Labor & Workforce

Hong Kong national security law to be discussed at NPC

Edit 1: Adds information on protests, market.

Beijing, May 22 (efe-epa).- The National People’s Congress in its annual session which began on Friday is set to discuss the draft decision on the national security of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

It would “establish and improve the legal system, and enforcement mechanisms for the HKSAR to safeguard national security,” state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Vice Chairperson of the Standing Committee of the NPC Wang Chen.

“The increasingly notable national security risks in the HKSAR have become a prominent problem,” Wang said, referring to the pro-democracy protests which turned massive in June last year in the semi-autonomous city.

These protests, “have seriously challenged the bottom line of the “one country, two systems” principle, harmed the rule of law, and threatened national sovereignty, security and development interests,” Wang further added.

Wang said that vigorous measures based on law must be taken to prevent, stop and punish these activities.

Wang also added that, “the Basic Law of the HKSAR stipulates that the HKSAR shall enact laws on its own 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 HKSAR, and to prohibit political organizations or bodies of the HKSAR from establishing ties with foreign political organizations or bodies.”

Article 23 of the Basic Law – of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution – provide that the semi-autonomous city is obliged to carry out said law which has turned out to be highly controversial among the people of the region – an important number – which has resisted the debate amid fears of it leading to restriction of freedom.

Among the seven articles proposed in the draft decision, a provision seeks legal mechanism to prevent and punish along with other acts, “subversion against the Central People’s Government,” which is frequently mentioned against the human rights defenders in China.

Pro-government lawmaker Paul Tse told RTHK, that, in his opinion, Beijing’s decision to introduce the laws at NPC shows that the central government had lost patience with the situation in the former British colony.

A lecturer at the University of Hong Kong’s law faculty, Eric Cheung said that it was possible that carrying out the legal reform would affect the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong negatively even more when there exists laws to tackle violent activities carried out by some radical groups of the protesters.

“I think Hong Kong will emerge as a long-term struggle, a crusade for democracy, just like Taiwan and South Korea.Greater repression leads to greater resistance,” political analyst Dixon Sing told RTHK.

The 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration laid the groundwork for the return of Hong Kong, which took place in 1997, under which China committed to respecting the city’s autonomy under the model known as “one country, two systems” for 50 years.

However, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chin, its spokespersons have on several occasions said that the rights and obligations recognized in the agreement are already covered.

Several pro-democratic associations in Hong Kong on Friday showed their rejection of Beijing’s intentions to establish a series of legal mechanisms that could result in the limitation of their freedoms, which has not done well on the Stock Market, with a drop of 5.56 percent at closure.

The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), which has organized the largest demonstrations in Hong Kong, described as “an atomic bomb” on the semi-autonomous city the proposed National Security Law presented to the National People’s Congress (ANP, Parliament), which began its annual meeting Friday in Beijing.

According to the president of the ANP Standing Committee, Wang Chen, this proposal for the law would seek to prohibit “any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People’s Government, the theft of state secrets, prohibition of the organization of activities in Hong Kong by foreign political organizations and a ban on the establishment of ties with foreign political organizations by Hong Kong political organizations.”

All this with the aim of “safeguarding national security” after almost a year of pro-democratic mobilizations that have shaken the Hong Kong economy and that have left harsh images of confrontations between the Police and some violent protesters.

Through its profile on social media platform Facebook, the CHRF asked its followers to take to the streets to oppose this law and showed their intention to gather “more than 2 million people” in a demonstration with a date to be defined.

For the time being, security distancing measures are in place in Hong Kong to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, although small-scale protests have continued to occur.

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