New Hong Kong law sets harsh penalties for broadly defined political crimes

Marco Green
June 30, 2020

Joining the global criticism was NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who said during a Tuesday virtual forum, "It is clear that China does not share our values-democracy, freedom, and the rule of law", according to Reuters.

It will now treat the financial hub the same as China for so-called dual-use exports that have both military and civilian applications - and which are highly restricted when sought by Beijing.

The government has said the legislation is aimed at curbing subversive, secessionist and terrorist activities, as well as foreign intervention in the city's affairs. It follows a year of unrest in Hong Kong, which sometimes descended into violent clashes between police and protesters. However, pro-Beijing politicians have warned that the maximum jail term for sedition, subversion, and colluding with "overseas forces" has been hiked from 10 years to life. People with leading roles in the outlawed activities could face life imprisonment.

Kwok said what Beijing had done was a "ruthless way of taking away the freedoms and human dignity of the Hong Kong people".

The contents of the law have so far been kept secret from Hong Kong's 7.5 million inhabitants, sparking alarm, anger and fear.

Pro-democracy figures in Hong Kong also worry that once the law comes into effect, the city's core values will be undermined.

Judges for security cases are expected to be appointed by the city's chief executive.

The official Xinhua news agency reported that China's top lawmaking body, the standing committee of the National People's Congress, adopted the measure on Tuesday and President Xi Jinping signed an order to endorse it. Xinhua said the new measure will be added to a list of national laws that apply to Hong Kong in an annex of its mini-constitution, the Basic Law.

For about a year, demonstrations have taken place in Hong Kong over recent moves that those in the territory say are steps to ending China's longstanding "one country, two systems" arrangement with Hong Kong.

Demosisto founder Agnes Wong, whose bid to run as a candidate for the city's Legislative Council (LegCo) was denied for political reasons, and former Demosisto lawmaker Nathan Law, who was stripped of his LegCo seat after an edict from Beijing, also announced their resignations at the same time.

"If my voice will not be heard soon, I hope that the worldwide community will continue to speak up for Hong Kong and step up concrete efforts to defend our last bit of freedom", Wong said on social media.

"After much internal deliberation, we have made a decision to disband and cease all operation as a group given the circumstances", Demosisto said on Twitter.

"Great changes are one can be sure about their tomorrow, " Wong wrote on his Facebook page.

The legislation was unanimously approved by China's rubber-stamp parliament on Tuesday morning, little more than six weeks after it was first unveiled, sending shockwaves through semi-autonomous Hong Kong and beyond. Leung did not say where the funds would come from. "This whole process is secretive because Beijing doesn't want to hear any objection and Chinese authorities don't want to give anyone a chance to criticize the law".

Beijing's imposition of a draconian National Security Law on Hong Kong is a needless disaster.

"This law risks seriously undermining the high degree of autonomy of Hong Kong", Michel said in comments repeated by European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen.

Hundreds of outspoken Twitter accounts run by Hong Kong residents have been voluntarily deleted in the last few days as people rush to clear any potentially incriminating web-browsing history and online political posts.

A small pro-independence group called Hong Kong National Front announced it was disbanding its branch in the city and shifting its work to divisions in Taiwan and United Kingdom instead.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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