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Beijing to introduce national security law for Hong Kong

Published: May 21, 2020
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Beijing will introduce a draft resolution to allow the National People’s Congress to chart legislation for a new national security law tailor-made for Hong Kong that will proscribe secessionist and subversive activity, foreign interference and terrorism in the city, sources have told the Post.

A Beijing source said the new law would ban all seditious activities aimed at toppling the central government and external interference in Hong Kong’s affairs. It would also target terrorist acts in the city.

A mainland source familiar with Hong Kong affairs said Beijing had concluded that it was impossible for the city’s Legislative Council to pass a national security law under Article 23 given the city’s political climate and hence was turning to the 
National People’s Congress , the country’s legislature, to take on the responsibility. Why Hong Kong’s security legislation could fuel China-US tensions

“Some opposition politicians have shut the window for Hong Kong to enact its own national security law,” the source said, referring to the confrontational approach they had adopted towards Beijing.

“If the national security legislation is not done during the annual session of the National People’s Congress or shortly afterwards, is there any guarantee that it can be passed by the Legco in the next two years?” the source said.

“We can no longer allow acts like desecrating national flags or defacing of the national emblem in Hong Kong.”

However, his work report omitted mention of the principles of “Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong” and the city’s “high degree of autonomy”.

Sources have told the Post that a draft of the national security resolution will be shared with delegates on Thursday night and presented as a motion to the NPC, on Friday afternoon.

The NPC is then expected to vote on the resolution at the end of the annual session, likely to be on May 28. The resolution will then be forwarded to the Standing Committee of the NPC to chart out the actual details of the legislation.

The Standing Committee, which last met on April 26 to 29, meets every two months and is expected to hold its next meeting as early as June and this could be the earliest date at which the legislation could be advanced.

“The NPC decision will delegate the NPC Standing Committee to draft the new legislation for Hong Kong, which would be included in Annex III of Hong Kong’s Basic Law,” the source said.

“The new law will be introduced in Hong Kong through promulgation, without the need for local legislation.”

If the process as outlined by sources is confirmed, Hong Kong will finally have national security laws, 23 years after the handover of the city from British to Chinese rule.

It would also mark a significant departure from Beijing’s earlier decision to allow Hong Kong to draft and enact the legislation within its own legislature.

China’s “ two sessions ” of parliamentary meetings opened on Thursday. How Hong Kong can get Article 23 over and done with The Basic Law, or the city’s mini-constitution, requires the Hong Kong government to enact its own national security law prohibiting acts of “treason, secession, sedition, or subversion” under Article 23.

But the law has been in abeyance since 1997. In 2003, the Hong Kong government was forced to shelve a national security bill after an estimated half a million people took to the streets to oppose the legislation, which they warned would curb their rights and freedoms.

Since then, the government has steered clear of introducing such legislation. However, pressure to do so has been mounting after 
protests triggered in June 2019
 by the now-withdrawn extradition bill morphed into a wider anti-government movement, with Beijing officials suggesting foreign hands were involved in violent activities akin to terrorism.

Additional reporting by Tony Cheung, Kimmy Chung and William Zheng


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