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Open-source intelligence (OSINT)

Hong Kong Intelligence Report #126 On THE SIX-MONTHLY REPORT ON HONG KONG  JULY TO DECEMBER 2023
FILE PHOTO: Excited fans of soccer friends celebrating winning match © Envato



▪️ THE SIX-MONTHLY REPORT ON HONG KONG 1 JULY TO 31 DECEMBER 2023 (published on April 15, 2024) by Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs of the United Kingdom was unfortunately subject to a simple rejection by the HKSARG on the day of its initial publication while it contains more details than the similar annual report by The United States Department of State (DOS) mainly due to specific historical ties. For Hong Kong, both the U.S. and U.K. are prime foreign partners who have enormous influences on society. And they shouldn’t be designated enemies. In fact, any country on earth shouldn’t be designated as enemies to this city as our Hong Kong enjoys no burden of diplomacy. The void of diplomatic rights means not simple mechanical obedience to jingoism, but that this city can be fully kept open to all countries and regional governments on earth strategically. It’s reversely a diplomatic advantage that the mainland can’t enjoy. As I mentioned before, the real safety of this society lies on this basis: self-differentiating coloration.  For instance, when an inevitable war between China and the U.S. breaks out in the future, Hong Kong should take neutralism and must maintain all channels and interactions with the West as many as possible, as broad as possible to mitigate the aftermath of nationwide decoupling with the U.S. and its allies. Without this kind of role of a mitigator in the conflict of the nation with a foreign country, the so-called one-country-two-systems is a meaningless decoration and proves it’s just one of the mainland cities to the world. This is the practical meaning of the so-called high level of autonomy, and it will be challenged, realized in the midst of conflict. Hence, the role of Hong Kong in politics and economy is like an open port, Dejima, an island of Nagasaki during the Edo period of Japan. Otherwise, what role should it take? Unfortunately, John Lee reacted in the opposite way when Russian oligarch Alexey Mordashov’s Nord provocation occurred in October 2022. John Lee aggressively reacted to the U.S. concern. That risked instigating a new round of the U.S.-China conflict. On the contrary, this city, HKSARG, could have simply mitigated the incident diplomatically by negotiating with the Russian and the U.S. sides without any provocative public statement made by John Lee. Confrontation is the last thing to seek for this city. The priority is mitigation.


The Second Pacific War (20XX) will be fought between the Chinese camp (Russia and North Korea) and the U.S. camp (Japan, Taiwan, Southeast Asian countries, South Korea, Australia, the U.K. and so on). Moreover, it will try to solve major territorial disputes at one time surrounding mainland China. Thus, it can unite all anti-Chinese sentiments. And Hong Kong can’t escape from fate. The inevitability of war between China and the U.S. is a strategic premise for Hong Kong politics. See the map and think what the circles of missile range mean? The future battlefields. 


This year, the situation in the Asia-Pacific region risks becoming even more tense. The United States plans to deploy missile systems in the region capable of launching medium-range Tomahawk missiles and SM-6 missiles. This plan was recently announced by the commander of US ground forces in the Pacific, Charles Flynn.


This marks Flynn's second announcement since last November regarding the deployment of these missiles. However, the specifics of where and when the Americans will deploy them remain unclear.


As previously mentioned, the United States may deploy missiles and missile systems in various countries, including Japan and the Philippines, where American soldiers have access to military bases.


Moreover, one potential location for the deployment of equipment and missiles is Guam, one of the American territories in the Pacific Ocean. Many commentators now speculate that the Americans will opt for this location. However, the first two territories are not yet ruled out.


For instance, this week the United States brought the Typhon missile system to the Philippines, capable of launching Tomahawks and SM-6s. This equipment will be utilized as part of the bilateral exercises “Salaknib 2024”, providing an opportunity to assess the suitability of the likely missile deployment site. Similar evaluations are expected for Japan.


The deployment of missiles and missile systems in the Asia-Pacific region serves both as a deterrent and a political signal aimed at containing China. This intention becomes particularly pronounced if the United States selects the Philippines or Japan.


The introduction of new equipment could potentially spark a new arms race, benefiting major industrialists who stand to receive increased funding under the guise of countering the Chinese threat.




🔻 NEWS / FACTs 【新聞/事實】


The subject of this analysis is THE SIX-MONTHLY REPORT ON HONG KONG


▪️ Although a National Defence Authorisation Act passed on December 19, 2023, that designates Hong Kong as a foreign adversary, both the U.S. and U.K. unmentioned it in their respected reports. And the vast volumes of this report are also dominated by HKNSL-related content like the U.S. side. The dedication of the U.K. to the fate of the pro-Democracy people of Hong Kong is where the essence of their foreign policy appears. In short, the U.K. still doesn’t see the total population of Hong Kong as enemies in practice. This is the most important thing that serves the safety of this city. Again, the true political crisis of this city will be in a situation in which the Five Eyes totally abandon the total pro-Democracy population and opposition figures and shift to full antagonization toward this city. This must be avoided politically by HKSARG.


