Beijing says it through the flower

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FFor many Hong Kong citizens, Xinhua is more than just the official Chinese news agency. Xinhua is a symbol of Beijing's influence in Hong Kong. For between 1947 and the year 2000, the office of the news agency was unofficially the branch of the Chinese Communist Party, which officially does not exist in Hong Kong until today. Therefore, it was also a deliberate provocation to the central government when activists attacked the Xinhua building on Saturday night, smashing the windscreens and smudging the inside with red paint.

Friederike Böge

While the situation in Hong Kong continues to escalate, the central government in Beijing appears to be preparing for a more rigorous approach to dealing with the protest movement. Last week, the powerful Central Committee of the Communist Party met and apparently adopted a new Hong Kong policy. How exactly that should look like is to be recognized so far only in beginnings. The plenary's final communiqué cryptically said that it wanted to “improve the legal system and law enforcement mechanisms” in Hong Kong – “to ensure national security”.

A Hong Kong-appointed functionary of the People's Congress made further hints at a press conference on Friday. The central government will “not tolerate any behavior that encourages separatism and threats to national security,” Shen Chunyao said. Radical political forces in the city would join forces with foreign forces and make Hong Kong a “front line in the battle zone” between China and foreign forces.

Shen's references to Hong Kong's constitution were interpreted by observers as suggesting that Beijing pass a security bill in Hong Kong that could impose harsh penalties for subversion, treason, and advocating Hong Kong independence, as well as prohibiting political activity by foreign organizations in the region. The Hong Kong Constitution of 1997 stipulates that the local government should pass such a law. A similar attempt failed in 2003 but in mass protests.

Tougher penalties thanks to new law

China's party newspapers complain that although nearly 3,000 demonstrators have been arrested in Hong Kong, many of them have been released after a short time. The security law aimed at by Beijing could prevent this, as the party newspaper “Global Times” argued on Sunday. Shen Chunyao, the functionary of the People's Congress, also announced that Beijing would strengthen the patriotism of officials and youth in the future. As early as 2012, the central government had tried to enforce patriotic education in schools. That, too, failed because of mass protests.

(tagToTranslate) Xi Jinping (t) Carrie Lam (t) Communist Party (t) People's Congress (t) Protest Movement (t) Hong Kong (t) Beijing

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