Protesters outside the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong, November 2019. Photo: Vivek Prakash/AFP via Getty Images

China plans to implement a sweeping national security law for Hong Kong that could dramatically constrain Hong Kong's autonomy and provoke fierce backlash from pro-democracy activists.

Why it matters: Beijing's encroachment on Hong Kong's independent legal system prompted massive protests last year that have resumed on a smaller scale as social-distancing measures lift.

  • The current proposal appears to be far-reaching, banning sedition, treason and secession, which Beijing tends to define very broadly, per the BBC.
  • The proposal would amend the Basic Law, which has governed relations with the mainland since Hong Kong was handed back to China from the U.K. in 1997.

Our thought bubble: By addressing this law in Beijing, China's leaders are bypassing Hong Kong's legislature and chief executive. The law could mean the end of the relative political freedoms that Hong Kong's people have enjoyed under the Basic Law — and thus the effective end of the "one country, two systems" framework.

What to watch: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently said that if Hong Kong's political freedoms are not upheld, the U.S. will consider revoking the special status that allows the city to thrive as an international financial hub.

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Media tycoon Jimmy Lai at the Next Digital offices in Hong Kong in June. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said in a statement Monday night the Trump administration is "deeply troubled" by the arrest of Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai on suspicion of "collusion with foreign powers."

Why it matters: The arrest Monday of the most prominent person under the new national security law that gives Beijing more powers over the former British colony comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and China.

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Hong Kong's political freedom ends

It’s been about a month since the Chinese Communist Party forced a national security law on Hong Kong. This new law made it illegal for anyone anywhere in the world to promote democratic reform in the region. Recent arrests of top media and political figures have made it clear that Hong Kong's relatively free political system is over.

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China announces retaliatory sanctions on Rubio, Cruz and other U.S. officials

Photos: Graeme Jennings/Pool/Getty Images; Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images

China's Foreign Ministry announced Monday that it's imposing sanctions on Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), along with nine other Americans, per Bloomberg.

Why it matters: It's a direct response to similar actions by the U.S. that included the Trump administration placing sanctions on officials Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam last Friday over Beijing's encroachment of the Asian financial hub's s autonomy.