China’s proposal to impose new national security laws on Hong Kong will force the territory to quickly pass legislation to prevent undermining, separatism and other actions against the central government, it came a day after Beijing’s surprise announcement.
The Communist Party’s efforts to impose a national security law have been widely interpreted as a move to take full control of the territory, shrouded in democratic protests over the past year. Critics say this will effectively remove the “one country, two systems”
According to draft legislation, the Chinese parliament will be empowered to establish a legal framework and enforcement mechanism to prevent and punish what the authorities consider subversion, terrorism, separatism and foreign interference, “or any action that pose a serious threat to national security “,
News of China’s plan has provoked widespread international condemnation and raised the prospect of further unrest.
Subsequent governments in Hong Kong have tried to pass a national security law – the latter was postponed after half a million people took to the streets to protest in 2003.
Wang Chen, deputy chairman of the standing committee of the National People’s Congress, said at Friday’s opening of China’s annual parliament in Beijing that a draft decision on the proposal had been submitted to the legislature, according to state media.
“Law-based and coercive measures must be taken to prevent, stop and punish such activities,” the document said, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. The legislation appears to be intended to force Hong Kong to pass national security laws, as required by the territory’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, after handing over the former British colony to Chinese control in 1997.
Article 23 states that the territory must adopt “independently” national security laws prohibiting “treason, secession, sedition [and] subversion ”against the Chinese government.
According to Sinua, the document reads: “More than 20 years after Hong Kong’s return, however, the relevant laws will still be implemented due to sabotage and obstacles by those trying to sow problems in Hong Kong and China, as well as external hostilities. forces.
“Efforts must be made at the state level to establish and improve the legal system and mechanisms for the implementation of [Hong Kong] to protect national security, to change the long-term status of “defenseless” in the field of national security. “
Recent protests against the Beijing-backed government have begun against another controversial law that would allow extradition to mainland China. As these protests approach their one-year anniversary, Chinese authorities seem more determined to close the movement with unprecedented measures that experts say will irreparably damage the autonomy of the territory protected within a “one state, two systems.”
Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang said on Friday that his government would “establish stable legal systems and enforcement mechanisms to protect national security” in Hong Kong and see that the region “fulfills its constitutional responsibilities.”
The denunciation of the decision continued on Friday, as Chinese lawmakers were expected to reveal more details about the proposal. Taiwan’s interior council has urged Beijing not to push Hong Kong into “greater unrest” and said authorities wrongly blamed foreign influences and “Hong Kong separatists” for the demonstrations.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said any further repression by Beijing “would only increase the Senate’s interest in reviewing U.S.-China relations.”
U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Corey Gardner and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Rich said he would launch an “unprecedented attack on Hong Kong autonomy.”
“The Chinese government is once again breaking its promises to the people of Hong Kong and the international community … The United States will be determined to support the Hong Kong people,” they said. “These developments are a major concern for the United States and could lead to a significant overhaul of US policy toward Hong Kong.”
A bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Pat Tomy will also sanction officials and entities that enforce all new national security laws, and will sanction banks that operate with legal entities, the Washington Post reported. This bill seems to be extending to existing US laws, which require lawmakers to examine the degree of autonomy from China held by Hong Kong and to adjust its special status with the United States accordingly.
Virginia Batu-Henrikson, the European Union’s spokeswoman for foreign affairs and security, said the EU was watching developments very closely … “We attach great importance to the principle of ‘one country, two systems’.”
Chinese state media praised Beijing’s move. The state-run tabloid Global Times called the decision “overdue” and aims to “prevent internal and external forces from using the region as a tool or creating situations that threaten national security.” Hong Kong “did not enjoy a single quiet day” in 2019, the statement said. “It was like a city in an undeveloped country, surrounded by turmoil.”
On Friday, protesters in Hong Kong called for a march as pro-democracy activists vowed to continue demonstrating. Observers say the law could be used to target critics of the central government, especially protesters.
“This is potentially the end of constitutional autonomy and legal separation. That’s a few degrees worse than the extradition bill, “said Jepe Mulic, who teaches global history at Cambridge University and focuses on Asia.
“Given the severity of Chinese law on issues such as sedation and secession, and given Beijing’s frequent use of ‘terrorism’ in characterizing the protests, I guess it could get really, really bad.”