• China has unveiled a sweeping new national security law for Hong Kong giving China more controls on city state. The law is aimed at the pro-democracy movement that had captured global attention since last year.
• A former British colony, Hong Kong was handed over to mainland China in 1997, becoming one of its Special Administrative Regions.
• It is governed by a mini-constitution called the Basic Law — which affirms the principle of “one country, two systems”, and upholds Hong Kong’s liberal policies, system of governance, independent judiciary, and individual freedoms for a period of 50 years from 1997.
• Titled ‘The Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’, the legislation passed by the Chinese parliament has been made a part of Hong Kong’s Basic Law.
• The new law includes the following as offences: Secession, Subversion, Terrorist Activities, and Collusion with a Foreign Country or with External Elements to Endanger National Security.
• All four offences can invite life imprisonment as the maximum punishment, followed by lesser penalties.
• Taking aim at the perceived involvement of foreigners in city politics, the law also allows the prosecution of persons who are not the residents of Hong Kong for committing an offence under the law outside Hong Kong.
• Mainland China will establish a new department in Hong Kong called the ‘Office for Safeguarding National Security’. With Beijing’s approval, the Office would be able to take over jurisdiction from the city’s independent law courts in “a serious situation”
• In cases that are taken over by the Office, prosecutors as well as adjudicators will be appointed by mainland China, and Chinese procedural laws would apply.
• The far-reaching law has been criticised by the United States as “draconian”. The United Kingdom has also called its passing a “grave step”.
Mains Paper 2: International
Prelims level: Hong Kong security law
Mains level: Highlights about the law and its key benefits to China