China releases details of planned Hong Kong security law

Tribune Content Agency

China’s top legislative body released some details of national security legislation to be imposed on Hong Kong, shedding new light on a measure that pro-democracy groups warn could undermine the city’s appeal as a financial center.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress for the first time Saturday released some of the draft language of legislation being considered for the former British colony, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The draft stipulates that Hong Kong will set up a national security commission, which will be headed by its chief executive. The bill also asks that the Hong Kong government complete local national security legislation as soon as possible. The power to interpret this legislation rests with the NPC Standing Committee, according to the framework.

Details of the measures to punish acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces in the former British colony had been secret since the broader National People’s Congress approved their drafting on May 28. The NPC Standing Committee began deliberations on the legislation Thursday, after a last-minute announcement that it had been added to the agenda.

The laws will shape the future of Hong Kong, raising questions about the autonomy of a city whose global status is a underpinned by its legal distinction from the mainland. President Xi Jinping’s government decided to bypass the elected local legislature and impose the security laws after a wave of historically large and sometimes violent protests gripped the city last year.

The laws have fueled resurgent pro-democracy protests and led the U.S. to threaten to revoke Hong Kong’s special trade status, which has helped maintain the city’s role a vital financial crossroads between China and the West. Opposition politicians have said China’s move would mark the end of the “one country, two systems” principle that has governed the city since its return to Chinese rule in 1997.

Hong Kong’s future has become a proxy fight in the battle for dominance between the U.S. and a rising China, with local protesters waving American flags and Beijing officials accusing Washington of acting as a “black hand” behind the unrest. China agreed to preserve the city’s liberal political structure and capitalist economy for at least 50 years in a treaty with the U.K.

Beijing has pressed ahead despite a statement by the Group of Seven foreign ministers Wednesday warning the legislation “would jeopardize the system which has allowed Hong Kong to flourish and made it a success over many years.” Scores of civil society organizations, included Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, urged NPC Chairman Li Zhanshu, the ruling Communist Party’s No. 3 leader, to abandon what they said was a “devastating assault on human rights.”

“China is firmly determined to advance this national security legislation in Hong Kong,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters Thursday, saying foreign governments should “stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs.”

The move means more disruption for a city already facing its deepest recession on record after protests and coronavirus lockdowns kept people in their homes and scared tourists away. Unemployment has risen to a 15-year high, while investors are putting money elsewhere and some expatriates and Hong Kong residents are considering leaving the city.

China’s surprise decision to impose the legislation has left Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp reeling, with little power to stop its enactment by a local government loyal to Beijing. Opposition lawmakers have expressed concern that the law will be used to bar China’s critics from seeking office, after the city’s only representative to the NPC Standing Committee saying candidates who oppose its passage should be disqualified.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who was chosen by a selection committee of 1,200 political insiders and appointed by Beijing, has endorsed the legislation, despite acknowledging she didn’t know what was in it. A poll released by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Program on May 29 showed a majority of residents and 96% of democracy supporters opposed the measure.


©2020 Bloomberg News

Visit Bloomberg News at

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.