Beijing [China], May 22 (ANI): China is planning to impose new national security laws that would give the Communist Party more control over Hong Kong, the New York Times reported.
The proposal that was announced on Thursday threatened to erode the freedom that distinguishes the financial hub from the rest of the country.
The Times reported that the move could also inflame worries that Beijing is trying to dismantle the distinct political and cultural identity that has defined the former British colony since it was reclaimed by China in 1997.
The legislation would allow Beijing to take aim at the large often violent anti-government protests that roiled Hong Kong for much of last year.
However, China has defended the proposal saying that such legislations are necessary to protect the country’s sovereignty from external forces determined to undermine the Communist Party.
Similar rules proposed by the Hong Kong government in 2003 would have empowered the authorities to close seditious newspapers and conduct searches without warrants.
This time, a broad outline for the new rules would likely be approved by the Chinese National People’s Congress, which holds its annual session starting Friday.
The process would effectively circumvent the Hong Kong government. It will also undercut the relative autonomy granted to the territory.
Zhang Yesui, a spokesman for the National People’s Congress, said at a news briefing on Thursday that delegates would review a plan to set up a legal framework and enforcement mechanism for safeguarding national security in Hong Kong. He did not elaborate on the details of the plan.
“National security is the bedrock underpinning the stability of the country,” Zhang said. “Safeguarding national security serves the fundamental interest of all Chinese, Hong Kong compatriots included.”
The call to enact legislation led to the protests last year. It also fuels concern that the Hong Kong government has increasingly put Beijing’s interests above those of the city’s residents.
The protests in Hong Kong started in June last year after the local government tried to enact an extradition law that would have allowed residents to be transferred to the mainland to face an opaque and often harsh judicial system.
During the protests, the Hong Kong government and protesters have both adopted largely uncompromising positions, and demonstrations often descended into clashes between protesters. (ANI)