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The Chinese government has backed the controversial national security bill for Hong Kong.
The National People’s Congress passed the Hong Kong Security Act with 2878 votes in favour, one against and six abstentions.
According to Congress President Li Zhanshu, the resolution will strengthen and improve the “One Country, Two Systems” principle. According to Li, the law respects the Basic Law of Hong Kong, and is in the interest of all Chinese citizens, including the inhabitants of Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong security bill will, therefore, be sent to the Communist Party’s Permanent Commission, the country’s Communist leadership, which will draft the full details of the new law.
According to the new law, it will be a crime to challenge the Chinese government’s authority on the territory, and “attempts by foreign forces interfering with Hong Kong” will also be banned. The law also specifies that the national security organs of the central Chinese government will be able to “fulfil relevant duties to safeguard national security by the law”. Potentially China could support local police with agents from mainland China.
According to the Chinese authorities, the law has become necessary to counteract the acts of violence and “terrorist” activities of pro-democratic demonstrators.
The law caused numerous protests both locally and abroad: the United States declared that the political autonomy of the former British colony has ended.
The security bill, foreseen by the Basic Law, the mini-constitution on which the city government is based, has never been adopted.
The Basic Law was theoretically designed to protect certain guarantees of freedom for the former British colony, such as the right to assembly and speaking, an independent judicial system, and a certain degree of democratic rights. In 2003 the Hong Kong government tried to adopt one, but numerous demonstrations prevented its approval.
During clashes between protesters and law enforcement in Hong Kong on Wednesday hundreds of people were arrested.
The tension in the Legislative Council remains high also on Thursday, especially after the recent statements by the American secretary of state, which could also lead to sanctions against Hong Kong, so far excluded from the trade war.