Daily US Times: Just after China imposed a sweeping, controversial security law, one of Hong Kong’s most prominent democracy activists, Nathan Law has fled the city.
Nathan Law was a local legislator and a one-time student leader, who spent time in prison after 2014’s “Umbrella Protests”, said he would continue his advocacy work from abroad.
He had left the territory two days after China brought in its new security law, he said.
Activists say the law erodes freedoms of Hong Kong but China dismissed the criticism. Critics say China’s new security law for Hong Kong ends freedoms that were guaranteed for 50 years when British rule ended in 1997.
Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 under that declaration, with certain freedoms guaranteed for at least 50 years under the “one country, two systems” agreement.
But opponents of the new law, which targets subversion, terrorism and secession with punishments up to life in prison, say it effectively ends freedom of speech.
Mr Law announced that he was stepping down Dwemosito POarty within moments of it being announced on Tuesday. Mr Law co-founded the party with well-known activist Joshua Wong. At the time, he said the law marked the start of a “bloody cultural revolution”.
He released a statement later on Thursday saying he had already left Hong Kong but would “continue the advocacy work on the international level”.
He did not reveal where he had gone, saying: “Based on risk assessment, I shall not reveal too much about my personal whereabouts and situation now.”
In 2016, Mr Law became the region’s youngest leader. He argued at the time that the former British colony must be allowed a referendum on its future. He has said he does not want Hong Kong to become “just another Chinese city”.
He was later disqualified after he was found to have improperly taken his swearing-in oath.
What is the law?
The new security law would make criminal any act of terrorism and collusion with foreign or external forces, secession and subversion of the central government.
A new national security office in Hong Kong would have powers such as overseeing education about national security in Hong Kong schools. It would deal with national security cases of the city too.
In addition, the city will have to establish its own national security commission to enforce the laws, with a Beijing-appointed adviser.
Hong Kong’s chief executive will have the power to appoint judges to hear national security cases, a move which has raised fears about judicial independence.
If the new security law conflicts with any Hong Kong law, the Beijing law takes priority and Beijing will have power over how the law should be interpreted.