Ire as China passes Hong Kong national security law
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists could potentially face life sentences if they are found to have broken the new law.Updated: Jul 01, 2020 00:00 IST
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday signed into law the Hong Kong national security bill in a closed-door meeting of the of the Communist Party of China (CPC) elite in Beijing, formalising a legislation that critics fear could crush the city’s freedoms.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists could potentially face life sentences if they are found to have broken the new law.
The legislation was unanimously approved little more than six weeks after it was first unveiled. Xinhua reported that Chinese lawmakers voted to adopt the law and decided that it will be included in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution known as “Basic Law”.
Beijing says the law will be enforced to tackle separatism and foreign interference, but critics feel it will outlaw dissent and curb the various freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong’s citizens under the “one country, two systems” mechanism under which it has been governed since 1997. The law will come into effect on Wednesday, which marks the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China by Britain.
Prominent Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong announced he’s stepping down as leader of his anti-Beijing group Demosisto, soon after China passed the controversial law.
“After much internal deliberation, we have decided to disband and cease all operations as a group, given the circumstances,” Demosisto said on Twitter.
Chinese foreign ministry said it will take necessary countermeasures to “firmly safeguard” its national interests in response to a decision by the US to end special treatment for Hong Kong over the new law.
Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam said the law will only target a “small minority of illegal, criminal acts and activities”.
‘Deeply concerned,’ says UK PM Johnson
UK PM Boris Johnson the text of the new law will now be scrutinised. “I am deeply concerned at the law being passed. We will be looking at it carefully and scrutinise it if it is in conflict with the declaration with China. We have a duty to BNOs (British National Overseas) in Hong Kong as I said earlier.”