China’s decision to impose its national-security law on Hong Kong is a seismic event that goes well beyond the sad fate of its 7.5 million people. The illegal takeover shows that Beijing’s Communist rulers are willing to violate their international commitments with impunity as they spread their authoritarian model.
We say this with regret because we were among those who hoped, amid China’s reform era that began in the 1980s, that the Middle Kingdom could be drawn into a world of peaceful global norms. Hong Kong, a showcase of the prosperity that economic freedom and the rule of law can produce, was a lesson for Beijing to learn from.
Now those hopes are crushed, as China’s Communist legislature imposed the national-security law that ends Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” governance and subverts the rights promised under the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984. Beijing promised to preserve Hong Kong’s legal autonomy and freedom of speech, assembly, the press and other liberties. The 7.5 million now subject to this sweeping legislation weren’t even permitted to read the text until it passed.