• Sam Tabahriti

Hong Kong's new security law criticised across the world

Updated: Jul 6, 2020

A new security law for Hong Kong has sparked protests and drawn international criticism. An office is to be set up to gather intelligence and handle crimes against national security.

After China regained control over Hong Kong from the British in 1997 through a treated based on “one country, two systems” principles, Hong Kong’s now worry that the passage of the new security law will restrict the freedoms that were enshrined in 1997.

The new law, as well as handling national security cases, would have powers to oversee education about national security in schools.

Xinhua reports that Carrie Lam backs up the new law and believes it will restore stability. She spoke on the matter and said: “Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy under “One Country, Two Systems”, but in recent years “The Hong Kong community has been traumatised.

Carrie Lam - xinhuanet.com

“Violence by rioters has escalated, with illegal firearms and explosives posing a terrorist threat,” Liam said. She also says that protesters advocating for “HK independence” colluded with foreign forces to “interfere with Hong Kong’s affairs” and therefore attempted to undermine “national interests and security”.

She then continues and says that the national security legislation will only target “an extremely small minority of illegal and criminal acts and activities while the life and property, basic rights and freedoms of the overwhelming majority of citizens will be protected.”

A decision “not taken lightly”, but the central authorities have no option but to exercise their constitutional power for the HKSAR to safeguard national security.

Carrie Lam - xinhuanet.com

The Chief Executive in another press conference says that she remains hopeful that “Hong Kong will ride out the political storm since last June and emerge stronger with stability restored.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that China was breaking the Hong Kong treaty and was in a clear and serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration signed in 1984.

In response to the new law passed in Hong Kong, Johnson said: “We have made clear that if China continued down this path we would introduce a new route to those with British national (overseas) [BN(O)] status to enter the UK granting them limited leave to remain with the ability to live and work in the UK and thereafter to apply for citizenship, and that is precisely what we will do now.”

Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab promised the UK would honour its commitment: “We will grant BN(O)s five years’ limited leave to remain, with the right to work or study. After these five years, they will be able to apply for settled status.”

Lisa Nandy, the shadow foreign secretary urged the government to ensure the BN(O) offer did not become available only to the wealthy as the BN(O) status is only available to those born before 1997, excluding many younger protesters.

Raab detailed his analysis of how the new law breached both the Basic Law and the joint declaration.

It is “in direct conflict with article 23 of China’s own Basic Law for Hong Kong, which affirms that Hong Kong should bring forward national security legislation on its own.”

“The Basic Law only allows Beijing to directly impose laws in a very limited number of cases, such as for the purposes of defence and foreign affairs, or in exceptional circumstances in which the National People’s Congress declares a state of war or a state of emergency.”

The new legislation “contains a slew of measures that directly threaten the freedoms and rights protected by the joint declaration, including the potentially wide-ranging ability of the mainland authorities to take jurisdiction over certain cases, without any independent oversight, and to try those cases in the Chinese courts.”

“A move that clearly risks undermining the independence of Hong Kong’s judiciary,” Raab reacted to the laws giving Hong Kong’s chief executive the power to appoint judges to hear national security cases.

China’s response to the UK offering asylum to the Hongkongers was that the UK has no right to grant residency to Hongkongers fleeing and vowed to take “corresponding measures to stop such a move.”

China’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming said the UK’s criticism of the national security legislation is “irresponsible and unwarranted.”

While the UK has responded by offering asylum to the Hongkongers, the US said the law means Hong Kong is no longer autonomous to merit special treatment under US law. This means Hong Kong would be treated in the same as any other mainland Chinese city for trading purposes.

As well as the US, Australia and Japan are some of the other countries that have spoken out against the passing to the security legislation.

Hong Kong made its first arrests under a new "anti-protest" law imposed by Beijing.

Ten people were held accused of violating the law - the new national security law targets secession, subversion and terrorism with punishments up to life in prison.

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