Hong Kong takeover: Beijing may send in mainland security forces, warns expert

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And Professor Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS) in London fears the end result will see security forces from mainland China being sent to take control, a UK-based expert fears. China’s foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong has dismissed concerns about the proposed new rules, taking a swipe at “meddling” foreign countries. However, the security legislation, which could the creation of Chinese intelligence agencies in Hong Kong, has been roundly condemned by among others Chris Patten, the last governor of the former British colony, who accused Beijing of betraying the people of Hong Kong.

The result will be an escalation of confrontation leading to violence which may make what happened in HK in the second half of last year look tame

Professor Steve Tsang

Police today fired tear gas at pro-democracy demonstrators protesting against the Chinese plans.

Prof Tsang, himself a graduate of the University of Hong Kong, who has written several books on the subject of Hong Kong, told Express.co.uk: “It is hard to see this new development not causing people in HK to demonstrate and protest, which will be met with repression.

“The result will be an escalation of confrontation leading to violence which may make what happened in HK in the second half of last year look tame.

“The new law provides for the Mainland Chinese security forces to be set up and deployed in HK if necessary, which suggests that Beijing knows this will happen and is prepared to send Mainland Chinese security forces if and when Beijing deems the HK Police unable to do what it desires.

“A totally avoidable and, indeed, unnecessary, tragedy in the making.”

Prof Tsang said: “This is a game changing development for HK, not the usual erosion of HK’s autonomy or its ‘one country, two system’ model of having HK people rule HK.”

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The Chinese Government was within its rights to insist that HK passes a national security law, as it is provided for in Article 23 of HK’s constitution, known as the Basic Law, he explained.

However, he added: “What is being put on the table now is something quite different. It is for the National People’s Congress to take over and legislate on behalf of HK, effectively by-passing the HK Legislative Council.

“This reduces the Basic Law and the ‘one country, two systems’ to little more than empty shells.

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“Many in HK will see this as the beginning of the end of the ‘one country, two systems’ as it confirms that the Communist Party will impose its will on HK when it cannot get HK’s institutions, in this case the Legislative Council, to do what it wants.

“This is the crux of the matter, and much more important than the specific provisions in the proposed legislation which will render potentially any act or speech deemed by the Communist Party as ‘subversive’ to its continued rule.”

The move represented a clear violation of the Sino-British Agreement of 1984 over the future of Hong Kong, because it effectively showed Beijing was no longer adhering to it, Prof Tsang said.

Urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to make his feelings plain, he explained: “There may not be a lot that the UK can do to change that but not responding and adhering to the Agreement will imply the UK accepts that the Agreement is effectively ‘dead’.

“This is an international agreement registered at the UN, and Her Majesty’s Government has a duty to raise this at the UN, notwithstanding the prospect that Beijing will veto whatever London may propose.”

Hong Kong police also used water cannon to disperse thousands of demonstrators.

A protester wearing a black hoodie and surgical mask held a banner that said: “I stand for Hong Kong’s independence.”

The protest – the first since Beijing proposed national security laws on Thursday – posed a fresh challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Twinnie, 16, a secondary school student who declined to give her last name, said: “I am worried that after the implementation of the national security law, they will go after those being charged before and the police will be further out of control.

“I am afraid of being arrested but I still need to come out and protest for the future of Hong Kong.”

Responding to a Daily Express report suggesting Boris Johnson is planning to allow hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens to come to Britain if China clamps down further on the former British colony, Baroness Natalie Bennett, chairwoman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hong Kong said: “Given the Chinese government plan to end ‘One Country, Two systems’, and the continuing attacks on free speech and democracy in Hong Kong, it is only right that Britain should live up to its obligations to British nationals in Hong Kong, and beyond that all of the people of Hong Kong.

“I urge the Prime Minister to act, and to act determinedly, to send a message that Britain will stand up for human rights and offer refuge to those who need it.”

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