Anti-government demonstrators scuffle with riot police during a lunch time protest as a second reading of a controversial national anthem law takes place in Hong Kong, China May 27, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Pro-democracy protesters are clashing with riot police in the streets of Hong Kong as Beijing prepares to enact new “national security laws” that many see as an assault on Honk Kong’s autonomy.

Hundreds of protesters have been arrested after blocking roads and setting fires throughout the streets of Hong Kong as riot police fired at them with water cannons, pepper rounds, and tear gas. The new security law will be voted on by The National People’s Congress on Thursday, May 28. The law aims to eliminate “secession, subversion, terrorism, and conspiracy with ­foreign influence.”

Prominent businessman and second richest man in Hong Kong Li-Ka shing spoke out in support of the new laws, which he hopes will “allay the apprehension Beijing’s central government felt in Hong Kong.” Hong Kong Security Chief John Lee Ka-chiu also expressed support for the security laws, arguing that the very protests against them were proof of their necessity. Lee’s statement came just as the second reading of the “national anthem bill” took place, which would criminalize disrespect of the Chinese national anthem “March of the Volunteers.”

State-run Chinese outlet Global Times authored an article in which they argue the “fear-mongering” surrounding these new laws is unfounded, stating there is “no reason to be afraid of this law if people are not taking part in acts such as splitting up the country, treason and subversion, organizing terrorist activities, and colluding with foreign forces to interfere in the internal affairs of Hong Kong.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told Congress that Hong Kong no longer meets the requirements for special treatment in regard to trade, citing these new security laws imposed by Beijing as “the latest in a series of actions that fundamentally undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms.” These new developments coupled with current political unrest have some global investors worried about the future of doing business with Hong Kong. Meanwhile, investors from mainland China are pouring money into Hong Kong at a rapid pace.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Xi Jinping urges China’s army to prepare for armed combat as Hong Kong protests restart over a new bill that would strip away the city’s freedoms – Business Insider – 5/27/2020
Chinese President Xi Jinping urged his army to increase its preparedness for “armed combat” as protests in Hong Kong ramp up over a proposed new law that would effectively strip away the city’s autonomy. […] Xi also ordered the military to “think about worst-case scenarios, scale up training and battle preparedness, promptly and effectively deal with all sorts of complex situations and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests,” according to Xinhua, paraphrasing Xi.

Li Ka-shing Defends Hong Kong Security Law as China’s Right – Bloomberg – 5/27/2020
Hong Kong’s richest tycoon Li Ka-shing defended a national security law drafted by Beijing, making his first comment on the proposal that has triggered fresh protests in the city.The founder of CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. was among several billionaires based in the city who rallied behind the draft rule in statements to local newspapers this week, while demonstrators returned to the streets to protest against the mainland’s increasing control.

Hong Kong’s business hub appeal in the spotlight as China law looms large – South China Morning Post – 5/27/2020
The legislation, which may still take many months to come into force, is aimed at preventing and punishing subversion, terrorism, separatism and foreign interference, “or any acts that severely endanger national security.” […] “Would it stop me from investing? No, but it would make us look real hard at what our security is and what our exit [strategy] is so that we have a backup plan for any problems,” said Calton, CEO of UK-based investment firm Carlton James Group. “Because of that, it means making investments is not so easy, and it’s inevitable that the market will be affected.”

Pompeo declares that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China, threatening trade with U.S. – CNBC – 5/27/2020
“Hong Kong and its dynamic, enterprising, and free people have flourished for decades as a bastion of liberty, and this decision gives me no pleasure. But sound policy making requires a recognition of reality,” Pompeo said. “While the United States once hoped that free and prosperous Hong Kong would provide a model for authoritarian China, it is now clear that China is modeling Hong Kong after itself.”

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

Abraham M. Denmark on Twitter, 5/27/2020: What comes next? Will the US try to roll this back or just move on and impose costs? Can the US build a coalition to sanction the PRC? Will Trump invoke the Magnitsky Act and other sanctions? Will Beijing cite this as US acceptance of a fait accompli?

Senator Ted Cruz on Twitter, 5/27/2020: America will not stand by and allow tyrants in China to exploit the special treatment Hong Kong received under U.S. law.   We will stand strong with our allies and hold the line against the spread of communism.

DW News on Twitter, 5/27/2020: If China doesn’t face serious consequences for its assault on Hong Kong’s civil liberties, a military attack on Taiwan is only a matter of time

Sohrab Ahmari on Twitter, 5/27/2020: If any Western actor is to be blamed for the end of Hong Kong’s autonomy, it’s the British, who reacted to Beijing’s encroachments with utter, shameful pusillanimity over many years.

Bloomberg on Twitter, 5/27/2020: It’s a far cry from a year ago, when Hong Kong protesters managed to thwart a bill that would allow extraditions to China

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