- Amongst other roles, the office will be responsible for gathering security intelligence and investigating crimes against national security.
- Hong Kong lawmakers and lawyers have criticized the act.
- In a statement, the G7 powers this week called on Beijing to abandon the controversial National Security Law
China revealed its intentions today of establishing a national security bureau in Hong Kong, as outlined in its recently passed, controversial National Security Law for Hong Kong. The security bureau will report directly to the Chinese central government, and will be located in Hong Kong.
The National Security Law was adopted last month by the Chinese parliament, the National People’s Congress. Per Beijing, the controversial law intends to suppress separatism, terrorism, subversion, and collusion with foreign forces.
Amongst other roles, the office will be responsible for gathering security intelligence and investigating crimes against national security. It will also have the prerogative to appoint judges responsible for judging crimes against national security.
The current Chief executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, is set to head of the “national security maintenance committee,” placed under the supervision of the central government in China. Lam has been denounced by her opponents as being a puppet of Beijing.
“Most worrying is it lacks details when it comes to specific criminal action and that remains highly vague which is of course extremely worrying. More importantly, it’s almost like Beijing’s hand is right in the centre of the administrative and judiciary wing of Hong Kong,” said a pro-democracy Hong Kong MP, Alvin Yeung. “Basically, the chief executive will be empowered to pick her own judges to trial cases of national security but what are the details?”
Simon Young, a barrister and professor at the University of Hong Kong’s law school, told Reuters, “from these initial details, this new law presents unprecedented legal questions that we will have to confront in coming years.” Giving the city’s chief executive the power to allocate judges in national security cases would “encroach on something we would say is part of judicial power.”
A date hasn’t been provided yet for the official adoption of the document, but China insists that the move would “soon” be finalized, concerns from Western countries notwithstanding.
In a statement, the G7 powers this week called on Beijing to abandon the controversial National Security Law, an appeal that has since been categorically rejected by the Chinese government.
The European Parliament on Friday called on the EU to provide for “sanctions against the leaders responsible for the crackdown in Hong Kong,” and to take international action if the law is adopted. The United States has already announced economic sanctions against Hong Kong following the move.
The announcement of the bill has caused new tensions in Hong Kong in recent weeks between protesters and law enforcement. Demonstrations had practically disappeared since the beginning of the year, in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, which resulted in a ban on rallies.
On Saturday, several thousand Hong Kongers participated in a “referendum” on the call of labor organizations to organize strikes to protest the bill. Long queues appeared in several parts of the city where the “ballot” was held.