A conversation between Bonnie Glaser and Dr. Eric Y.H. Lai discussing the recent passage of Article 23 by the city parliament of Hong Kong.

When Hong Kong was handed over to China by the United Kingdom 1997, the city was given a mini-Constitution called the “Basic Law.” Article 23 of the Basic Law states that Hong Kong shall enact laws of its own to prohibit various national security offenses. The law did not pass, however, and was scrapped after mass protests in 2003. And in 2020, the Central Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) imposed a separate national security law on Hong Kong, citing the city’s delay in acting on Article 23.

This year on March 19th, Article 23 was passed unanimously by the city’s parliament and it came into effect just days later. The law covers five types of crime: treason, insurrection and incitement to mutiny, theft of state secrets, and espionage, sabotage, and external interference. Critics say that Article 23 could lead to even further erosions of civil liberties in Hong Kong.

To discuss Article 23 and its implications, host Bonnie Glaser is joined by Dr. Eric Yan-ho Lai. Dr. Lai is a Research Fellow at the Georgetown Center for Asian Law, an Associate Fellow at the Hong Kong Studies Hub of the University of Surrey, and a member of the Asian Civil Society Research Network.

Episode Highlights:

[01:47] Understanding PRC Definitions Used in Article 23

[03:37] Why was Article 23 passed now?

[05:23] Compressed Timeline for Unanimous Approval

[09:05] Shift in Risk Assessment for Multinational Corporations

[12:03] Precedents for Targeting Diaspora Communities

[14:17] Reactions to Article 23 from the International Community

[15:54] What are some concrete actions that could be taken to signal concern?

[17:55] Do the PRC and Hong Kong care about international perceptions?

[19:36] Implementation of Article 23 Moving Forward

[21:28] Passage of Additional Security Legislature

[22:57] Forecast for the Future of Hong Kong