The law has been met with criticisms from different angles over concerns that it criminalises secession, subversion and collusion with foreign forces.
According to Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK, China’s top lawmaking body, the National People’s Congress (NPC), passed the law unanimously on Tuesday morning local time, bypassing Hong Kong’s legislature
China has not yet officially confirmed the law has been passed and no draft was made public beforehand, meaning residents are still unclear of the measures they will have to abide by. The law could be implemented as early as Wednesday.
However, RTHK reports that possible maximum sentencing for crimes under the law will be “much higher” than 10 years imprisonment.
EFFECTS OF THE NEW LAW
The New law would make criminal any act of secession, subversion of the central government, terrorism and collusion with foreign or external forces, BBC noted.
A new office in Hong Kong would deal with national security cases, but would also have other powers such as overseeing education about national security in Hong Kong schools.
In addition, the city will have to establish its own national security commission to enforce the laws, with a Beijing-appointed adviser.
Hong Kong’s chief executive will have the power to appoint judges to hear national security cases, a move that has raised fears about judicial independence.
Importantly, Beijing will have power over how the law should be interpreted. If the law conflicts with any Hong Kong law, the Beijing law takes priority.
However, Chinese Communist Party officials and state media have defended the law as vital to protecting national security in the wake of last year’s protests and a 17-year failure by the Hong Kong government to pass similar legislation, since the last effort was met with mass protests in 2003.