News ID: 270865
Published: 0242 GMT June 30, 2020

China approves Hong Kong national security law

China approves Hong Kong national security law
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China approved a national security law for Hong Kong on Tuesday that aims to tackle subversion, terrorism, separatism, and collusion with foreign forces.

Many see the move as Beijing’s boldest yet to erase the legal firewall between the semiautonomous territory and the mainland’s Communist Party system, AP reported.

President Xi Jinping signed a presidential order Tuesday promulgating the law after it was approved by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the official Xinhua news agency said. It will be added to the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s Constitution.

Few details were given but China’s liaison office in Hong Kong issued a statement warning opponents of the law not to “underestimate the party center’s determination to safeguard Hong Kong’s national security” or its willingness and ability to enforce the new rules.

“We hope the law will serve as a deterrent to prevent people from stirring up trouble,” said Tam Yiu-Chung, Hong Kong’s sole representative on the Standing Committee “Don’t let Hong Kong be used as a tool to split the country.”

He said punishments would not include the death penalty, but did not elaborate on further details.

Passage of the law came amid fears in Hong Kong and abroad that it would be used to curb opposition voices in the Asian financial hub. The US has already begun moves to end special trade terms given to Hong Kong after the former British colony was returned to China in 1997.

The legislation is aimed at curbing subversive, secessionist, and terrorist activities, as well as foreign intervention in the city’s affairs. It follows months of often-violent anti-government protests in Hong Kong last year.

Speaking in a video message to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said the law would “only target an extremely small minority” of lawbreakers, would not be retroactive, and that mainland legal bodies would only have jurisdiction in “rare, specified situations.”

Critics say it is the most significant erosion to date of Hong Kong’s British-style rule of law and the high degree of autonomy that Beijing promised Hong Kong would enjoy at least through 2047 under a “one country, two systems” framework.

Hong Kong protesters Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Nathan Law issued statements on Facebook saying they would withdraw from their organization Demosisto, which then announced that it would disband with the loss of its top members.

Wong said “worrying about life and safety” has become a real issue and nobody will be able to predict the repercussions of the law, whether it is being extradited to China or facing long jail terms.

More than a hundred protesters gathered at a luxury mall in Hong Kong’s central business district, chanting slogans including “Free Hong Kong, Revolution Now,” with several holding up a flag representing an independent Hong Kong as well as posters condemning the law.

Ahead of the law’s passage, the Trump administration said Monday it will bar defense exports to Hong Kong and will soon require licenses for the sale of items that have both civilian and military uses.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said his government was “deeply concerned” over reports of the law’s passage, saying that would be a “grave step.” Britain has said it could offer residency and possible citizenship to about 3 million of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million people.

 

China’s internal affairs

 

“This issue is purely China’s internal affairs, and no foreign country has the right to interfere,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said.

He said China would take necessary measures to protect its national interests in response to “the wrong acts of the United States.”

Under the law, Beijing will set up a national security office in Hong Kong to collect and analyze intelligence and deal with criminal cases related to national security.

Government critics fear Beijing will use the law to pursue political opponents. Some have questioned the legal basis on which China proceeded with the legislation, saying it undermines the Basic Law.

An earlier attempt to pass a security law in 2003 was dropped after hundreds of thousands of people marched in Hong Kong’s streets against it.

China for years had put off another such effort. Citing a new urgency after last year’s protests, it announced it would bypass the Hong Kong legislature and enact the law on its own.

Chinese officials have railed against what they say is foreign interference in the territory that they blame for encouraging the anti-government protests. Beijing condemned the protests as an attempt to permanently split Hong Kong away from China.

 

 

   
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