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Twitter Accounts Deleted. Social Media Scrubbed. Spooked Hong Kong Braces for New Security Law

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HONG KONG—On Tuesday morning, Beijing’s top legislative body unanimously passed a secretive national security law that specifically applies to Hong Kong, a special autonomous region that until now has enjoyed freedoms that do not exist in most of China.

The new law will go into effect as soon as Wednesday, and targets persons in Hong Kong involved in what the Chinese government calls “secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces”—charges often slapped on Chinese nationals who express dissent publicly within mainland China.

The secretive security law has Hongkongers spooked. The Chinese Communist Party’s effectiveness controlling its population on the mainland is in setting up situations where people self-censor, and already there are signs that’s happening here. Many signs.

Some people have deleted their Twitter accounts. Others are wiping their Facebook and Instagram feeds of digital protest art that was disseminated widely through AirDrop and social networks. Protest art that adorns storefronts is being removed. Local writers who were outspoken against the Chinese government are asking publications to take down their articles.

The Hong Kong National Front, a group that advocates for the city’s independence from China, disbanded on Tuesday afternoon, passing all work to its overseas branches in Taiwan and the United Kingdom. Well-known figures like Joshua Wong, who had his start as a student activist and years later became the secretary-general of pro-democracy group Demosistō, stepped down from his position in the organization. Other leaders of the same group did the same, and then Demosistō disbanded too. More political groups may do the same in the next few days.

Friends have lamented that this is “the final nail in the coffin,” and........

© The Daily Beast