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China passes controversial Hong Kong national security law China passes controversial Hong Kong national security law
(about 3 hours later)
Critics say the measure, which criminalises secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, devastates Hong Kong’s autonomyCritics say the measure, which criminalises secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, devastates Hong Kong’s autonomy
Beijing has passed a sweeping national security law for Hong Kong that critics fear will crush political freedoms and pave the way for China to cement its control over the semi-autonomous territory.Beijing has passed a sweeping national security law for Hong Kong that critics fear will crush political freedoms and pave the way for China to cement its control over the semi-autonomous territory.
Less than 40 days after Chinese lawmakers first proposed imposing an anti-sedition law on Hong Kong, the standing committee of the National People’s Congress on Tuesday unanimously approved the measure.Less than 40 days after Chinese lawmakers first proposed imposing an anti-sedition law on Hong Kong, the standing committee of the National People’s Congress on Tuesday unanimously approved the measure.
According to the official state news agency Xinhua, the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, signed a presidential order enacting the law that criminalises secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The committee also voted to list the law in Hong Kong’s basic law, the city’s mini-constitution. Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, said in a statement that the law would come into effect later on Tuesday.According to the official state news agency Xinhua, the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, signed a presidential order enacting the law that criminalises secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The committee also voted to list the law in Hong Kong’s basic law, the city’s mini-constitution. Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, said in a statement that the law would come into effect later on Tuesday.
The measure, widely expected to be passed by the rubber-stamping legislative body, deals a devastating blow to Hong Kong’s autonomy as promised under the “one country, two systems” framework, the terms of the former British colony’s handover to Chinese control in 1997. Rights advocates and legal scholars believe the law will be used broadly to stifle dissent.The measure, widely expected to be passed by the rubber-stamping legislative body, deals a devastating blow to Hong Kong’s autonomy as promised under the “one country, two systems” framework, the terms of the former British colony’s handover to Chinese control in 1997. Rights advocates and legal scholars believe the law will be used broadly to stifle dissent.
“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,” said Joshua Rosenzweig, the head of Amnesty International’s China Team.“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,” said Joshua Rosenzweig, the head of Amnesty International’s China Team.
“From now on, China will have the power to impose its own laws on any criminal suspect it chooses,” he said.“From now on, China will have the power to impose its own laws on any criminal suspect it chooses,” he said.
Prominent activists believe they are likely to be arrested imminently. In the past year, police have arrested more than 9,000 protesters, including pro-democracy lawmakers and activists who have frequently lobbied to bring international attention to Hong Kong’s cause.Prominent activists believe they are likely to be arrested imminently. In the past year, police have arrested more than 9,000 protesters, including pro-democracy lawmakers and activists who have frequently lobbied to bring international attention to Hong Kong’s cause.
“From now on Hong Kong enters a new ear of reign of terror,” activist Joshua Wong wrote on Twitter. “However, even under ... China’s direct authoritarian rule Hong Kongers will continue to fight … When justice fails, our fight goes on,” he said.“From now on Hong Kong enters a new ear of reign of terror,” activist Joshua Wong wrote on Twitter. “However, even under ... China’s direct authoritarian rule Hong Kongers will continue to fight … When justice fails, our fight goes on,” he said.
By Tuesday afternoon, the news had sent a chill across the city as political groups such as Wong’s party Demosisto disbanded, fearing arrest under the new law. Outspoken residents took down their social media profile while businesses previously supportive of the protests said they would be bowing out of the “yellow economic circle”.
Residents were waiting for the full details of how punitive the law would be once enacted. The editor of the state-run Global Times said the heaviest penalty would be life imprisonment, while Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK said some especially “serious” cases may be handled in Chinese courts on the mainland.Residents were waiting for the full details of how punitive the law would be once enacted. The editor of the state-run Global Times said the heaviest penalty would be life imprisonment, while Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK said some especially “serious” cases may be handled in Chinese courts on the mainland.
According to a summary released previously by Chinese state media, the law will see Beijing set up a national security agency in Hong Kong to “guide” the territory’s implementation of the law. It will also have jurisdiction over cases in “certain circumstances”. Should discrepancies arise, the security legislation will override Hong Kong law. The law promises to protect the civic rights of Hong Kong residents but critics say such language means little given how similar laws are used in mainland China.According to a summary released previously by Chinese state media, the law will see Beijing set up a national security agency in Hong Kong to “guide” the territory’s implementation of the law. It will also have jurisdiction over cases in “certain circumstances”. Should discrepancies arise, the security legislation will override Hong Kong law. The law promises to protect the civic rights of Hong Kong residents but critics say such language means little given how similar laws are used in mainland China.
A statement from the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs office of China’s state council on Tuesday said: “For the small minority of people who endanger national security, this law is a sword hanging over their heads.”
In the decades since the handover, Hong Kong’s free press, independent courts and legislature, as well as its traditions of protests and marches, have made the city a haven for the civil liberties not enjoyed across the border, especially as the government under Xi has further cracked down on civil society.In the decades since the handover, Hong Kong’s free press, independent courts and legislature, as well as its traditions of protests and marches, have made the city a haven for the civil liberties not enjoyed across the border, especially as the government under Xi has further cracked down on civil society.
