Pedestrians pass by a government-sponsored announcement promoting a new national security law on June 30, 2020 in Hong Kong, China.
Billy HC Kwok | fake pictures
BEIJING – The Chinese central government passed a new security law for Hong Kong that came into effect just hours before the 23rd anniversary of the UK’s transfer of the city to China on Wednesday.
The National Security Law strengthens Beijing’s control over Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous region with greater democratic freedoms and alignment with international trade standards than the continent. That special status has made Hong Kong an attractive hub for many international companies wishing to take advantage of the Greater China market.
Under the new legislation, many of the activities carried out by protesters in Hong Kong in the past year become punishable by law. What started as largely peaceful mass protests against a controversial extradition bill more than 12 months ago turned into violent clashes with the police.
An official English translation of the new law stipulates that a person acting to “undermine Hong Kong’s national unification” with mainland China faces life-long punishment, depending on the severity of the crime. Financial support for such activities is also a crime.
The security law also outlines what could be considered crimes by “terrorist organizations” and by those who collude with foreign entities.
The text also says that those who are not permanent residents of Hong Kong can be deported if they break the law.
Under Chinese President Xi Jinping, Beijing’s decision to move forward with the law comes despite strong criticism from Europe and the United States.
EU Council President Charles Michel said Tuesday that “we regret the decision,” according to a Reuters report.
The administration of the President of the United States, Donald Trump, has also taken measures to eliminate Hong Kong’s special commercial status with the world’s largest economy, starting with restrictions on defense exports and access to high-tech products.
Other aspects of the law indicated how Beijing would strengthen its hand in Hong Kong affairs.
A central government-appointed national security adviser will meet at meetings of a Committee to Safeguard National Security of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, according to the law.
Hong Kong will also promote national security education through schools and the media, according to the law.