In a move that has been anticipated since May, the Chinese government has enacted a comprehensive national security law for Hong Kong. The standing body of the National People’s Congress (NPC) approved the law unanimously on Tuesday and President Xi Jinping endorsed it almost immediately. The measure will be incorporated into Hong Kong’s Basic Law, and the city’s Chief Executive Carry Lam said the law will begin to take effect late Tuesday. It has long been feared by activists in Hong Kong that this law will be used to silence dissent by criminalizing it, and a brief glimpse at the final text of the law reveals the activists were correct to worry. Beijing will set up its own national security bureau to prosecute cases in Hong Kong. This bureau will not be beholden to Hong Kong’s laws. It will take its marching orders directly from Beijing and operate under the auspices of PRC law. An advisor will also be appointed to oversee the Hong Kong government on national security issues. It should be noted that under the national security law being found guilty of the following four offenses could bring on a sentence of life imprisonment: The highest degree of subversion, secession, foreign interference or terrorism. With Beijing now effectively in control of law and order in Hong Kong, interpretation of these offenses, and the law overall, will be tilted in favor of the mainland government a majority of the time.
Later tomorrow I will examine the repercussions the passing of this law is going to cause on the international front.