Beijing has bypassed Hong Kong’s legislative body, imposing new national security laws made by China on the region.
The controversial law is set to criminalize secession, subversion, collusion, and terrorism, among others.
Persons convicted under the stringent law can face sentences up to life in prison.
The law may also be used to curtail pro-democracy protests and the freedom of speech of Hong Kong citizens.
The specifics of the Beijing-legislated national security law and its 66 articles were kept from the public before it took effect in Hong Kong.
The law was also drafted and deliberated not by Hong Kong’s democratically-elected legislative council, but by China’s National People’s Congress.
Under the newly-legislated law, Beijing can now arm and mobilize its own security enforcement presence in Hong Kong.
The security group formulated by Beijing, dubbed as the “Office for Safeguarding National Security,” is a secretive body comprised of Hong Kong officials and an advisor appointed by China’s central committee.
According to the Chinese central government:
“[The body’s work] shall not be disclosed to the public.”
They also added:
“[The] decisions by the Committee shall not be amenable to judicial review.”
Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, welcomed the legislation:
“Safeguarding national security is the constitutional duty of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). The HKSAR Government welcomes the passage of the national security law by the NPCSC today.”
Lam also added:
“I am confident that after the implementation of the national security law, the social unrest which has troubled Hong Kong people for nearly a year will be eased and stability will be restored, thereby enabling Hong Kong to start anew, focus on economic development and improve people’s livelihood.”
According to the HK executive, the administrative region’s government will dedicate units under the Hong Kong Police Force and HK’s justice department to aid in the law’s implantation.
The Beijing law will also allow specific circumstances wherein China could exercise jurisdiction over HK citizens.
The specific conditions which warrant Chinese intrusion include cases involving foreign forces, difficult situations that the Hong Kong government cannot handle effectively, and when national security faces a significant threat.
Immediately after the passage, several pro-democracy activists in HK ceded.
Among them are Joshua Wong – Secretary-general and founding member of pro-democracy group Demosisto and a key figure in the 2014 Umbrella movement; Nathan Law – Founding chairman of Demosisto.
“With sweeping powers and ill-defined law, the city will turn into a secret police state. Hong Kong protesters now face high possibilities of being extradited to China’s courts for trials and life sentences.”
Law also added:
“[The law marked the start of a] bloody Cultural Revolution.”
Demosisto is a pro-democracy political formation organized in 2016.
The Hong Kong National Front also pronounced that they will continue their pro-democratic work in the country from abroad.
In Hong Kong last June, a poll showed that the majority of its citizens oppose the Beijing-legislated security law.