China’s legislature reviewed and passed a draft of a national security bill for Hong Kong, which critics say jeopardizes the territory’s semi-autonomous standing. It's the latest move by China to gain further control over Hong Kong.
The bill, which was reviewed by the National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee addresses four new levels of criminal offenses in Hong Kong, including succession, subversion of state power, local terrorist activities, and collaborating with foreign or external foreign forces to endanger national security.
China has been pushing to extend their security reach into Hong Kong following two years of pro-democracy protests in the city.
The Chinese government is attempting to enforce Article 23 of the Basic Law which says that Hong Kong will “enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition [or] subversion against the Central People's Government.” The law was created after the British handed the semi-autonomous territory over to mainland China in 1997, from previous colonial rule.
Local protests in Hong Kong have prevented the law from being enforced, but Chinese officials said last month the laws would be enacted “without delay.” The national security laws could establish a police unit to enforce the new laws, along with placing secret police in Hong Kong.
“The new body will have intelligence-gathering capability, we’ll have investigation capability, we’ll have an action arm,” Hong Kong’s security chief, John Lee Ka-chiu, told the South China Morning Post last week.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been openly critical of the China’s attempt to usurp security powers in Hong Kong and said in late May that “Hong Kong no longer enjoys a high degree of autonomy.”