China proposes controversial Hong Kong safety legislation

Clashes in Hong Kong's legislature on Monday showed the continuing political unrestImage copyright AFP
Image caption Clashes in Hong Kong’s legislature on Monday confirmed the persevering with political unrest

China is proposing to introduce a brand new safety legislation in Hong Kong that might ban sedition, secession and subversion.

The move is more likely to provoke robust opposition internationally and in Hong Kong, which was final 12 months rocked by months of pro-democracy protests.

China’s delayed National People’s Congress, its legislature, will debate the difficulty when it opens on Friday.

Chinese media mentioned the move defended nationwide safety, however opponents mentioned it could possibly be the “end of Hong Kong”.

The final British governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, known as the move a “comprehensive assault on the city’s autonomy”.

President Donald Trump mentioned the US would react strongly if China adopted by way of with its proposals.

The Hong Kong greenback dropped sharply on Thursday in anticipation of the announcement.

What will the NPC do?

The concern has been launched on the NPC agenda, beneath the title of Establishing and Improving the Legal System and Enforcement Mechanism of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, which gives the territory sure freedoms not obtainable on the mainland, does require its authorities to usher in a safety legislation. It had tried to enact the so-called “sedition law” in 2003 however greater than 500,000 folks took to the streets and it was dropped.

A spokesman for the NPC mentioned on Thursday that China was planning to enhance on the “one country, two systems” coverage that Hong Kong has noticed.

Zhang Yesui mentioned: “National security is the bedrock underpinning the stability of the country. Safeguarding national security serves the fundamental interest of all Chinese, our Hong Kong compatriots included.”

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Media captionThe BBC’s Helier Cheung on Hong Kong’s 2019 protests

Beijing has all the time had the facility so as to add a nationwide safety legislation into Hong Kong’s Basic Law however has up to now avoided doing so.

But Hong Kong is heading for elections to its personal legislature in September and if final 12 months’s success for pro-democracy events in district elections is repeated, authorities payments could possibly be blocked.

A mainland supply advised the South China Morning Post that Beijing had determined Hong Kong wouldn’t be capable of move its personal safety legislation and the NPC must take the accountability.

China has the choice to impose it into Annex III of the Basic Law, which covers nationwide legal guidelines that have to be noticed in Hong Kong.

The opening of the NPC had been delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

What could possibly be within the new legislation?

The NPC spokesman would solely say that extra particulars would come on Friday.

Sources say the legislation will goal terrorist exercise in Hong Kong and prohibit acts of sedition, subversion and secession, in addition to international interference in Hong Kong’s affairs.

Pro-democracy activists fear will probably be used to muzzle protests in defiance of the freedoms enshrined within the Basic Law.

Similar legal guidelines in China are used to silence opposition to the Communist Party.

What’s the preliminary response and can there be protests?

There have already been calls inside Hong Kong for demonstrations.

Democratic lawmaker Dennis Kwok advised Reuters: “If this move takes place, ‘one country, two systems’ will be officially erased. This is the end of Hong Kong.”

He was echoed by Civic Party legislator, Tanya Chan, who mentioned: “One country, one system has truly come to Hong Kong.” She mentioned this was the “saddest day in Hong Kong history”.

Student activist and politician Joshua Wong tweeted that the move was an try by Beijing to “silence Hong Kongers’ critical voices with force and fear”.

The pro-Beijing DAB get together mentioned it “fully supported” the proposals, which had been made “in response to Hong Kong’s rapidly worsening political situation in recent years”.

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Christopher Cheung added: “Legislation is necessary and the sooner the better.”

An editorial within the state-run China Daily mentioned the legislation meant that “those who challenge national security will necessarily be held accountable for their behaviour”.

Political unrest had cooled through the coronavirus outbreak however its resurgence was obvious on Monday, when quite a lot of pro-democracy lawmakers had been dragged out of the legislative chamber throughout a row a couple of Chinese nationwide anthem invoice that may criminalise disrespect of it.

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Media captionWhy had been Hong Kong followers booing their anthem? (2015 video)

A bunch of 15 outstanding pro-democracy activists additionally appeared in courtroom on Monday charged with organising and participating in illegal assemblies associated to final 12 months’s protests. Five additionally face the extra critical cost of incitement.

Millions took to the streets for seven months final 12 months in rallies that started peacefully however later spiralled into violent clashes.

Those protests had been initially about one other controversial invoice permitting extraditions to the mainland. It was later dropped.

China’s move additionally comes because the US is contemplating whether or not to increase Hong Kong’s preferential buying and selling and funding privileges. It should determine by the top of the month. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday expressed concern over Hong Kong’s autonomy.

What is Hong Kong’s authorized state of affairs?

Hong Kong was dominated by Britain as a colony for greater than 150 years as much as 1997.

The Basic Law, which runs out in 2047, provides Hong Kong “a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs”.

As a end result, Hong Kong’s personal authorized system, borders, and rights – together with freedom of meeting and free speech – are protected.

For instance, it is likely one of the few locations in Chinese territory the place folks can commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

But Beijing has the flexibility to veto any modifications to the political system and has, for instance, dominated out direct election of the chief govt.