China unveils new security law for Hong Kong, will supersede local laws



China on Saturday unveiled details of the controversial new security law for Hong Kong amid international criticism that it will corrode the wide-ranging freedoms enjoyed by residents of the global financial hub.

Details of the new law as listed by official news agency, Xinhua, includes setting up of a national security office for Hong Kong to handle crimes against national security.

The local government must establish new institutions to protect national security and allow mainland agencies to operate in the city “when needed”.

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, will have the power to appoint judges to hear cases related to national security. The bottom line is clear, however.

According to Xinhua: “For Hong Kong laws that are not in line with this [impending national security] law, this law’s requirements will apply, and the right to interpret this law lies with the National People’s Congress Standing Committee.”

National security activities would protect human rights and freedom of speech and assembly, it added, without providing details.

The Xinhua’s statement said that the legislation would make it clear that the Hong Kong government would need to respect and protect human rights as it safeguarded national security.

“It must protect the freedoms of expression, the press, publication, association, assembly … that Hong Kong people enjoy under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,” it said.

“Under Beijing’s plan, the Standing Committee will create a law for Hong Kong to prohibit acts of succession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign and external influences to threaten national security,’’ the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post said in a report on Saturday.

Critics of the new law say it essentially ends the unique system of governance under the “one country, two systems” mechanism which has governed Hong Kong since the British handed it over to China in 1997.

“This is the death knell for Hong Kong, make no mistake of it, this is the end of ‘one country, two systems’, the Hong Kong that we loved, a free Hong Kong,” pro-democracy lawmaker from Hong Kong Dennis Kwok was quoted by agencies as telling reporters on May 28 when the NPC had passed the security legislation.

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