In a huge blow to Hong Kong, China signaled that it will impose new national-security laws on the territory saying that the legislation is aimed at stopping what it considers “secessionist and subversive activity,” foreign interference and terrorism in the city.
The proposal to enact the new legislation was submitted to China’s legislature on Friday, state media said.
In a state-of-the-nation speech opening China’s annual parliamentary session, Premier Li Keqiang said that China would “establish and improve the legal systems and mechanisms to safeguard national security” in Hong Kong.
According to the legislation, China’s parliament empowers itself to set up the legal framework and implementation mechanism to prevent and punish subversion, terrorism, separatism and foreign interference, “or any acts that severely endanger national security”.
“When needed, relevant national security organs of the central people’s government will set up agencies in [Hong Kong] to fulfil relevant duties to safeguard national security,” the legislation says.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong activists made online calls for a march against China’s plans to impose national security legislation on the semi-autonomous city which many fear could erode its freedoms and international standing as a global finance hub.
The proposal has been condemned by the United States and Hong Kong pro-democracy figures as an assault on the city’s freedoms.