The provisions of Hong Kong’s newly imposed security law would not only be designed to prohibit any anti-government movement in Hong Kong but also leaves the way open for those who have not set foot on Hong Kong soil to be similarly prosecuted by the authorities if they are deemed to have violated the law.
According to Article 38 of the said Security Act, “The law shall apply to offenses under this law committed against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region from outside the region by a person who is not a permanent resident of the region.”
If the new provisions for the HKSAR are followed to the letter, then any person, regardless of whether he is in Hong Kong or not, could be charged and prosecuted as soon as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Beijing considers that he has broken the law.
“Anything can be stretched as necessary to cover something done by the person being targeted,” wrote Donald Clarke, a professor at George Washington University Law School, in a blog about China and the CCP.
“It is asserting extraterritorial jurisdiction over every person on the planet,” Clarke added.
As the National Review pointed out, the CCP could use Article 38 to prosecute crimes that are illegal in China but legal in the West. In other words, Westerners could be arrested by security agents at the new Beijing base in the city for speaking openly about Western democracies.
Kevin Carrico, a senior researcher at Monash University in Melbourne, recalled the abduction in 2015 of five employees of Causeway Bay Books, an independent bookstore that sold works on political issues considered sensitive material by the CCP.
The company’s employees ended up missing and sources confirmed that they had been abducted by the CCP. Such measures taken by the CCP would prove its desire to promote an extraterritorial police authority.
As National Public Radio has pointed out, foreign media as well as nongovernmental organizations and other international groups could face even stricter regulations and censorship in Hong Kong.
Several countries currently have extradition treaties with Hong Kong, but even among them there are several that have not even signed such an agreement with the mainland. This means that the CCP can apply sanctions that it considers illegal to foreigners for acts committed abroad.
According to Terri Marsh, executive director of the Human Rights Law Foundation, it is very difficult for the CCP to reach non-Chinese citizens living in foreign countries without such extradition treaties, as the terms for claiming jurisdiction over them would not exist, the National Review reported.
For now, both Canada and Australia have suspended extradition treaties with Hong Kong in response to the draconian new national security law.
The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs is considering a re-evaluation of such an extradition treaty.
“There will be a stocktake of New Zealand-Hong Kong relationship settings. Any decisions New Zealand takes, including in relation to extradition, will be the result of this assessment,” a spokesman for that office said, according to Taiwan News.
New Zealand has decided to get involved in the issue after addressing a condemnation of Hong Kong’s new security law by the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, which includes the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.
According to critics, the measures taken by the CCP over the Special Administrative Region constitute a violation of the “one country, two systems” policy, which was agreed to by the CCP in conjunction with the Hong Kong administration after it ceased to be a colony of the United Kingdom in 1997, promising sovereignty for the territory for at least 50 years.