As China Media Celebrates Hong Kong Law, Protesters Vow to Never Surrender

Chinese state media has lauded the controversial new Hong Kong security law as thousands of protesters again took to the streets in defiance of the draconian legislation that effectively criminalizes anti-government dissent.

More than 180 people were arrested on Wednesday—the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China—for marching against the law, which was adopted Tuesday and bans broadly-defined crimes of sedition, subversion, terrorism and foreign collusion.

Those convicted of the most serious offenses in these categories can now be tried in Chinese courts and face life imprisonment. Less serious cases carry penalties of three to 10 years behind bars.

Chinese state media celebrated the passage of the new law, which was approved unanimously by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in Beijing before being signed into law by President Xi Xinping. Full details of the legislation were not released until it had already been made law in Hong Kong on Tuesday night.

The nationalistic Global Times newspaper—owned by the Chinese Communist Party's People's Daily publication—dismissed all criticism of the law as "prejudiced interpretations or ill-intentioned propaganda."

Global Times—often used to air the most belligerent sentiment from within the CCP—rejected criticism from what it called "extreme forces and the U.S. and other external forces." Beijing has tried to frame the popular unrest as instigated and directed by foreign powers, particularly the U.S.

President Donald Trump's administration has imposed sanctions on CCP officials who have undermined Hong Kong's autonomy, prompting angry protests and retaliatory measures from Beijing. "China is prepared to deal with a worse situation," Global Times said, "and the U.S.' threat has failed."

Critics have said that the law fatally undermines the "one country, two systems" agreement under which Hong Kong reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997. The deal was supposed to protect Hong Kong's market economy and its people's political freedoms until 2047, but activists have already declared the beginning of "one country, one system."

Global Times claimed there is "nothing" in the legislation that "suppresses democracy and freedom in Hong Kong," even as police arrested protesters for carrying flags and banners calling for independence, encouraging resistance and calling for foreign assistance.

The harsh prison sentences facing those convicted shows the legislation is "a tiger with teeth," Global Times gloated.

Pro-democracy organizations disbanded Tuesday ahead of the imminent adoption of the law, fearing they will be first on the list of the expected Chinese crackdown. Nonetheless, prominent figures said they would keep fighting for democracy in the territory.

Joshua Wong—one of the cofounders of the now closed Demosisto pro-democracy organization—tweeted photos from Wednesday's march declaring: "We shall never surrender. Now is not the time to give up."

We are on street to against national security law. We shall never surrender. Now is not the time to give up.

— Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 😷 (@joshuawongcf) July 1, 2020

China Daily—owned by the CCP propaganda department—cited the shuttering of Demosisto and other groups as proof of "the necessity of the legislation." Its editorial read: "They have effectively passed judgment on their own actions, since the legislation...puts only those engaging in such naturally criminalized activities in its crosshairs."

The newspaper said the national security law will only target "destabilizing elements in Hong Kong and their hostile-to-China foreign patrons."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, meanwhile, urged foreign nations not to interfere in the unrest. Already Beijing has attacked the U.S. for its sanctions and the U.K. for offering to extend visa rights for some Hong Kong residents.

Hong Kong protesters have often flown U.S. and British flags during demonstrations, calling for support against Chinese encroachment. This is now illegal under the national security law.

China, Hong KOng, protest, national security, law
Protesters chant slogans during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020. DALE DE LA REY/AFP via Getty Images/Getty