China passes controversial Hong Kong nat’l security law: reports | News


China’s parliament has passed controversial national security legislation for Hong Kong that Beijing says is necessary to deal with issues of terrorism, subversion and foreign interference but critics say will outlaw dissent and destroy the autonomy and freedoms promised when the territory was returned to China in 1997. 

The bill was passed unanimously by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress at a three-day meeting that began on Sunday, according to media in Hong Kong citing unnamed sources. The draft of the law has not been made public.

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At her weekly news conference on Tuesday, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam declined to comment on the reports.

The legislation will come into effect when it is gazetted in Hong Kong, and is expected to be in force by July 1, the anniversary of the territory’s return to Chinese rule. 

China announced its plan to impose the legislation on the eve of the National People’s Congress last month, after nearly a year of sometimes violent pro-democracy protests in the territory.

The decision gave renewed momentum to the protests, which had calmed as the coronavirus pandemic prevented mass gatherings. 

‘End of Hong Kong’

Writing on social media, Joshua Wong, a leading pro-democracy campaigner and politician, said the legislation marked “the end of the Hong Kong that the world knew before. From now on, Hong Kong enters a new era of reign of terror. With sweeping powers and ill-defined law the city will turn into a secret police state.” 

Describing himself as a ‘prime target’, Wong announced he was resigning as leader of pro-democracy group Demosisto. 

China has said the legislation will cover acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and interference by foreign powers in the territory’s internal affairs. It will also allow mainland intelligence agencies to establish themselves in Hong Kong.

Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times, said on Twitter that the law had been passed and its heaviest penalty was life imprisonment.

The South China Morning Post said the law was approved unanimously by the standing committee’s 162 members, within 15 minutes of the meeting starting at 9am (01:00 GMT). Only a handful of Hong Kong’s delegates to China’s parliament saw the draft before it was passed, the paper added.

Demonstrations are usually held on July 1 and events are planned this year. Even as it was reported that the legislation had been passed, posters for gatherings continued to be shared across social media platforms.


SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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