World

China passes sweeping Hong Kong national security law

The stringent national security law and its 66 articles have been saved secret from the general public till 11pm native time, when the law formally went into impact. It dramatically broadens Beijing’s powers to research, prosecute and punish suspected criminals in Hong Kong.

The law was drafted behind closed doorways by members of Beijing’s prime lawmaking physique, the National People’s Congress (NPC), bypassing Hong Kong’s personal elected legislative council.

The new laws criminalizes secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with overseas powers. People who’re convicted of such crimes can face sentences as much as life in jail.

Under the brand new law, the Chinese central authorities will set up its personal law enforcement presence in Hong Kong, labeled the “Office for Safeguarding National Security.” A secretive national security committee for Hong Kong can even be established, comprised of Hong Kong authorities officers and an advisor appointed by the Chinese central authorities. According to a abstract revealed by the Hong Kong authorities, this group’s work “shall not be disclosed to the public,” and “decisions by the Committee shall not be amenable to judicial review.”

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam stated on Tuesday night that she welcomed the introduction of the laws.

“Safeguarding national security is the constitutional duty of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). The HKSAR Government welcomes the passage of the national security law by the NPCSC today,” Lam stated in an announcement.

She repeated earlier remarks, saying the law “seeks to practically and effectively prevent, curb and punish four types of crimes seriously endangering national security.”

The chief govt stated that devoted items within the Hong Kong Police Force and the Department of Justice will probably be chargeable for imposing the laws.

Lam added: “I am confident that after the implementation of the national security law, the social unrest which has troubled Hong Kong people for nearly a year will be eased and stability will be restored, thereby enabling Hong Kong to start anew, focus on economic development and improve people’s livelihood.”

In a video deal with to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva earlier on Tuesday, Lam stated the law will “have no retrospective effect” — a serious concern for a lot of democracy activists within the metropolis, particularly for these dealing with fees referring to the protests final yr.

Additionally Lam stated that Hong Kong authorities would train jurisdiction over offenses beneath the law, “except in rare specified situations,” suggesting that some circumstances can be tried in mainland China.

The new law specifies three circumstances which permit Beijing to train jurisdiction over Hong Kong, together with in circumstances involving overseas forces, critical conditions that the Hong Kong authorities can not deal with successfully, and when national security faces a serious menace. Under the laws, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive now has the ability to nominate judges to deal with circumstances associated to national security.

China’s State Council Information Office stated it will will maintain a press briefing on the national security law in Beijing on Wednesday morning.

The laws has been broadly criticized by opposition lawmakers in Hong Kong, human rights teams and politicians worldwide, with many saying it can cement Beijing’s direct management over the semi-autonomous metropolis. Many fear it could possibly be used to focus on political dissidents, activists, human rights legal professionals and journalists amid the central authorities’s persevering with crackdown on civil society beneath Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Activists have vowed to show in opposition to the law on July 1, the anniversary of the territory’s handover from British colonial rule to China in 1997. The day has turn out to be an annual day of protests within the metropolis, however for the primary time since handover police haven’t given permission to protesters to carry peaceable demonstrations.

“One country, two systems”

The law’s passing is anticipated to gasoline additional anger and protests within the metropolis, which was rocked by over six months of more and more violent anti-government unrest final yr.

Opponents of the law say it marks the end of the “one country, two systems” — a precept by which Hong Kong has retained restricted democracy and civil liberties since coming beneath Chinese management.

Crucially, these freedoms embrace the fitting to meeting, a free press, and an impartial judiciary, rights that aren’t loved on the Chinese mainland.

Chinese Communist Party officers and state media have defended the law as important to defending national security within the wake of final yr’s protests and a 17-year failure by the Hong Kong authorities to go related laws, because the final effort was met with mass protests in 2003.

In a statement final week, Lam stated the law would guarantee “the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong,” and that it will “only target an extremely small minority of people.” She stated the proposed invoice was “in line with the rule of law” and the “rights and freedoms which are applicable in Hong Kong.”

The new laws grants police investigating crimes referring to national security the ability to go looking properties, intercept data and carry out covert surveillance and not using a warrant.

Under the law, the Hong Kong authorities, together with the brand new fee, will strengthen its laws over overseas information businesses and Non-Government Organizations.

