China opens office for national security in Hong Kong

The Chinese government today opened the National Security Safeguard Office in Hong Kong, eight days after the new legislation imposed on the region by Beijing came into force, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The new body, which is under the tutelage of the Chinese Government and not subject to Hong Kong's judicial bodies, will “supervise, guide, coordinate and support” the Hong Kong Executive on national security issues, while “making proposals on strategies and policies to follow ”, he indicated.

Xinhua added that “the Cabinet will also gather and analyze information on national security and deal with crimes that pose a risk to national security”.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam called the opening of the National Security Defense Office an “historic moment”, which will allow Chinese intelligence agents to operate openly in the territory.

“Today's inauguration ceremony is a historic moment, as we are witnessing a new stage in the implementation of a legal system and a mechanism that will maintain national security in Hong Kong,” he said.

The installation of this body in the Chinese semi-autonomous region comes under the Hong Kong security law, promulgated by the National People's Assembly of China, and without passing through the local Legislative Council, with judicial autonomy in relation to Beijing.

The law, which came into force on June 30, establishes life sentences for cases of “secession, subversion against state power, terrorist activities and collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security”.

This week, and under the new law, Hong Kong police have been empowered to enforce the new legislation, contested by lawyers, activists and journalists, among others.

The document came after repeated warnings by the Chinese communist power against dissent in Hong Kong, shaken in 2019 by seven months of demonstrations in defense of democratic reforms and often marked by clashes with the police, which led to the arrest of more than nine thousand people. .

Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 under an agreement that guaranteed the territory 50 years of autonomy and freedoms unknown to the rest of the country, under the “One country, two systems” principle.

As with Macau since 1999, Hong Kong has agreed a 50-year period with a high degree of autonomy, at the executive, legislative and judicial level, with the Chinese central government being responsible for foreign relations and defense.

JPI // EJ

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