China passes Hong Kong se­cu­rity law

US be­gins re­mov­ing HK spe­cial sta­tus

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HONG KONG/BEI­JING (Reuters) — China’s par­lia­ment passed na­tional se­cu­rity leg­is­la­tion for Hong Kong on Tues­day, set­ting the stage for the most radical changes to the for­mer Bri­tish colony’s way of life since it re­turned to Chi­nese rule 23 years ago.

De­tails of the law — which comes in re­sponse to last year’s of­ten-vi­o­lent pro-democ­racy protests in the city and aims to tackle sub­ver­sion, ter­ror­ism, sep­a­ratism and col­lu­sion with for­eign forces — were yet to be re­leased.

Hong Kong leader Car­rie Lam nev­er­the­less wel­comed the law’s pas­sage and said it would come into ef­fect later on Tues­day, giv­ing the city’s 7.5 million peo­ple lit­tle time to di­gest what is ex­pected to be highly com­plex leg­is­la­tion.

Amid fears the law will crush the global fi­nan­cial hub’s free­doms, and re­ports that the heav­i­est penalty un­der it would be life im­pris­on­ment, pro-democ­racy ac­tivist Joshua Wong’s De­mo­sisto group said it would dis­solve.

“It marks the end of Hong Kong that the world knew be­fore,” Wong said on Twit­ter.

The leg­is­la­tion pushes Bei­jing fur­ther along a col­li­sion course with the United States, Bri­tain and other Western gov­ern­ments, which have said it erodes the high de­gree of au­ton­omy the city was granted at its July 1, 1997, han­dover.

The United States, al­ready in dis­pute with China over trade, the South China Sea and the coro­n­avirus, be­gan elim­i­nat­ing Hong Kong’s spe­cial sta­tus un­der U.S. law on Mon­day, halt­ing de­fense ex­ports and re­strict­ing tech­nol­ogy ac­cess. China said it would re­tal­i­ate. Lam, in a video mes­sage to the United Na­tions Hu­man Rights Coun­cil in Geneva, urged the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to “re­spect our country’s right to safe­guard na­tional se­cu­rity.”

She said the law would not un­der­mine the city’s au­ton­omy or its in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary.

Au­thor­i­ties in Bei­jing and Hong Kong have re­peat­edly said the leg­is­la­tion is aimed at a few “trou­ble­mak­ers” and will not af­fect rights and free­doms, nor in­vestor in­ter­ests.

The editor-in-chief of the Global Times, a tabloid pub­lished by the Peo­ple’s Daily, the of­fi­cial news­pa­per of China’s rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party, said on Twit­ter the heav­i­est penalty un­der the law was life im­pris­on­ment.

As the law was passed in Bei­jing, the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army gar­ri­son in Hong Kong held a drill which in­cluded ex­er­cises to stop sus­pi­cious ves­sels and ar­rest fugi­tives, ac­cord­ing to the Weibo so­cial me­dia ac­count of state-run CCTV’s mil­i­tary chan­nel.

The leg­is­la­tion may get an early test with ac­tivists and pro-democ­racy politi­cians say­ing they would defy a po­lice ban, amid coro­n­avirus re­stric­tions, on a rally on the an­niver­sary of the July 1 han­dover.

HONG KONG (Reuters) — Hong Kong ac­tivist Joshua Wong said on Tues­day he is step­ping down as leader of his democ­racy group De­mo­sisto, just hours af­ter me­dia re­ported that Bei­jing had passed na­tional se­cu­rity leg­is­la­tion for the Chi­nese-ruled city.

Wong has said he would be a “prime tar­get” of Bei­jing’s na­tional se­cu­rity law, which crit­ics fear will crush free­doms in the for­mer Bri­tish colony.

Chi­nese and Hong Kong au­thor­i­ties have said the law is nec­es­sary to tackle sep­a­ratism, sub­ver­sion, ter­ror­ism and col­lu­sion with for­eign forces fol­low­ing anti-gov­ern­ment protests that es­ca­lated in June last year.

Wong has ral­lied sup­port for Hong Kong’s pro-democ­racy move­ment over­seas, in par­tic­u­lar in the United States, draw­ing the wrath of Bei­jing, which says he is a “black hand” of for­eign forces.

“If my voice will not be heard soon, I hope that the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity will con­tinue to speak up for Hong Kong and step up con­crete ef­forts to de­fend our last bit of free­dom,” Wong said on his Twit­ter feed.

De­mo­sisto mem­bers Nathan Law and Agnes Chow also said they were step­ping down from the group.

“The strug­gle of Hong Kong peo­ple will not stop, it will only con­tinue with a more de­ter­mined at­ti­tude,” Law said in a Face­book post.

