President Xi Jinping has signed the national security legislation Beijing has tailor-made for Hong Kong into law and it will come into effect before the end of Tuesday.
The signing was reported by Xinhua news agency, which also confirmed that the country’s top legislative body, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, had passed the law earlier in the day although specific elements of the legislation have yet to be spelled out.
Soon after Xinhua’s report, the Hong Kong government confirmed it would gazette the law – which would prohibit acts of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security – before the end of Tuesday to make it applicable locally.
China passes national security law for Hong Kong
China passes national security law for Hong Kong“The national security law will come into effect later today,” the city’s leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-Ngor, said, without specifying the exact time.
Beijing’s two offices overseeing Hong Kong affairs also said in separate statements that the law would plug a legal loophole and mete out deterrent punishments sufficient to stem activities that endangered national security, while safeguarding the rights of most residents as well as foreigners.
“This law will be a sharp sword handing over a minority of people who endanger national security,” the cabinet-level Hong Kong and Macau Office said.
“But for most of the Hong Kong residents, as well as foreigners in the city, this law will be the god of guidance that safeguards their rights, freedom, and peaceful way of living.
The office said the relevant law enforcement and judicial agencies in both the central and Hong Kong governments would perform their duties and responsibilities in accordance with the legislation, to “yield its deterrent effect and show the authority of the rule of law”.
Carrie Lam did not specify the time the law would come into effect. Photo: Robert Ng
Beijing’s liaison office in the city also weighed in, describing the promulgation and implementation of the law as “a celebration for all Chinese people, including Hong Kong compatriots”.
“The National People’s Congress Standing Committee bears the weight of 1.4 billion Chinese people and has conducted relevant legislative work in a highly responsible manner,” its statement said.
It praised the law for plugging a legal loophole, realizing the unification of “one country” and “two systems” and safeguarding national security as well as the rights of ordinary people.
Xinhua also reported that Li Zhanshu, chairman of the standing committee, described the law, and its unanimous passage, as a “reflection of the will of comrades in the whole of the nation including Hong Kong”.
Lam, who remained tight-lipped in the morning, broke her silence in the evening by saying she hoped the new law could bring stability to Hong Kong, which had been plagued by anti-government protests since last June.
“I am confident that after the implementation of the 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,” she added.
Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah also said a dedicated department had been set up to deal with national security cases, as she welcomed the law together with security chief John Lee Ka-chiu and the six heads of the city’s disciplined services.
Hong Kong will be able to start anew with implementation of the law, Carrie Lam says. Photo: Dickson Lee
Opposition lawmakers, meanwhile, renounced the new law and vowed to continue to advocate for democratic reforms.
Democratic Party veteran James To Kun-sun, one of the longest-serving lawmakers, said Beijing had “insulted” China’s legislative procedures by not revealing the legislation and consulting the public.
“The whole world will have a huge reaction… and squeeze the Chinese Communist Party because it is breaching its promise [to implement one country, two systems],” To said.
Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok, who represents the legal sector, found the situation ridiculous, as the full text of the new law would only be revealed shortly before it took effect.
“Hongkongers may only have an hour to read this law that can mean life and death to them,” Kwok said.
Representatives from both parties said there was no need for them to change their ways, but individual lawmakers told the Post they may meet to discuss party operations under the new law.
Earlier on Tuesday, sources had suggested the standing committee had passed the law unanimously with 162 votes. It was subsequently inserted into Annex III of the city’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, and later signed by Xi. But the passage of the law was not confirmed until Xinhua’s statement nine hours later.