But short of divine intervention, it’s hard to see how anyone in the city can block the bill. On Wednesday, legislators will resume debate on another law demanded by China, making it a crime punishable by imprisonment to insult the country’s national anthem. That bill has taken over three years to pass, thanks to repeated filibustering and delaying tactics, and protesters plan to encircle the legislature in an attempt to delay it even further.
Neither tactic can be used against the anti-sedition bill, which will be debated and imposed by Beijing’s parliament, not Hong Kong’s, and will come into force regardless of what happens in the city in the coming weeks. Pro-Beijing lawmakers and bodies in the city have already lined up to support the bill, while Hong Kong’s police commissioner said Monday the new law will “help combat the force of ‘Hong Kong independence’ and restore social order.”
With its options limited, the city’s opposition is looking to the international community to pressure Beijing into changing course.
Reaction to the proposed law has been damning. More than 200 parliamentarians and and policymakers from two dozen countries signed an open letter last week slamming the anti-sedition bill as a “comprehensive assault on the city’s autonomy, rule of law, and fundamental freedoms.”