Beijing introduced a draft law last week that would address security sections in Hong Kong, as reported by CNBC.
Why now: The territory of Hong Kong has a constitution known as the Basic Law that mandates it drafts a national security law to comply with Article 23.
- The legislature has failed for the past 23 years to do so, Bernard Chan, a deputy to the National People’s Congress, said to CNBC.
- Beijing is likely to circumvent the local legislature with Article 18 of the Basic Law that outlines national laws can be applied to Hong Kong if they are “outside the limits” of the country’s autonomy as reported by CNBC.
A look back in history: Hong Kong had previously tried to draft a law that was shut down by protests in 2003.
- The law could be a set-back from many political freedoms and civil liberties given to the people of Hong Kong in an agreement that changed the rule from Britain to China in 1997 according to CNN.
What is the law: The drafted law, which could be passed by the NPC as soon as this month, broadly criminalizes “treason, secession, sedition (and) subversion” against China’s government and would allow mainland Chinese authorities to operate in the city under broad national security duties.
- Hong Kong does not have a say in whether or not it wants a national law.
- Chinese authorities had bemoaned the influence of foreign politics and the territory as being a “loophole” in its defense, according to CNN.
Who to watch: Hong Kong still needs to create its own national security law as mandated by the Basic Law, according to Chan. Mass protests have erupted over the newly introduced national security and anti-sedition laws, as reported by CNN.
- “We are seeing things like acts of terrorism in Hong Kong, and what matters to China today now are issues such like secession; we are seeing people holding flags asking for Hong Kong independence,” Chan said to CNBC.
- Wednesday morning, around 300 people have been arrested in Hong Kong according to police, a mass presence with a zero tolerance approach.
- Lawmakers are also debating a separate law that would make it a crime to insult China’s national anthem, “March of Volunteers” with a sentence of three years in prison.
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