A National Security Law Research Report was recently released in Taiwan, shedding light on the impact of the law on various aspects of Hong Kong society. The report, conducted by an anonymous Hong Kong research team, aims to improve awareness of the law’s effects and enhance support mechanisms for Hongkongers. It employs three review mechanisms to analyze five key areas that have been significantly impacted in Hong Kong.
One of the areas examined in the report is “News and Media.” The team found that the Hong Kong authorities’ attack on two news outlets, Stand News and Apple Daily, was a significant example of the erosion of journalistic freedoms. The police raids on these organizations eventually led to their forced shutdown, sending a chilling message to the media industry. Additionally, the government has introduced administrative measures to exert control over public broadcasting and frequently criticizes media organizations, effectively leading to self-censorship.
The “Culture, Art, and Publishing” category also experienced a crackdown. The report states that the Hong Kong government has amended the Film Censorship ordinance to suppress publishing freedom. Examples include requests by the Office for Film, Newspaper, and Article Administration (OFNAA) for permits to authorize the screening of politically sensitive films and interference by the Food and Hygiene Environment Department (FEHD) in activities related to the June 4 Tiananmen Square Massacre Exhibition. Furthermore, selected books have been removed from public libraries for review under the National Security Law, publishing houses have been excluded from the 2022 Book Fair, and bookings for politically sensitive performances have been rejected.
In the area of “Overall Political Expression,” the report criticizes the Hong Kong police for rejecting public demonstration applications and using the Public Order Ordinance to threaten protesters. The police have also engaged in unnecessary interviews, harassment, and stalking strategies to intimidate activists. The National Security Bureau has deliberately scheduled interviews with demonstration organizers on significant dates to further undermine political expression.
The report highlights the impact on “Information Flow” caused by amending the Personal Data Privacy Ordinance and Company Ordinance search arrangements. These amendments have restricted public access to previously available information. Additionally, the Hong Kong government has demanded network service providers block access to specified websites in Hong Kong, further limiting information flow and access to alternative viewpoints.
Regarding “Capital Flow,” the report reveals plans by the Hong Kong government to legislate laws to regulate crowdfunding. This will require advance approval for all fundraising activities. Government statutory bodies responsible for funding local groups have been conducting political reviews when approving projects, adding to the challenges faced by civil society organizations. Non-government organizations have also stopped providing services to politically sensitive groups, as seen with PayPal ceasing its service to the League of Social Democrats due to perceived risks.
The research report emphasizes the loss of freedoms in Hong Kong due to the large-scale introduction of censorship. Public discussion has become more controlled, leading to a cautious civil society that refrains from voicing concerns and seeking support. The research team hopes to address this by establishing a backup database and an international discussion platform to connect with Hong Kong’s civil society. They urge international attention and support for Hongkongers still fighting for a civil society and democracy.
Mr. Fung Siu-tin, secretary-general of Hong Kong Outlanders, emphasizes that despite the conclusion of the anti-extradition movement, the fight for democracy continues among local Hongkongers with limited access to the overseas diaspora. The struggle for freedom and democracy remains ongoing, and support from the international community is crucial.