▪️ The Six-Monthly Report on Hong Kong is basically a chronological collection of events during the covered period from July 1 to December 31, 2023. And it lacks analytical content in contrast to the U.S. reports. One part is definitely analytical below: 


The maintenance of public order in the HKSAR continued to be the responsibility of the Hong Kong SAR Government. There has been no evidence that military forces sent by the CPG to be stationed in the SAR for the purpose of defense have interfered in the internal affairs of the city. Expenditure for these military forces has been borne by the CPG. In line with the provisions of the Joint Declaration, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison held a one-day joint patrol exercise in the territory involving land, navy and air forces on September 21 and again on December 27.


Source: Six-monthly Report on Hong Kong 1 July – 31 December 2023. Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, p.34. 


The U.K. government designates HKNSL as a clear breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. Thus, they think that ‘special forces’ secretly deployed in this city is illegal in terms of the U.K. point of view. Yet, national security is in the category of defense for CPG (central people’s government of PRC). In other words, for China, overt and covert deployment of its military forces or the existence of the Office for Safeguarding National Security of the CPG in the HKSAR is in the spirit and article of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. 


3. The Government of the People's Republic of China declares that the basic policies of the People's Republic of China regarding Hong Kong are as follows:


  1. (1) Upholding national unity and territorial integrity and taking account of the history of Hong Kong and its realities, the People's Republic of China has decided to establish, in accordance with the provisions of Article 31 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region upon resuming the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong.


(2) The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will be directly under the authority of the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will enjoy a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defense affairs, which are the responsibility of the Central People's Government.




In contrast, Taiwanese authorities are relatively aware of this point that national security is in the category of defense for the central people’s government of PRC. Hence, the opposing interpretations of The Joint Declaration are clearly an issue unsolved in 1984. 


▪️ There are main points of the report grasped in the foreword:


1)    The imposition of HKNSL

2)    British national Jimmy Lai

3)    Extraterritorial law enforcement by the HKSARG

4)    Economic, monetary, and trade systems are intact.


Besides these main subjects and concerns, some details are unmentioned in the U.S. reports. Such as legislative council quorum:


On 14 August, local newspaper Ming Pao reported that for two-thirds of the Bills (16 out of 24) passed by the Legislative Council in the 2023 legislative session to date, less than half of its members were present. The Stamp Duty Amendment Bill was passed by just 11 out of 90 members. According to Article 75 of the Basic Law and the Legislative Council Rules of Procedure, the quorum for a Council meeting shall not be less than one half of all Legislative Council members, including its President.


In response, pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho Kwun-yiu said there is “no requirement” for legislators to attend Council meetings and urged the authorities to tighten media regulations after the implementation of the NSL.  


Source: Six-monthly Report on Hong Kong 1 July – 31 December 2023. Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, p.18. 


Another interesting detail is UK Privy Council Judgement in relation to Tam Tak-chi’s sedition case:


During the reporting period, activist Tam Tak-chi applied for leave to appeal against his conviction and sentence. He was found guilty of seven counts of “uttering seditious words” in March 2022, and given a 21-month custodial sentence in April the same year. The CA conducted an application hearing on 4 July. 


On 12 October, the Judicial Committee of the UK Privy Council delivered a judgment concerning the constitutionality of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago’s Sedition Act, noting that “there is implied in it a requirement that there must be an intention to incite violence and disorder”. This is contrary to rulings of the Hong Kong courts that there is no requirement to demonstrate an intention to incite violence as a part of Hong Kong’s sedition offenses. Local media reported that Tam’s defense submitted the Privy Council’s judgment to the CA for consideration. A verdict is expected to be delivered in March 2024. 


Source: Six-monthly Report on Hong Kong 1 July – 31 December 2023. Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pp.25-26. 


This narrative contradicts DoJ on criminalization of seditious intention. And Tam Tak-chi was found guilty on March 7, 2024:


The Court of Appeal on Thursday ruled that Tam did not need to have an intention to incite violence to be found guilty of sedition, and that sedition offences must be interpreted with respect to the “specific legal and social landscape” to which they pertain.




As a result, the judgement of CA proved that this U.K. report was right on the Tam Tak-chi case. In general, there are contradictive narratives on the procedure of criminalizing seditious intentions. One is about the Tam Tak-chi case; the other one is about SNSO.


Next one is equality:


On 5 September, a landmark ruling by the CFA declared that the lack of an alternative framework for the recognition of same-sex partnerships was unconstitutional under Article 14 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights. This ruling mandated that the Hong Kong SAR Government establish an “alternative framework” for legal recognition of same-sex partnerships within a limited time frame. The ruling followed the Judicial Review launched by activist Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit, as recorded in previous Six-monthly Reports. On 27 October, the CFA set a two-year deadline for the SAR Government to comply with its ruling. The CFA added that the SAR Government could apply for an extension for “compelling reasons”. 


