Beijing has broad rights over Hong Kong security law

BEIJING / HONG KONG (Reuters) - China will have the power to enforce a new national security law in Hong Kong, according to a report released Saturday, marking a profound change in city life since its return to Chinese rule. 1997.

The planned legislation has raised concerns with foreign governments in Hong Kong, as well as democratic activists, who are already worried that Beijing will be deprived of the high degree of autonomy it gave to the British.

According to a release by the state-run Xinhua news agency, Hong Kong will form a committee to preserve the law, headed by city leader Carrie Lam and overseen by the central government.

New police and prosecution units will be set up to investigate and enforce the law.

Lam has the power to appoint judges to hear matters of national security, an unprecedented act that unites some investors, diplomats and business leaders in Hong Kong.

Senior judges are currently assigned to judicial rosters through Hong Kong's independent judicial system.

"From these basic interpretations, this new law will present unprecedented legal questions that we will face in the coming years," Simon Young, a lawyer, and professor at Hong Kong's law school told Reuters.

Young said he was hurt by the "widespread dominance" of the new law over current and future Hong Kong laws.

Officials in Beijing and Hong Kong have insisted that the law does not destroy the city's autonomy, but only targets "troublemakers" who pose a threat to national security.

Xinhua said human rights and freedom of speech would be protected, echoing earlier comments from Beijing and Hong Kong officials.

The details were unveiled after a three-day decision by the Chinese parliament. It is not clear when the law will come into force, but political analysts expect it to go into effect before the legislative elections in Hong Kong on September 6.

China, which sees a growing national security threat from Hong Kong, said the draft law aims to segregate separatist activities, vandalism, terrorism, and collusion with foreign powers.

Critics fear that this could jeopardize important independence as Hong Kong's global financial center.

According to a statement issued on Saturday, any Hong Kong resident who is running for or working for the government must swear allegiance to the city and its small constitutional Basic Law.

The Chinese law comes after violent, anti-government, and anti-Beijing demonstrations to bypass the city's legislature and pass legislation directly against Hong Kong. Mainland and local authorities have accused "foreign powers" of spreading unrest.

Some political commentators intend to seal the “second return” to the Hong Kong homeland after Britain failed to bring its residents to its heels.

At the time of handing over, China promised to allow a high degree of autonomy for 50 years, known as the "One Country Two System" rule principle.

Beijing last month proposed a new law to attract insurgents from Britain, the United States, and other countries.

China has repeatedly asked foreign governments not to interfere in their internal affairs.

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