China passed a controversial national security law on June 30, giving additional powers over Hong Kong’s government.
According to its critics, this has put an end to the latter’s semi-autonomous government and would bring about its new existence as another city of Mainland China.
This law states that acts of secession, subversion against the central Chinese government, terrorism, or collusion with foreign powers or world organizations is punishable with life imprisonment at most.
A national security office will be established in Hong Kong staffed by officials from Mainland China who would oversee its enforcement. Decisions from this committee cannot be legally challenged, and is likewise superior over all local laws.
Acts including protests, vandalism of public and private properties, spreading democratic ideals, cries for freedom, or any acts against Chinese communist ideologies are now considered crimes under the law.
Before it was passed, Hong Kong enjoyed more freedom than any other city in China. It had the benefits of special freedoms including the freedom of speech, press, and assembly; special trading privileges with foreign countries; and tax laws different and autonomous from Mainland China under the “One country, two systems” policy.
Many “Hong Kongers” have fought for greater democracy as they fear the time when China would remove Hong Kong’s autonomy. This came to an end as any form of protest against the state is now a crime.
The law has made foreign countries criticise China’s decision to remove Hong Kong’s sovereignty, especially the United States.
On July 14, President Donald Trump issued an executive order removing Hong Kong’s preferential status on trade with the US.
“Hong Kong will now be treated the same as mainland China… No special privileges, no special economic treatment, and no export of sensitive technologies,” Trump stated in a news conference.
Trump also signed into US law a bill imposing sanctions on Chinese officials, banks, and businesses that helped in removing Hong Kong’s autonomy.
LAYOUT BY: Chester P. Cortez
PHOTO SOURCE(S): Macau Photo Agency, Kon Karampelas