Can “national security” deprive private property?

The Security Bureau recently froze some of Lai Chi-ying’s assets, and Carrie Lam spoke out on behalf of Beijing, arguing that this move “strengthens Hong Kong’s position as a financial center. Lam’s endorsement is the opposite of what is at issue. It is in fact an indicator that Hong Kong has since changed its traditional law on the inviolability of private property and has begun the process of depriving private property by means of national security laws.

The national security law is a Beijing-drafted law, and is not focused on Hong Kong, but on Beijing’s considerations. What is national security? It does not mean that there is a so-called security problem in the market or in public opinion in Hong Kong per se, but rather anything that makes Beijing feel insecure and is relevant to Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s Security Bureau says that under the Third Schedule of the Implementing Rules of the National Security Law 43, the Secretary for Security may direct police officers to pick up any property in the possession of a person if he suspects that the property is incriminated-related property.

As we all know, the National Security Law is used to incriminate people, which is set by Beijing and implemented by the Hong Kong government. As to who is being targeted by Beijing, the Hong Kong government has no right to ask questions. The question that must be asked is how far Beijing is likely to go in extending the state security law. In this regard, Hong Kong people may not have paid sufficient attention to the NPC Standing Committee’s revision of the national defense law last year. The changes to the national defense law do not seem to be directly related to Hong Kong, but they do delineate the scope of the possible expansion of Hong Kong’s national security law at the economic level, that is, the possible future expansion of Hong Kong’s national security law to any area related to Beijing’s “economic development” calculus.

On October 13 last year, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) considered a draft amendment to the national defense law proposed by the State Council and the Central Military Commission, and made major amendments to the original 12 chapters and 70 articles, particularly the inclusion of a general or local mobilization for war “when development interests are threatened. The so-called general mobilization for war usually includes the expansion of the military, the conscription of veterans back into military service, the conversion of civilian economic components into military ones, the restriction of the supply of civilian consumer and industrial goods, and the confiscation of property on the grounds that private individuals are forced to contribute to the war effort or are unwilling to contribute for military purposes.

In the mid-1900s, after the outbreak of the Korean War, the Chinese Communist Party launched a nationwide wave of donations to help the war effort, asking the business community and the public to donate money to purchase fighter jets. According to an article on the website of the China Research Service Center of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, a quartermaster of the Communist Army went to Shanghai’s Da Kang Pharmacy several times to forcibly demand 500 million RMB (the value of the currency at the time) for medicines and medical equipment, and refused to pay the money owed. The owner of the pharmacy, Wang Kangnian, was unable to cope with the blackmail and refused to take further credit, so he was arrested by the authorities and shot on trumped-up charges. This is one of the historical records since the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party.

National Defense Law May Be Extended to Hong Kong

The revision of the national defense law includes the economic needs of the authorities (the regime’s “development interests,” as the official media put it) as a reason for general mobilization for war. The implication is that even if there is no real external military threat, it may go to war if its economic development runs into trouble. In other words, the conditions of war for the CCP’s foreign wars have expanded to infinity, and any argument can easily be linked to “development interests” and then used as a justification for war.

Such “development interests” that can trigger foreign wars are clearly equivalent to “national security” in Hong Kong’s national security law. The amendment to the national defense law has in fact included the CCP’s own economic needs in the scope of its national security; as long as the CCP feels that its regime has economic needs, it is related to national security. In the case of the freezing of private property in Hong Kong, for example, the private property of Hong Kong people is under the shadow of national security.

Even if the CCP does not wage foreign wars in the future, there will be endless economic needs in its internal affairs, and mainland entrepreneurs and Hong Kong people will be the “lambs”. After the listing of Alibaba’s Ant Financial Services Group was halted by Beijing, Jack Ma was subjected to a series of purges and crackdowns, and it was the economic needs of the Beijing authorities that were behind them.

The economic and political needs of the Chinese Communist Party are never-ending, and the Hong Kong government’s implementation of the national security law is “very serious and rigorous,” as Carrie Lam said, so it is self-evident whether Hong Kong’s status as an international financial center is weak or strong.