For the first time since 1990, demonstrations in commemoration of the events that took place in China in 1989 were banned in Hong Kong. However, despite the bans, the people of Hong Kong overcame the barriers—including physical ones—and held the usual candlelight memorial.
This is a longstanding tradition that has been taking place for 30 years. In fact, many of the protagonists of the protests in China—culminating in the repression of students and workers in many Chinese cities—managed to escape to the former British colony.
However, this time, the commemoration became part of the ongoing clash between the United States and China, a conflict that Hong Kong finds itself stuck in the middle of, albeit unwillingly.
On Thursday, as reported by Agenzia Nova, the Hong Kong Legislative Council approved the bill that criminalizes insults against the Chinese national anthem.
According to the South China Morning Post, the bill was passed by 41 votes in favor and one against. The bill could punish those who insult the Chinese anthem with imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to $6,000.
After the approval by the Chinese “parliament” of the national security law, Hong Kong is now on its way to a new reality: from the theory of “one country, two systems,” Beijing is going forward with the process of turning the former colony into what is for all intents and purposes a regular Chinese city.
The decision to pass the law must be seen in the context of the clash with the United States, which is ongoing and has reached more heated tones in recent days, with proposals that, if approved, would change the nature of the confrontation between Beijing and Washington forever. The American government has threatened to prevent mainland Chinese airlines from flying to and from the United States as of June 16, stating that Beijing had not approved the resumption of flights by U.S. companies.
The news was reported in the Wall Street Journal, which pointed out that some U.S. airlines tried to resume service to China this month after suspending their flights earlier this year when the coronavirus pandemic began.
The U.S. Department of Transportation said on Wednesday that the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration had not approved the requests by United and Delta to resume regular flights.
Beijing also put out an answer to the American threat to revoke the privileged economic relations between the US and Hong Kong, saying that China will support the former colony in maintaining its independent tariff zone and will oppose external forces intervening in Hong Kong’s internal affairs. To this effect, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce issued a note saying that “China will support the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in maintaining its independent tariff zone and in consolidating and strengthening its position as an international financial, commercial and maritime center.”