Cardinal Zen says he’s prepared for arrest under Hong Kong security law

A man holding a banner reading "Chinese communist party is shameless, break the promises," shouts during a protest against the new national security law in Hong Kong July 1, 2020. (CNS photo/Tyrone Siu, Reuters)

HONG KONG (CNS) -- Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun has said that while he will remain prudent, he is prepared to suffer arrest and trials under Hong Kong's sweeping new national security law.

"If right and proper words were considered against their law, I will endure all the suing, trials and arrests. Numerous predecessors have endured similarly," the 88-year-old cardinal said in a video posted on his Facebook page. His remarks were reported by ucanews.com.

"Perhaps they are truly insane. Who knows? Let them be then. Isn't there a saying, 'Those whom God wishes to destroy, he first makes mad'?"

The controversial law was rushed through the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress June 30, the eve of the 23rd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to Beijing.

[Don’t miss the latest news from the church and the world. Sign up for our daily newsletter.]

Cardinal Zen's fears that the new laws could affect religious freedom in the city contradict the view of Hong Kong's apostolic administrator, Cardinal John Tong Hon, who in late June claimed the laws would have no effect on religious freedom.

But in a late-June statement, International Christian Concern said that under the new law, "vocal Hong Kong clergy who have been supportive of Hong Kong's democracy movement, such as Cardinal Joseph Zen and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing, could be extradited to mainland China to be tried, since Beijing considers them to be threats to the regime."

Hong Kong Diocese's Justice and Peace Commission also signed an open letter with 85 other social justice organizations, decrying the law ahead of its implementation, ucanews.com.

International Christian Concern warned that Beijing considers the mass protests that began last June as terrorist acts and any calls for Hong Kong's independence from China as acts of sedition.

[Want to discuss politics with other America readers? Join our Facebook discussion group, moderated by America’s writers and editors.]

The group noted that China's notorious legal system and its lack of transparency "can easily criminalize anybody and place them in jail," adding that many Chinese pastors and Christians are now imprisoned on trumped-up charges such as subversion of state power, illegal border crossing and illegal business operation.

"Many fear with the passing of this legislation, Hong Kong will forever lose its 'one country, two systems' status and merely turn itself into an ordinary coastal city in China," it added.

Joshua Rosenzweig, Amnesty International's deputy regional director for East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said the passing of the national security law "is a painful moment for the people of Hong Kong and represents the greatest threat to human rights in the city's recent history."

He added: "From now on, China will have the power to impose its own laws on any criminal suspect it chooses. The speed and secrecy with which China has pushed through this legislation intensifies the fear that Beijing has calculatingly created a weapon of repression to be used against government critics, including people who are merely expressing their views or protesting peacefully."

The new laws potentially target Catholic schools, charities and organizations through their focus on nongovernmental organizations. The Hong Kong church has scores of schools ranging from preschools through to high schools, educating mainly non-Catholics.

Ucanews.com reported the church also has a significant network of charities led by its umbrella charity organization, Caritas.

Article 9 of the legislation says the Hong Kong government will "take necessary measures to strengthen public communication, guidance, supervision and regulation" of schools, social organizations, the media and the internet.

The legislation, which took effect the evening of June 30, will apply to Hong Kong citizens and foreigners deemed to have broken laws both inside and outside the territory.

Even people transiting through Hong Kong are at risk of arrest.

Foreigners can be deported if authorities decide not to prosecute them to the full extent of the legislation, which has penalties as severe as life imprisonment.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

[WATCH: The Catholic Church in China: a short documentary]

The latest from america

A sign of employment gains in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
Donald Trump came close to re-election because so many workers are better off, writes Joseph J. Dunn. Pursuing “justice” at the expense of economic growth would be a bad bet for the Democrats.
Joseph J. DunnDecember 02, 2020
Biographer Eileen Markey said that the four women were very aware that their work could put them in harm’s way.
Molly CahillDecember 02, 2020
Pope Francis' remarks from his general audience on Wednesday, Dec. 2.
Pope FrancisDecember 02, 2020
This week on “Inside the Vatican,” host Colleen Dulle and veteran Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell take a look at this year’s pared-down consistory and how Pope Francis has shifted the geography of the College of Cardinals.
Inside the VaticanDecember 02, 2020