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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

Aug 26, 2020 - World

U.S. targets Chinese individuals, companies over escalation in South China Sea

Fishing vessels are seen in the South China Sea Photo: Artyom Ivanov/TASS via Getty Images

The Department of Commerce on Wednesday blacklisted 24 Chinese firms for "helping the Chinese military construct and militarize the internationally condemned artificial islands in the South China Sea."

Why it matters: The move comes as the Trump administration continues to ramp up pressure on Beijing amid escalating tensions in the disputed region.

Aug 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Eric Trump says Democrats view the U.S. as "the source of the world's problems"

The president's son Eric Trump tore into Democrats Tuesday evening, saying the party believes "America is the source of the world's problems" during his GOP Convention speech.

Details: "As a result, they believe the only path forward is to erase history and forget the past. They want to destroy the monuments of our forefathers ... They want to disrespect our National Anthem by taking a knee, while our armed forces lay down their lives every day to protect our freedom," he said.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

In photos: Pope Francis spreads message of peace on first trip to Iraq

Pope Francis waving as he arrives near the ruins of the Syriac Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception (al-Tahira-l-Kubra), in the old city of Iraq's northern Mosul on March 7. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis was on Sunday visiting areas of northern Iraq once held by Islamic State militants.

Why it matters: This is the first-ever papal trip to Iraq. The purpose of Francis' four-day visit is largely intended to reassure the country's Christian minority, who were violently persecuted by ISIS, which controlled the region from 2014-2017.