China’s top law-making body on Friday tabled a draft of a national security law critics fear will undermine the freedoms and autonomy promised to Hong Kong under the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ framework.
The draft, currently in its first reading at the National People’s Congress Standing Committee’s 19th session in Beijing, will target acts of subversion, secession, terrorism, and “collusion with foreign powers,” state media reported.
The law is expected to pass in time for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment on 1 July.
The holiday marking Hong Kong’s handover to China in 1997 has seen pro-democracy protests every year since the government’s last attempt to introduce a national security law in 2003.
Provisions in the draft allow for Chinese state security agencies to officially operate in Hong Kong.
Extradition to mainland China, which brought millions to the streets to protest in 2019, “could be an option” under the law, Tam Yiu-chung, Hong Kong’s only delegate to the NPCSC, said on Wednesday.
Senior Hong Kong officials including Chief Executive Carrie Lam have had little input in drafting the law, and have been unable to clarify its contents.
Last month the NPC passed a motion allowing their Standing Committee to bypass Hong Kong’s own legislature, the Legislative Council, and impose a national security law by promulgation instead.
The current three-day session of the NPCSC concludes on Saturday.
It will likely hold another session at the end of this month, during which legislators may vote for the draft law, the Communist Party-run Global Times reported.
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