This security law, which aims to prohibit “betrayal, secession, sedition (e) subversion”, is one of the highlights of the annual session of the National People's Assembly, the Chinese parliament, which is taking place.
The text comes after repeated warnings by the Chinese communist power against dissent in Hong Kong, shaken last year by seven months of demonstrations that culminated in the demand for democratic reforms and that were almost always marked by confrontations with the police.
“It is the end of Hong Kong, the end (of the principle) 'One country, two systems', make no mistake,” pro-democracy deputy Dennis Kwok told reporters.
Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 under an agreement that guaranteed the territory 50 years of autonomy and freedoms that are unknown to the rest of the country, according to the principle of “One country, two systems”.
For activist Joshua Wong, a figure in the civil disobedience movement in 2014, the message sent by China to pro-democracy protesters leaves no room for doubt: “Beijing is trying to silence the voices of Hong Kong critics with strength and fear” , wrote Wong on the social network Twitter.
Very quickly, in the discussion forums used by the pro-democracy movement, calls for the protests in the streets multiplied.
Beijing's announcement could reignite the 'flame' of protests after months of calm, largely because of measures taken to contain the covid-19 pandemic, at a time when elections for the Hong Kong parliament are scheduled in September and after of the pro-Beijing wing has lost local elections in 17 of the 18 districts.
In 2019, a pro-democracy movement shook the former British colony, mobilizing millions of people, in almost daily protests against Beijing's growing dominance, according to protesters.
For activists, if the bill passes, it will be one of the most serious violations of Hong Kong's freedoms since 1997.
According to Hong Kong pro-democracy deputy Tanya Chan, Beijing “does not show respect for the people of Hong Kong”.
When the project was announced on Thursday night, few details were communicated, just the fact that it strengthened “enforcement mechanisms” in terms of “protecting national security”.
Article 23 of the Basic Law, which serves as a 'constitution' in the Chinese special administrative region, provides for Hong Kong to be endowed with a law that prohibits “treason, secession, sedition and subversion”.
However, the text, in practice, has never been applied, since the population of the territory sees it as a threat to their rights, such as freedom of expression or the press, unknown in Mainland China led by the Communist Party.
The last time the article was attempted to apply occurred in 2003 and failed due to large demonstrations on the streets of Hong Kong.
The United States has already responded, warning China that it will condemn the adoption of a national security law in Hong Kong because it will be “very destabilizing” for that semi-autonomous territory.
“Any attempt to impose a national security law that does not reflect the will of Hong Kong citizens will be very destabilizing and will be strongly condemned by the United States and the international community,” said State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.
JMC (RJP) // SB
Hong Kong content: Activists accuse Beijing of attacking semi-autonomy and call for protests appears first in Vision.