As the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong resumed demonstrations on easing of COVID-19 restrictions, China is set to introduce a new law in the city that would ban sedition, secession and subversion of the government in the mainland. The move announced ahead of the National People’s Congress (NPC) meeting on May 22 is expected to fuel strong opposition internationally as well as in Hong Kong which was severely rocked by frequent violent anti-government protests.
The spokesperson of NPC Zhang Yesui said that this year’s Chinese parliament session would review the proposal titled, “Establishment and Improvement of the Legal System and Implementation Mechanism for the Safeguarding of National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region."
According to reports, the new law will be introduced before the lawmakers in China through a rarely used constitutional method that could bypass the legislature of Hong Kong. This would further raise concerns about the city’s autonomy being in danger. Zhang, in a press conference in Beijing on May 21, had said that the “National security is the bedrock underpinning a country's stability. Safeguarding national security serves the fundamental interests of all Chinese people, including our HK compatriots”.
According to the Chinese diplomat, Hong Kong can not be separated from China and “in light of new circumstances and need” the NPC has to exercise its power in the constitution for the new proposal which is “highly necessary”. The announcement was made after Chinese officials and delegates from Hong Kong met with the NPC. Since the former British colony came under China's rule in 1997, the move of sidelining Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous nature has been long under consideration and was last introduced in 2003.
However, the Chinese ceremonial parliament would consider the law in a hastened manner this week due to the anti-government protests in Hong Kong. In 2003, the same legislation was proposed under Article 23 of the Basic Law of mini-constitution in Hong Kong that fueled demonstrations. Zhang has even said that “new situation and demands” require new measures and calls for “necessary” action on the national level.