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Global Times

Natl security law for HK takes effect soon, gives 'final say' to central govt agency

Global Times

By Chen Qingqing Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/30 18:17:23 Last Updated: 2020/6/30 20:01:51

China's top lawmakers on Tuesday voted unanimously to enact a draft law to safeguard national security in Hong Kong at the 20th session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, which ended on Tuesday afternoon in Beijing. Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a presidential decree unveiling the law.

The national security law for Hong Kong was reviewed during a three-day session of China's top legislature, and submitted for a vote on Monday.

The legislature defining the specific criminal activities which threaten national security, is reasonable, necessary and in line with the Chinese Constitution, according to some Hong Kong deputies to the NPC. It is also justified as its political and legal legitimacy can stand the historical test, which won't change the way people live in Hong Kong, or deprive the legitimate rights they enjoy under "one country, two systems" and the Basic Law, observers said.

The law will be included in the Annex III of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). The law makes clear provisions on preventing, stopping and punishing four types of criminal acts in the HKSAR. These are secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities and collusion with foreign forces which endanger national security.

With six chapters and 66 articles, the law is comprehensive and consists of substantive law, procedural law and organizational law.

It clearly stipulates four types of crimes – secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities, and collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security, as well as penalties, law application and procedures.

Under the law, the Chinese central government would establish a commissioner's office for national security affairs in the HKSAR to safeguard national security, and sources close to the matter confirmed with the Global Times that the office has ultimate juridical power, as it would "have the final say" on national security-related cases. Also, the commissioner's office has law enforcement power in the HKSAR.

The highly anticipated legislation will directly strike against the US-controlled proxies and political groups in Hong Kong that had previously incited trouble in the city with little concern for the consequences, some observers said.

Central authorities would only exercise criminal jurisdiction within a limited scope, while the majority of cases relevant to the anti-extradition bill movement would be handled by the Hong Kong law enforcement system, Tam Yiu-chung, NPC Standing Committee member, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

There won't be any clauses relevant to retroactivity, unless the criminal act is of a continuing nature, according to media reports. And those violating the law would face up to a 10-year jail term or longer, while the maximum penalty will be life imprisonment, according to the law. Other issues of concern include whether jury trials would be appropriate under the national security law.

The new law is believed to have stricken a balance between Hong Kong's common law system and the Chinese mainland's civil law system, though stipulations would be different. But it can bring differences together while taking into account the characteristics of the common law, Tam noted.

The law is a powerful deterrent, as some infamous secessionist leaders in Hong Kong such as Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Agnes Chow announced their withdrawal from their anti-government groups on Tuesday, even before the legislation was officially unveiled. Meanwhile, Demosisto, an organization founded in 2016 and dedicated to secessionist work, also announced to disband its headquarters and members in Hong Kong.

"The law shows that the central government relies, trusts and depends on HKSAR in law enforcement on national security affairs, as the latter bears most of the responsibility," Tam said.

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