Hong Kong

Brief Overview

Since 2019, there has been a rapid deterioration in the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression and association. The year was marked by the creation of an unprecedented pro-democracy movement with global effects that took to the streets to demand an end to the now-withdrawn extradition bill, which would have allowed for defendants to be extradited to mainland China.

However, in 2020, the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association, among other human rights, were severely curtailed. The implementation of the National Security Law and the containment of the Covid-19 pandemic have proven to be effective instruments in the fight against Human Rights Activists in Hong Kong.

On March 30, 2021, civil liberties shrink further as China’s national legislature has approved a resolution to drastically overhaul Hong Kong’s electoral system. According to this resolution, only people who are loyal to the Chinese Communist Party can administer the region.

National Security Law

On June 30, 2020, China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) passed a national security law (NSL) for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Hong Kong’s Chief Executive promulgated it in Hong Kong later the same day. 

The law gives Beijing unprecedented powers to shape life and politics in Hong Kong. The law is dangerously vague and wide, and it criminalises four broadly defined categories of offences: secession, subversion, organisation, and perpetration of terrorist activities, and “collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security” in relation to the HKSAR. Persons convicted of violating the NSL can be sentenced to up to life in prison.

The law’s vague wording means It can be used against anyone, anywhere in the world. If they travel to Hong Kong, people who disobey the law risk being prosecuted. It applies not only to Hong Kong residents but also to anyone living outside of Hong Kong. Foreign nationals, Hong Kong’s diaspora, and Hong Kongers studying or working overseas are all included.

The NSL can be accessible at the link below:




28 July: First-person charged under Hong Kong national security law found guilty on two charges (inciting secession and terrorism).

Tong Ying-kit, 24, was found guilty of terrorism for crashing his motorcycle into a group of police officers last year, injuring three

26 July: At least 3 Hong Kong universities make national security education compulsory for students

Undergraduates at Baptist, Lingnan and Polytechnic universities will be required to attend seminars, talks or courses on the topic

 22 July: National security law: Hong Kong police arrest 5 for allegedly conspiring to distribute seditious children’s books

The group, leaders of the General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists, are accused of conspiring to incite hatred against the government, instigate violence

21 July: Hong Kong national security law: 4 former Apple Daily staff charged with conspiracy to collude with foreign forces 

Police officers detained former associate publisher Chan Pui-man and ex-editorial writers Fung Wai-kong and Yeung Ching-kee when they answered bail following their arrest and release last month. The fourth suspect was former executive editor-in-chief Lam Man-chung, who was taken into custody by officers from the force’s National Security Department after daybreak.

17 July: Hong Kong schools prepare to include national security education in everything from English to music, physics and IT lessons

Some schools doing more than others, ready with detailed plans they will implement in September covering subjects from English to IT. Stepping into ELCHK Hung Hom Lutheran Primary School in Kowloon, pupils pass through a traditional red Chinese door and decorative eaves to get to their classrooms.

8 July: Hong Kong’s Next Digital says CEO, CFO resign as company faces investigations under national security law

Hong Kong Media group Next Digital on Thursday said it had received an e-mail from the solicitors of its chief executive officer, Cheung Kim-hung, stating that he had resigned, as the company faces investigations under the national security law

7 June: National security law: Hong Kong authorities to investigate Falun Gong (spiritual movement) after lawmakers call for it to be banned

A top Hong Kong official has promised to look into the local chapter of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, which pro-establishment politicians accused of breaking the national security statute — an accusation rejected by a local leader of the group.

6 July: National security law: students and university employee among 9 arrested over alleged terrorist plot to bomb streets, courts, transport networks

Nine people have been arrested by Hong Kong’s national security police, most of them are teenagers, in connection with an alleged terrorist plot by a pro-independence organization to bomb courts, tunnels, and streets in a series of attacks in the coming week.

6 July: Security law: At least 8 Hong Kong pro-democracy groups disband in past 2 weeks, including lawyers’ group 

The group’s website and social media accounts, including its Facebook page and Twitter account, were no longer accessible.

2 July: US adds national security law to list of concerns as Hong Kong left on annual human-trafficking report’s ‘watch list’ 

In its latest human-trafficking report, the US State Department cited the national security statute as a factor preventing Hong Kong NGOs from assisting victims of the trade, putting the city on a watch list for the second year in a row.

