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All You Need To Know About The Hong Kong’s New Security Law?

What is Hong Kong New Security Law? 

On June 30, China passed a controversial national security law for Hong Kong that lends Beijing sweeping new powers over the semi-autonomous city.

The new law came into effect on July 1 — the 23rd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from British rule to China. July 1 is traditionally a day of protests in the city but this time around, police did not give permission to protesters to hold peaceful demonstrations.
Despite the threat of stricter penalties, several hundred protesters did turn out chanting and waving flags. Police demanded they stop shouting pro-independence slogans — they also unfurled a purple flag warning protesters of being in violation of the new law. Despite widespread international condemnation from leading powers, more than 50 countries, led by Cuba, supported China at the UN for the move.
On June 30, police commanders were told in a training session that anybody seen waving an independence flag or chanting for independence should be arrested.

A brief historical background 

China has been asking Hong Kong to pass a national security law since 1997 when the former British colony was handed back to China. There’s even an article in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution calling on it to do so.
Although Hong Kong has an independent legal system, a back door in its mini-constitution allows Beijing to make law in the city — meaning there wasn’t much the Hong Kong public or leadership could do about it. China said the security law was necessary to stop the type of protests seen in Hong Kong during much of 2019.
Hong Kong politicians have attempted to pass the legislation before but faced fierce public opposition. On May 22, Beijing took matters into its own hands and proposed the bill for Hong Kong at the National People’s Congress (NPC),.

What does New Security Law mean for Hong Kongers?

The new security law dramatically broadens the powers of local and mainland authorities to investigate, prosecute, and punish dissenters. In vague language, the new legislation criminalizes secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign powers. People convicted of such crimes can face sentences of up to life in prison.
The four crimes laid out in the law are;
secession,
subversion against the central Chinese government,
terrorist activities,
and collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security.
The law allows mainland Chinese officials to operate in Hong Kong for the first time, gives Beijing the powerto override local laws and impacts broad swathes of Hong Kong society — as well as foreign nationals overseas.
Calling for Hong Kong independence now counts as a crime under “secession,” and vandalizing public property or government premises are now considered terrorist activities.

What would the Mainland Chinese do under the new law?

  1. Beijing will establish a national security office in Hong Kong staffed by mainland officials. They will oversee enforcement of the law, and their actions will not be subject to Hong Kong jurisdiction.
  2. The Hong Kong government will set up its own national security committee, with a Beijing-appointed adviser. Their decisions cannot be legally challenged.
  3. Hong Kong courts will oversee national security cases, but Beijing can take over cases in special circumstances.
  4. If a case involves “state secrets or public order,” it will face a closed-door trial with no jury.
  5. This law trumps local ones.
  6. The law applies to “any person” in Hong Kong and even applies to foreign nationals violating the law overseas — meaning they could be charged if they ever visit the city.

Reactions from other countries

Critics say China’s law ends freedoms that were guaranteed for 50 years when British rule ended in 1997.
“The law is a brutal, sweeping crackdown against the people of Hong Kong, intended to destroy the freedoms they were promised,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the passing of the law was a “clear and serious breach” of the 1985 Sino-British joint declaration. The UK has offered a residency, and then citizenship, to up to three million Hong Kongers.

The US House of Representatives has approved new Hong Kong-related sanctions after Beijing imposed a security law that was condemned by countries around the world. The measure, which was passed unanimously, penalizes banks that do business with Chinese officials. It will have to be approved by the Senate before going to President Trump.

Australia is also “actively considering” offering safe haven to Hong Kong residents – with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying there were proposals that will “soon be considered by cabinet”.

At the United Nations this week, Cuba – on behalf of 53 countries – welcomed the law.

Speaking at the 44th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, it said: “Non-interference in internal affairs of sovereign states is an essential principle enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.
“We believe every country has the right to safeguard its national security through legislation and commend relevant steps taken for this purpose.”

About Noshin Bashir

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