Beijing says it through the flower

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FFor many Hong Kong citizens, Xinhua is much more than an official Chinese news agency. Xinhua is a symbol of Beijing's influence in Hong Kong. For the period between 1947 and 2000, the news agency was unofficially the branch of the Chinese Communist Party, which to date has not officially existed in Hong Kong. Therefore, it was also a deliberate provocation for the central government when activists attacked the Xinhua building on Saturday night, breaking the windshields and staining the interior with red paint.

Friederike Böge

As the situation in Hong Kong continues to deteriorate, the central government in Beijing appears to be preparing for a more rigorous approach to tackle 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 be recognized so far only in the beginning. The final communiqué of the plenary cryptically affirmed that it wanted "to improve the legal system and the mechanisms of contrast" in Hong Kong – "guaranteeing national security".

A Hong Kong official of the People's Congress gave further suggestions at a press conference on Friday. The central government "will not tolerate any behavior that encourages separatism and threats to national security," said Shen Chunyao. The radical political forces in the city would join forces with foreign ones and make Hong Kong a "front line in the battle zone" between China and foreign forces.

Shen's references to the Hong Kong constitution were interpreted by observers to suggest that Beijing approve a security law in Hong Kong that could impose severe sanctions for subversion, betrayal and defense of Hong Kong independence, in addition to to prohibit the political activity of foreign organizations in the region. The 1997 Hong Kong Constitution states that the local government should approve this law. A similar attempt failed in 2003 but in mass protests.

Stricter penalties thanks to the new law

Chinese party newspapers complain that, although almost 3,000 protesters were arrested in Hong Kong, many of them were released after a short time. The security law prosecuted by Beijing could prevent it, as the "Global Times" newspaper claimed on Sunday. Shen Chunyao, a congress official, also announced that Beijing will strengthen the patriotism of officials and youth in the future. Already in 2012 the central government had tried to impose patriotic education in schools. This too failed due to 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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