Those differences were thrown into sharp relief last year as protests – over another controversial bill that residents saw as further Chinese encroachment on their city – turned into a broader democracy movement.Those differences were thrown into sharp relief last year as protests – over another controversial bill that residents saw as further Chinese encroachment on their city – turned into a broader democracy movement.
Authorities have been clear that the legislation is aimed at stopping those protests. “These acts have crossed the ‘one country’ red line and called for resolute action,” Lam told a UN human rights forum on Tuesday.Authorities have been clear that the legislation is aimed at stopping those protests. “These acts have crossed the ‘one country’ red line and called for resolute action,” Lam told a UN human rights forum on Tuesday.
“No central government could turn a blind eye to such threats to sovereignty and national security as well as risks of subversion of state power,” she said.“No central government could turn a blind eye to such threats to sovereignty and national security as well as risks of subversion of state power,” she said.
China’s move to push through a national security law for Hong Kong stunned Hong Kong residents and the international community when it was first proposed in May, creating new diplomatic tensions as countries have condemned Beijing.China’s move to push through a national security law for Hong Kong stunned Hong Kong residents and the international community when it was first proposed in May, creating new diplomatic tensions as countries have condemned Beijing.
The UK foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said his country was “deeply concerned”. “This would be a grave step,” he said. On Tuesday, Japan called the development “regrettable”. The UK foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said his country was “deeply concerned”. “This would be a grave step,” he said.
President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, which is opening a dedicated office to helping residents fleeing from Hong Kong, said the latest move from Beijing shows that the one country, two systems formula is “not feasible.” The EU Council president, Charles Michel, told reporters that the law risks “seriously undermining the high degree of autonomy of Hong Kong” as well as the independence of its judiciary and the rule of law. “We deplore the decision,” he said.
On Tuesday, Japan called the development “regrettable”. President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, which is opening a dedicated office to helping residents fleeing from Hong Kong, said the latest move from Beijing shows that the one country, two systems formula is “not feasible.”
“We hope Hong Kong people continue to adhere to the freedom, democracy and human rights that they cherish,” she told media.“We hope Hong Kong people continue to adhere to the freedom, democracy and human rights that they cherish,” she told media.
In response to Beijing’s measure, the US is revoking the city’s special trade status as separate from China. US officials said on Monday that it would stop exporting sensitive military items to Hong Kong, after announcing plans to limit visas for current and former Chinese officials responsible for undermining Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.In response to Beijing’s measure, the US is revoking the city’s special trade status as separate from China. US officials said on Monday that it would stop exporting sensitive military items to Hong Kong, after announcing plans to limit visas for current and former Chinese officials responsible for undermining Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular press briefing on Tuesday that Beijing would take “necessary countermeasures”. “China is not intimidated. US conspiracies to thwart the national security legislation will not succeed,” he said.Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular press briefing on Tuesday that Beijing would take “necessary countermeasures”. “China is not intimidated. US conspiracies to thwart the national security legislation will not succeed,” he said.
Critics say the law marks Beijing’s full takeover of Hong Kong, which was promised 50 years of a “high degree of autonomy” after the handover. The national security law will be directly enacted into Hong Kong’s law through a legal manoeuvre that bypasses the territory’s own legislature and the possibility of public dissent stopping the process. Mass protests in 2003 halted similar legislation attempted by the Hong Kong government.Critics say the law marks Beijing’s full takeover of Hong Kong, which was promised 50 years of a “high degree of autonomy” after the handover. The national security law will be directly enacted into Hong Kong’s law through a legal manoeuvre that bypasses the territory’s own legislature and the possibility of public dissent stopping the process. Mass protests in 2003 halted similar legislation attempted by the Hong Kong government.
“A national security law was imposed on Hong Kong through a process nobody in Hong Kong had any control over, with content nobody in Hong Kong was privy to. That should put an end to the nation that Hong Kong remains autonomous in any meaningful way,” said Alvin Cheung, a legal scholar focusing on Hong Kong issues at New York University’s US-Asia Law Institute.“A national security law was imposed on Hong Kong through a process nobody in Hong Kong had any control over, with content nobody in Hong Kong was privy to. That should put an end to the nation that Hong Kong remains autonomous in any meaningful way,” said Alvin Cheung, a legal scholar focusing on Hong Kong issues at New York University’s US-Asia Law Institute.
The law’s reported passage comes ahead of an annual protest on Wednesday, the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to Beijing’s control. Police have banned the march, which has taken place every year since 1997, citing Covid-19 concerns, but activists have said they would still demonstrate.
On Lihkg.com, a site popular with protesters, users called for people to come out to “celebrate” the passage of the law. “July 1st, let’s go to the streets to celebrate,” one said. Referring to the park where the annual demonstration takes place, another said: “See you in Victoria Park on July 1.”