Dear our beloved global community members,

The National Security Bill for Hong Kong is passed today (30 Jun, HKT
2300). Most members within Hong Kong’s recovering community are shocked,
considering how much it affects local politics, and at the same time,
uncertainty brought from this decision to the local community (including
much of the Hong Kong people). Even until this moment, not to mention its
accessibility for the general public, the full text is only to be found at
the time of implementation (30 Jun, HKT 2300). However, this unknown text
will precede all common law principles within 30 minutes’ time for those
who are currently in Hong Kong.

There are a few points that we would like to bring up -- our worries this
piece of completely unconsulted legislation (apart from few well-known
local pro-Beijing figures), from the drafting phase to the implementation
phase, could change the Chinese-dominant Hong Kong community work:


1. This piece of legislation has never entered a public consultation phase.
The legislation is passed in a way to effectively circumvent local
legislative council opposition. It imposes unnecessary restrictions on free
speech, and is against all norms within local (Hong Kong) politics, where
most bills, including the most controversial Article 23 implementation bill
that was brought to a halt in 2003, had open public consultation. This
piece of legislation didn’t do so, and citizens have not even read what is
written before it became a law.

2. This piece of legislation seems to interfere with freedom of speech even
out of local boundaries. This includes, most possibly the criminalization
of speeches and acts that promote Hong Kong independence. This can include,
according to what the so-called “people’s congress representative” which
most within the city cannot vote for, said acts committed online could also
be counted. This may mean writing for, for example, reasons that lead to
the rise of the Hong Kong independence movement, may become a criminal act
if written in Hong Kong. This is unprecedented, and, as we all know, IP
addresses can be documented and tracked to prosecute personnels. If writing
for Wikipedia becomes a criminal act, what can go right?

3. It narrows the editor base. For example, the ban of Wikipedia in China
had completely changed the community environment for Mainland editors of
the Chinese Wikipedia. Off-site insults became common where local policies
could not act on as the editor base became much narrower. Without the
input across
the political spectrum, Wikipedia will become harder to remain neutral for
its content.

4. Uncertainty brings whether accessing Wikipedia articles related to Hong
Kong independence can become a crime. It’s interpretation of the bill is
unknown, and it seems possible as the implementation of the bill violates
how local laws are passed.


The local offline and most members of the online community has accessed the
effects in the short run and the long run:


In the short run, we expect the community base to retain mostly intact,
while meetups (currently run in an online mode due to the coronavirus
pandemic) would attract fewer members, particularly when local
pro-democracy (not pro-independence) figures are warned to be sent into
jail with this piece of legislation.

In the long run, if nothing changes, we expect the recovering user group
will most likely descend into non-compliance like the former chapter, and
similar to the current state of the offline-inactive Chinese User Group,
Wikimedia User Group China, which ceased its offline operations after the
Chinese government blocked Wikipedia. In the worst case scenario, the local
community may be replaced with a pseudo-community that works more like a
propaganda service than a User Group advocating for free speech and open
access.

We, as Hong Kong editors have tried expressing our concern but it is in
vain because of fierce opposition from some Chinese Wikipedia editors who
are mostly pro-Beijing. Uncertainty from the legislation, where original
plans to react to the bill when it became open to the public, became in
vain because of “local editors’ desire to respond when the bill is
publicized” and the Standing Committee of National People’s Congress of
China act to hide the bill from public access. This rendered the local
community’s inability to react before the bill was implemented. This
included plans to “shut down” some articles related to the ongoing 2019-20
Hong Kong protests. Of course, this turns out to be in vain both because of
its controversy of bringing Wikipedia into media attention, and whether
such an act violates neutrality principles, plus fierce opposition from
editors from China (excl. Hong Kong and Macao).

We hope the glocal community can pay attention to the effects of this bill
in Hong Kong, as it would most probably limit free speech and may affect
most citizens (including Wikimedia (incl. Wikipedia) editors in Hong Kong),
instead of what it proclaimed to be the few, unlawful separatists.

In grave concern of our future,

The Hong Kong offline Wikipedia Community

Wikimedia Community User Group Hong Kong
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