A pro-China supporter celebrates with champagne after China’s parliament passes national security law for Hong Kong, in Hong Kong, China June 30, 2020. . / Tyrone Siu
By Clare Jim and Yew Lun Tian
HONG KONG / BEIJING, Jul 1 (.) – Beijing revealed its national security law for Hong Kong on Tuesday, which punishes crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison, auguring an era most authoritative for the freest city in China.
The Chinese parliament passed the tailor-made legislation the same day, giving Beijing broad powers to implement it and paving the way for the most radical changes in decades to the world financial center lifestyle.
Beijing had kept all the details of the law a secret, leaving no time for Hong Kong’s 7.5 million people to digest the complex legislation before it came into force at 11:00 PM (1500 GMT).
The moment was seen as symbolic humiliation for Britain, just an hour before the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule by the late colonial governor, Chris Patten, a staunch critic of the law.
Amid fears that the law would crush the city’s liberties, prominent activist Joshua Wong Demosisto and other pro-democracy groups said they would dissolve.
« It marks the end of Hong Kong that the world knew before, » Wong said on Twitter.
The legislation puts Beijing on a collision course with the United States, Britain and other Western governments, which have said it erodes the high degree of autonomy that was granted to the city in its July 1, 1997 surrender.
The United States condemned the legislation as a violation of Beijing’s international commitments and promised to continue to act « against those who stifled Hong Kong’s freedom and autonomy. »
Washington, already in dispute with China over trade, the South China Sea and the coronavirus, began on Monday to remove Hong Kong’s special status under US law, halting defense exports and restricting access to technology.
China said it would retaliate.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, in a video message to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, called on the international community to « respect our country’s right to safeguard national security. »
He said the law would not undermine the city’s autonomy or its independent judiciary.
The Beijing and Hong Kong authorities have repeatedly said that the legislation is aimed at a few « troublemakers » and will not affect the rights and freedoms or the interests of investors.
Under the law, Hong Kong’s new national security agency will not be under the jurisdiction of the local government.
The legislation may be tested with pro-democracy activists and politicians who said they would challenge a police ban, amid restrictions on the coronavirus, and will hold a rally on the anniversary of the July 1 installment.
(Additional report by Yanni Chow, Carol Mang, Joyce Zhou, Tyrone Siu, Jessie Pang, James Pomfret, Greg Torode and Anne Marie Roantree in Hong Kong; Edited in Spanish by Javier López de Lérida)