The Covid-19 pandemic overnight stopped the movement of people across the World. Hong Kong implemented “social distancing” measures from about the 26th January 2020 clearing the streets of protesters.
By 1st May 2020 protesters returned to the streets wearing face masks. On Thursday 28th May 2020 China’s ruling Community Party passed a new national security measure for Hong Kong. The law limits dissent, allows China to establish a police force in Hong Kong, ban activist groups and remove the semi-autonomous powers that Hong Kong has had since 1997 when Britain handed the territory back to China.
China’s security measures will undoubtedly be oppressive. What can be said of the new law? Since June 2019 Hong Kong’s social and economic fabric has been ripped apart with no foreseeable end to the protests. What went from a peaceful gathering has turned into rioting.
The Rule of Law
When the Rule of Law is put to one side by rioting and not for the greater good then something is very wrong. Civil protest is a democratic privilege whiles rioting is unlawful.
Aristotle’s key objection to democracy was that it undermined the Rule of Law.
Devoid of a Legal System
China’s solution will be immediate with brutal force, not reasonable force, and conducted devoid of a legal system to which those holding the warrant to apply the new law would ordinarily be answerable.
Chinese police in Hong Kong may effectively do what the Covid-19 did to overnight clear the streets of protesters.