China passes controversial Hong Kong nat'l security law: reports

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A pro-democracy protester waves a banner during a protest at the New Town Plaza mall in Sha Tin in Hong Kong, China June 12, 2020 [Laurel Chor/Reuters]

A pro-democracy protester waves a banner during a protest at the New Town Plaza mall in Sha Tin in Hong Kong, China June 12, 2020 [Laurel Chor/Reuters]

China's parliament has passed controversial national security legislation for Hong Kong that Beijing said is necessary to deal with issues of terrorism, subversion and foreign interference but critics said will outlaw dissent and destroy the autonomy and freedoms promised when the territory was returned to China in 1997. 

The bill was passed unanimously by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress at a three-day meeting that began on Sunday, according to media in Hong Kong citing unnamed sources. The draft of the law has not been made public.

At her weekly news conference on Tuesday, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam declined to comment.

The legislation will come into effect when it is gazetted in Hong Kong, and is expected to be in force by July 1, the anniversary of the territory's return to Chinese rule. 

Clearest indication of the role for the CE & HK Govt under Beijing's new order: HK authorities will be responsible for minor administrative matters only. All other shots are called by Beijing directly. Get used to this. https://t.co/YMVJ8StOIB

— Antony Dapiran (@antd) June 30, 2020

The South China Morning Post said the law was approved unanimously by the standing committee's 162 members, within 15 minutes of the meeting starting at 9am (01:00 GMT). Only a handful of Hong Kong's delegates to the parliament saw the draft before it was passed, the paper added.

China has said it will cover acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and interference by foreign powers in the territory's internal affairs. It will also allow mainland intelligence agencies to establish themselves in Hong Kong. Xinhua, the state news agency, will publish the draft of the law on Tuesday afternoon, the Post said.

China announced its plan to impose the legislation on the eve of the National People's Congress last month, after nearly a year of sometimes violent pro-democracy protests in the territory.

The decision gave renewed momentum to the protests, which had calmed as the coronavirus pandemic prevented mass gatherings. Demonstrations are usually held on July 1 and events are planned this year.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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