China reportedly passes national security law for Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Police Honor Guard raises a Chinese national flag and a Hong Kong flag during a flag raising ceremony at Golden Bauhinia Square on June 15, 2020 in Hong Kong, China.

Anthony Kwan | fake pictures

Reportedly the main decision-making body in China’s parliament passed the controversial national security law for Hong Kong, according to local media.

The law was reportedly passed unanimously by the Standing Committee of the Chinese National People’s Congress on Tuesday, Reuters said, citing cable television.

It comes before tomorrow’s anniversary marking Hong Kong’s surrender of the United Kingdom to mainland China on July 1, 1997. Hong Kong, a former British colony governed under the framework of “one country, two systems”, enjoys some freedoms that other Chinese cities don’t have. to have. They include limited electoral rights and a largely separate legal and economic system.

But critics say the new law will undermine the autonomy promised to the special administrative region when it was handed over to China 23 years ago.

Beijing says the law aims to ban secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities, and foreign interference. It was proposed during China’s annual parliamentary meeting in late May and revived protests in Hong Kong for fear that freedoms in the city would be eroded.

Earlier this week, the Eurasia Group said passing the law before the anniversary of the handover could be an indication that Beijing wants “to suppress protests long before” the Hong Kong legislative council elections in September.

The South China Morning Post reported that Hong Kong delegates to China’s top advisory body were asked to attend a meeting at 3 p.m. Tuesday. He also cited sources who said the state news agency Xinhua would release details of the legislation in the afternoon. A complete draft of the law has not been publicly disclosed until now.

Controversy over the law

Many were concerned about Beijing’s meddling with Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms when this law was proposed, in part because the measure would bypass the city’s own lawmakers.

Hong Kong was promised a high level of autonomy for 50 years after the handover, or until 2047. There is no clarity on what will happen when the policy ends.

It is also seen as a way for China to gain more control after Hong Kong saw protracted, and sometimes violent, protests over a now-withdrawn extradition bill.

Meanwhile, companies see the need for a security law, but want to know what it involves and how it will be implemented, David Dodwell, executive director of Hong Kong’s APEC Trade Policy Group, told CNBC in early June.

Reuters reported that a national security office would be established in Hong Kong to collect information and handle related crimes, and that city leader Carrie Lam could appoint specific judges to hear national security cases.

Lam said it would not, but would select a panel of judges from which the judiciary can choose, according to Reuters.

He also said that the new law would not infringe Hong Kong’s lifestyle, but would focus on a “small minority of illegal and criminal acts.”

International reaction

Countries like the United Kingdom have criticized Beijing for the law, which they say will violate the rights of Hong Kong citizens. This month, the European Parliament voted in favor of the EU taking China to the International Court of Justice if the national security law is imposed on Hong Kong, Reuters reported.

Last week, the United States Senate passed legislation that would impose mandatory sanctions on individuals or companies that support China’s efforts to restrict Hong Kong’s autonomy. But for the Hong Kong Autonomy Law to become law, it must be passed by the House of Representatives and signed by the President of the United States, Donald Trump.

It came after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress in late May that the city was no longer very independent from China.

China has responded and urged the United States not to interfere in its internal affairs.

“No matter how vociferous the separatist forces are in Hong Kong and the pressure of external forces against China, they cannot stop China’s determination and actions to promote Hong Kong’s national security legislation,” said Zhao Lijian, deputy director of the Chinese Ministry. Department of Foreign Affairs Information. “His plan will fail, and the relevant bill is also a piece of waste paper.”

– CNBC’s Huileng Tan, Yen Nee Lee, Tucker Higgins contributed to this report.


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