China passes Hong Kong's national security law: report

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Beijing's highest legislative body, the National People's Congress (APN), passed the law unanimously on Tuesday morning local time, bypassing the Hong Kong legislature, through a rarely used constitutional gate, according to the Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK, citing unidentified sources.

Chinese state news agency Xinhua previously reported that the law would criminalize crimes such as secession, subversion against the Chinese central government, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.

A draft of the law was not made public before its passage, meaning that most people in Hong Kong have not seen details of a law that will now govern their lives.

The approval of the law has not been officially confirmed and the details remain unclear. But RTHK reports that the possible maximum sentence for crimes under the law will be "much higher" than 10 years in prison.

Hong Kong Executive Director Carrie Lam declined to comment on the bill's progress at her weekly press conference Tuesday morning, saying it would be "inappropriate" to answer questions while the NPC meeting is still in session. progress.

The legislation was widely criticized by opposition lawmakers in Hong Kong, human rights groups, and politicians around the world, with many saying the law will strengthen Beijing's direct control over the semi-autonomous city. Many are concerned that the law could be used to attack political dissidents, a fear stemming from China's judicial record and the continued central government crackdown on civil society under President Xi Jinping.

The passage of the law comes a day before July 1, the anniversary of Hong Kong's transfer of British colonial rule to China in 1997. It has become an annual day of protests in the city, but for the first time since The police did not give the protesters permission to hold peaceful protests.

"One country, two systems"

Passing the law is expected to fuel further anger and protests in the city, which was rocked by more than six months of increasingly violent anti-government riots last year.

Opponents of the law say it marks the end of "one country, two systems," a principle by which Hong Kong has maintained limited democracy and civil liberties since it came under Chinese control.

Crucially, those freedoms include the right of assembly, a free press, and an independent judiciary, rights that are not enjoyed on the Chinese mainland.

Chinese officials and state media have defended the law as vital to protect national security in the wake of last year's protests and a 17-year failure by the Hong Kong government to pass similar legislation, as the latest effort encountered massive protests in 2003.

In a plan of the law revealed by Chinese state media Xinhua on June 22, the law will allow mainland Chinese officials to operate in Hong Kong for the first time and give Beijing the power to override local laws.

In a statement last week, Lam said the law would guarantee "Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability," and that it "would only target an extremely small minority of people." She said the proposed bill was "in line with the rule of law" and the "rights and freedoms that are applicable in Hong Kong under the Basic Law and relevant international covenants."

Under the plan, the law will allow Beijing to establish a national security office, staffed by mainland security services to supervise local authorities in monitoring the law. A national security commission will also be established, with an adviser appointed by Beijing and operating under "the supervision of the central government."

In addition, Hong Kong's top official, the Chief Executive, will choose which judges hear national security cases, while mainland Chinese authorities will be able to "exercise jurisdiction" over cases in special circumstances, a controversial clause that increases the possibility of that certain crimes in Hong Kong could result in evidence on the mainland.

Finally, the plan makes clear that national security law takes precedence over local law. If there is a conflict with applicable Hong Kong law, the national security law will prevail.

Feedback from Hong Kong and around the world.

Many in the city have denounced the lack of transparency about the law. In a letter to the Hong Kong government, Philip Dykes, president of the Hong Kong Bar Association, said the secrecy of the law was "truly extraordinary" and asked the government to clarify how the minimum rights of citizens will be guaranteed.
Joshua Wong, an activist who helped lead massive pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2014 said on Twitter that "marks the end of Hong Kong that the world knew before."

He said Hong Kong "will continue to fight for our freedoms and democracy for the next generations of the city. When justice fails, our fight continues."

Following the news of the passage of the legislation, Wong announced that he was withdrawing from the democratic group Demosisto, which he formed in 2016, due to the threat posed by the law. He was joined by fellow activist leaders Nathan Law, who was removed from the local legislature in 2016, and activist Agnes Chow.

Wong and other activists have met with foreign diplomats and testified before the United States Congress about Hong Kong's freedoms since large-scale pro-democracy protests erupted last summer.

China to impose eye-for-eye visa restrictions on US officials over Hong Kong

The human rights group Amnesty International said the legislation "represents the greatest threat to human rights in the city's recent history."

"From now on, China will have the power to impose its own laws on any criminal suspect it chooses," said Amnesty International's China team chief Joshua Rosenzweig.

"The speed and secrecy with which China has pushed this legislation intensifies fears that Beijing has created a calculating weapon of repression to be used against government critics, including people who simply express their views or protest peacefully." , said.

On Monday, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced an end to exports of defense equipment of American origin to Hong Kong. Pompeo said the move was necessary to protect American national security as tensions between the United States and China continue to escalate.

"As Beijing moves forward with the passage of the national security law, the United States today will end exports of defense equipment of American origin and take steps to impose the same restrictions on American defense and dual-use technologies to Hong Kong. than China, "Pompeo said. "The United States is forced to take this measure to protect the national security of the United States. We can no longer distinguish between exporting controlled items to Hong Kong or mainland China."

This is the first action that the United States government has taken to change the special status trade relationship between the United States and Hong Kong, following the determination that Hong Kong was no longer autonomous from China because Beijing imposed the national security law in the city.

It comes as Beijing said Monday that it would impose visa restrictions on certain Americans in response to Washington's move last week to set similar limits for Chinese officials on Hong Kong.

This is a developing story

CNN's James Griffiths, Jadyn Sham, Nectar Gan and Jessie Yeung contributed reporting and writing.



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