19 May 2016
A small group of prominent Hong Kong democracy activists attempted Thursday to halt the motorcade of top official Zhang Dejiang — the most senior Chinese official to have visited the territory since 2014’s Umbrella Revolution — as it approached a major thoroughfare, but were foiled by police.
The activists spilled into the road at the northern egress of the Eastern Harbour Crossing tunnel, which connects Hong Kong Island to the rest of the territory, as Zhang and his security detail were about to pass through it. Police officers, who outnumbered the activists twofold, were quick to intervene.
For those who support self-determination, the logic is simple: Hong Kong’s freedoms have gradually been eroded since Britain returned the former colony to China in 1997; to preserve them, Hong Kong must do away with the constitutional dynamic known as “one country, two systems” and divorce itself from the mainland altogether.
It is an idea that Zhang firmly condemned at a banquet given in his honor on Wednesday night. He assured his audience that Hong Kong would not lose its distinct sociopolitical identity, but then called on the local judiciary to crack down on political dissenters — “fulfill the solemn duty to safeguard the rule of law,” as he put it, according to a report in the South China Morning Post.
“This is not the ‘rule of law’ as we understand it in Hong Kong,” Michael Davis, an expert on Chinese and Hong Kong law at the University of Hong Kong, told TIME on Thursday. “He basically spoke to the mainland version of ‘rule of law’ — that is, the party makes the law and is above the law, and the obligation of the people is to follow this law.”
In this case, Davis says, the law concerns “national security,” a sweeping term used by Chinese authorities to forbid and punish acts of speech that threaten the hegemony of one-party rule. A sweeping piece of legislation ratified by China’s rubber-stamp legislature last July — on the anniversary, incidentally, of Hong Kong’s return to China — signified an unprecedented crackdown... Click here to read the full article.