Daily US Times: The Chinese government is set to present a controversial Hong Kong security law, which could be the biggest blow to the city’s autonomy and civil liberties since its handover to Chinese rule in 1997.
The controversial move is by China’s National People’s Congress (NPC), which is meeting in the capital this week. This is significant for both China and Hong Kong as it will fuel further anger and protests in the HK, which was rocked by over six months of increasingly violent anti-government unrest last year.
The law, which is expected to ban subversion, secession and sedition of the central government in Beijing, will be introduced through a rarely used constitutional method that could effectively bypass Hong Kong’s legislature.
News of the plans was met with immediate criticism by US State Department, opposition lawmakers in Hong Kong and human rights groups.
Dennis Kwok, a pro-democracy lawmaker, said: “It is the end of ‘one country, two systems’,” referring to the principle by which Hong Kong has retained limited democracy and civil liberties since the British handed over the territory to Chinese control.
“(They are) completely destroying Hong Kong.”
US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus warned on Thursday that “any effort to impose national security legislation that does not reflect the will of the people of Hong Kong” would be met with international condemnation.
But Chinese officials and state media defended the law as important to protect national security in the wake of last years’s massive protest. The last effort to pass a similar legislation occured in 2003, but that met with mass protests.
On Thursday, NPC spokesman Zhang Yesui said: “National security is the bedrock underpinning a country’s stability. Safeguarding national security serves the fundamental interests of all Chinese people, including our HK compatriots.”
Zhang announced that this year’s session would review a proposal titled: “Establishment and Improvement of the Legal System and Implementation Mechanism for the Safeguarding of National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.”
The annual NPC meeting starts Friday.
Describing Hong Kong as an inseparable part of China, he said it is “highly necessary” for the NPC to exercise its constitutional power to deliberate such a proposal, adding that further details would be revealed Friday.
Article 23 of the Basic Law — de facto constitution of Hong Kong — allows the local government to “enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People’s Government.”
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