China reportedly passed national security law for Hong Kong

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The Hong Kong Police Honor Guard raises a Chinese national flag and a Hong Kong flag during a flag raising ceremony at Golden Bauhinia Square on June 15, 2020 in Hong Kong, China.Anthony Kwan | Getty Images

Sources say China’s main decision-making body passed the controversial Hong Kong national security law, local media reported.Reuters quoted Cable TV in Hong Kong as reporting that the law was passed unanimously by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Tuesday.

Beijing says the law aims to ban secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activity and foreign interference. The law was introduced at China’s annual parliamentary meeting in late May and rekindled protests in Hong Kong, fearing that the city’s freedoms would be eroded.

It precedes the anniversary of Hong Kong’s 1997 transfer from the United Kingdom to mainland China on July 1.

Hong Kong is a former British colony governed by the “one country, two systems” framework and enjoys greater autonomy than other Chinese cities, including limited electoral rights and a largely separate legal and economic system. The special administrative region was returned to China in 1997.

Before the law was passed, the Eurasia Group said that passing the law before the anniversary of the handover could be an indication that Beijing wants to “quell protests well in advance” of the legislative council elections. Hong Kong in September.

Controversy over the law

Few details about the bill are known, but many were concerned about Beijing’s encroachment on Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms, in part because the move would bypass the city’s own lawmakers. Hong Kong was promised a high level of autonomy for 50 years after the transfer.

It is also seen as a way for China to gain more control after Hong Kong saw protracted – and sometimes violent – protests over an extradition bill now withdrawn.

Meanwhile, companies see the need for security law, but want to know what it involves and how it will be implemented, David Dodwell, executive director of Hong Kong-APEC Trade Policy Group, told CNBC .

Reuters said a national security office would be established in Hong Kong to gather intelligence and deal with related crimes, and city chief Carrie Lam would be allowed to appoint specific judges to hear security cases national.

Lam said she would not do so, but would select a panel of judges from which the judiciary could choose, according to Reuters.

She also said the new law would not affect Hong Kong’s way of life, but would target a “small minority of illegal and criminal acts”.

– CNBC’s Huileng Tan, Yen Nee Lee, Tucker Higgins contributed to this report.

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