Beijing: Hong Kong security law passes 'unanimously'
by Paul Wang

It was voted on in 15 minutes by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. Hong Kong people don't know the text. Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Agnes Chow leave the Demosisto party: they will engage only on a personal level. It is reasonable "to fear for one's life and security in the commitment to democratic resistance". Amnesty: "The greatest betrayal of human rights in the recent history of the city".

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (the Chinese parliament) has unanimously voted for a national security law that will be imposed on the population of Hong Kong starting tomorrow, July 1, 23 years after return of the territory to the motherland.

The law prevents and punishes acts and activities of secession, subversion, terrorism and collaboration with foreign forces that endanger national security.

In a further indication of the dictatorial aspect of the decision, so far none of the Hong Kong population knows the content of the law. The text will be published in the afternoon by Xinhua. According to sources in Beijing, the law was voted unanimously in just 15 minutes by the 162-member committee. It provides for sentences of over 10 years in prison, but there seems to be no retroactive power.

The only Hong Kong member of the Standing Committee that voted for the law, Tam Yu-chung, told reporters that the law "is nothing too spciy". In fact, local lawyers and judges have denounced that the law puts the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in crisis. The democratic movement claims that the law puts an end to the "One country, two systems" principle, which guarantees the territory a more liberal structure.

The Hong Kong Constitution (Basic Law) provides for a security law for the territory. In 2003, the government at the time tried to pass a similar law, but encountered resistance from the population, concerned about the power the law gave the police over individuals, groups, assemblies. The government of the time, led by pro-Beijing Tung Chee-hwa, was forced to withdraw the law.

In all these years, the population of Hong Kong has continuously asked for a full democracy – which is also written as a requirement under the Basic Law - but Beijing continues to postpone this step, instead proposing controlled elections of the chief of the executive.

For over a year, the democratic movement has continued to pressure for full democracy, starting with the rejection of a law that favored the extradition of possible suspects to China.

According to many observers, the new security law will slow down the democratic path and allow the extradition law to resurface.

In the last few years, the Demosisto party had distinguished itself in the struggle for democracy, with leanings  towards independence. Members of this party believe they will be the primary target of the security law. Three of Demosisto's most prominent members, Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Agnes Chow have announced today that they will leave the party.

On his Facebook profile, Wong wrote today that “it is no longer nonsense to worry about life and safety in engaging democratic resistance in Hong Kong ". He will practice what he believes personally and no longer as party secretary.

A group of 22 Legco parliamentarians (the Hong Kong parliament) have asked for an urgent meeting with the chief of executive Carrie Lam.

Beijing's decision to pass the Hong Kong security law has been criticized by many countries. The United States has passed a bill that removes favorable tax exemptions for the territory, valid only if Hong Kong differs from China. The law also provides sanctions for individuals who undermine Hong Kong's freedom.

International organizations are also critical. Amnesty International calls the law "the greatest betrayal of human rights in the city's recent history".