HONG KONG (ChurchMilitant.com) - While the people of Hong Kong — and the world — await the official release of the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP's) national security laws, many are already fearing members of the territory's pro-democracy movement will be extradited to mainland China for trial.
Tensions are reportedly running high as the National People's Congress (NPC), China's ruling body, continues to draft — in secret — a national security law for Hong Kong. The security laws are expected to be passed by the end of June and likely to become law by August.
When asked about the possibility of Hong Kongers being extradited to the mainland, veteran pro-CCP politician Tam Yiu-chung said matter-of-factly in an interview with Radio Television Hong Kong, "If the central government thinks it is necessary to do so ... then that is an option."
The legislation is expected to decree that China would have the option of deciding to try on the mainland any Hong Kongers charged with crimes, a detail that launched protests in August.
The laws are also expected to address crimes of sedition, secession and acts of terrorism. The term "terrorism" has now been added to the NPC lexicon of crimes and is being used to define acts that oppose the goals of the CCP, according to one source.
A number of sources have reported that Beijing considers the Hong Kong street protests, which began in June 2019 and call for independence from China, acts of sedition.
Conviction of Hong Kong's pro-democracy supporters by a mainland court would result in jail time in one of China's notoriously brutal prisons.
Church leaders supporting Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, including Cdl. Joseph Zen and Aux. Bp. Joseph Ha Chi-shing, are especially imperiled by the laws.
Cardinal Zen, a steadfast critic for decades of the atheistic CCP regime, commented on the impending legislation in a recent Church Militant report.
"We are worried, we are very worried," he said, "We need a miracle. We need a miracle from Heaven." Referring to the "one country, two systems" promise made to Hong Kong in 1997, he lamented: "It seems that this is going to destroy completely what they promised to Hong Kong in terms of autonomy."
Bishop Ha has publicly backed Hong Kongers' demands for freedom and has no doubt come under the CCP's radar.
The bishop participated in the prayer vigil that commemorated the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 2019.
"I found that the Beijing students 30 years ago showed us the beauty of humanity in their lives. They believed there is light in the darkness, hope in the hopeless. They believed nonviolence will overcome violence," Bp. Ha said.
Many protesters are Catholic and Christian students who have gained the ire of the CCP. Twenty three-year-old Joshua Wong, leader of Hong Kong protests and author of Unfree Speech: The Threat to Global Democracy and Why We Must Act, Now, is a member of the United Christian Community Church.
Last summer thousands of Hong Kongers hit the streets in waves of protests to speak out against the CCP's growing threats to their liberty. In August, a group of civil servants presented Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam with five public demands:
Renowned Italian composer and author Aurelio Porfiri, who wrote the introduction to Cdl. Zen's book, For Love of My People I Will Not Remain Silent: On the Situation of the Church in China, spoke to Church Militant about the significance of the coming legislation, not just for Hong Kongers but for people all over the world:
"The security law in Hong Kong is a matter of concern for everyone thinking that Hong Kong should remain a place for everyone, regardless of their ideology and personal opinion. This what Hong Kong always was in the last almost 180 years," he said.
"We all hope that the strategic role of Hong Kong will not be sacrificed to an idea of law and order that history has already judged and condemned," added Porfiri.