National security legislation for Hong Kong passed in Chinese parliament

China’s parliament has recently passed national security legislation for Hong Kong , setting the stage for the most radical changes to the former British colony’s way of life since it returned to Chinese rule almost exactly 23 years ago.

Stance of Beijing

Beijing says the law, which comes in response to last year’s often-violent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, aims to tackle subversion, terrorism, separatism and collusion with foreign forces.

Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have repeatedly said the legislation is aimed at a few “troublemakers” and will not affect rights and freedoms, nor investor interests.

Important provisions of national security legislation

The provisions of national security legislation for Hong Kong   include that it would supersede existing Hong Kong legislation and that the power of interpretation belongs to the Chinese parliament’s top decision-making body, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee.

Beijing is expected to set up a national security office in Hong Kong to “supervise, guide and support” the city government. Beijing could also exercise jurisdiction on certain cases.

International condemnation

The legislation pushes Beijing further along a collision course with the United States, Britain and other Western governments, which have said it erodes the high degree of autonomy the global financial hub was granted at its July 1, 1997 handover.

In response to the legislation, the United States has began eliminating Hong Kong’s special status under U.S. law , halting defence exports and restricting the territory’s access to high technology products.

Hong Kong is one of many developing conflicts between Beijing and Washington, on top of trade issues, the South China Sea and the coronavirus pandemic. But the United States has been joined by others in condemning the new security legislation.

Britain has said it violated China’s international obligations and its handover agreement, which promised Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy for 50 years under what is known as the “one country, two systems” formula of governance.

The European Parliament earlier in June passed a resolution saying the European Union should take China to the International Court of Justice in The Hague if Beijing imposed the law, also calling on the bloc to use economic leverage to dissuade China.

Foreign ministers of the Group of Seven countries have called on China not to follow through with the legislation.

China has hit back at the outcry from the West, denouncing what it called interference in its internal affairs.