Any hopes for restraint have, thus far, been dashed. In the nine months since the National Security Law (NSL) was passed, more than 90 people have been arrested under the new legislation. Though they have been charged with various breaches of national security ranging from inciting secession to terrorism, their primary crime appears to be peaceful criticism of the government. If found guilty, they face prison sentences that could stretch on for years, or even, in some cases, for life. The government has also used the law to reshape Hong Kong’s civil service, to reform the education sector, and to restrict press freedom.
A closer look at the arrests under the NSL or conducted by the newly-created National Security Department (NSD) of the Hong Kong Police paints a clearer picture of how authorities in Hong Kong have implemented the new law, and what they might hope to achieve. The case data, assembled by the Georgetown Center for Asian Law, draws on an extensive review of media reports and interviews with experts who have been closely following the implementation of the law.