Hong Kong needs a controversial new security law to tackle “growing terrorism”, the territory’s security chief has said. John Lee said the city had become “shrouded in the shadow of violence”.
After months of quiet, this weekend saw a fresh surge of protest after the govt in Beijing proposed a security law which might transform Hong Kong’s unique status.
Opponents say it’s an immediate plan to limit freedoms and silence critics.The bill was suggests on Thursday as China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), met for its delayed annual gathering.
China’s secretary of state , Wang Yi, said the legislation – which might ban “treason, secession, sedition and subversion” – should be brought in “without the slightest delay”.
On Sunday, thousands of individuals defied government warnings and marched through the town centre to protest against the bill.
Riot police fired tear gas and water cannon at demonstrators, who were wearing face masks to guard against the spread of coronavirus. there have been a minimum of 180 arrests.
In a statement on Monday, Secretary for Security John Lee said that within the past year, “the violence in Hong Kong has been escalating, with many cases involving explosives and genuine firearms”.
“Terrorism is growing within the city and activities which harm national security, like ‘Hong Kong independence’, become more rampant.”
He said the clashes on Sunday showed “the need and urgency of the choice to be deliberated by the NPC” which the law would ensure Hong Kong’s “long-term prosperity and stability”.
The Commissioner of Police Chris Tang also welcomed the bill, saying weapons and explosives seized from protesters showed Hong Kong was “at the danger point of national security and there’s a requirement to require effective measures to stop things from deteriorating”.
What is in China’s proposed law?
Under Hong Kong’s Basic Law – the mini constitution in situ since it went back under Chinese rule out 1997 – it largely has responsibility for its own internal affairs and security.
But the “draft decision” – because it is understood before approval by the NPC – includes a piece of writing that says Hong Kong “must improve” national security.
It adds: “When needed, relevant national security organs of the Central People’s Government will found out agencies in Hong Kong to fulfil relevant duties to safeguard national security in accordance with the law.”
That means China could potentially have its own enforcement agencies in Hong Kong , alongside the city’s own.
A group of 200 senior politicians from round the world have issued a joint statement criticising China’s plan.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also condemned the plans, describing them as a “death knell” for the city’s freedoms. The UK, Australia and Canada have also expressed their “deep concern”.
Source: bbc news