China has revealed its controversial plans for Hong Kong, including a special bureau to investigate crimes considered a threat to national security and judges appointed by the pro-Beijing government.
Details of the proposed law, which has prompted protests in Hong Kong, were revealed for the first time after China’s top legislative body, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, concluded its three-day meeting on laws on Saturday afternoon.
State news agency Xinhua reported details of the new national security law which has been strongly criticised as undermining the semi-autonomous territory’s legal and political institutions, with the UK saying it breaches the handover agreement for Hong Kong to have control of its own laws for 50 years from 1997.
Image: China’s President Xi Jinping (centre) applauds after the National People’s Congress approves a proposal to draft a Hong Kong security law last month
The bill was raised for discussion at the meeting but there was no further word on its fate, Xinhua said.
The new law includes:
Chinese authorities will have jurisdiction over national security crimes in Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing chief executive will be able to designate judges to handle those cases
Hong Kong will lead enforcement of the law except in a “very few” cases where Beijing will retain jurisdiction
The new law will trump local legislation if conflicts arise
Beijing will set up a “national security bureau” to analyse the national security situation in Hong Kong, and “monitor, supervise, coordinate and support” the local government’s efforts, collect intelligence and handle relevant cases
Hong Kong’s government will set up a commission to safeguard national security, chaired by the chief executive and with an adviser appointed by Beijing
All Hong Kong government departments, from finance to immigration, will be directly answerable to the central government in Beijing
Anybody running for office “should sign documents to confirm or take an oath to uphold the Basic Law and swear allegiance to the HKSAR of the People’s Republic of China”
The Hong Kong government should strengthen its efforts to monitor and manage schools and societies where national security is involved
Common law principles such as presumption of innocence and other human rights safeguards will be ensured
Image: Chief executive Carrie Lam would be able to designate judges
Tam Yiu-chung, Hong Kong’s sole delegate on the Standing Committee, told Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK that the law was reviewed but no vote had been taken, and that it was not clear when it would be further vetted. The Standing Committee meets every two months.
The bill was submitted on Thursday for deliberation, covering four categories of crimes: succession, subversion of state power, local terrorist activities and collaborating with foreign or external foreign forces to endanger national security.
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Beijing has repeatedly said it will press ahead with the legislation it unexpectedly introduced last month, bypassing Hong Kong’s legislature despite heavy criticism from within the city and abroad.
The UK has said it will offer passports and a path to citizenship to the three million Hong Kongers who have or had the right to a British National Overseas passport.
UK ‘will stand up’ for Hong Kong’s people
Donald Trump has said he will revoke some of the city’s preferential trade and immigration conditions.
G7 countries have called on China to reconsider its plans, using a joint statement to voice “grave concern” over the legislation, which it said would breach Beijing’s international commitments as well as the territory’s constitution.
But Beijing has repeatedly eschewed the calls, saying it is an internal matter and that other countries should not meddle in its affairs.
Image: Under the new law anybody who is deemed to be a threat to national security can be prosecuted
The Hong Kong Bar Association called on the city’s government to reveal details of the bill on Friday and warned that its enforcement in Hong Kong risked a system of conflicting parallel legal standards dominated by Beijing.
“It raises the question whether individuals will be tried within the criminal justice system in (Hong Kong) by the Hong Kong courts or sent to the Mainland for trial and serve any terms of imprisonment in Mainland prisons,” the association said in a statement.
China introduced the surprise bill after months of anti-government protests last year that Beijing saw as a dangerous campaign to split the territory from the rest of the country.
Beijing has sought to assuage concerns by saying the new legislation would only target “acts and activities that severely undermine national security”, according to Xinhua.
Source : Sky News