May 21, 2020 - World

China plans sweeping national security law for Hong Kong

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.

Go deeper

China claims double standard as protests rock U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Some U.S. elected officials who expressed support for the Hong Kong protests have now called for military suppression of the ongoing protests in the U.S. — a fact that Chinese state media and government officials have been happy to call out.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is eager to convince a domestic audience that democracy is dangerous and that U.S. support for human rights is cynical.

15 hours ago - World

In photos: Thousands gather to honor 31st anniversary of Tiananmen Square massacre

Protesters hold candles during a moment of silence in Victoria Park, Hong Kong. Photo: Willie Siau/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Thousands of protesters held vigils and demonstrations in Hong Kong, as well as in Taiwan and Japan, on Thursday in remembrance of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

The big picture: The 31st anniversary of the bloody crackdown comes amid China's 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, Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian and Dave Lawler report.

Unpacking a surprise jobs report

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Can we trust this morning's surprisingly good employment report?

  • The short answer: Yes.