China passes controversial Hong Kong security law

China passes controversial Hong Kong security law
Residents protest over the new Hong Kong security law. Source: AFP
3 Min Read

Daily US Times: China has passed the controversial Hong Kong security law, giving it new powers over the city. The law is deepening fears for the city’s freedoms.

China stunned the city last month when it said it would criminalize any act of terrorism, secession, subversion or collusion with foreign forces.

The move came after angry pro-democracy movement last year – sparked by another law.

Critics and experts say this new law poses an even greater threat to Hong Kong’s identity.

They warn it will undermine the territory’s judicial independence and destroy the city’s unique freedoms, not seen on mainland China.

In 1997, Hong Kong was handed back to China from British control, but under a special agreement that guaranteed certain rights for 50 years.

So the Hong Kong security law has sparked demonstrations in Hong Kong ever since it was announced by Beijing in May and also drawn harsh international condemnation.

A draft of the law was not made public before it was pushed through, which means most people in the city will not have seen details of the measures they now have to abide by.

China says the law is needed to tackle instability and unrest in the city and reject criticism as interference in its affairs.

What does the new law do?

It went through unanimously in a session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in Beijing, but China has not officially confirmed the law has been passed.

It is expected to be added to Hong Kong’s Basic Law later in the day and comes a day before the 23rd anniversary of the handover from Britain to China – a date usually marked by pro-democracy protests.

It would make criminal any act of terrorism and collusion with foreign or external forces, secession and subversion of the central government.

A new national security office in Hong Kong would have powers such as overseeing education about national security in Hong Kong schools. It would deal with national security cases of the city too.

In addition, the city will have to establish its own national security commission to enforce the laws, with a Beijing-appointed adviser.

Hong Kong’s chief executive will have the power to appoint judges to hear national security cases, a move which has raised fears about judicial independence.

If the new security law conflicts with any Hong Kong law, the Beijing law takes priority and Beijing will have power over how the law should be interpreted.

You may read: US imposes visa restrictions on Chinese officials over Hong Kong