HONG KONG – China’s top legislative body approved new national security legislation for Hong Kong, a sweeping attempt to quell dissent that risks U.S. retaliation and the city’s appeal as a financial hub.
China’s top legislative body has adopted a national security law for Hong Kong, marking a new phase in the territory’s relationship to the mainland.
Observers say it could erode Hong Kong’s autonomy and diminish its role as a global financial hub.
Hong Kong media says the National People’s Congress Standing Committee approved the draft law with a unanimous vote on Tuesday.
The new legislation lays out four criminal acts Beijing says threatens national security — secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign or external forces.
It also allows Chinese authorities to set up an agency inside the semi-autonomous territory — and enables the city’s chief executive to choose judges that will oversee national security cases.
Pro-democracy groups and foreign governments have voiced concern the law undermines the “one country, two systems” framework which guarantees Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy and judicial independence.
The law was passed in two weeks after the first review of the draft — prompting accusations the law is being pushed through ahead of local elections set for September.
The passing of the new law also comes one day before the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain.
Pro-democracy groups are planning to hold a rally on Wednesday to mark the day and show their opposition to the new legislation.