Report By: Nandika Chand | Last Updated June 20, 2020
China is set to release a draft of the controversial National Security Law which it has customised for Hong Kong, a British Colony. The residents of Hong Kong are not for this law as it could suppress free speech, democratic opposition and publications critical of the government.
But the Chinese premier Xi Jinping wants to impose control of this territory immediately as it has been embroiled in violent protests since last year. The protests had mainly to due with a proposed extradition law. Beijing decided to take full control of things because of the failure of the Hong Kong administration.
A short public consultation period for the National Security Law is expected to be announced today. The Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah had last month said that consultation was not a requirement under Beijing’s decision and under Article 18 of the Basic Law (mini-constitution). But the Bar Association said any lack of proper public consultation was surprising, worrying and unprecedented.
Analysts said the draft will give a detailed layout of secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities and collusion with foreign and external forces to endanger national security. Its unclear when the law will be implemented. Sources predict it will be imposed before the Legislative Council elections, which is scheduled on September 6.
In May, China’s National People’s Congress nearly unanimously passed a resolution empowering its Standing Committee to amend the Basic Law and impose anti-sedition regulations on the territory. The Basic Law states that the semiautonomous territory should enact national legislation that outlaws any act of treason, secession, sedition and subversion against the central government. Hong Kong residents have opposed China’s attempts to pass this legislation.
According to sources, Beijing would exercise direct jurisdiction over the most serious national security cases occurring in Hong Kong, which means that residents could be extradited to mainland China for trial. Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam has tried to reassure the territory’s residents that ‘legitimate rights and freedoms’ of citizens would be safeguarded. She also criticised the opposition for demonizing the law.