Ultimately, without a proper democratic legislative procedure, vague legal terms such as “secession” and “subversion” easily devolve into repressive tools that intrude on our fundamental freedoms and rights, including freedom of speech, assembly and religion. It is not implausible that any criticism against the Chinese or Hong Kong governments — or even demonstration of support for the Hong Kong movements — will soon be construed as a subversive act, punishable by law. This chilling effect will eventually snowball: It starts with widespread self-censorship in the city and then spills over its borders into the rest of the world.
The liberty of the city — from its role of international financial hub to the vibrancy of its civil society — has always been important to the interests of the international community. Furthermore, the promises of “one country, two systems,” “high degree of autonomy” and universal suffrage enshrined in the Basic Law are backed by the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which was recognized under international law. Top-down insertion of the national security law goes beyond a local matter in Hong Kong: It is intended to silence the will of the international community.