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Ignoring calls from Western countries, the national parliament passed the new National Security Law, one year after the mass protests in the former British colony against the influence of the central government.
The text will be incorporated into the « Fundamental Law » that has served as a mini-Constitution in Hong Kong since 1997 and will enter into force this Tuesday, announced the head of the Hong Kong government, Carrie Lam.
In a statement released shortly after the Chinese official press confirmed President Xi Jinping’s ratification of the law, Lam said the government he heads will publish the rule in its official gazette « as soon as possible » to take effect. « later today » in the semi-autonomous territory.
Lam also revealed that he will chair a Committee for the Protection of Homeland Security in Hong Kong, and that specific « units » will be created in the Police and the Justice Department to enforce the new law.
Penalties include life in prison
The law will not be retroactive but its maximum penalty will be life imprisonment, the official Global Times newspaper said today. « There will be no clauses referring to retroactivity, unless the criminal act is of a continuing nature, » said this newspaper, a subsidiary of the People’s Daily, the official organ of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The regulations were approved today unanimously by the 162 attendees at the meeting of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (ANP, Legislative), who also voted to attach it to Annex III of the Basic Law -the ‘mini-Constitution of Hong Kong’-, which allows Beijing to include national laws for compliance in the semi-autonomous city, which has its own legal system.
According to analysts cited by the Global Times, the regulation « will directly hit agents and political groups controlled by the United States in Hong Kong that in the past caused problems in the city without hardly caring about the consequences. »
European Union deplores ratification
The European Union on Tuesday deplored the controversial security law, saying it will undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and rule of law.
« This law runs the risk of seriously undermining Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and having a detrimental effect on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law. We deplore that decision, » said European Council President Charles Michel in a press conference after a videoconference summit with South Korea.
For her part, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, recalled that « we have made it clear on different occasions, including in our direct contacts last week with Chinese leaders, that the new law is not in accordance with the Basic law of Hong Kong or China’s international commitments, both in terms of adoption procedure and substance. «
« So we have made it very clear that for us it is very critical and we are seriously concerned about it, » he said during the same press conference.
Asked about the possibility of the EU taking measures in the face of this step taken today by the Chinese authorities, Von der Leyen replied: « We have consistently said that China risked very negative consequences if it continued with this crisis, including for the confidence of the business, China’s reputation, its public perception in Hong Kong and internationally. «
« We remain in contact with our international partners on this matter and will pay careful attention to how to respond, » he concluded.
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