Hong Kong has enjoyed for years its status as the state occupying the No. 1 spot in worldwide freedom rankings.

That ranking is now in jeopardy. Helen Raleigh explains in a Federalist column.

May 22, 2020 will go down in history as an important milestone. On this day, Beijing announced it will impose a new national security law on Hong Kong, which will effectively end the “One Country, Two Systems” era.

Beijing made the move at this week’s “Two Sessions,” annual legislative meetings of two organizations: the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). In the past, more than 5,000 delegates, representing the elites in China, from Communist Party members to business executives to movie stars, played their part in this annual political theater. They have no real legislative power, merely rubber stamping whatever the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) presents with 100 percent approval.

In truth, the Two Sessions serve as fig leaves that barely cover the regime’s dictatorial nature. Still, analysts pay a great deal of attention to these meetings because the CCP has historically used them to unveil important national policies, such as the annual economic target and budget, and any leadership changes. …

… Xia has openly condemned Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers for filibustering bills Beijing wants to pass. In a dramatic scene this week, a few of the lawmakers he condemned were dragged out of the legislative council during a debate about a bill that would criminalize any action disrespecting the Chinese national anthem.

Beijing has clearly lost patience and decided there is no more need for pretense. The Two Sessions seems a perfect opportunity for Beijing to force a national security law down Hong Kong’s throat while bypassing Hong Kong’s legislature: 100 percent delegates from NPC and CPPCC will approve the bill. Mass protests in Hong Kong over this are difficult to organize because the city is still slowly emerging from the coronavirus shutdown.