Two Sessions 2020: national security law for HK a step closer after NPC endorses resolution

29-May-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

China’s top legislature has endorsed a resolution authorising its Standing Committee to tailor-make a national security law for Hong Kong.

Thursday afternoon’s vote took place just before the closing of the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), which started last Friday.

The resolution, officially known as the “draft decision on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to safeguard national security”, was approved with 2,878 deputies from around the country voting in favour and one voting against, while six abstained.

It came hours after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a potentially huge blow to Hong Kong, told the Congress the city was no longer suitably autonomous from China.

That assessment is a crucial step in deciding whether Hong Kong will continue to receive preferential economic and trade treatment from the United States.

Pompeo, and British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, spoke on Wednesday and shared their concerns over Beijing’s proposed security legislation.

The vote means the NPC Standing Committee is now authorised to propose a law prohibiting acts of secession, subversion, terrorism or conspiring with foreign influences in Hong Kong.

Under the law, the Hong Kong government will also be required to set up new institutions to safeguard sovereignty, while allowing mainland agencies to operate in the city as needed.

What does Beijing’s new national security law for Hong Kong cover, and who should worry?

In an unexpected move, the proposed resolution was amended on Tuesday, expanding its scope to prohibit activities that would “seriously endanger national security”.

The Standing Committee, which last met in late April, convenes every two months and is expected to hold its next meeting as early as June. That would be the earliest date at which the legislation could be advanced.

Premier Li Keqiang is scheduled to host an annual press conference later on Thursday to answer questions from reporters around the world.

Critics have strongly opposed the plan, believing it would undermine the “one country, two systems” principle and destroy Hong Kong’s status as a global financial hub.

The city’s Bar Association has also questioned the legality of Beijing’s move, saying it was “entirely unclear” how the suggestions of having mainland agencies set up to safeguard national security in Hong Kong would comply with Article 22 of the Basic Law, which states that no department under the central government can interfere in Hong Kong matters.


Category: Hong Kong

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