China's security law: The end of Hong Kong's semi-autonomous status?

A government advertisement promoting China’s national security law is displayed inside an MTR train station in Hong Kong

It outlaws four types of national security crimes: subversion, secession, terrorism and colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security.

China for years had put off another such effort but party leader Xi Jinping has increasingly sought to strengthen Beijing's hand in the territory in keeping with his tightening of control over Chinese society and more assertive foreign policy.

"No matter whether violence has been used, or the threat of violence used, leaders or serious offenders will be sentenced for life imprisonment or a minimum of 10 years in jail", it said.

China has failed to keep its promise to the world pertaining to Hong Kong's 1997 reversion to Chinese rule from Britain, Defense Minister Taro Kono said, calling the latest move a "unilateral attempt to change the status quo".

The law requires Hong Kong to carry out "national security education" - a particularly controversial element given local resistance to propaganda in schools.

China has yet to make public the full text of the law, which it claims has widespread support in Hong Kong. It is a flagrant breach of the Sino-British joint declaration - a treaty lodged at the United Nations - and Hong Kong's mini constitution, the Basic Law.

The central government will establish an office of safeguarding national security in the HKSAR, according to the law.

"We hope the law will serve as a deterrent to prevent people from stirring up trouble", Tam said, adding that Hong Kong should not be "used as a tool to split the country".

The last British colonial governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, said "this decision, which rides roughshod over Hong Kong's elected legislature, marks the end of "one-country, two-systems".

Demosisto founder Agnes Wong, whose bid to run as a candidate for the city's Legislative Council (LegCo) was denied for political reasons, and former Demosisto lawmaker Nathan Law, who was stripped of his LegCo seat after an edict from Beijing, also announced their resignations at the same time.

"I will continue to defend my home - Hong Kong - until they mute me and eliminate me from this land", Wong wrote on Facebook.

"We will never accept the passing of the law, even though it is so overpowering", said Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai.

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"Beijing has achieved crushing the opposition in Hong Kong, but the price to pay is very high", he said.

"I'm sure a lot of people are slowly preparing to go away, because I don't see how Hong Kong as we know it can survive", he said.

"Once you are able to choose which judges can handle the case, then you no longer have any judicial independence ..." Leung did not say where the funds would come from.

The legislation may get an early test with activists and pro-democracy politicians saying they would defy a police ban, amid coronavirus restrictions, on a rally on the anniversary of the July 1 handover.

Some governments in Asia criticized the new legislation by Beijing.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga called the passage of the security laws "regrettable" at a news conference, adding that it would "undermine the trust of the worldwide community in the "one country, two systems" principle", which he said is "extremely important" to Japan.

Beijing's imposition of a draconian National Security Law on Hong Kong is a needless disaster.

Any sanctions against city will not "scare us", she added.

Hundreds of outspoken Twitter accounts run by Hong Kong residents have been voluntarily deleted in the last few days as people rush to clear any potentially incriminating web-browsing history and online political posts.

John Lee, Hong Kong's Security Secretary, said in a statement that a police "dedicated unit" will be set up under the national security law to be "equipped with effective enforcement power to discharge the enforcement duties".

On Tuesday, more than 100 protesters gathered at a shopping centre in Hong Kong's Central business district, chanting slogans including "free Hong Kong, revolution now", with several holding up a flag representing an independent Hong Kong as well as posters condemning the law.

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