The invoice additionally broadens the vary of its utility to non-permanent residents in Hong Kong. Those who’re in violation of the law will probably be deported from Hong Kong, the law acknowledged.

Ultimately, the laws makes clear that national security law trumps native legal guidelines. If there’s a battle with present Hong Kong law, the national security law will prevail.

Reaction from Hong Kong and world wide

Many within the metropolis have decried the dearth of transparency over the laws. In a letter to the Hong Kong authorities, Philip Dykes, chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association said the secrecy of the law was “genuinely extraordinary” and known as on the federal government to clarify how residents’ minimal rights will probably be assured.
Joshua Wong, an activist who helped lead large pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2014 said on Twitter that it “marks the end of Hong Kong that the world knew before.”

He stated Hong Kong “will continue to fight for our freedoms and democracy for the city’s next generations. When justice fails, our fight goes on.”

Following information of the laws passing, Hong Kong democracy group Demosisto, which was shaped as a political social gathering by Wong in 2016, stated it can “disband and cease all operation as a group given the circumstances.”

It comes after Wong and different activist leaders, Nathan Law and Agnes Chow, stated they’d be withdrawing from Demosisto due to the menace posed by the law.

Wong and different activists have met with overseas diplomats and testified earlier than the US Congress on Hong Kong’s freedoms because the large-scale pro-democracy protests broke out final summer season.

Jimmy Lai, a Hong Kong media tycoon identified for his outspoken help of town’s pro-democracy motion, stated the law “spells a death knell to Hong Kong because it supersedes our law and our rule of law.”
“The democratic movement will have to adjust its strategy because it’s a fact that a lot of the people in the democratic movement are scared — either they find ways to leave or emigrate or to sidestep the movement.” Lai, who was arrested in February in relation to a protest march, stated he would keep within the metropolis and “keep on fighting.”

Rights group Amnesty International stated the laws “represents the greatest threat to human rights in the city’s recent history.”

“The speed and secrecy with which China has pushed through this legislation intensifies the fear that Beijing has calculatingly created a weapon of repression to be used against government critics, including people who are merely expressing their views or protesting peacefully,” stated the top of Amnesty International’s China Team, Joshua Rosenzweig.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen stated reviews on China passing the security law “proves that ‘one country, two systems’ is not credible.” Tsai stated that Taiwan will begin an workplace from July 1, which can “provide humanitarian aid for our friends in Hong Kong.”

In Japan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga known as the passing of the law “regrettable.”

On Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced an end to the exports of US-origin protection gear and dual-use applied sciences to Hong Kong. Pompeo stated the transfer was crucial to guard American national security because the tensions between the US and China proceed to escalate.

“As Beijing moves forward with passing the national security law … We can no longer distinguish between the export of controlled items to Hong Kong or to mainland China,” Pompeo stated.

This is the primary motion the US authorities has taken to upend the particular standing commerce relationship between the US and Hong Kong, following the dedication that Hong Kong was now not autonomous from China resulting from Beijing imposing the national security law on town.

It comes as Beijing on Monday said it would impose visa restrictions on sure Americans in response to Washington’s transfer final week to position related limits on Chinese officers over Hong Kong.

“Beijing’s so-called ‘national security’ law — passed on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China — signals the death of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle,” Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, stated in an announcement Tuesday.

“We continue to urge President Trump to hold Chinese officials accountable for their abuses including in Hong Kong.”

“We must consider all tools available, including visa limitations and economic penalties.”

The UK additionally expressed concern over the brand new law.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab signaled Tuesday that Britain would uphold its promise to supply a path to British citizenship for probably thousands and thousands of Hong Kongers if the small print of the law are as anticipated.

“We are, obviously, deeply concerned about the decisions to pass the national security law in Beijing as it affects Hong Kong,” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated Tuesday.

“We will be looking at the law very carefully, will want to scrutinize it properly to understand whether it is in conflict with the joint declaration between the UK and China, and we will be setting out our response in due course.”

CNN’s James Griffiths, Steven Jiang, Jadyn Sham, Eric Cheung, Isaac Yee, Nectar Gan, and Jessie Yeung contributed to reporting and writing.

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