China to propose hugely controversial national security law in Hong Kong

Chinese President Xi Jinping at the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing yesterday. The South China Morning Post says the proposed law for Hong Kong would ban all seditio

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China's ceremonial parliament will consider a bill that could limit opposition activity in Hong Kong, a spokesperson said Thursday, appearing to confirm speculation that China will sidestep the semi-autonomous territory's own lawmaking body in enacting legislation to crack down on activity Beijing considers subversive.

"Safeguarding national security serves the fundamental interest of all Chinese", Zhang Yesui, spokesman for the National People's Congress, said at a news briefing on Thursday.

Those elections, as well as the national anthem law, are likely to be a key theme of renewed anti-government protests, which have been gathering steam again after a prolonged break due to the coronavirus pandemic. Further details would be given on Friday, he said.

The Hong Kong government and police said the arrests were in accordance with the rule of law.

Security guards were seen carrying two pro-democracy legislators out of the chamber in chaotic scenes.

"We can no longer allow acts like desecrating national flags or defacing of the national emblem in Hong Kong", a source told the Morning Post's website.

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Wang said that Beijing supported the Hong Kong deputies' efforts to "avoid violence in Hong Kong and to restore order". From time to time, pro-Beijing lawmakers in Hong Kong's legislature have suggested reintroducing the bill.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, whose extradition bill past year ignited unprecedented unrest in the city, said this week that she viewed the national security laws as an "important constitutional requirement for the government", that was needed in light of the "violence and near terrorist acts" of the recent protests.

Beijing and some Hong Kong officials have frequently flagged the education system as a potential breeding ground for the large-scale pro-democracy protests that roiled the city in the second half of a year ago.

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No text yet has been released for the draft decision but it is expected to closely resemble in structure the national security law pro-Beijing lawmakers attempted to pass in Hong Kong in 2003 meant to define and criminalize seditious or secessionist behavior.

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He spoke at a briefing on the eve of the start of China's annual parliamentary session.

There have already been calls inside Hong Kong for demonstrations.

"China saying it wants to "improve" Hong Kong by stripping all its people's rights [and] liberties", he wrote in a tweet. But recent and repeated moves by Beijing to suppress civil liberties have led to increasingly disruptive and sometimes violent protests by pro-democracy, pro-West factions. "Carrie Lam will have to live with her conscience", he said.

The attempted passage of an extradition law previous year resulted in massive protests that split the city.

Demonstrators protesting the proposed extradition bill aim their flashlights towards riot police as they are chased through the streets of Hong Kong, China, August 25, 2019. The delay was to account for any actions at the National People's Congress, he said.

Xia Baolong, previously secretary-general at the national committee of China's top political advisory body, was promoted to director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council in February.

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