In­de­pen­dence ad­vo­cacy group the Hong Kong Na­tional Front said on its Face­book page it had shut its Hong Kong of­fice and that its units in Tai­wan and Bri­tain would con­tinue to pro­mote in­de­pen­dence for the Chi­nese-ruled city.

China con­sid­ers Hong Kong to be an “in­alien­able” part of the country so any sug­ges­tion of in­de­pen­dence are anath­ema to its Com­mu­nist Party lead­ers. In­de­pen­dence ac­tivists fear they will be tar­geted by Bei­jing un­der the new se­cu­rity leg­is­la­tion.

Hong Kong pro-in­de­pen­dence ac­tivist Wayne Chan said in a Face­book post on Sun­day he had skipped bail and fled the city amid fears he would be de­tained.

The South China Morn­ing Post news­pa­per, quot­ing an uniden­ti­fied source, said China’s of­fi­cial news agency Xinhua would pub­lish de­tails of the law later on Tues­day and Hong Kong of­fi­cials would gather at the of­fice of Bei­jing’s top rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the city later for a meet­ing on the leg­is­la­tion.

The draft law has alarmed for­eign gov­ern­ments and Hong Kong democ­racy ac­tivists, who are con­cerned that Bei­jing is erod­ing the high de­gree of au­ton­omy granted to the for­mer Bri­tish colony when it was re­turned to Chi­nese rule in 1997.

China says the na­tional se­cu­rity law will tar­get only a small group of trou­ble­mak­ers and peo­ple who abide by the leg­is­la­tion have no rea­son to worry.

Tai­wan warns cit­i­zens of risk in Hong Kong vis­its

TAIPEI (Reuters) — Tai­wan on Tues­day warned its cit­i­zens of risk in visit­ing Hong Kong af­ter China’s par­lia­ment passed na­tional se­cu­rity leg­is­la­tion for the city while Tai­wan’s pres­i­dent said she was dis­ap­pointed about the law.

The new law would “se­verely im­pact” free­dom, democ­racy and hu­man rights in Hong Kong, Tai­wan’s cabi­net said in a state­ment, adding that the demo­cratic is­land would con­tinue to of­fer help to Hong Kong peo­ple.

“The move se­verely im­pacts Hong Kong so­ci­ety’s free­dom, hu­man rights and sta­bil­ity. The gov­ern­ment strongly con­demns it and re­it­er­ates its sup­port for the peo­ple of Hong Kong as they strive for democ­racy and free­dom,” cabi­net spokesman Evian Ting said.

Au­thor­i­ties in Bei­jing and Hong Kong have re­peat­edly said the leg­is­la­tion is aimed at a few “trou­ble­mak­ers” in Hong Kong and will not af­fect rights and free­doms, nor in­vestor in­ter­ests.

Nev­er­the­less, Ting warned Tai­wanese of “pos­si­ble risks” when visit­ing Hong Kong in light of the leg­is­la­tion. He did not elab­o­rate.

Months of anti-gov­ern­ment, pro-democ­racy protests in Hong Kong last year won wide­spread sym­pa­thy in demo­cratic and Chi­nese-claimed Tai­wan, which has wel­comed peo­ple from Hong Kong who have moved to the is­land and ex­pects more to come.

Pres­i­dent Tsai Ing-wen, who in May be­came the first gov­ern­ment leader any­where to pledge mea­sures to help Hong Kong peo­ple who leave due to what they see as tight­en­ing Chi­nese con­trols, said she was “very dis­ap­pointed” by China’s im­po­si­tion of the law.

“We hope Hong Kong peo­ple con­tinue to ad­here to the free­dom, democ­racy and hu­man rights that they cher­ish,” she told re­porters.


Po­lice stop and search a man af­ter they en­tered a shop­ping mall to dis­perse peo­ple at­tend­ing a lunchtime rally in Hong Kong, Tues­day. China’s Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress Stand­ing Com­mit­tee has unan­i­mously ap­proved a na­tional se­cu­rity law for Hong Kong, pro­hibit­ing acts of se­ces­sion, sub­ver­sion, ter­ror­ism and col­lu­sion with for­eign forces to en­dan­ger na­tional se­cu­rity.


Hong Kong Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Car­rie Lam leaves af­ter a press con­fer­ence in Hong Kong, Tues­day. Hong Kong me­dia re­ported that China has ap­proved a con­tentious law that would al­low au­thor­i­ties to crack down on sub­ver­sive and se­ces­sion­ist ac­tiv­ity in Hong Kong, spark­ing fears that it would be used to curb op­po­si­tion voices in the semi-au­tonomous ter­ri­tory.

Joshua Wong

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