Jun 20, 2020 - World

China looks to establish national security bureau in Hong Kong

Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong speaks to members of media during a press conference
Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong speaks to members of media during a press conference in Hong Kong regarding his plans to run in the opposition camp's primaries. Photo: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

China revealed more details on Saturday regarding a planned national security law to curb opposition to Hong Kong and install a central government office in the territory that would give Beijing authority to oversee the policing of protesters and other disruptive activities, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: The news confirms fears that Beijing will use the national security law to directly intervene in the lives of Hong Kong residents.

  • Opposition groups and foreign governments, including the U.S., have said the national security law undermines Hong Kong's autonomy from Beijing.

Context: After last year's monthslong protests in Hong Kong that came in response to a proposed extradition bill, Chinese Communist Party leaders demanded strategies to “safeguard national security,” the New York Times reports.

The big picture: "The proposed law is a pillar of President Xi Jinping’s push to subdue political strife and opposition in Hong Kong, the sole part of China that has loudly defied his drive to entrench authoritarian control," NYT writes.

Details: The national security proposal says the central government will have jurisdiction over an “extremely small” number of cases in “specific circumstances,” per a draft released by state-funded news outlet, Xinhua News Agency.

  • It adds that China would establish a new office in Hong Kong to examine security, collect intelligence and “lawfully handle national security cases.”
  • The draft bill also outlines a new committee focused on national security that would be overseen by and accountable to Beijing.
  • The new law also orders Hong Kong's government to “strengthen oversight and management” of schools and associations. The police and judiciary would need to prop up new departments as well.
  • Hong Kong residents who enter elections or take public positions would be required to sign documents defending the city’s Basic Law and pledging loyalty “to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.”

What's next: The National People’s Congress Standing Committee on Saturday did not vote to approve the law. But, "There is virtually no doubt that the Chinese lawmakers — handpicked by the party — will ultimately approve the legislation," the Times writes.

  • "The laws will shape the future of Hong Kong, raising questions about the autonomy of a city whose global status is ... underpinned by its legal distinction from the mainland," Bloomberg notes.

Go deeper: China’s spy agencies are coming to Hong Kong

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