Hong Kong Pushes New Security Law to Root Out ‘Seeds of Unrest’

The Hong Kong authorities will enact a long-shelved safety regulation to curb international affect and develop the definition of offenses like stealing state secrets and techniques and treason, officers introduced on Tuesday, in a transfer anticipated to additional silence dissent within the once-freewheeling Chinese territory.

The proposed regulation would lay out 5 main areas of offenses: treason, revolt, theft of state secrets and techniques, sabotage and exterior interference. Some of the definitions would echo mainland Chinese remedies of these offenses.

“Foreign intelligence organizations, the C.I.A. and British intelligence agencies have publicly stated that they are doing a lot of work against China and Hong Kong,” the town’s chief, John Lee, mentioned at a information convention asserting the push. Internally, the town can be nonetheless going through “the seed of unrest,” he continued.

The regulation, he mentioned, “is to protect us from attacks by foreign forces and by foreign countries.”

The proposal, often called Article 23 laws, has lengthy been a significant political flashpoint in Hong Kong, a former British colony that was promised sure freedoms when it returned to Chinese management in 1997. The authorities first tried to enact it in 2003, however backed down after main protests by residents who fearful that it will restrict civil liberties. Since then, successive leaders postpone makes an attempt to revive the laws, which is required by Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, cautious of triggering additional backlash.

But in 2020, the central Chinese authorities imposed a sweeping nationwide safety regulation of its personal on Hong Kong, after months of fierce avenue protests towards Beijing’s rising affect within the metropolis. In the previous three years, the authorities have used that regulation to just about wipe out the town’s political opposition, reshape its elections and severely restrict the media and free expression.

Hong Kong officers say the brand new regulation will complement Beijing’s regulation and weed out what Mr. Lee mentioned have been hostile forces “still lurking in our society.” Critics say it should guarantee an extra decimation of human rights.

“The purpose is to have total control of Hong Kong’s activities, including freedom of expression,” mentioned Patrick Poon, a visiting researcher on the University of Tokyo who’s from Hong Kong. He research freedom of expression in Hong Kong and China.

“It’s something we already expected would happen back in 2003, and that’s why half a million people took to the streets to try to stop it,” Mr. Poon added.

The authorities has not launched a full draft of the proposed regulation. Instead, it printed a prolonged “public consultation document,” which laid out officers’ justifications for the regulation and common proposals for its contents. It mentioned residents would have the option to submit feedback on the doc over the subsequent month.

But many of the proposals would create a future by which criticism of insurance policies equivalent to this one can be more and more dangerous.

The new “external interference” offense, for instance, would make it against the law to collaborate with an “external force” to affect “the formulation or execution of any policy or measure.” External forces, the proposal mentioned, may embrace international governments or political organizations.

The state secrets and techniques provision additionally explicitly nods to legislative language in mainland China that offers the authorities sweeping energy to classify vital voices as a nationwide safety risk. Last yr, Beijing launched a revised counterespionage regulation that broadened the class of what constitutes spying; in current months, China’s state safety company has advised that adverse commentary on China’s economic system could possibly be a nationwide safety risk.

The proposed Hong Kong regulation would widen the potential scope of state secrets and techniques to probably embrace something involving “major policy decisions,” “economic and social development,” or “the relationship between the central authorities” and the Hong Kong authorities.

“It’s very arbitrary and broad,” mentioned Mr. Poon, noting specifically the obscure definitions used to describe state secrets and techniques and interference.

Officials mentioned the brand new regulation was mandatory, even after Beijing had enacted its personal safety regulation, as a result of exterior threats had not been completely eradicated. The authorities’s proposal listed 9 perceived risks to nationwide safety, together with “incitement of public hatred” towards the state and “barbaric and gross interference” from international governments.

“Although social order has been restored since the implementation” of Beijing’s safety regulation, the proposal continued, “some criminals still have not given up and are waiting for an opportunity to launch violent attacks or carry out terrorist activities.”

Hong Kong and Beijing officers have fervently denied that they’re infringing on civil liberties, arguing that international locations which have criticized the safety laws, together with the United States, even have nationwide safety legal guidelines. Mr. Lee accused critics of “bad mouthing and political attacks.”

He mentioned he would arrange a “rebuttal team” to push again towards criticisms of the regulation. The authorities would additionally attain out to international consulates and chambers of commerce to clarify how the regulation would profit companies, he mentioned.

“I want the government to be up and in full gear to explain what we are doing here, loud and clear, confidently and rightly, to tell the world we are just protecting ourselves from your attacks,” Mr. Lee mentioned. “Don’t attack us.”

“I think eventually when people see that this law will bring security and stability,” he added, “They will love it.”

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