Moments after China’s parliament on Thursday approved Hong Kong’s national security Bill, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said that the passage of this legislation is for the city’s long-term “stability and prosperity”.
“The decision adopted at the National People’s Congress (NPC) session is designed for study implementation of ‘one country, two systems’ and Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability,” Premier Li said at an annual press conference rounding up China’s parliamentary season.
The NPC, China’s Parliament, passed the resolution on the final day of its annual parliamentary session with 2,878 votes for, one against, and six abstaining, paving the way for the law to be enacted in Hong Kong.
Asked if the new law means the Central Government is abandoning the “one country, two systems” principle by which Hong Kong is governed, the Premier said, “‘One country, two systems’ is China’s basic state policy, the Central Government has all along fully and faithfully implemented (the system)… in which the people of Hong Kong govern Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy.”
According to the read out, there was also an expansion to the scope of the decision, which now includes organizations as well as individuals, and also includes “activities” that endanger national security, not just behaviour or acts.
According to a draft presented to the NPC last week, the legislation will curtail foreign interference and activities that have “harmed the rule of law and threatened national sovereignty, security and development interests”.
It states that “relevant national security organs” will set up agencies in Hong Kong “when needed”, an indication that Beijing’s state security apparatus may now extend to the territory.
The decision will be promulgated into Hong Kong’s mini Constitution, the Basic Law, essentially bypassing the local lawmaking body, the Legislative Council.
Hong Kong’s legislature has been locked in a stalemate after clashes between pro-establishment and pro-democracy lawmakers, with frequent filibusters and dramatic scenes of confrontation.
Analysts believe the law could come into effect in a matter of months, with some reports suggesting the law could come into effect as soon as in August.
The events follow months of protests that have brought the city and its economy to a standstill.
An attempt at passing a controversial extradition Bill in Hong Kong last year – which would have allowed fugitives to be handed over to mainland China – triggered massive, often violent, protests that brought millions onto the streets. The Bill was eventually rescinded.
Beijing argues that foreign forces encouraged the unrest, and the proposed new national security law for Hong Kong will ban foreign interference in the city’s political affairs, as well as any acts that subvert the state’s powers.