Beijing to set up new security office in Hong Kong

Beijing to set up new security office in Hong Kong
China to set up new security office in Hong Kong. Source: EPA
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Daily US Times: China’s state media say the country’s new security law for Hong Kong envisages setting up an office in the territory to handle crimes against national security and to gather intelligence.

Xinhua news agency reported that new security law will also override any local laws that conflict with it.

The planned law has sparked protests in Hong Kong and drawn international condemnation.

Critics say it will destroy the freedoms the territory enjoys but which are not available in mainland China.

European Parliament voted on Friday to take China to the International Court of Justice in The Hague if the law was imposed.

But China says the law is needed to tackle subversion, separatist activity, terrorism, and collusion with foreign elements and rejects criticism interference in its affairs. From the security office, China will now can expand it’s control over the city.

The UK handed back Hong Kong to China in 1997 under an agreement centering on a “one country, two systems” principle that guaranteed certain freedoms for Hong Kong and that do not apply in the mainland.

Why does Beijing want to bring in the law?

Hong Kong is an economic powerhouse and a semi-autonomus region. It was required to introduce such a law after the handover from British control to Chinese rule in 1997. But its unpopularity means it has never been done – the government tried in 2003 but had to back down after 500,000 people took to the streets.

Hong Kong was rocked by months of protests last year, sparked by a bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.

Now the Chinese government argues the new security law in Hong Kong is necessary to “prevent, stop and punish” such protests in the future.

China may also fear September’s elections ho Hong Kong legislature. If last year’s success for pro-democracy parties in district elections is repeated, it will be a big headache for China, and government bills could potentially be blocked.

Where does that leave Hong Kong?

In 2018, Hong Kong was ranked with the 7th highest volume of trade with a total value of nearly $1.2tn. But much of that trade is made up of goods that pass into, or come out of, mainland China.

8% of mainland China’s exports to the US in 2018 and 6% of mainland China’s imports from the US in the same year, passed through Hong Kong.

This role as a gateway between the Chinese market and the rest of the world has put Hong Kong in a unique position, but different trade arrangements could change that.

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