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China’s parliament to discuss draft HK national security law

May 22, 2020

BEIJING: China´s parliament said Thursday it will discuss a proposal for a national security law in Hong Kong at its annual session, in a move likely to stoke unrest in the financial hub. Beijing has made clear it wants new security legislation passed after the semi-autonomous city was rocked by seven months of massive and sometimes violent pro-democracy protests last year. The proposal, which will be introduced at the meeting of the National People´s Congress that opens Friday, would strengthen “enforcement mechanisms” in the financial hub, the parliament´s spokesman Zhang Yesui said. Article 23 of Hong Kong´s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, says the city must enact national security laws to prohibit “treason, secession, sedition (and) subversion” against the Chinese government. But the clause has never been implemented due to deeply held public fears it would curtail Hong Kong´s cherished rights, such as freedom of expression. Those liberties are unseen on the mainland and are protected by an agreement made before Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997. An attempt to enact Article 23 in 2003 was shelved after half a million people took to the streets in protest.