China Enacts Security Law, Asserting Control Over Hong Kong

Andrew Cummings
June 30, 2020

Beijing has also pushed ahead with the law despite sanctions from the United States and criticism from other western countries.

"Why are we still talking about a "national security law"?".

Beijing said on Monday it will impose visa restrictions on United States individuals over Hong Kong, mirroring Washington's sanctions against unnamed Chinese officials deemed responsible for curbing freedoms in the city.

Hong Kong's 7.5 million residents have yet to see the contents of the law.

The State Department said it is ending controlled defense exports to Hong Kong and will take steps to impose the same restrictions on the transfer of US defense and dual-use technologies, which have both civil and military applications, to the special administrative region as it puts on mainland China. The act allows the continue to treat Hong Kong separately from the Chinese mainland for matters including trade.

In a statement, Ross said further actions to eliminate differential treatment for Hong Kong were also being evaluated.

"The move severely impacts Hong Kong society's freedom, human rights and stability".

National security cases relating to subversion, secession, terrorism or foreign interference can now be tried by a special agency, likely to bet up within Hong Kong's police force, and subject to a more constrained judicial process in which Hong Kong's Beijing-backed chief executive can select the judges overseeing the cases.

The move comes after angry protest previous year, sparked by another law but which became a pro-democracy movement. Afterward, it will be announced in a Hong Kong government gazette, for the law to be implemented.

The U.S. Commerce Department said it was suspending "preferential treatment to Hong Kong over China, including the availability of export-license exceptions".

"It is clear that from today Hong Kong has changed permanently, and perhaps most alarmingly of all is that no one - including our most senior government officials - yet knows precisely in what way", said Antony Dapiran, a lawyer and author of "City on Fire: The Fight For Hong Kong".

The draft legislation has not been made public despite widespread concerns that the law, whose adoption circumvents Hong Kong's legislature, will curtail the city's civil liberties and autonomy, underpinned by the "one country, two systems" framework.

Beijing has reinterpreted that agreement as it's grown frustrated over its inability to coerce Hong Kong's population to submit to its rule.

A bid in 2003 to impose a national security law was scrapped because of protests.

Major protest movements erupted in 2014 and 2019, paralyzing swaths of the city and driving a wedge between supporters of Beijing and those that wanted greater autonomy - a split that often appeared along generational lines.

The EU backing the United States move had said that China would face "very negative consequences" if it passed the national security bill.

After months of sometimes-violent protests in Hong Kong against Beijing's encroachment last year, the new security law has heightened doubts about Hong Kong's future as a global financial hub and a regional base for worldwide companies that for years were drawn by the city's relative freedoms.

What role Hong Kong's courts will have in upholding the law remains unclear. The city's July 1 holiday has always been marked by a large protest march by opposition groups, under the umbrella of the Civil Human Rights Front.

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