Updated May 28, 2020 - World

China approves Hong Kong national security law

Riot police round up a group of protesters during the demonstration.
Hong Kong riot police round up a group of protesters during a demonstration on Wednesday. Photo: Willie Siau/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Chinese lawmakers approved a plan on Thursday for a sweeping national security law for Hong Kong that would criminalize sedition, foreign influence and secession in the Asian financial hub.

Why it matters: China bypassed Hong Kong's legislature and chief executive to introduce the law, prompting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to announce Wednesday that the city is no longer autonomous from the Chinese mainland and does not warrant special treatment under U.S. law.

The big picture: The former British colony retained a high degree of autonomy when it was returned to China in 1997.

  • Beijing's encroachment on Hong Kong's independent legal system sparked massive protests and several flash-points between police and demonstrators that crippled the city last year.
  • Legislators in the Chinese territory later withdrew the bill that would have seen Hong Kongers charged with criminal offenses extradited to China.
  • Pro-democracy protesters held smaller protests maintaining physical-distancing as the novel coronavirus hit Hong Kong this year, with authorities banning gatherings of more than eight people.
  • But concerns about the law and another bill being debated in Hong Kong that proposes to criminalize any "disrespect of the Chinese Anthem" triggered massive protests in the city this week, and clashes with police.

Go deeper: Hong Kong's economic future hangs in the balance

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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