China releases blueprint for Hong Kong national security law

(News-Europe) By Laura Ruiz Trullols and Jennifer Hauser , June 21, 2020.  China revealed a blueprint on Saturday night for a new national security law, Under the sweeping draft legislation. All these procedures would be carried out under the legal system of the HKSAR, in line with local laws and the national security law for Hong Kong, the draft said.

The draft, which is being reviewed by China’s top legislature. Under the draft law, the HKSAR government will set up a special commission chaired by the chief executive to protect national security. allows Hong Kong’s top official to handpick which judges hear national security cases.

And while Hong Kong courts will preside over national security criminal cases, mainland Chinese security organs will have the power to “exercise jurisdiction” over cases that “jeopardize national security under specific circumstances.” The characteristics of those circumstances were not defined.

Criminal offenses under the draft law include secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities, and collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security. Beijing’s national security office in Hong Kong will guide and supervise local officials’ policing of national security, and will also collect and analyze national security intelligence.

The Hong Kong government will also be required to set up a national security commission, headed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam. Beijing will appoint a national security adviser to sit on the Hong Kong commission. According to Xinhua, the provisions in the national security law will kick in when local laws of the semi-autonomous region are inconsistent.

The new central government agency will not interfere with HKPF operations, as there will be a clear division of rank and work, where the commissioner’s office will handle complex national security cases which are not able to be handled by the police force, observers said.

In response to the new details, Lam said the Hong Kong government “fully supports legislative work for safeguarding national security” and is “undertaking the necessary preparatory work.”  New units will be set up in the Hong Kong Police Force and Department of Justice to “shoulder the major responsibilities in implementing the relevant enforcement work,” Lam added.

The second-highest ranking official in Hong Kong has insisted the law will not erode the city’s democratic freedoms. Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said last month the law will bring stability to Hong Kong, by preventing a repeat of the increasingly violent street confrontations that rocked the city for months in 2019.

The proposal to set up a commissioner’s office of the central government for national security affairs in Hong Kong is not a move that will undermine the “one country, two systems” but is a sound one that will address problems such as riots which pose serious threats to national security and some opposition groups challenging the supervision power of the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong.

And Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, said after parliamentary meetings in Beijing that the law was designed for the “steady implementation of ‘one country, two systems'” — a formula that guarantees Hong Kong its autonomy and freedoms — and for “Hong Kong’s long term prosperity and stability.”

“If we want Hong Kong to have long-lasting peace and security, we should support the law without worrying,” the People’s Daily,

Backlash against the law

China to Establish National Security Bureau in Hong Kong

The bill was submitted for deliberation, covering four categories of crimes: secession, subversion of state power, local terrorist activities and collaborating with foreign or external foreign forces to endanger national security.

The announcement increases concerns that China’s communist government will continue to tighten its grip on Hong Kong. Beijing has said it is determined to press ahead with the national security legislation — which has been strongly criticized as undermining the Asian financial hub’s legal and political institutions — despite heavy criticism from within Hong Kong and abroad.

The bill has received heavy criticism, including from the U.S., which says it will revoke some of the preferential conditions extended toward Hong Kong after its transfer from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

Washington has threatened to revoke Hong Kong’s special trading relationship with the US and potentially even impose sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials, and more than 200 lawmakers from two-dozen countries have signed an open letter condemning the bill.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to provide a path to British citizenship for potentially millions of Hong Kongers. The proposal would extend rights granted to holders of British National (Overseas), or BNO passports. Currently, some 350,000 people holding BNO passports can travel to the UK visa free for six months.

And Taiwan earned a scolding from Beijing after the self-governed island set up an office to help Hong Kong citizens who have moved to Taiwan, or intend to do so, for “political reasons.”

Activists believe the law will not erode the city’s autonomy, it will target only a minority of “troublemakers” who pose a threat to national security.

Observers: National security laws are a common global practice

The law if passed reflects a conventional practice among global countries to prevent their administrative regions from being void of national security, observers said, citing the national security laws that many other countries have enacted over the years.
The dozens of laws that the US has enacted, from its Alien Enemies Act of 1798 to the recent Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015, show a constant sense of urgency that the country has had for national security threats at different times.

Similar to the US, European governments also attach great importance to establishing and improving their national security legislation. Plagued by separatist forces, Spain issued its National Security Strategy in 2013 and enacted a National Security Law in 2015.

The Spanish government was reportedly aiming to deal with Catalonian separatists with the national security law after their violent demonstrations last October. It enacted the law without the cabinet’s vote of approval, allowing it to mobilize “all police forces” to avoid public-order chaos and economic losses if necessary. Almost the whole of Europe supported the Spanish central government in dispatching [police] to keep order in Catalonia when the riots took place last year.

“The national security law will help promote the business environment in Hong Kong,Since many countries around the world have their own national security laws, it is fair enough for China (to enact its national security laws) as well, ” said local businesspeople.

News-Europe Laura Ruiz Trullols and  Jennifer Hauser contributed to this report.

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