China Hong Kong unrest Photograph:( Reuters )
The country’s legislature on Thursday nearly unanimously approved the plan to suppress subversion, secession, terrorism and seemingly any acts that might threaten national security in the semiautonomous city.
China has adopted the plan of imposing a new national security law on Hong Kong in the aftermath of last year's violent unrest that plunged the city into its deepest turmoil since returning to Chinese rule in 1997.
The country’s legislature on Thursday nearly unanimously approved the plan to tackle secession, subversion, terrorism, foreign interference and any act that might threaten national security in the semi-autonomous city.
The National People's Congress voted 2,878 to 1 in favour of the decision to empower its standing committee to draft the legislation, with six abstentions. The legislators gathered in the Great Hall of the People burst into sustained applause when the vote tally was projected onto screens.
The new law is expected to take effect by September.
The move is being seen as a turning point, as it would allow China to garner greater control and a sense of security over Hong Kong.
China has passed the law defying worldwide outcry. It had drawn a rebuke from foreign governments, human rights groups and some business lobbies.
Thousands of protestors last week had taken to the streets of Hong Kong last week in defiance of the controversial law.
The protest march had not received official authorisation, and went against coronavirus social distancing guidelines. Chants of "Hong Kong independence, the only way out," and other slogans echoed through the streets. Police, hence, declared the protest illegal and ordered people to disperse before firing tear gas at them.
China dismissed foreign complaints as "meddling," and said the proposed laws would not harm Hong Kong's autonomy or investors.
US government officials, however, said the legislation would end the Chinese-ruled city's autonomy and would be bad for both Hong Kong's and China's economies. They said it could jeopardise the territory's special status in US law, which has helped it maintain its position as a global financial centre.
To this end, White House National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien said on Sunday that China's proposed national security legislation for Hong Kong could lead to US sanctions.
Also, Taiwan on Thursday promised to settle Hong Kongers who have been fleeing the city, offering help from employment to counselling as China pushes new security legislation that has triggered fresh protests.