Pedestrians walk past a government-sponsored advertisement promoting a new national security law on June 30, 2020 in Hong Kong, China.
Billy HC Kwok | Getty Images
BEIJING The Chinese central government passed a radical new security law for Hong Kong that came into effect a few hours before the 23rd anniversary of the city’s transfer from the United Kingdom to China on Wednesday.
The national security law strengthens Beijing’s control over Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous region with greater democratic freedoms and alignment with international trade standards than the continent. This special status has made Hong Kong an attractive hub for many international companies wishing to exploit the Greater China market.
Under the new legislation, many of the activities of protesters in Hong Kong over the past year are punishable by law. What began as largely peaceful mass protests against a controversial extradition bill over 12 months ago has turned into violent clashes with the police.
An official English translation of the new law states that a person who acts to “undermine Hong Kong’s national unification” with the mainland faces a sentence of up to life, depending on the seriousness of the offense . Financial support for such activities is also a crime.
The security law also broadly sets out what could be considered crimes by “terrorist organizations” and those who collude with foreign entities.
The text also states that those who are not permanent residents of Hong Kong can be deported if they break the law.
Under Chinese President Xi Jinping, Beijing’s decision to go ahead with the law comes despite strong criticism from Europe and the United States
EU Council President Charles Michel said on Tuesday that “we deplore this decision”, according to a Reuters report.
The administration of US President Donald Trump has also taken steps to eliminate Hong Kong’s special trade status with the world’s largest economy, starting with restrictions on defense exports and access to high-tech products.
Other aspects of the law indicated how Beijing would strengthen its hand in Hong Kong affairs.
A national security adviser designated by the central government will attend meetings of a committee for the safeguarding of national security of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, by law.
Hong Kong will also promote national security education in schools and the media, in accordance with the law.
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