Beijing, May 28 (efe-epa).- China’s National People’s Congress on Thursday almost unanimously approved the controversial Hong Kong national security bill, which has led to a fresh wave of protests in the semi-autonomous city.
The bill was passed during the closing session of the annual gathering of the NPC, and will now be handed over to a legal committee of the national legislature which will be tasked with preparing a final draft, to be ratified by the standing committee of the NPC.
The draft decision was passed with 2,878 to 1 votes in favor and six abstentions.
The law seeks to, “prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People’s Government, or theft of state secrets, to prohibit foreign political organizations or bodies from conducting political activities in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and to prohibit political organizations or bodies of the HKSAR from establishing ties with foreign political organizations or bodies.”
It has the stated objective of safeguarding national sovereignty, security, development interests and “the legitimate rights and interests of Hong Kong residents,” apart from upholding the “one country, two systems,” structure and preserving the long-term “stability and prosperity” of the former British colony.
The seven articles in the bill include a legal mechanism that would allow the NPC Standing Committee to approve legislation to prevent and punish a series of activities, such as “endangering national security,” and “subversion of state power,” an allegation used frequently against human rights activists in China.
The bill comes after almost an year of pro-democracy protests in the semi-autonomous city. The demonstrations are expected to continue and possibly intensify after the bill’s passage, which lawyers as well as civil society experts believe could violate the legal provisions for modifying the norms of Hong Kong’s Basic Law.
The city’s mini-constitution says that the HKSAR must draw up its own security law, and a proposal in this regard in 2003 had led to widespread street protests as people feared it infringed on their freedoms, with the bill eventually being shelved by the local authorities.
This led to Hong Kong continuing without a legislation that would criminalize “anti-state” activities, particularly those involving “foreign interference,” a major concern for the communist regime.
In fact, throughout 2019, Beijing repeatedly accused the United States of clandestinely provoking the pro-democracy protests. .
China seeks to include the national security law as a provision in the Annex III of the Basic Law through a legal notice in the Government Gazette instead of sending it to the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, given the massive opposition that it would necessarily face.
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced the bill.
“Today, I reported to Congress that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China, given facts on the ground. The United States stands with the people of Hong Kong,” he tweeted. EFE-EPA