China snuffs out a beacon of freedom

China’s decision to impose its national-security law on Hong Kong is a seismic event that goes well beyond the sad fate of its 7.5 million people. The illegal takeover shows that Beijing’s Communist rulers are willing to violate their international commitments with impunity as they spread their authoritarian model.

By

Opinion

July 6, 2020 - 9:03 AM

Protesters chant slogans during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. Hong Kong police arrested more than 300 people on July 1 -- including nine under China's new national security law -- as thousands defied a ban on protests on the anniversary of the city's handover to China. (Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

China’s decision to impose its national-security law on Hong Kong is a seismic event that goes well beyond the sad fate of its 7.5 million people. The illegal takeover shows that Beijing’s Communist rulers are willing to violate their international commitments with impunity as they spread their authoritarian model.

We say this with regret because we were among those who hoped, amid China’s reform era that began in the 1980s, that the Middle Kingdom could be drawn into a world of peaceful global norms. Hong Kong, a showcase of the prosperity that economic freedom and the rule of law can produce, was a lesson for Beijing to learn from.

Now those hopes are crushed, as China’s Communist legislature imposed the national-security law that ends Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” governance and subverts the rights promised under the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984. Beijing promised to preserve Hong Kong’s legal autonomy and freedom of speech, assembly, the press and other liberties. The 7.5 million now subject to this sweeping legislation weren’t even permitted to read the text until it passed.

Related
July 1, 2020
June 30, 2020
January 20, 2020
December 3, 2019