Hong Kong, China:
China passed a sweeping national security law for Hong Kong on Tuesday, a landmark move that critics and many Western governments say will stifle financial center freedoms and weaken its autonomy.
The legislation was approved unanimously by the Chinese parliament on Tuesday morning, just over six weeks after its first unveiling, sending shock waves through semi-autonomous Hong Kong and beyond.
The United States, Britain, the European Union and the United Nations human rights watchdog have all expressed concern that the law cannot be used to stifle criticism of Beijing, who wields similar laws on the authoritarian continent to crush dissent.
In an unprecedented decision, the law bypassed Hong Kong’s surging legislature and the wording was kept secret from the city’s 7.5 million residents.
“Hong Kong’s national security law was officially adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress today,” DAB, Hong Kong’s largest pro-Beijing party, said on Tuesday in a welcoming statement. the law.
Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao – two Hong Kong newspapers which serve as intermediaries for Beijing’s official policy – also confirmed the adoption of the law, as did several local Hong Kong media citing anonymous sources in Beijing.
Even as the word filtered that the law had been approved, the Hong Kong people remained ignorant of its content and what could now constitute a crime.
On Tuesday morning at her weekly press conference, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam – a pro-Beijing candidate – refused to say whether the law was passed or what it contained.
“I think at the moment it is not appropriate for me to comment on issues related to the national security law,” she told reporters.
“End of Hong Kong”
“So what was adopted?” Figo Chan, a leader in the Civil Human Rights Group, wrote on his Facebook page.
Prominent democracy activist Joshua Wong tweeted, “This marks the end of Hong Kong as the world used to know. With wide powers and ill-defined laws, the city will turn into a # secret establishment.”
In a largely symbolic gesture, the United States ended sensitive defense exports to Hong Kong against the law on Monday.
“We can no longer distinguish between the export of controlled items to Hong Kong or to mainland China,” said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“We cannot risk these articles falling into the hands of the People’s Liberation Army, the main purpose of which is to maintain the dictatorship” of the Communist Party.
Hong Kong was guaranteed certain freedoms – as well as judicial and legislative autonomy – for 50 years under an agreement called “One country, two systems”.
The formula formed the basis for transforming the city into a world-class business center, supported by a reliable judicial system and invisible political freedoms on the continent.
Critics have long accused Beijing of sabotaging this status in recent years, but they describe the security law as the most shameless measure to date.
A summary of the law released by the official state agency Xinhua earlier this month indicated that Chinese security agencies could settle publicly in the semi-autonomous city for the first time.
Beijing also said it would have jurisdiction over certain cases, overturning the legal firewall that had existed between Hong Kong and the courts controlled by mainland parties since the 1997 transfer.
On the continent, national security laws are widely used to imprison critics, particularly for the vague crime of “subversion”.
Beijing and the Hong Kong government reject the allegations.
They said the laws will only target a minority of people, will not undermine political freedoms in the city and will restore business confidence after a year of historic demonstrations in favor of democracy.
Millions of people took to the streets last year while a small group of protesters frequently fought police in increasingly violent clashes that saw more than 9,000 people arrested.
The size, frequency and ferocity of protests has decreased considerably in recent months with the pro-democracy movement hampered by the coronavirus epidemic, the ban on public rallies and aggressive police tactics.
(This story has not been edited by GalacticGaming staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)