President Xi Jinping signs HK national security law

The Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislature, closed its 20th session Tuesday, adopting the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).

President Xi Jinping signed a presidential order to promulgate the law, which will prohibit acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security.

The law includes six chapters consisting of 66 articles, stipulating the responsibilities of the institutions responsible for maintaining national security in Hong Kong and defining the four offences.

A full detailed document of the law is expected to be provided by state-runned news agency Xinhua, with the legislation to be enacted on July 1, the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover to China from British rule

The NPC Standing Committee also adopted a decision to add the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR to the list of the national laws in Annex III to the HKSAR Basic Law.

Li Zhanshu, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, attended the plenary and closing meetings of the session, stating that the “one country, two systems” cause should be steered toward the right direction.

China’s top legislator also emphasized resolute and effective efforts to safeguard national security and the constitutional order and the order of rule of law in the Hong Kong SAR.

Following the legislation approval, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor stated that legislation would only target an extremely small minority of people who had broken the law, while the basic rights and freedoms of the overwhelming majority of Hong Kong residents would be protected.

The Macau SAR enacted similar national security legislation in 2009, with Lam using Macau as an example of the successful application of the law.

Lam also urged the international community to respect the legislation, with the US having earlier vowed to strip Hong Kong of its preferential trade status, and enacted visa restrictions on Chinese officials deemed responsible for undermining local autonomy and freedoms.

Meanwhile, European Council President Charles Michel stated the EU “deplored” the decision to pass legislation that “risks seriously undermining the high degree of autonomy of Hong Kong, and having a detrimental effect on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law”.