A national security law for Hong Kong was passed on Tuesday by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in Beijing, amid international criticism and fear among pro-democracy figures in the former British colony.
The law prohibits acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
The full text of the legislation has not yet been released, and even Hong Kong’s top official, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, acknowledged in a press conference shortly after the passage that she had not seen a full draft. Local media reports that the law is expected to come into effect on July 1, the 23rd anniversary of the resumption of Chinese sovereignty over the territory.
Beijing announced plans at the end of May to bypass Hong Kong’s lawmaking process and implement the laws for the enclave after Hong Kong failed to fulfill its constitutional obligation to do so.
Alan Leong, the chairman of the pro-democracy Civic Party and the former chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association told TIME that it was “totally unacceptable” that the law was passed without its details being known to Hong Kong officials. He said that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) may be signaling to Hong Kong officials that “They are just here to execute instructions given to them by the CCP.”
Many experts say that Beijing ran out of patience following violent anti-government protests that paralyzed the city for much of the second half of 2019, and plunged the global financial hub into its first recession in a decade. Under the One Country, Two Systems principle, agreed when the United Kingdom retroceded the colony to China, the city of 7.5 million has its own legislature and system of laws and courts. Article 23 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the mini-constitution governing the territory, required the Hong Kong government to enact national security laws itself, but local lawmakers could not agree on them.
“The rapid rise of unprecedented violence and calls for independence coupled with a dysfunctional [legislative council] left Beijing government with no alternatives but to enact a law with the hope of preventing the worse from happening,” Ronny Tong, a member of the Executive Council, Hong Kong’s de facto cabinet, tells TIME. “We can only hope that a proper balance will be struck between protecting national safety and integrity on the one hand and preserving the freedoms and core values of …read more
Source:: Time – World