Controversial Hong Kong security law passed by China -- here's what you need to know
Amid fears the legislation will crush Hong Kong's rights and freedoms, prominent pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong said he would quit his Demosisto group. The controversial law pushes Beijing further along a collision course with the US, Britain and other Western governments.
China's Parliament passed a controversial national security legislation for Hong Kong on Tuesday, deepening fears for the city's freedoms and setting the stage for the most radical changes to the former British colony's way of life since it returned to Chinese rule almost exactly 23 years ago.
Beijing says that law is aimed to prohibit acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security, despite global opposition to the move.
State media is expected to publish details of the law - which comes in response to last year's often-violent pro-democracy protests in the city - later on Tuesday.
The heaviest penalty that can be imposed in China's new national security law for Hong Kong is life imprisonment, the editor in chief of the Global Times newspaper said on Tuesday, citing people who have seen the draft of the law.
Hu Xijin said on Twitter that official information on the new legislation, which he says was passed by "China's top legislature" earlier, will be released later in the day. He gave no further details, such as what crimes could lead to a life sentence under the law.
The Global Times is published by the People's Daily, the official newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party.
PRO-DEMOCRACY ACTIVIST JOSHUA WONG TO QUIT PARTY POLITICS
Amid fears the legislation will crush the global financial hub's rights and freedoms, prominent pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong said he would quit his Demosisto group. "It marks the end of Hong Kong that the world knew before," Wong said on Twitter.
Wong has said he would be a "prime target" of Beijing's national security law. He has rallied support for Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement overseas, in particular in the United States, drawing the wrath of Beijing, which says he is a "black hand" of foreign forces.
I hereby declare withdrawing from Demosisto...— Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 ???? (@joshuawongcf) June 30, 2020
If my voice will not be heard soon, I hope that the international community will continue to speak up for Hong Kong and step up concrete efforts to defend our last bit of freedom. pic.twitter.com/BIGD5tgriF
"If my voice will not be heard soon, I hope that the international community will continue to speak up for Hong Kong and step up concrete efforts to defend our last bit of freedom," Wong said on his Twitter feed.
Demosisto members Nathan Law and Agnes Chow also said they were stepping down from the group. "The struggle of Hong Kong people will not stop, it will only continue with a more determined attitude," Law said in a Facebook post.
GLOBAL OPPOSITION TO HONG KONG SECURITY LAW
The legislation pushes Beijing further along a collision course with the US, Britain and other Western governments, which have said it erodes the high degree of autonomy the city was granted at its July 1, 1997, handover.
The US began eliminating Hong Kong's special status under American law on Monday, halting defence exports and restricting the territory's access to high technology products.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said it was not appropriate for her to comment on the legislation as the meeting in Beijing was still going on, but she threw a jibe at the US. "No sort of sanctioning action will ever scare us," Lam said.
Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of a think-tank under the Beijing cabinet's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, told Reuters the internationally criticised law was passed unanimously with 162 votes.
Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have repeatedly said the legislation is aimed at a few "troublemakers" and will not affect rights and freedoms, nor investor interests. It comes into force as soon as it is gazetted in Hong Kong, which is seen as imminent.
This month, China's official Xinhua news agency unveiled some of the law's provisions, including that it would supersede existing Hong Kong legislation and that the power of interpretation belongs to China's parliament top committee.
Beijing is expected to set up a national security office in Hong Kong and could also exercise jurisdiction on certain cases. Judges for security cases are expected to be appointed by the city's chief executive.
Senior judges now allocate rosters up through Hong Kong's independent judicial system. It is unclear which specific activities are to be made illegal, how precisely they are defined or what punishment they carry.
Police have banned this year's July 1 rally on the anniversary of the 1997 handover, citing coronavirus restrictions. It is unclear if attending the rally would constitute a national security crime if the law came into force by Wednesday.
South China Morning Post, citing "police insiders", said about 4,000 officers will be on stand-by on Wednesday to handle any unrest if people defy the ban.
Hong Kong is one of many developing conflicts between China and the US, on top of trade, the South China Sea and the coronavirus pandemic. Britain has said the security law would violate China's international obligations and its handover agreement. A Japanese official said that if China had passed the law, it was "regrettable".
Democratically ruled and Chinese-claimed Taiwan said it "strongly condemns" the legislation, while the European Union said it could take China to the International Court of Justice in The Hague over it.
Rights group Amnesty International called the law "a weapon of repression to be used against government critics" and describes it as "the greatest threat to human rights in the city's recent history".