China proposes controversial Hong Kong security law

Clashes in Hong Kong's legislature on Monday showed the continuing political unrestImage copyright

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Clashes in Hong Kong’s legislature on Monday showed the continuing political unrest

China is proposing to introduce a new security law in Hong Kong that could ban sedition, secession and subversion.

The move is likely to provoke strong opposition internationally and in Hong Kong, which was last year rocked by months of pro-democracy protests.

China’s delayed National People’s Congress, its legislature, will debate the issue when it opens on Friday.

Chinese media said the move defended national security, but opponents said it could be the “end of Hong Kong”.

The last British governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, called the move a “comprehensive assault on the city’s autonomy”.

President Donald Trump said the US would react strongly if China followed through with its proposals.

The Hong Kong dollar dropped sharply on Thursday in anticipation of the announcement.

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Media captionFormer Hong Kong governor Chris Patten: “UK should tell China this is outrageous”
What will the NPC do?

The issue has been introduced on the NPC agenda, under the title of Establishing and Improving the Legal System and Enforcement Mechanism of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, which provides the territory certain freedoms not available on the mainland, does require its government to bring in a security law. It had tried to enact the so-called “sedition law” in 2003 but more than 500,000 people took to the streets and it was dropped.

A spokesman for the NPC said on Thursday that China was planning to improve on the “one country, two systems” policy that Hong Kong has observed.

Zhang Yesui said: “National security is the bedrock underpinning the stability of the country. Safeguarding national security serves the fundamental interest of all Chinese, our Hong Kong compatriots included.”

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Media captionThe BBC’s Helier Cheung on Hong Kong’s 2019 protests

Hong Kong is heading for elections to its own legislature in September and if last year’s success for pro-democracy parties in district elections is repeated, government bills could be blocked.

A mainland source told the South China Morning Post that Beijing had decided Hong Kong would not be able to pass its own security law and the NPC would have to take the responsibility.

China has the option to impose it into Annex III of the Basic Law, which covers national laws that must be observed in Hong Kong.

The opening of the NPC had been delayed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

What could be in the new law?

The NPC spokesman would only say that more details would come on Friday.

Sources say the law will target terrorist activity in Hong Kong and prohibit acts of seditio

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