With a security law keeping it on a tight leash, what’s the future of Hong Kong?
This law criminalises “secession, subversion, organization and perpetration of terrorist activities, and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security.”
Now that Hong Kong is silenced and its autonomy is undermined, what awaits the special administrative region in the future?
Tourism is likely to be affected by the new security law. Known for being an open and autonomous territory, tourists might find themselves hesitant to visit Hong Kong with the increased risk.
The Hong Kong government claims that while the impact of the national security on their tourism is difficult to determine, they believe that bona fide tourists are unlikely to be affected.
Nevertheless, several governments — United States, Canada, United Kingdom — have already issued advisories about visiting or residing in Hong Kong, warning them of the increased risk of deportation or even imprisonment.
On Hong Kong’s financial hub status
In The Harvard Gazette’s interview with James Robson, director of the Harvard University Asia Center, the implications of the security law on Hong Kong’s reputation as a financial hub is among the key topics discussed. According to Robson, the reliability of Hong Kong for business operations have been called into question when the protests began last year. Countries like Japan and South Korea have already taken steps to woo businesses into moving their capital out of Hong Kong and set themselves up as new financial hubs.
“I think that once the ability to operate in a place that had such beneficial structures for financial institutions is called into question, the business community will begin to vote with its feet and move out,” Robson commented.
On Hong Kongers
Even before the specifics of the law were known, Hong Kongers had already been worried that this security law — with its vague definitions — would be used as a tool to crush dissent against China.
Truly enough, hundreds of security law protesters were arrested during the first day the law was in effect.
“I guess we have all seen this coming, but it just feels very surreal to everyone that Hong Kong is truly under ‘one country, one system,’” a protester told Vox.
With this, the pro-democracy movement has taken a step back now that a lot of people have started fearing for their lives.
Many Hong Kong residents have plans to move out of Hong Kong, with Taiwan being the most common option.
The United Kingdom also denounced China’s move, calling it a breach of their treaty. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to introduce a new citizenship route for Hong Kongers.
“We have made clear that if China continued down this path we would introduce a new route to those with British national (overseas) status to enter the UK granting them limited leave to remain with the ability to live and work in the UK and thereafter to apply for citizenship, and that is precisely what we will do now,” according to the prime minister.
The British national (overseas) status or BN(O) is one of the six types of British nationality. The BN(O) status was created by the Hong Kong Act 1985 and the Hong Kong (British Nationality) Order 1986, a few years before Hong Kong’s handover to China.
This status had to be acquired by eligible residents before July 1, 1997. Today, there is no way to apply or to transfer this status. Currently, there are about 2.9 million people eligible to renew their BNO-granted passports, according to the British Consulate General in Hong Kong.