The Chinese parliament introduced a new security law at 11 p.m. on Tuesday, one hour before the 23rd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong, in a move directed to broaden and solidify mainland’s grip on protesters in the former British colony.
According to the new legislation, “separatism, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference” are now illegal and subjectable to life-imprisonment in some cases.
Many protestors reportedly deleted posts, comments, or social media accounts altogether in fear of being tied to pro-democracy activism and the punishment that might come with it.
According to the BBC, a contact in Hong Kong asked one of their correspondents to delete their chat history, anxious to cut off ties.
In Taiwan, many people have also expressed their support to the protests online too. Still, they should remember that the Hong Kong security laws apply to foreigners with “no exceptions.”
The question is, should they fear for their safety when they travel to Hong Kong? Is the option of transiting through Hong Kong International Airport gone for good?
Chinese-language media remarked that the new law also applies to non-residents in Hong Kong, including Taiwanese and foreign visitors.
If Beijing aims to demonstrate its self-proclaimed sovereignty over Hong Kong, Chinese authorities could easily access Taiwan’s public comments and use them as a reason to arrest people while in Hong Kong.
Zhang Xiaoming, a Chinese politician and former director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said in a press conference that Hong Kong’s legal system could not be expected to implement the laws of the mainland.
So far, officers at the airport are part of the Hong Kong Police. As long as the new security agency does not provide personals to the airport, Taiwanese travelers should be safe during their transit, regardless of their social media advocacy history.
Earlier today, however, the Taiwanese government established a new office dedicated to helping Hong Kong citizens to immigrate to Taiwan in response to the new law.
According to Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆), vice secretary of the Democratic Progressive Party, Taiwanese citizens entering Hong Kong at this time will be experiencing some level of risks, but the party’s support to Hong Kong will only be stronger from this point on.