The Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Congress unanimously passed the controversial security law for Hong Kong.
China has enacted the heavily criticized security law, which allows authorities to crack down on subversive and separatist activities. Tam Yiu-Chung, Hong Kong’s representative to the People’s Congress Standing Committee, confirmed the adoption on Tuesday. The law is designed to curb subversive, separatist and terrorist activities and also to combat foreign interference in the city’s interests. It follows months-long, sometimes violent, government-critical protests in Hong Kong.
Human rights groups warned that the law could also be used against opposition politicians who are not considered to be sufficiently loyal to Beijing. These could be arrested or excluded from elections for the Legislative Council in September.
The South China Morning Post newspaper and the RTHK broadcaster reported, citing unnamed sources, that the Standing Committee unanimously passed the law. Hong Kong’s Prime Minister Carrie Lam initially did not want to comment on this while the committee’s meeting was still ongoing.
After the decision became public, Joshua Wong and other leaders of the democracy movement announced that they would step down from their party. With the security law on the doorstep, it was “no nonsense” for supporters of the democracy movement to worry about life and security, Wong wrote on Facebook on Tuesday and announced his resignation as general secretary of the Demosisto party founded in 2016.
The world-famous activist went on to say that he did not believe that the persistence of Hong Kong would change as a result of the new law or other “draconian laws”. He said he would continue to stay in Hong Kong “until they silence and wipe me out.” Leading protest faces Nathan Law and Agnes Chow also announced their resignation.
Japan has regretted the security law’s enactment. China’s approach is “unfortunate” and harms international confidence in the “one country, two systems” principle with which Beijing manages the former British colony, the Japanese news agency Kyodo quoted a government spokesman in Tokyo on Tuesday. It is important for Hong Kong to maintain a free and open system so that it can live in prosperity in a “democratic and stable” way.