Under the guise of the coronavirus, Hong Kong suppresses the protest movement

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Beijing and its city’s pro-government allies have in recent weeks urged lawmakers to pass national security laws that residents say will allow the mainland authorities to further infringe on Hong Kong’s civil liberties.

The issue of national security is likely to strike a nerve in the city. The government’s last attempt, in 2003, to introduce article 23 – which stipulates that Hong Kong should enact laws prohibiting all acts of treason, secession, sedition and subversion against the central government of China – is unsuccessful after a mass demonstration.

Almost two decades later, the Hong Kong government has repeatedly stated that it has the constitutional responsibility to implement the law.

But critics fear that such legislation will empower the government to target critics of the Communist Party. They refer to general language in the law that would prohibit foreign organizations from carrying out political activities and criminalize the theft of vaguely defined state secrets as examples of such excessive scope.

Luo Huining, Beijing’s highest representative in Hong Kong, said last week that national security has always been a gap in the city since its return to Chinese control in 1997. Mr. Luo, who has overseen a Purge of top Communist Party officials in the corrupt Shanxi Province assumed the post of director of the Liaison Office in January. It was part of a sudden management shift that Beijing had ordered for Hong Kong, demoting officials who presided over months of chaos and replacing them with staunch executioners from Xi Jinping.

Keith Bradsher contributed to the Beijing reports.

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