The plan to give Beijing authorities jurisdiction within Hong Kong’s high-speed rail terminus is the most serious violation of the Basic Law since 1997, according to the city’s pro-democrat opposition. From a constitutional rule-of-law point of view, they may be right. But from a Leninist rule-by-law might-is-right perspective, it is fine.
Even Hong Kong’s top officials and pro-Beijing supporters had joined pro-dems in assuming that the arrangement would need to comply with the Basic Law. (This report lists Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen plus pro-Beijing shoe-shining lawyers Ronny Tong, Maria Tam and Elsie Leung suggesting no fewer than seven Basic Law articles as relevant. Watch them – give or take Ronny – now forget their previous positions and eagerly endorse Beijing’s chosen course.)
But to the Communist Party, scrabbling for legal justification is unbecoming. So Beijing has simply handed down an edict that overrides – indeed disregards – the ‘mini-constitution’ or any other written law. It is also beyond the jurisdiction of the local courts.
When asked, the Hong Kong government and its supporters try to shift the subject to the supposed benefits of the high-speed rail link, and cheerfully remind us that we don’t have to enter Mainland jurisdiction in the bowels of West Kowloon unless we really want to.
When pushed, they will take the line that this method of instantly creating new constitutional facts is all above-board and rules-based: it was initiated by the Hong Kong government, passed by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee and must still go through our own Legislative Council. This ignores the fact that these three bodies are, respectively, Beijing-appointed, a Beijing rubber-stamp, and currently being turned into a Beijing rubber-stamp.
Pro-democrats will protest that this method of conjuring new law into being is alien to Hong Kong’s legal system (even more so than the previously used ‘interpretation’, which at least acknowledges the existence of the Basic Law by magically bestowing different or additional meanings to the document). They will point out that it could be used to extend direct Mainland jurisdiction to any part of Hong Kong on a whim. Actually, following CCP-Leninist logic, there is nothing it could not be used for.
Unlike our local puppet-leaders, Mainland official in charge of telling Hongkongers who’s boss Li Fei is probably being more honest about all this. He bats away questions by blandly stating that everything about the high-speed rail arrangement fully complies with whatever Beijing says it complies with, and is beyond dispute. In short: what we say goes – shut up. What were you expecting under a Communist Party dictatorship?
(See also here.)