Another step back for rule of law in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Liaison Office is the top representative of the Beijing government in Hong Kong. When the current incumbent, Luò Huìníng 骆惠宁, was appointed in January this year, I suggested that he was sent to crack heads. Skull-cracking time is here: “Being hit by the double whammy of the coronavirus pandemic and social unrest showed that it was urgent for Hong Kong to do more in protecting national security,” said Luo in a speech today, per the South China Morning Post.

Regarding rule of law, Luo “argued that if protest violence was not punished, more will follow suit and such ‘ant nests in rule of law will destroy the grand dam of national security,’” noted Agence France-Presse reporter Xinqi Su on Twitter. Luo also said:

Justice might be lost if people rely solely on laws. He encouraged the society to “move the defence line forward’ and ‘create a social and public opinion environment favourable to struggle against behaviours threatening HK’s stability and national security.”

“This statement is alarming and fundamentally contrary to the rule of law,” commented Hong Kong–based lawyer and chronicler of the protests Antony Dapiran: “A ‘social and public opinion environment favorable to struggle’ precisely describes the Cultural Revolution.”

Related: “Hong Kong’s top judge, Geoffrey Ma Tao-li [馬道立 Mǎ Dàolì], has dismissed suggestions he has experienced interference from Beijing over the city’s judicial independence, including the appointment of judges,” according to the South China Morning Post:

Ma’s statement came in response to a Reuters news report on Tuesday that cited “people close to” Ma as saying he had been forced to contend with Communist Party officials who believed the rule of law could be used as a tool to preserve one-party rule.

—Jeremy Goldkorn