What you need to know about Hong Kong’s new national security law

Everything has unfolded at breakneck velocity. Beijing solely launched the proposal a month in the past, and the law is anticipated to go into impact by July.

Here’s what you need to know about the invoice — and what it means for the town.

Beijing has been asking Hong Kong to go a national security law since 1997, when the previous British colony was handed again to China. There’s even an article within the metropolis’s mini-constitution calling on it to accomplish that.

Hong Kong politicians have tried to go the laws earlier than, however confronted fierce public opposition.

On May 22, Beijing determined to take issues into its personal fingers, and proposed the invoice for Hong Kong on the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s rubber-stamp parliament.

While Hong Kong has an impartial authorized system, a again door in its mini-constitution permits Beijing to make law within the metropolis — that means there’s not a lot the Hong Kong public or management can do about it.

Under this proposed law, felony offenses will embody secession, subversion in opposition to the central Chinese authorities, terrorist actions, and collusion with international forces to endanger national security, in accordance to Chinese state-run Xinhua information company.

What would the law do?

The law will permit mainland Chinese officers to function in Hong Kong for the primary time and provides Beijing the ability to override native legal guidelines.

Under the proposed law:

  • Beijing will set up a national security workplace, staffed by mainland security companies to supervise native authorities in policing the law, in accordance to Xinhua.
  • Hong Kong’s high official will decide which judges hear national security circumstances, jeopardizing the town’s impartial judiciary.
  • Mainland Chinese authorities can “exercise jurisdiction” over circumstances in particular circumstances, that means sure crimes in Hong Kong might lead to trials on the mainland.
  • The metropolis will arrange a national security fee, with a Beijing-appointed adviser and working below “the supervision of the central government.”
  • The invoice trumps native legal guidelines. If there’s a battle with present Hong Kong law, the national security law prevails.

What are the unanswered questions?

There’s nonetheless loads we do not know. Much of the drafting course of occurs behind closed doorways, and there was no public session on the invoice — even Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the town’s high official, stated she hasn’t seen the “complete details.”

It’s not but clear how well-defined these crimes will likely be, or what precisely will represent broad phrases like international collusion or subversion.

We nonetheless do not know how the law will defend the rights of the accused, and which particular circumstances will immediate the Chinese authorities to step in or require the extradition of suspects to the mainland.

It’s additionally not clear whether or not there will likely be any checks and balances that permit the native authorities to regulate what mainland brokers do in Hong Kong, and what position these brokers might play in any potential political prosecution of metropolis opposition figures.

Why did not Hong Kong go the law itself?

The native authorities tried to go a national security law in 2003, however after massive protests, they shelved the laws and no administration has dared to strive once more, a lot to China’s frustration.
Hong Kongers again then had the same fears as they do now — {that a} national security law might infringe on their freedoms and be used to crush dissent.

Then the 2019 protests occurred, this time in opposition to one other invoice that might have allowed suspects in Hong Kong to be extradited to the mainland. Many Hong Kongers as soon as once more feared that Beijing was extending its attain into the town’s impartial judicial system.

For greater than six months, Hong Kong was rocked by usually violent pro-democracy, anti-government protests, which posed a significant problem to the town’s native leaders and police pressure, who deployed tear gasoline and water cannon.

Beijing’s endurance, lengthy frayed by the native authorities’s failure to go the law, ran out — so the central authorities took motion into its personal fingers.

Before we dive deeper, some background

Though Hong Kong is a part of China, it enjoys extra liberties than another Chinese metropolis.

Hong Kong was a British territory till it was handed again to China in 1997. The handover settlement gave the town particular freedoms of press, speech, and meeting, protected for at the very least 50 years, in a mannequin of governance known as “one country, two systems.”

Under this mannequin, Hong Kong additionally has its personal foreign money, judicial system, id and tradition — freedoms that stand in stark distinction to China’s censorship and authoritarian rule within the mainland.

Hong Kongers have lengthy feared Chinese encroachment on their autonomy, and have pushed for better democracy — one of many driving components behind final yr’s protests, in addition to the 2014 Umbrella Movement.

Why is that this law so controversial?

The law drastically broadens Beijing’s energy over the town and will change daily life and society.
China revealed some details of Hong Kong's national security law and it may be as bad as critics feared
Many fear the law might be used to goal dissidents, a worry that stems from China’s judicial track record.

In the mainland, national security legal guidelines have been used to prosecute pro-democracy campaigners, human rights activists, legal professionals and journalists. Arbitrary punishments and secret detentions are nearly exceptional in Hong Kong — however individuals fear this new law might change that.

Critics say the law might additionally trigger growing self-censorship within the media, the exclusion of pro-democracy figures from the town’s legislature, and threaten Hong Kong’s repute as a protected base for worldwide companies.

All of this stays hypothesis till the law is enacted and used, but it surely represents what Hong Kongers are most afraid of — the tip of their freedoms and of “one country, two systems.”

What have Hong Kongers stated?

China’s announcement of the law was met with fierce resistance from a lot of Hong Kong society.

After it was introduced, crowds of protesters returned to the streets and clashed with police, who once more fired tear gasoline and deployed water cannon.

Pro-democracy lawmakers together with Claudia Mo condemned the law as “taking away all the core values we’ve come to know,” whereas the Hong Kong Bar Association blasted the law as a significant blow to judicial independence.

Some Hong Kongers have instructed CNN they’re contemplating fleeing the town to safer shores just like the self-governing island of Taiwan, the place authorities arrange an workplace to assist Hong Kong residents shifting there for “political reasons.”

But some have additionally welcomed the law. Business officers have argued it might carry much-needed stability to the town after final yr’s unrest, which devastated the town’s financial system, shuttered scores of shops and eating places, and broken Hong Kong’s worldwide repute. HSBC and Standard Chartered, two of Hong Kong’s greatest banks, each help the invoice.

A protester is detained by riot police in Hong Kong on May 24.

What has the Hong Kong authorities stated?

Lam, Hong Kong’s chief, stated the central authorities had “no alternative but to take action” after final yr’s political unrest, and that Hong Kong had a “constitutional duty” to uphold China’s sovereignty.

She has repeatedly denied the law will infringe on residents’ fundamental rights, stating that it’s going to not undermine the town’s “judiciary independence and high degree of autonomy.”

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung, Hong Kong’s second-highest rating official, has additionally insisted that solely terrorists and separatists will likely be focused by the law — however he has little affect within the drafting the small print.

Hong Kong Police Commissioner Chris Tang instructed Chinese state broadcaster CCTV in May that the law “will not affect Hong Kong people’s rights and freedom” and can assist the town “become more stable and safe.”

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam at a press conference in May after the announcement of the proposed bill.

What produce other world leaders stated?

The proposed law has been met with concern and condemnation from the worldwide group; greater than 200 lawmakers from 24 nations have signed an open letter in opposition to the invoice.

US President Donald Trump blasted Beijing for the law and revoked Hong Kong’s special status on commerce, saying in May that the US will apply the identical restrictions to the territory it has in place with China.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson argued the law “would curtail (Hong Kong’s) freedoms and dramatically erode its autonomy,” and promised to present a path to British citizenship for doubtlessly thousands and thousands of Hong Kongers.

The leaders of the European Union (EU) expressed “grave concerns” about the potential menace to basic rights and freedoms. Lawmakers within the European Parliament warned that China was violating its worldwide commitments, and proposed bringing China earlier than the International Court of Justice.

CNN’s James Griffiths contributed to this report.

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