Five Reasons to Question the Legality of a National Security Law for Hong Kong

On 28 May 2020, the National People’s Congress (NPC) resolved to authorize its Standing Committee (NPCSC) to enact a piece of national security law for Hong Kong. Would this decision be in contravention of the Basic Law? Some people may say that this is a stupid question. Maybe it is. But if the Central Government still claims to be abide by the rule of law, and if the NPC is not above the law, then whether its decision would contravene the Basic Law is a serious question about the rule of law.

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China’s Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic: Fighting Two Enemies

The reality of China’s coronavirus experience raises distinctive legal-political concerns. The Party has used its vast and concentrated power to fight not only the virus, but also domestic critics of its response, including medical professionals, journalists, human rights activists, a constitutional law professor, and citizens simply speaking up via the social media because they were engaged, or enraged, or both. The fight against one of these ‘enemies’, inevitably, has affected that against the other.

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Kill the Chickens to Scare the Monkeys

As the Chinese saying goes, killing the chickens to scare the monkeys, China’s courts were quick to set examples of people who committed offences in relation to the country’s response to Covid-19 in order to deter potential offenders. However, the punishments of ordinary offenders and responsible officials highlight China’s constitutional setting – the dominance of the Communist Party in state affairs, and the political role of courts in times of national emergency. This is consistent with China’s self-proclamation – the centrality of the Communist Party’s leadership and the division of functions among state organs without separation of powers. Under such a setting, ordinary people and officials are subject to different rules and have different fates.

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Corona Constitutional #13: In Hongkong wird es dunkel

Erinnern Sie sich? In grauer Vorzeit, vor der Krise, im Jahr 2019 gab es eine riesige Protestbewegung in Hongkong. Hunderttausende gingen auf die Straße, um ihre Freiheitsrechte und die Unabhängigkeit ihrer Verfassungsinstitutionen gegen den Zugriff der Zentralregierung in Peking zu verteidigen. Die nutzt jetzt die Coronakrise, um mit ihren Gegnern abzurechnen. Übers Wochenende wurden viele prominente Regimekritiker in Hongkong verhaftet, die Protestbewegung klemmt im Lockdown fest, die Weltöffentlichkeit hat etwas anderes zu tun, als sich über Hongkong aufzuregen. Können wir uns das leisten, in Zeiten, wo ohnehin schon autoritäre Regimes ihr Krisenmanagement als Vorbild anpreisen, das den liberalen Demokratien angeblich überlegen ist? Darüber spricht Max Steinbeis mit der Verfassungsrechtsprofessorin CORA CHAN von der Hong Kong University, die direkt vor Ort von ihrer Einschätzung der Lage berichtet.

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Hong Kong’s Basic Law at 30: A Constitutional Experiment under Stress

On April 4, 2020, the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (HK Basic Law) turned 30. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has been and continues to be confronted with many challenges, including those concerned with the implementation of the HK Basic Law. Ultimately, it will depend on the Chinese Central Authorities and the Hong Kong institutions if the HK Basic Law is to remain the centrepiece in the governance of Hong Kong.

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The WHO After Corona: Discretionary Powers for the Next Pandemic?

Imagine the World Health Organization (WHO) had declared the outbreak of the mysterious lung ailment in the Chinese city of Wuhan a potential public health emergency of international concern already in late December 2019. It might have been just in time to halt the spread of the disease which by now has become a supreme global emergency of unforeseen proportions.

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Chinese (Anti-)­Constitutionalism

Many (Verfassungs-)blog posts on China, be it on tweets, white papers, or the Social Credit System, criticize legal institutions and realities by highlighting their difference from “Western” or constitutionalist traditions. This makes it rather easy for the explicitly anti-Western and anti-constitutionalist official Chinese system of thought, Sino-Marxism, to reject any criticism – either as Eurocentric, (legal) Orientalist, and “culturally hegemonic” or as ignorant of “theoretical basis” of the Chinese system. Knowing Sino-Marxism, which provides powerful political but only limited analytical tools, is thus crucial for transnational and global constitutionalists in order to defend their values without being accused of a lack of understanding – also in the current case of Hong Kong.

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