1 July: China’s national security legislation is destroying Hong Kong’s rule of law

One year on, the first national security trial shows how China’s national security legislation is destroying Hong Kong’s rule of law

27 June: National security law: Apple Daily editorial writer arrested at airport while trying to leave Hong Kong  

A senior editorial writer of Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper was arrested at the airport on Sunday night while attempting to leave the city, according to sources, just as an online news portal acted to purge most of its commentaries over concerns related to the national security law

24 June: Hong Kong Says Public Libraries Must Comply With Security Law

Hong Kong has said all public libraries must comply with its national security law after a pro-China lawmaker highlighted that a local branch had prominently displayed books written by media tycoon and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai.

22 June: Hong Kong’s first national security law trial will have no jury, Court of Appeal rules 

Three appeal court judges have unanimously upheld the Hong Kong justice minister’s decision to exclude a jury from the trial of the first person charged under the national security law.

18 June: National security law: Hong Kong police charge Apple Daily publisher, editor-in-chief with conspiracy to collude with external elements 

Hong Kong police have charged Apple Daily’s publisher and editor-in-chief with conspiring with external elements under national security law. Officers stormed the houses of chief editor Ryan Law, publisher Cheung Kim-hung, and three other key officials the day before, arresting all five.

17 June: Hong Kong Police Raid Apple Daily; Arrests Made Under National Security Law 

Over 500 police officers raided the city’s only pro-democracy newspaper for the second time in a year on Thursday morning, making arrests under the national security statute for the second time in a year.

13 June: Hong Kong police arrests at least three on the anniversary of the 2019 protest

Hong Kong police arrested at least three protesters on the anniversary of pro-democracy demonstrations in 2019 that rocked the financial hub and eventually led to Beijing introducing a security law that critics say has stifled dissent

11 June: Hong Kong national security law has ‘drastically’ limited freedoms, U.K. report finds

Beijing has broken its legal obligations by undermining Hong Kong‘s high degree of autonomy and used a national security law to “drastically curtail freedoms” in the global financial hub, according to a report by Britain on its former colony.

11 June: Hong Kong’s government on Friday announced it will censor films that it says are endangering national security

The new guidelines state that Hong Kong officials are responsible for safeguarding national security, meaning they have the authority to examine and classify films, and ultimately block their distribution.

6 June: Hong Kong national security law: 80 per cent of city’s schools say guidelines for instilling patriotism in children are hard to implement 

Nearly 80 per cent of Hong Kong schools have said new guidelines for instilling patriotism in children were very difficult to implement, a survey has found, prompting calls for more time and training for teachers.

9 June: University of Hong Kong town halls heard worries about national security law: scholar 

A journalism academic who attended closed-door meetings at the University of Hong Kong to discuss the city’s national security law said that his colleagues expressed worries about the legislation, although they were not yet in a state of despair.

4 June: Court case of 47 Hong Kong democracy activists to resume on July 8

47 Court cases of democracy activists will be resumed on July 8. The appeals of bail for these cases are all denied due to high threshold under the National Security Law.

28 May:  Thousands have joined Hong Kong’s national security law exodus to the UK

The Home Office released data today (May 28) showing that it received 34,300 applications for BN(O) visas in February and March, the first two months of the program.

26 May: National security law: let students learn history with focus on territorial integrity, Hong Kong schools told under new guidelines

Hong Kong students should learn about history with a new emphasis on national security and territorial integrity, according to fresh guidelines issued by education authorities. Under the latest directive handed to schools, topics covered will include previous subject matter such as the unification of China under the Qin emperor (259-210 BC) and the opium wars in the 19th century, but with a focus on how such events highlighted the importance of national security

26 May: Fears of national security law drive outspoken union to verge of breaking up

An outspoken union of doctors in Hong Kong is close to disbanding after failing to appoint its next leader amid concerns over the city’s draconian national security law

25 May: New departments for national security and propaganda coming to Beijing’s office on Hong Kong affairs

The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office (HKMAO) will establish two new departments, one focusing on safeguarding national security, and another so-called news department, focusing on propaganda, according to a report in Sing Tao on Monday

24 May: Another Hong Kong democrat facing national security charge quits politics 

The  54-year-old former lawmaker Gary Fan, charged under the national security law, announced he has quit his party and left politics decision, through a Facebook post on Monday. Fan said he would “never use his political influence or take part in any election ever again.”

