Open Letter to the Hong Kong SAR Government from San Francisco Bay Area Organizations Regarding the Article 23
Dear Hong Kong's SAR government, Mr. Tung Chee-hwa and others:
Over a dozen San Francisco Bay Area organizations concerned about Hong Kong's future held a series of events in regards to article 23 legislation including a public forum as well as signature collection. All groups and organizations that participated unanimously oppose the proposed legislation of Article 23 to be introduced by the Hong Kong government. We believe:
- This legislation, if passed into law, would prove dangerous, by virtue of the fact that the Hong Kong government is not a government elected by its own people.
- The recently proposed "Article 23" in Hong Kong legislation contains deliberately broad and vague content, judged by legal consultants to be ambiguous, and which could potentially evoke criminal prosecution, based solely on personal expression and opinions. It could provide legislators with the opportunity for arbitrary interpretation of the law, with subsequent abuse of power. Once passed into law, it would seriously threaten the fundamental rights of individuals to freedom of information, belief and peaceful association.
- The harsh and heavy-handed political environment created by the legislation of "Article 23" would seriously impact the investment and business environment in Hong Kong. It would damage Hong Kong's position and reputation as the most envied port of free trade in the international market, and affect its prosperity.
- All organizations that participated in this conference appeal to overseas Chinese people in the San Francisco Bay Area, to show their concern regarding "Article 23," working together to prevent the passing into law of this hideous and damaging legislation, that would seriously jeopardize the future of Hong Kong and China.
- All organizations that participated in this conference appeal to Chinese people all over the world, as well as to all governments of democratic countries, to pay close attention to the developments in Hong Kong.
In particular, Chinese law experts believe that article 23 if passed will be like a sword above each Hong Kong resident's head. The seriousness of so-called crimes like "treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People's Government, or theft of state secrets" is left very vague. Laws should be accurate, not arbitrary. The characteristics of Chinese law are vague so that people are easily charged as guilty and if laws are set up based on Article 23, people in Hong Kong can also be charged simply because of what they say. Article 23 contradicts other texts in the Basic Laws as well as the China-Britain Joint Statement.
Economic experts believe that bad politics will bring a bad economy. The worst politics is when rulers believe in the gun rules. Hong Kong's economy will worsen after the legislation of article 23.
Religious communities and Falun Gong practitioners believe that the difference between Hong Kong and mainland China lies in the "one country, two system". Previously, Falun Gong was the test bench of the "one country, two system". But today, article 23 becomes the test bench. Right after October 1999 when Jiang Zemin first used the word "evil cult" on Falun Gong in France, Chinese People's Congress immediately establish so-called "anti-cult laws", which have been used as the basis to persecute Falun Gong. Today's article 23 is an extent of these "anti-cult laws" and it is to persecute the Hong Kong people.
Hong Kong students express that they are very concerned about the limitation that article 23 will imposed on the freedom of academic discussions. The vague wordings used by the Hong Kong government, especially without the specific explanations that a white paper brings, are set to limit Hong Kong people's freedom of thought and academic sharing. Observing how Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa handled Falun Gong, raises concerns about his step by step approach to suppress Hong Kong people's individual freedom. What meaning will be left for "one country two system"?
Union workers say that union organizations are widely accepted by the international community. About 70% of the protests in Hong Kong are from the unions who often rely on protests to achieve their goals. After articles 23 legislations, the existence of unions itself would become "sedition" and "treason". What about the workers who were laid off in China but can't even protest? Are they "harming the country"? Who are the ones who are really harming the country? Therefore we say article 23 is definitely a wicked law!
Hong Kong democracy movement folks believe that article 23's "subversion" against the Central People's Government, or "theft of state secrets" is an excuse to kill people in Hong Kong as well as in China. Beijing broke its promise of "one country, two system" and deprived Hong Kong people's rights and freedom. We hope that people from all walks of life will be voice their concern against article 23 legislations.
The above opinions represent view points from many organizations who care for the future of Hong Kong as well as the general public opinions we received during the signature collection events. We hope that Hong Kong government will carefully consider these opinions.
Enclosed with this letters are the signatures we collected in the San Francisco Bay Area with individuals expressing their concern with Hong Kong's article 23.
Some of the organizations mentioned above are:
San Francisco Hong Kong Young People Leadership Association, Society of Hong Kong and Chinese Affairs-University of California at Berkeley, Hong Kong Student Association-University of California at Berkeley, China Forum of the University of California at Berkeley, American-Hong Kong Chinese Association, Hong Kong and Macao Democracy Development Association, Friends of Falun Gong, San Francisco Bay Area Falun Gong Practitioners, American Asian Labor Association, San Francisco Freedom Forum, Chinese Democracy Education Foundation, 21st Century Chinese Democracy Education Foundation, Silicon Valley for Democracy in China, and the Worldwide Anti-Article 23 Association.
Category: People in China Awaken to the Truth