China Passes Sweeping National Security Laws for Hong Kong, Further Crushing the City’s Autonomy
China on Tuesday morning unilaterally passed a new national security law for Hong Kong, according to the South China Morning Post, a move that experts say will further erode the semi-autonomous city’s waning freedoms.
According to SCMP, the law was unanimously approved by 162 members of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, Beijing’s top legislative body. The outlet said the legislation, which has not yet been made public by China, is expected to carry a maximum penalty of life in jail.
China agreed to draft and force the new legislation on Hong Kong in a largely rubber-stamp vote last month, prompting widespread protests in the territory. The law was expected to ban secession, subversion, and collusion with foreign forces.
Hong Kong formally operates with significant autonomy from the rest of China, an arrangement called “one country, two systems.” Hong Kong’s relationship with the mainland is growing fraught, however.
Hong Kong operated under British colonial rule for more than 150 years until its sovereignty was passed on to China in 1997 through an agreement called the Basic Law. This allows Hong Kong to maintain its own political, legal, and economic systems separate from China until 2047.
The Basic Law, or Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, calls for the city to enact national security laws to prohibit “treason, secession, sedition,” and “subversion” against the Chinese government. It is referred to as Article 23. Hong Kong has yet to do so on its own, prompting China to take unilateral action.
This is a developing story.