Sweeping nationwide safety regulation imposed as Hong Kong marks handover anniversary

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A government advertisement promoting Chinas planned national security law is displayed on the city hall building in Hong Kong on June 29, 2020. (Photo by ISAAC LAWRENCE / AFP) (Photo by ISAAC LAWRENCE/AFP via Getty Images)


The regulation got here into impact in Hong Kong within the lead-up to July 1 — the 23rd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from British rule to China — and dramatically broadens the powers of each native and mainland authorities to analyze, prosecute and punish dissenters.

Talking after the annual flag elevating ceremony on Wednesday, Hong Kong’s prime official, Chief Govt Carrie Lam, stated the regulation is a “essential step to ending chaos and violence that has occurred over the previous few months” within the metropolis.

“The nationwide safety regulation is crucial improvement in securing ties between China and the Hong Kong Particular Administrative Area because the handover,” she stated, framing criticism of the regulation as “vicious assaults.”

The stringent new laws and its 66 articles had been stored secret from the general public till the regulation went into impact and seem to supply the federal government, courts, police and authorities a roadmap to quash any trace of the mass anti-government protests that rocked the town final yr.

In obscure language, the regulation criminalizes secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with international powers. People who find themselves convicted of such crimes can face sentences as much as life in jail.

Activists have vowed to show in opposition to the regulation on Wednesday — historically a day of protests within the metropolis. For the primary time since handover, nevertheless, police haven’t given permission to protesters to carry peaceable demonstrations.

Giant crimson and yellow indicators appeared on barges within the metropolis’s harbor studying: “To have fun the nationwide safety regulation.”

There was a heavy police presence throughout Hong Kong’s central district and across the metropolis’s Legislative Council on Wednesday morning. The evening earlier than police commanders had been informed in a coaching session that anyone seen waving an independence flag or chanting for independence shall be arrested, a police supply stated. As well as, the supply stated anyone searched and located to have independence flags of their possession shall be arrested.

However, a handful of protesters gathered in Wan Chai district, close to to the place the flag elevating ceremony was held, and may very well be heard chanting “the folks will always remember” and “smash the nationwide safety regulation.”

Listed here are a few of the key takeaways of the regulation:

  • The regulation establishes 4 new offenses of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with international powers. The utmost penalty for every is life imprisonment.
  • The Chinese language central authorities will set up its personal regulation enforcement presence in Hong Kong, labeled the “Workplace for Safeguarding Nationwide Safety.”
  • A secretive nationwide safety committee for Hong Kong may also be established, comprised of Hong Kong authorities officers and an adviser appointed by the Chinese language central authorities. In response to a abstract revealed by the Hong Kong authorities, this group’s work “shall not be disclosed to the general public,” and “choices by the Committee shall not be amenable to judicial evaluate.”
  • Actions akin to damaging public transport and public companies “with a view to pursue political agenda” could be thought-about terrorism — a provision that seems to focus on protesters who final yr disrupted site visitors and the town’s infrastructure.
  • A terrorism cost may embrace the vaguely worded provision of “different harmful actions which severely jeopardize public well being, security or safety.”
  • The regulation targets perceived international interference in Hong Kong. All through the protests, the Chinese language authorities blamed “international forces” for interfering within the metropolis’s affairs. The regulation states that anybody who “steals, spies, obtains with fee, or unlawfully offers state secrets and techniques or intelligence” to a international nation, establishment, group or particular person shall be responsible of an offense beneath collusion with international powers.
  • The regulation additionally makes it an offense for folks to name on a international nation, establishment, group or particular person to impose sanctions or blockades on Hong Kong. The US stated it could impose visa restrictions on present and former Chinese language officers over Hong Kong.
  • Working with a international authorities, establishment, group or particular person to incite hatred in opposition to the Hong Kong or Chinese language Central authorities is now a offense.
  • The regulation can be utilized to non-permanent residents in Hong Kong and people who are in violation of the regulation shall be deported, no matter conviction. It additionally applies to non residents abroad who violate the nationwide safety regulation whereas overseas. This raises the prospect of international nationals being charged for suspected crimes dedicated whereas abroad ought to they go to the territory.
  • These convicted of a nationwide safety crime in courtroom can’t stand for elections or maintain public workplace.
  • Hong Kong’s Chief Govt now has the facility to nominate judges to deal with circumstances associated to nationwide safety. Nationwide safety circumstances involving state secrets and techniques could be tried and not using a jury.
  • Hong Kong courts will oversee nationwide safety circumstances however Beijing can take over prosecution in sure circumstances, making use of Chinese language regulation and prosecution requirements.
  • Nevertheless the regulation doesn’t clarify whether or not the circumstances Beijing guidelines on could be held within the mainland. The anti-government protests final yr had been sparked over a proposed regulation that will enable extradition to mainland China.
  • Trials shall be held in an open courtroom however when the case entails “state secrets and techniques or public order” it may be moved behind closed doorways.
  • A brand new nationwide safety unit shall be arrange within the Hong Kong Police Pressure that may have the facility to look properties, intercept info and carry out covert surveillance and not using a warrant. It could possibly additionally recruit members from outdoors of Hong Kong — probably permitting mainland officers to function within the metropolis.
  • The regulation additionally directs the Hong Kong authorities, together with the brand new fee, to strengthen its administration over international information companies and non-government organizations.
  • In the end, the nationwide safety regulation trumps native legal guidelines: the brand new laws states that if there’s a battle with present Hong Kong regulation, the nationwide safety regulation will prevail.

Reactions

The laws has been extensively criticized by opposition lawmakers in Hong Kong, human rights teams and politicians worldwide. Many fear it is going to be used to focus on political dissidents, activists, human rights legal professionals and journalists amid the central authorities’s persevering with crackdown on civil society beneath Chinese language President Xi Jinping.

Opponents of the regulation say it marks the top of the “one nation, two techniques” — a precept by which Hong Kong has retained restricted democracy and civil liberties since coming beneath Chinese language management.

Crucially, these freedoms embrace the appropriate to meeting, a free press, and an unbiased judiciary, rights that aren’t loved on the Chinese language mainland.

Jimmy Lai, a Hong Kong media tycoon identified for his outspoken help of the town’s pro-democracy motion, stated the regulation “spells a dying knell to Hong Kong as a result of it supersedes our regulation and our rule of regulation.”

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam following a flag-raising ceremony to mark the handover on July 1, 2020.Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam following a flag-raising ceremony to mark the handover on July 1, 2020.

Rights group Amnesty Worldwide stated the laws “represents the best risk to human rights within the metropolis’s current historical past.”

“The pace and secrecy with which China has pushed via this laws intensifies the concern that Beijing has calculatingly created a weapon of repression for use in opposition to authorities critics, together with people who find themselves merely expressing their views or protesting peacefully,” stated the pinnacle of Amnesty Worldwide’s China Crew, Joshua Rosenzweig.

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated it was a “unhappy day for Hong Kong, and for freedom-loving folks throughout China” with the imposition of the nationwide safety laws in Hong Kong.

He stated the regulation “destroys the territory’s autonomy and considered one of China’s best achievements.”

CNN’s James Griffiths, Roger Clark, Karina Tsui, Jadyn Sham, Vanesse Chan, Chermaine Lee, Kylie Atwood, Philip Wang contributed.



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