China approved a sweeping national security law for Hong Kong that many worry will undercut the city’s independence, CNN reports.
The National People’s Congress unanimously passed the law on Tuesday, bypassing Hong Kong’s own legislature.
The law itself remains secret. It contains 66 clauses and will go into effect immediately but what is actually inside it is not fully known.
According to previous reporting, the law is expected to criminalize offenses like subversion against the Chinese government, things that the government deems terrorism, and colluding with foreign actors.
Hong Kong leader says she welcomes the new law:
"Safeguarding national security is the constitutional duty of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). The HKSAR Government welcomes the passage of the national security law by the NPCSC today," Hong Kong executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday. "The national security law will come into effect later today.”
Lam said the law "seeks to practically and effectively prevent, curb and punish four types of crimes seriously endangering national security,” including "acts of secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities, and collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security."
"I am confident that after the implementation of the national security law, the social unrest which has troubled Hong Kong people for nearly a year will be eased and stability will be restored, thereby enabling Hong Kong to start anew, focus on economic development and improve people's livelihood,” she said.
Opponents worry about coming crackdown:
Jimmy Lai, a Hong Kong media tycoon that supported the pro-democracy protests, warned that the law "spells a death knell to Hong Kong because it supersedes our law and our rule of law."
"The democratic movement will have to adjust its strategy because it's a fact that a lot of the people in the democratic movement are scared -- either they find ways to leave or emigrate or to sidestep the movement,” he said.
"The speed and secrecy with which China has pushed through this legislation intensifies the fear that Beijing has calculatingly created a weapon of repression to be used against government critics, including people who are merely expressing their views or protesting peacefully," said Amnesty International’s Joshua Rosenzweig.
The US announced it would revoke Hong Kong’s special trade status.
"As Beijing moves forward with passing the national security law ... We can no longer distinguish between the export of controlled items to Hong Kong or to mainland China," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.