HONG KONG (AP) – The Hong Kong leader endorsed the new security law imposed by the central government of China in its speech on the anniversary of the transfer of colonial Britain to the semi-autonomous region.
“This decision was necessary and came in time to maintain Hong Kong’s stability,” said Carrie Lam.
A pro-democratic political party, The League of Social Democrats, staged a protest march during the flag ceremony ahead of Lam’s speech. About a dozen participants chanted slogans in line with protesters’ demands for political reforms last year and an investigation into allegations of police abuse.
The law passed on Tuesday further makes the distinction between the legal system of semi-autonomous Hong Kong, which maintained certain aspects of British law after the 1997 transfer, and the authoritarian communist party system of the mainland. Critics say the law effectively puts an end to the “one country, two systems” framework under which Hong Kong was promised a high degree of autonomy.
The law directly targets some actions by anti-government protesters last year, including attacks on government offices and police stations, damage to metro stations and the closure of the city’s international airport. Vandalism against government facilities or public transport can be prosecuted as subversion or terrorism, while anyone participating in activities considered to be secessionists also violates the new law.
According to the law, those found guilty of inciting secessionist, subversive, terrorist activities and collusion with foreign troops can be given life sentences if they are considered masterminds of such activities.
Schools, social groups, media outlets, websites and other unspecified will be monitored and their national security awareness will be increased, according to the text, while the central government of China will exercise authority over the activities of foreign non-governmental organizations and media outlets in Hong Kong Kong.
It says central government agencies in Hong Kong will take over in “complicated cases” and when there is a serious threat to national security. According to the text, local authorities should not interfere with the central government agencies operating in Hong Kong in the performance of their duties.
Legislation was required by Hong Kong’s local constitution, but an earlier attempt to have it implemented by the city’s legislative authority in 2003 was suspended despite massive public opposition. After losing patience, Beijing finally decided to bypass Hong Kong’s legislature and allow Tuesday to pass through the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the rubber-stamped parliament of China.
President Xi Jinping has signed a presidential order that implements the law and is added to the Basic Law, the Hong Kong Constitution.
The US has already begun to end special trade terms for the territory. The Trump administration has also said it will ban defense exports to Hong Kong and will soon require licenses to sell items that are intended for both civilian and military use, citing the possibility that they will become People’s Liberation Army that loyalty to the ruling Communist Party of China.
Congress also proceeded to impose sanctions on people believed to be linked to political repression in Hong Kong, including police officers, while Britain has said that the residence and possible citizenship can accommodate about 3 million out of 7, 5 million Hong Kong population.
China has said it will impose visa restrictions on Americans who consider it interference with Hong Kong.
The law comes after Hong Kong’s legislature passed a controversial bill in early June that makes it illegal to insult the Chinese national anthem. Pro-Chinese figures have also urged that more “patriotic” education be included in the curriculum, hoping this would aid their identification with Beijing
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