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Revealed: China to set up security agencies in Hong Kong

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China on Friday declared draft enactment that will make ready for it to set up national security institutions in Hong Kong following monthslong social agitation, probably the starkest move yet to apply its power over the semi-autonomous region.

Beijing said it is important to get control over the ascent of remote impedance in Hong Kong, as a year ago’s shows drew wide universal consideration and incited the U.S. to pass a demonstration to ensure the city’s vote based system and human rights.

But Beijing insists that the proposed legislation will not compromise the framework of “one country, two systems,” under which Hong Kong enjoys a degree of autonomy that sets it apart from mainland cities.

“When needed, relevant national security organs of the central people’s government will set up agencies in [Hong Kong] to fulfill relevant duties to safeguard national security in accordance with the law,” Wang Chen, vice chairman of the standing committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s top decision-making body, said in explaining the proposed bill to roughly 3,000 delegates at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Wang said there are “apparent shortcomings” in Hong Kong’s current legal system, and a previous proposal to enact a national security law, known as Article 23, is facing “risk of being delayed for a long period of time.”

“[The lack of a national security law] has led to increasingly intense activities in Hong Kong that jeopardize the security of the country,” Wang said, as he highlighted anti-government protests last year that saw violent clashes between demonstrators and police.

The proposed Chinese law announced on Friday is seen as a replacement for Article 23, which prohibits acts of “treason, secession, sedition, or subversion.” The Hong Kong government was forced to suspend the legislation after an estimated half a million people protested against it in 2003.

“Article 23 has been demonized by a group of people with ulterior motives in Hong Kong since its defeat in 2003, and it is difficult to complete the legislative procedure given the current situation,” Wang said. He said the “new problems and challenges” has prompted Beijing to push the legislation from a state level instead of relying on Hong Kong to enact its own national security law.

The proposed legislation will be included in an annex of the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, and bypass the city’s legislature, where meetings are often interrupted by filibustering initiated by pro-democracy lawmakers. Yet such power has not been employed since Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Hong Kong stocks tumbled on the news of the proposed legislation, with the benchmark Hang Seng Index skidding more than 5% in afternoon trading.

“The security law means the central government in Beijing has taken a more hands-on approach to day-to-day governance in Hong Kong,” said Ross Darrell Feingold, a director at global travel security consultancy SafePro Group. “It is clear that regulators in Beijing will manage Hong Kong with a much tighter hand than what they would have had in the past.”

Feingold attributed the introduction of the proposed law to the widespread demonstrations that began last June, as well as the fact that pro-Beijing politicians lost ground in November’s elections for Hong Kong’s district councils.

“There are a lot of unknowns about what will happen with the upcoming Hong Kong Legislative Council election,” he said, referring to September’s vote.

“We should expect more people taking to the street or internet activities” as a result of the new security law, he said. “In general, [there will be]a lot more tensions between the public and the Hong Kong government as well as the central government.”

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