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China to weigh new national security legislation for Hong Kong

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China to weigh new national security legislation for Hong Kong

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Photo: Reuters

China’s parliament will meet today to finalise the details of pending national security legislation that will be inserted into Hong Kong’s Basic Law.

The bill—which officially criminalises acts of separatism, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference—has reinvigorated protests in Hong Kong over fears of civil rights erosion. The bill is expected to be completed and enforced as early as July, ahead of Hong Kong’s legislative elections in September.

The draft was approved by China’s annual National People’s Congress (NPC) in response to persistent city-wide pro-democracy protests since 2019, which Beijing has attributed to “troublemakers” and foreign interference. The legislation includes provisions for Chinese security forces in Hong Kong and would undermine the “one country, two systems” principle guaranteed by the 1985 Sino-British Joint Declaration.

Despite Beijing’s rationale of greater regional security, protesters are increasingly alarmed by their newfound vulnerability within China’s judicial system—which boasts a 99.9% conviction rate—and view the bill as a contrived attack on their freedom of expression.

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It remains to be seen how the island economy—which has historically filled a trade niche between China and the West—will be affected by these new paradigms, as the US has revoked Hong Kong’s special trade status in response to the bill. Beijing will likely boost efforts to quell fears surrounding authoritarian overreach, which threaten to depress long-term economic projections and spark capital flight. Beijing is almost guaranteed to wield its newfound power against imminent protests, with bloodshed a strong possibility.

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