China Proposes Law That Will Crack Down On Opposition Activity In Hong Kong, Bypass City’s Legislature

DALE DE LA REY/AFP via Getty Images

Greg Price Contributor
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The Chinese Communist Party announced Thursday that the country’s legislature will propose sweeping new national security laws for Hong Kong that sidestep the city’s own lawmaking body, crack down on opposition to Beijing, and deal a sharp blow to the territory’s autonomy.

In a news briefing late Thursday, spokesman for the National People’s Congress Zhang Yesui said that it will be deliberating on a bill “establishing and enhancing the legal framework and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security” in Hong Kong. (RELATED: Fight Breaks Out In Hong Kong Parliament As Pro-Beijing Party Gains Control Of Key Position)

China had pledged to keep Hong Kong’s capitalist system and way of life unchanged for 50 years under the “one country, two systems” principle agreed upon with the U.K. in 1997, which handed the city back to Beijing after more than a century of colonial rule.

The agreement also created a mini constitution for Hong Kong, known as the Basic Law, which required the city to enact its own national security legislation. An attempt by China to bypass the city’s lawmakers and implement national security laws was last attempted in 2003.

The protests started over opposition to a Chinese extradition bill but have evolved into a larger battle over Hong Kong’s autonomy. Most recently, fights broke out on the floor of the Hong Kong legislature as pro-Beijing lawmakers pushed a bill that would criminalize “abusing” the Chinese national anthem.
The announcement led to bipartisan condemnations by members of the United States Congress.

The Chinese legislature, which begins deliberations on Friday, is expected to rubber stamp the proposed law next week.

“I feel sick,” said Dennis Kwok, a pro-democracy lawmaker in Hong Kong. “This basically means the end of ‘One Country, Two Systems.’”