China Passes Controversial Hong Kong Security Law

The Chinese Parliament passed national security laws for Hong Kong on Tuesday, setting the tone for the most dramatic reform in the way of life in the former British territory after it returned to Chinese rule almost precisely 23 years ago.

Cable TV, quoting an unnamed source, said the legislation was approved overwhelmingly by the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress.

The law seeks to drive Beijing down the road of a confrontation with the United States , the United Kingdom and other Western governments, which declared that it will weaken the high degree of autonomy provided by the global financial center at its handover on 1 July 1997.

The legislation is yet to be released. Beijing claims the bill, which comes in reaction to the often-violent pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong last year, is aimed at combating subversion, insurgency, separatism and collaboration with international powers.

This month, China's official news agency, Xinhua, announced some of its rules, including that it supersede current Hong Kong laws and that the right of interpretation belongs to the Chinese Parliament's highest decision-making committee, the National People's Congress Standing Committee.

Beijing is expected to set up a national security office in Hong Kong to “supervise, guide and support” the city government. Beijing could also exercise jurisdiction on certain cases.

Judges for protection proceedings are likely to be named by the controversial, pro-Beijing mayor of the region, Carrie Lam. Senior judges currently assign quotas to Hong Kong 's decentralized judiciary framework.

It is also uncertain the particular practices are to be rendered unlawful, how exactly they are to be identified or whether they are to be punished.

The South China Morning Post, quoting an unnamed source, said Xinhua will publish details of the law on Tuesday afternoon and Hong Kong officials will gather at Beijing’s top representative office in the city later in the day for a meeting on the legislation.

Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have repeatedly said the legislation is aimed at a few “troublemakers” and will not affect rights and freedoms, nor investor interests.

The law comes into force as soon as it is gazetted in Hong Kong, which is seen as imminent.

Police prohibited this year's July 1 rally on the anniversary of the 1997 switch, alleging prohibitions on coronavirus. This is not certain that holding the protest would also constitute a national security offense if the bill had fallen into effect by Wednesday.

Source: Reuters

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