shipyard. According to media reports, this ship, code-named 003, is still using traditional power.

Although the PLA wanted to build a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, it has not been able to make a breakthrough in the nuclear power system technology. The PLA already owns ten nuclear-powered submarines, but it is much more difficult to develop a nuclear reactor for larger ships.

Source: Central News Agency, June 25, 2020
https://www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/202006250166.aspx

China to Abolish Mongolian Language in Schools in an Inner Mongolia City

The Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region is a Chinese province where most ethnic Mongols live and Mongolian has been the native language throughout its history.

Recently officials from the education bureau of Tongliao, a city in eastern Inner Mongolia, passed verbal notices to local schools that, starting from the second half of this year, all courses will stop using Mongolian as the major language for academic activities, except the Mongolian language course. The issue went viral among schools and local residents. Parents worry that, in the future, their children will not understand Mongolian.

A former teacher in Hohhot, the capital city of Inner Mongolia, told Radio Free Asia that most courses taught in the Mongolian language will disappear beginning on September 1st. The authorities will dispatch personnel to strengthen the supervision, and push through Chinese language education in the Mongolian region. In short, the mother tongue education in Inner Mongolia is facing an unprecedented crisis. Although China’s own Law on Regional National Autonomy guarantees the freedom to use its own native language for education, people are concerned that the policy will lead to the “disappearance” of the Mongolian culture.

The Inner Mongolian authorities have long intended to abolish education in the native language. At the end of 2018, due to the protests by the parents of students, the government aborted its plan to enforce Chinese language teaching in East Ujimqin Banner of Xilinguole League, in the northeast area of the Inner Mongolia. In mid-December 2017, the Bayinguoleng Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region suddenly stopped all courses taught in Mongolian, triggering strong dissatisfaction among the local Mongolians.

Source: Radio Free Asia, June 24, 2020
https://www.rfa.org/cantonese/news/language-06242020071829.html