Last Sunday, China released a draft of a proposed national security law, which would strengthen Beijing’s power over Hong Kong. Under the draft legislation, Beijing would be allowed to override Hong Kong’s independent legal system and Mainland officials would be able to establish a national security office in Hong Kong. As a concession, Hong Kong officials would be able to handpick the judges to hear national security cases and Hong Kong’s legal system would preside over national security criminal cases. Still, the Mainland would be able to “exercise jurisdiction” over the cases it deems to “jeopardize national security under specific circumstances.”
The criminal offenses listed in the draft include secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities and collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security. Those who object to the proposal believe that the words are too ambiguous and they provide an easy excuse for Chinese intervention in Hong Kong’s legal system.
Many politicians and human rights organizations around the world are concerned by the proposal. The Trump administration has threatened to end Hong Kong’s special status with the US and the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has promised to offer a path for millions of Hong Kong residents to become British citizens.
Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo claimed the bill was “the beginning of a sad and traumatizing era” for the city. “They’ve practically taken away our soul. Our soul we’ve been treasuring all these years; the rule of law, human rights, they’re taking away all the core values we’ve come to know,” she said.”From now on, Hong Kong is nothing but just another mainland Chinese city.”