Friday, August 14, 2020

The New National Security Law in China: What it Means for Hong Kong

This article is by

Share this article

Hong Kong at Night | Source: Anatoliy Gromov via Unsplash

The city of Hong Kong, which has enjoyed relatively free trading laws from mainland China and has established itself as a major trading centre over the years, may be at risk of capital fleeing due to draconian laws that China seeks to impose on it, curbing its trade and the political freedom it enjoyed.

The problem begins with Beijing's plan to enact national security laws in May 2020 over the whole country, including Hong Kong, which has had an independent judiciary, loose business regulation, low trade barriers and guarantees of freedom of expression until now. The national security law aims to target sedition and terrorist activities. This comes after anti-Beijing protests last year which had cases of extreme violence against the public.

This raises many questions for those doing business because there is a great fear that the definition of national security is so vague and ambiguous that China may accord severe punishment for petty crimes or dissent.

However, the Hong Kong officials have responded by support for the law. The Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, has said that this law addresses problems which the business sector has been “worrying about over the past year.” Leung Chun-ying, a top Chinese advisor, has said that the law does not “hinder foreign investors”, nor “hinder the freedom enjoyed by local residents”.

The fear still abounds, with a significant number of people seeking to flee the city, the largest fall in the local stock market since 2008 after the announcement of the security law and the doubling of the funds deposited in Singaporean banks, which is attributed to the situation in Hong Kong by economists.

Many investment firms have expressed their concerns on tightening of the grip by mainland China on Hong Kong. William Kaye, a longtime investor in China and founder of Pacific Group, the investment firm, has said that “what is just a trickle could become a flood of capital out.”

The US government has also lodged a strong protest with China against the imposition of draconian security law on Hong Kong. It is important to note that the USA has granted special status in trading to Hong Kong which has given some competitive advantages and contributed to the business growth of Hong Kong.

The US had warned China that with the new security law, the special status granted to Hong Kong will be revoked by the USA. As China failed to do so, the USA revoked Hong Kong’s Special Status through an executive order by President Trump on July 14, 2020.

A revocation of its special status would mark “the beginning of the death of Hong Kong as we know it,” Steve Tsang, director of the University of London’s SOAS China Institute, said last year.

Apart from the special status revocation, the same day President Trump also signed an Hong Kong Autonomy Act to impose sanctions on foreign individuals and entities for ‘contributing to the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy.’ Under this law, persons responsible for human rights violations in Hong Kong can be subject to sanctions like visa bans and asset freezes.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, has said it’s “totally unacceptable” for foreign legislatures to interfere in Hong Kong’s internal affairs, and that sanctions would only complicate the city’s problems. She also gave reassurance to the investors that Hong Kong adheres to the rule of law and has an independent judiciary.

The Chinese attempt to exert greater control over Hong Kong and the protest by the local people with moral support from the international community has once again put the spotlight on the behaviour of China, as it is trying to establish itself as a global economic and military super power.

The people of Hong Kong have unfortunately become a pawn in the great game of geopolitical power projection. It is still too early to predict whether China will blink first and roll back the draconian law or Hong Kong will end up as collateral damage in China’s quest for a place on the high table of global power players.

Support us to bring the world closer

To keep our content accessible we don't charge anything from our readers and rely on donations to continue working. Your support is critical in keeping Global Views 360 independent and helps us to present a well-rounded world view on different international issues for you. Every contribution, however big or small, is valuable for us to keep on delivering in future as well.

Support Us

Share this article

Read More

October 23, 2020 3:57 PM

Male gaze, their female guardians and sports-wear

In Helen Cixous’ essay, ‘The Laugh of Medusa’, she urges women to redefine what their body means to them, not just physically but also socially, emotionally and politically. This could happen by re-writing about your body in a way you deem  fit, the expression you identify with and separating it from how your body has been written about by men. The expression could be how you view your body separate from the patriarchal lense.

It is no secret that a woman’s body is subject to critique. While clothing for men is just a tool to cover themselves as per the surrounding environment, clothing for women isa social and political narrative that dictates their life or as we affectionately call it ‘culturally appropriate’.

The clothing style could vary. It could be a woman covered head to toe in a Burqa, it could be a woman who decides to wear sports-wear in a park or it could be jeans and a top. Everything is critically evaluated by men and by women who work towards protecting the male gaze.

The male gaze is a heterosexual way of looking at female bodies that sexualises these bodies into an object. It is a gaze that runs on the self-affirmative notion that the bodies of women, and what they do with it, is directly linked to how they  appear in front of a man.

In a recent incident in Bangalore, India, popular Indian actress Samyuktha Hegde was abused and threatened by senior political leader of the congress party, Kavitha Reddy,  for wearing sports-wear, in Bangalore’s Agara Lake park. She was exercising with her friend.

Kavitha Reddy initially claimed she was in indecent attire and went onto morally police and then later abused the actress and her friend.  A supposedly progressive political leader gets uncomfortable by what women are wearing. It breaks into an argument and a fight where the politician is supported by five to six men. Later on, the police appear to be appeasing the politician instead of the women who were harassed. Although she did apologise, her apology came after her video went viral, and as a protection for her own political reputation.

To look at Samyuktha Hegde’s clothing as a threat is to view her clothing as an act of obscenity therefore bullying her identity and sense of agency and reducing her to sexual object, who, by putting her in public, apparently gives the men present a right to look at her? Nevermind that she was there to workout like everyone else, her actions were confused as to how men look at her. In the video posted by the actress, the politician is surrounded by men who are championing her on. The politician choses to side with the patriarchal figures in shaming these women. Asking to protect from the male gaze is a far stretch but punishing women for the male gaze is where we should draw a line.

What roles does Kavitha Reddy play? She is the guardian of the male gaze. We find her in our mothers, in our grandmothers, in aunties and sometimes our friends. She understands a woman’s body as an object that is there to be looked at by men. She gets angry at women for wearing certain kinds of clothing but she is not angry at men for looking. The agency in this case always belongs to men.

When Cixous asks women to re-define their identity, she urges us to strangle the moral police that comes alive in such instances. It is the moral police that shames women for wearing clothes that don’t flatter their bodies or clothes that do flatter them. She urges us to reflect upon the source of such vigilance. Do we shame other women because we believe in what we are saying or our identity is partially (or  wholly) shaped by the male gaze?

Whether we chose to wear a burqa, or a dress, or variations of the new type clothing produced everyday, the crux of the matter is that it should not worry anyone apart from the one wearing it. The identity of a woman, sexual or otherwise, has to be redefined to be separated from the men and their gaze. We have to draw a line otherwise people in power will continue to abuse their power and preserve patriarchy and male gaze.

Read More