China to propose highly controversial national security law in Hong Kong

Riot police detain a group of people during a demonstration in Hong Kong on May 10.

Before the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress, which begins Friday, spokesman Zhang Yesui announced that this year’s session would consider a proposal entitled: “Establishing and improving the legal system and the implementation mechanism for safeguarding national security in Hong Kong. Region. “

“National security is the foundation of a country’s stability. Safeguarding national security serves the fundamental interests of all Chinese, including our compatriots in Hong Kong,” said Zhang at a press conference on Thursday. .

He stressed that Hong Kong was an inseparable part of China and, “in light of new circumstances and needs”, it was “highly necessary” for the AFN to exercise its constitutional power to deliberate on such a proposal, adding that further details would be revealed. Friday.

Article 23 of the Basic Law – the de facto constitution of Hong Kong – calls on the local government to “enact by itself laws prohibiting any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the central people’s government”. Although the former Hong Kong administrations have spoken of the need to adopt article 23, it has never been on the agenda, apparently for fear of the type of generalized unrest seen last year about of an extradition bill with China.

These mass protests, which lasted more than six months and became increasingly violent and disruptive before the coronavirus pandemic partially stopped them, constituted a major challenge to Beijing’s control of the city. Following a closed-door meeting of China’s highest political body late last year, an official statement spoke of the need to “improve” the Hong Kong legal system, which some saw as a reference to Article 23.

Dennis Kwok, a pro-democracy lawmaker from the Hong Kong legislature, told CNN after hearing the proposal, “It’s the end of” One country, two systems. “Destroy Hong Kong completely.”

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