This CFA ruling was followed by several unsuccessful government appeals in other LGBT cases, in the contexts of housing and inheritance rights. 


From 3 to 11 November, the Gay Games were held in Hong Kong, with over 600 competitions hosted by competitors from 41 countries and territories. The event was co-hosted with Guadalajara, Mexico. Prior to the Games taking place, in August, the Hong Kong SAR Government directed the organizers to comply with local laws and regulations. On 1 November, several Hong Kong lawmakers, including Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, expressed opposition to the event, claiming that it would threaten national security. In response, Executive Council convenor Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee expressed her support for the event, emphasizing its legality. The Gay Games Hong Kong Organising Committee stressed that the event would not be used as a political platform, dismissing claims from lawmakers that it received funding from foreign governments or groups. 


Source: Six-monthly Report on Hong Kong 1 July – 31 December 2023. Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, p.17.


In this report, so-called equality is not about economic equality, but it’s about LGBTQ. Although Regina Ip and Ho’s British ties are still under suspicion, their comprador business is not a point here. The point is that, like the U.S., the housing issue in this city and the growing gap between rich and poor are unmentioned by the U.K. The main reason is undoubtedly, both the U.S. and U.K. are neither CPG nor HKSARG, thus they aren’t in charge of the livelihood of this city. Moreover, the housing issue unites both warring sides and is uncontrollably unpopular among the majority of this city.


▪️ On Judicial System:


The reporting period saw the National Security Police issue arrest warrants against 13 individuals living outside Hong Kong and offer financial rewards for information leading to their arrests and prosecutions. Some of the individuals currently reside in the UK. The period also saw the commencement of Jimmy Lai’s NSL and sedition trial on 18 December. He pleaded not guilty to the three charges he faces. His previous legal challenges to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee’s (NPCSC) interpretation of the NSL and the subsequent National Security Committee (NSC) decision concluded with the High Court ordering Lai to pay all costs. 


In August, the CA cleared all seven defendants, including Jimmy Lai, of “organizing” a protest in 2019. The CFA also allowed the defendants to appeal against their convictions for “taking part” in it. 


Source: Six-monthly Report on Hong Kong 1 July – 31 December 2023. Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, p.18.


18 August 2019 Protest Conviction Appeals:


In April 2021, nine pro-democracy politicians, activists and pan-democrat legislators, including veteran Martin Lee Chu-ming and Apple Daily publisher Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, were sentenced to up to 18 months for organizing and participating in the 18 August 2019 protest, with four given suspended sentences. Subsequently, seven of them appealed against their convictions. 


A leave to appeal hearing took place at the CA between 28 and 30 November 2022. On 14 August 2023, the CA cleared all seven defendants of “organizing” an unauthorized assembly but upheld their convictions for “knowingly taking part” in it. 


For its unanimous dismissal of the first charge, the CA rejected government prosecutors’ arguments that the defendants were organizers because they were “at the front of the procession”, as “not a realistic or suitable substitute for evidence”. The court quashed the related sentences for all appellants, including Jimmy Lai. 


For the second charge, the CA ruled that the evidence of the defendants’ participation was “overwhelming”, refusing their appeals. All appellants have served their sentences on this charge. 

Subsequently, the DoJ applied for leave to appeal to the CFA against the CA ruling, and all seven defendants sought leave to appeal to the CFA against their convictions. 


On 8 December, the CA rejected the DoJ’s application, but allowed the defendants to appeal against their convictions at the CFA. The CA made clear that the legal issues raised by the DoJ regarding the specific meaning of “organizing” the protest had been “resolved”, whereas the court acknowledged that their defendants’ conviction appeals may involve a question of “great and general importance”. By the end of the reporting period, no date had been set for the CFA hearing. 


Source: Six-monthly Report on Hong Kong 1 July – 31 December 2023. Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, p.27.


One of the general features of the NSL-related court cases is that their convictions are mainly due to participation, not because of organizing the total movements which mainly occurred in 2019. In other words, even Lai himself is judged as a participant of the movements in question. Rationally, they aren’t the total organizers of the movement but supporters and direct participants. It means that there is still no ultimate ‘organizer(s)’ of the total protests / movements proven by any court cases. This objectively corresponds to the sheer fact that ultimate organizers are still above the law or in a perfect getaway in the establishment.  


🔻 COMMENT 【評語】


THE SIX-MONTHLY REPORT ON HONG KONG 1 JULY TO 31 DECEMBER 2023 is a good chronological reading of the covered period and contains some details that are not included in the U.S. reports. The conclusion (PP.35-36) is acceptable for Hong Kong citizens, as on the electoral system, it says: ‘changes to the electoral system in Hong Kong since 2021 mean that the people of Hong Kong have no meaningful choice in their elected representatives, limiting the ability of the Legislative and District Councils to hold the Executive to account.’





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