20 May: Absconders to be ‘pursued for life’ under national security law: HK Secretary for Security

The Secretary for Security of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, John Lee, has warned that fugitives fleeing to other countries on national security accusations will be hunted for the rest of their lives under Hong Kong’s national security law.

20 May: First-person charged under Hong Kong’s national security law loses bid for a jury trial

The trial of the first person charged under Hong Kong’s national security law will be heard without a jury after a court found that judgment by one’s peers was not a constitutional right.

17 May: Hong Kong labour activists fear ‘political purge’ as gov’t says trade unions must comply with national security law

Law said trade unions are counted among the “community organisations” mentioned in Article 9 and 10 of the national security law. It states that the government should reinforce the education and monitoring of these organisations on matters of national security

14 May: National security law: Hong Kong authorities freeze assets of Apple Daily media tycoon Jimmy Lai 

On the 14th of May, Hong Kong authorities put a freeze on the assets of pro-democracy tycoon Jimmy Lai. Lai is currently incarcerated, awaiting trial on three counts of suspected collusion with a foreign government. In addition, he is currently spending time in prison for a nonviolent, unauthorised demonstration in 2019.

12 May: National Security ‘Super Cop’ found in illegal massage parlour

The director of the department in charge of enforcing the law on national security was found in an illegal massage parlour during a raid by the “morality” police. The 51-year-old Frederic Choi was suspended from his duties and put under investigation for “misconduct” by the police.

12 May: Hong Kong Expats May Leave Over National Security Law

US business group warns 42 per cent of members plan Hong Kong exit. The American Chamber of Commerce survey found 42 percent of 325 respondents said they were planning a move away, with a significant majority (62 percent) citing the national security law as a key reason.

11 May: Hong Kong radio host slapped with new dirty money and sedition-plotting charges

Hong Kong radio host was arrested in November 2020 for a violation of the national security law. Now he faces fresh counts of money laundering and conspiracy to commit sedition under laws dating back to British colonial times

6 May: National security law: Hong Kong police arrest five for alleged acts of subversion on social media, sources say

National security law: Hong Kong police arrest five for alleged acts of subversion on social media. Suspected members of the student group ‘Returning Valiant.

21 April: Opposition-leaning Hong Kong union that screened protest documentary accused of violating national security law by pro-Beijing politician

Hong Kong union accused of violating security law by screening documentary. The documentary is an account of the often violent 13-day stand-off between police and anti-government protesters at Polytechnic University in 2019

15 April: Hong Kong marks National Security Education Day after two legislations return the city to peace and security

Hong Kong celebrated the National Security Education Day on Thursday for the first time after the national security law for the region took effect in 2020. The city government celebrated the day with a grand opening ceremony and a series of activities, as the special administrative region stepped out of the shade of the previous social turmoil.

30 March: National security law: historian to argue Hong Kong protest slogan incites separatism in first trial under Beijing-imposed legislation 

A pro-government historian is set to appear for the prosecution in the first trial under Hong Kong’s national security law, arguing a popular protest slogan displayed by the defendant incites others to commit separatist acts.

1 March: 47 Hong Kong opposition figures charged under national security law

47 Hong Kong opposition figures charged under national security law in the biggest application of the law since it was imposed by Beijing last year

9 February: First trial of a defendant charged under Hong Kong’s national security law ‘to proceed without a jury’

The first trial under Hong Kong’s national security legislation will be held without a jury due to concerns about the safety of those who might have sat on the court. Tong Ying-kit is accused of riding a motorcycle carrying a ‘separatist’ banner into police officers at a July 1 protest last year

9 February: Hong Kong denies bail to media tycoon Jimmy Lai in national security law case

Jimmy Lai, a media tycoon and Beijing critic, was refused bail by Hong Kong’s top court, making him the most high-profile individual to be convicted under the city’s national security rule. Lai had been in detention since Dec. 3, with the exception of a brief release on bail late last year

4 February: Hong Kong schools given sweeping guidelines on bringing national security law into the classroom 

Government releases seven documents covering how nearly all of campus life should conform to the controversial law, with education to begin as young as age six

6 January: National security law: Hong Kong rounds up 53 pro-democracy activists

More than 50 of Hong Kong’s most prominent pro-democracy activists and politicians have been arrested in the biggest crackdown since China imposed a draconian security law last year. They are accused of trying to “overthrow” the government.

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